Pastor William H. Emerick, 40, conducting services 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):
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 owned no parsonage. The pastor (pictured)
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.…
It would be a sight worth seeing today to see the vehicle on a Sunday morning that stood about the church grounds with the teams tied to the pine trees.… [F]arm wagons with long boxes on them and boards laid across for seats, and bed quilts for lap coverings in cold weather, the same kind of wagon with wooden springs with seats attached which they put inside the box (which simply emphasized the jolts); the Gondola pleasure wagon which turned up slightly at both ends with no door but with springs under it; and others of various styles. And in the winter the long sleigh, the farm bobs and … you could see any Sunday that there was sleighing … in some neighborhoods one farmer would take his team and long box wagon and gather up all that wanted to go to church and the next Sunday another would take his team and bring them. In this way those not having teams could get to church. How they all enjoyed the ride! Neither do I think they were proud, for many if not all wore the garments spun, woven, dyed and fashioned by their own mother's hands.
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.…
Region historian Alf Evers(2)
Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town [Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987], pp. 199ff. (Close)
has described how the Anti-Rent War ended in the Catskills, with the disposition of the manorial holdings of landlords, including socialite Eugene Augustus Livingston, 33, and painter Montgomery Livingston, 30, the owners of record of the lands around Woodstock. The previous year's insurgency had largely been suppressed, and several tenant "Downrenters" were in jail. But now, with an Assembly largely sympathetic to the tenants, things began to change.
First, in January, all Anti-Renters under sentence or indictment--including Asa Bishop ("Blackhawk") and the other Woodstock Downrenters as well as most of the sentenced in Delaware County--were pardoned.
Then, a state constitutional convention, to which a majority of Democrats (but no leading politicians) was elected, drafted a new, more democratic constitution, adopting "universal" white male suffrage. Now all judges were to be popularly elected for definite terms, and there were term limits for assemblymen (1 year) and state senators (2 years). More pertinent to the Anti-Rent movement, the state's bill of rights was augmented, declaring
feudal tenures of every description with all their incidents to be abolished;… [and] no lease or grant of agricultural land for a longer period than twelve years [should thereafter be legal].(3)Now Lower Canada (Quebec) was the only place left in North America where feudal dues and services persisted. Henceforth, the Van Rensselaers and Livingstons would have to raise their own fat hens.
Excerpted from Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 493. (Close)
The Livingston-hired survey team were no longer being interrupted by suspicious tenants. Expensive lawyer John Cochrane used outdated mortality tables to determine the appraisals of all the old manorial leases in order to divide the land equitably between the Livingston brothers.
A land rush ensued, with tenants besieging the brothers with offers to buy the farms they had been tilling for generations. Over the next several years, Woodstock-area tenant farmers named Short, Shultis, Hasbrouck, DeWall, Riseley, Ricks, Happy, Lasher, Winne, Duboise, Hogan, Elting, Van de Bogart, and Lewis became fee-simple farm owners. (Christ's Lutheran Church purchased the land it was on from Eugene Livingston in 1847.) Because some tenants could not afford to buy, Livingston agent Henry P. Shultis would be collecting rents for several more years; there were even still a couple of Livingston tenants left in the mid-1880s.
Kingston Historian Marius Schoonmacker, cited by regional historian Evers(4),
Excerpted from Evers, Alf, The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972, p. 434, citing Schoonmaker, Marius, History of Kingston, pp. 100-101. (Close)
described what the change from tenant to owner did to the farmers in the Catskills. Schoonmaker observed that before this year, on the Livingston lands in Woodstock, Olive, and Shandaken
all the interest of the inhabitants centered on the present, to make the most out of the land they could, and with as little expense as possible. Their want of, care for, and interest in the future was shown by their dilapidated houses and out-buildings, their common and temporary fences. Paints and paint brushes were apparently almost unknown in that locality. The tenant's interest was in the uncertain continuance of life; the landlord's upon reversion in death [here Shoonmaker was writing of leases for lives]. The whole face of the country told the sad story.…
What a change in that country between then and now! Thrift and prosperity now put forth their blooming and smiling faces in every direction; comfortable, pleasant and indeed luxurious homes can be seen on every hand tempting the denizen weary of city life to come annually for a season to enjoy their comforts.
Many Anti-Rent tenants in Delaware County bought their acres, also, but quite a few held out, convinced that they would gain possession without paying once the state invalidated the landlords' titles.
Thomas Cole, 45, of the Hudson River School of painting came to Woodstock with 11 others, men and women, including two poetic clergymen, in several wagons, to climb Overlook Mountain (then known as South Peak) and spend the night close to the summit. They spent the night in a "wigwam" they had built out of boughs of balsam fir. The hikers prayed and sang hymns (by this time Cole was always praying before painting); clergyman Louis L. Noble did "an Indian dance" by the campfire. Cole wrote the following in his journal about the abandoned glass factory of Keefe Hollow, where they intended to board their horses before their ascent:
We entered now a deep valley which lies on the Western side of the peak which it was our intention to ascend & came to some buildings, many of which were in a ruined and desolate condition. These seemed strange amid the verdant mountains that rose precipitous around & broken into grander forms than usual in this range. A Glass House was formerly in operation in this secluded valley & the ruins of which might yet be seen in some heaps of stone. How a Glass House came to be established in this situation I have not yet been able to learn nor the cause of its abandonment but when its fires ceased to burn the fires of the neighboring cottages were extinguished & the inhabitants of the vale are sheltered under two or three roofs.(5)The factory Cole was referring to was likely the New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company of Bristol (Shady)--founded 36 years earlier by Stephen Stilwell as the Bristol Glass, Cotton and Clay Company--which had been suffering ups and downs for many years and finally went out of business, probably a year earlier. The other Bristol glass factory, started 37 years earlier by Stephen's brother, Samuel (the Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Company) had succumbed to dire economic times (and perhaps mismanagement) about a decade earlier.
Quoted in Evers, Woodstock, op. cit., pp. 112-13, citing Thomas Cole mss., Journal 6, New York State Library. (Close)
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.
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; by this year, it was even featuring baths. Its management could boast of
a fine fall of pure mountain water within view of the hotel, where you can resort and have a bath which far surpasses any shower bath.…(6)
Excerpted from Evers, The Catskills, op. cit., p. 398, citing the Ulster Republican, September 2, 1846. (Close)
Charles L. Beach's commodious Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove was undergoing extensive renovation. In line with the trendy Greek Revival phase of American architecture of the period, its old slim columns were replaced with Greek Corinthian columns with rich capitals. A new entrance was built under a handsome Corinthian porch. New furniture was installed. Guests could now gaze at the magnificent prospect through a plate glass window instead of the old port holes of the hotel's first decade and a half. The Catskill Democrat observed that Beach had so "beautified" the hotel
that those who have heretofore been visitors to this delightful spot would hardly know it.(7)More soberly, the Albany Argus noted the following:
This and the next quote are taken from ibid., p. 402. (Close)
The house is plainly, though neatly furnished.The 37-year-old Beach also instituted fixed prices for accommodations, rather than charging titled Europeans more than scrimping clerks for the same room.
The Reverend Dr. David Murdoch, a staff preacher at the Catskill Mountain House, compiled The Scenery of the Catskill Mountains, which was on sale at the hotel. It lavished wondrous praise on all the sights nearby.
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. With the outbreak of the war with Mexico, there was a huge demand for leather, and the tanning business was booming (and none of the large stands of hemlock was safe). James A. Simpson and a partner from Woodstock ran the Phoenix Tannery in Phoenicia (the village named for their business), and took advantage of the boom. The largest such operation was the New York Tannery in the factory town of Edwardsville (present-day Hunter).
German immigrant George Fromer set up a furniture factory in Edwardsville and made "a fine grade of chairs for the New York trade."
Former New Paltz and Hurley slave Isabella Bomefree Van Wagenen, now known as Sojourner Truth, 49, pictured here, had been working for the previous three years in Northampton, MA, at the Northampton Association for Education and Industry, where she had met and worked with abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Olive Gilbert. During this year, the Association disbanded, and Sojourner moved to Florence, MA. Olive Gilbert helped her to work on her autobiography.
New York State held a referendum during this year on whether to give blacks the right to vote. According to historian Fergus Bordewich(8),
From Bordewich, Fergus M., Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement Amistad/Harper-Collins, 2006, reviewed in Almanac Weekly (supplement to the Woodstock Times), 22 February 2007, pp. 1-3. (Close)
the largest majority of votes against the referendum were in the mid-Hudson region, including Ulster County.
The vote was defeated here by 97 percent and 98 percent--unlike central New York, which was highly abolitionized, where much higher votes were registered on behalf of the measure.Bordewich goes on to speculate why our region was not so "abolitionized":
We were [before the statewide emancipation of 1827] the largest slave-owning area in the North. Many of the large estates and Dutch farms relied heavily on slavery--Sojourner Truth [Isabella Bomefree Van Wagenen] being the most famous. It is my belief that many buildings in the region have vague legends of being part of the Underground Railroad because they were actually slave-owning properties. When slave ownership became unfashionable [or illegal], it was much easier for their descendants to say that their home was the site of an Underground Railroad depot than the home to enslaved African-Americans. Just because a house or building has a funky space in the basement or odd stairwell does not qualify it as a stop along the Underground Railroad--particularly here, in an area where the Underground Railroad was mostly aboveground, taking route on boats and trains.Unlike in central Pennsylvania, where fugitive slaves had to trudge by night and hide by day in barns and cellars, runaways in the Hudson Valley could speed northward in boats and trains to abolitionist hotbeds such as Troy and Albany, eventually to Syracuse, Ithaca, Rochester, and even Canada.
James Knox Polk, 50 (Democrat), was President. The 29th Congress was in session. (The midterm elections that year would elect the 30th Congress.) 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.
Most immigrants were willing to work for a pittance, and wages as a consequence plummeted.(9)
This information on Irish and other immigrants has been quoted from Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 343. (Close)
Large numbers of these unskilled laborers, eager for work of any kind, were absorbed into the factories of the Northeast. As wage-depressing competitors for jobs, the Irish immigrants were hated by native workers. "No Irish Need Apply" was a sign commonly posted at factory gates and was often abbreviated to NINA.
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.
Mayor Neal Dow of Portland, ME, a fervent temperance leader, was able to persuade the legislature of Maine to outlaw the manufacture of alcoholic beverages in the state.
The Brook Farm commune in West Roxbury, MA, founded 5 years before by George Ripley, 43, and his wife, Sophia Dana Ripley, committed to the philosophy of transcendentalism, to pursue truth, justice, and order ("plain living and high thinking"), had grown and thrived over the previous 5 years. 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. The commune attracted such eminent visitors as Amos Bronson Alcott, 47, the late William Ellery Channing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 43, and (Sarah) Margaret Fuller, 36. The commune's weekly journal Harbinger published items contributed by Horace Greeley, 35, James Russell Lowell, 27, and John Greenleaf Whittier, 38. The commune celebrated the completion of a large new central building with a dance, but the building caught fire and burned to the ground. The new building had consumed all available funds and the commune went bankrupt.
New England clergyman John Humphrey Noyes, 35, preached promiscuity and free love at his religious commune in Putney, VT, calling it the communism of the early Christian church. His antagonized neighbors had him arrested for his opposition to monogamy. They tried to break up the commune.
Sarah Josepha Hale, 57, began campaigning for Thanksgiving Day observances in November to commemorate the feast given by the Pilgrims in 1621 for their Wampanoag benefactors.
The Boston Herald began publication.
The Tudor Ice Company in Boston annually shipped 65,000 tons of ice in some 175 ships to the Far East and sold it there at high prices, and there bought silk, which brought high prices in the U.S.
Architect Richard Upjohn completed the Gothic-revival Trinity Church on Broadway opposite Wall Street in New York City. Architect James Renwick, Jr., 54, completed the Grace Episcopal Church on Broadway and East 10th Street and the Calvary Church at Fourth Avenue and 21st Street.
Charles D. Scribner, 25, and Isaac D. Baker opened the Baker and Scribner publishing house (later Charles Scribner's Sons) in New York City.
New York City merchant A. T. Stewart opened the Marble Dry-Goods Palace on Broadway at Chambers Street.
Preacher Henry Ward Beecher, 33, became pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn, NY.
New York surveyor Alexander Joy Cartright (of the Knickerbocker Baseball Club) revised the baseball rules laid down 7 years earlier by Abner Doubleday: Distances between bases were set at 90 feet; each team was to have nine players; each team would have three outs per inning; each batter would have three strikes before being declared out. The Knickerbockers played against New York Nine at Elysian Field in Hoboken, NJ, and lost to them 23 to 1--the first recorded baseball game.
The University of Buffalo was founded in Buffalo, NY.
Bucknell College was founded by Baptists in Bucknell, PA.
The Pennsylvania Railroad was chartered to construct a line between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
John Augustus Roebling, 39, completed a wire cable suspension across the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Dispatch began publication.
Cincinnati entrepreneurs George S. Stearns and Seth S. Foster opened their Stearns & Foster Mattress factory.
John Chapman, 71, 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."
Scots immigrant Allan Pinkerton, 27, discovered a gang of counterfeiters in Illinois and led a force to capture them; he was then elected deputy sheriff of Kane County in Illinois.
Michigan abolished capital punishment, the first state to do so.
Swedish religious dissenters founded the Bishop Hill commune in Illinois.
Milwaukee, a combination of several settlements on the shore of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin Territory, was incorporated.
Beloit College was founded by Congregationalists in Beloit, Wisconsin Territory.
Iowa was admitted to the Union as the 29th state, with its capital at Des Moines.
Grinnell College was founded in Iowa.
William Gregg, 46, arguing that economic domination by the North was best met by Southern industrialization, founded the Graniteville Company, a successful, large-scale cotton mill in Horse Creek Valley, SC. His scores of poor white employees lived in company houses, traded at the company store, and worshiped in the company-owned church. Liquor and dancing were prohibited. Children of employees under 12 were required to attend the company-built school.
British geologist Sir Charles Lyell, 49, visited New Orleans and was astounded to discover that the thriving city contained not a single book publishing house.
Slaveowners typically had little patience with excusing slave mothers from toil on the plantation. When prices paid for staple crops increased or when a planter was short-handed, many owners sought to shorten the period of recuperation from childbirth and extract more work from mothers, convincing themselves that women could return to work sooner than 1 month with no ill effects if they were in good health.(10)
This information on conditions on the slave plantation has been quoted from Schwartz, Marie Jenkins., Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000, pp. 48-74; the information on the slaves' undermining the slave system is from Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, pp. 370-71. (Close)
Owners could justify such a decision to their own satisfaction by imagining that black women gave birth more easily than white women, who were supposedly more civilized. New mothers might have to undertake even the most difficult jobs soon after giving birth in rice country. Recent childbirth only sometimes rendered a slave woman "unfit… to work in water," according to rice planter Plowden C. J. Weston, a self-proclaimed authority whose rules for plantation management appeared in the popular periodical DeBow's Review.
Although slaveholders sometimes excused new mothers from performing the most difficult farm chores, they expected them to keep busy at alternate tasks--such as spinning and sewing--in addition to caring for the new baby (or for other slave babies). Mothers who were not excused from field work would suckle their infants when the other hands stopped for water, and they depended on family and friends to bring them water in gourds. The Southern Cultivator's "Rules for the Plantation" recommended that nursing mothers
visit their children, morning, noon and evening until they are eight months old, and twice a day from thence until they are twelve months old.Mothers of infants under six months old picked substantially less cotton than they had the year before, or even than they did the year after, when their children were older than one year. One slave mother, for example, had been able to pick 219 pounds of cotton each day before giving birth; with a six-month-old child to tend, she averaged only 127 pounds, a decline of more than 42%.
On smaller slaveholdings, particularly in the Upper South, slave children past infancy but too young to help working adults, often fended for themselves as best they could alone in the slave cabin during the long work day. Large holdings provided nurseries, with breastfeeding mothers or older men and women, or slightly older children, providing minimal supervision.
Probably the most terrifying experience for a slave was the slave auction. "We attended a sale of land and other property, near Petersburg, Virginia, and unexpectedly saw slaves sold at public auction," reported Dr. Elwood Harvey.
The slaves were told they would not be sold, and were collected in front of the quarters, gazing on the assembled multitude. The land being sold, the auctioneer's loud voice was heard, "Bring up the niggers!" A shade of astonishment and affright passed over their faces, as they stared first at each other, and then at the crowd of purchasers whose attention was now directed to them. When the horrible truth was revealed to their minds that they were to be sold, and nearest relations and friends parted forever, the effect was indescribably agonizing. Women snatched up their babes, and ran screaming into the huts. Children hid behind huts and trees, and the men stood in mute despair.… It was announced that no warranty of soundness was given, and purchasers must examine for themselves. A few old men were sold at prices from fifteen to twenty-five dollars ($303 to $505 in 2006 dollars), and it was painful to see old men, bowed with years of toil and suffering, stand up to be the jest of brutal tyrants, and to hear them tell their disease and worthlessness, fearing that they would be bought by traders for the Southern market.(11)
Quoted in McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993), p. 212, citing Dr. Elwood Harvey, A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. (Close)
Missouri slave Dred Scott, 51, pictured here, backed by interested abolitionists, brought suit to claim his legitimate freedom on the ground that he and his wife, Harriet, had resided for 5 years in free territory (in both Illinois and Wisconsin Territory). His owners, the widow Mrs. John Emerson and her brother John F. A. Sanford, resisted the suit, but Scott won in the lower court. Mrs. Emerson appealed to the Missouri state supreme court.
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.
Many New Englanders were migrating to the Upper South, successfully restoring worn-out farmlands there. Using the 14-year-old methods of Edmund Ruffin (getting calcium into the soil and introducing better drainage) as well as using imported nitrogen-rich Peruvian guano, contour plowing to control erosion, these farmers were getting better yields. Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, even with their reputation as tobacco-growing states, were concentrating more and more on diversified farming--corn, wheat, vegetables, fruits, and livestock. Cotton growing had been migrating ever westward, more and more of it was being grown west of the Mississippi River.
Edward Zane Carroll Judson, 23, whose pseudonym for his action stories had been Ned Buntline and who had been publishing Ned Buntline's Own in Nashville, TN, was arrested for shooting and killing the husband of his alleged mistress. He escaped a lynch mob and reestablished Ned Buntline's Own in New York City.
Brigham Young, 45, pictured here, commanding the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), led his followers on a westward trek out of their settlement of Nauvoo, Illinois. By spring he had established winter quarters across the Mississippi from Council Bluffs, Iowa. (The Mormons followed Young, not in a body but strung out, some 15,000 men, women, and children, some reaching the winter quarters before the others had left Nauvoo.) From there Young led the trek past Omaha and into Mexico (present-day western Colorado), looking for a place to settle where they would not be harassed by neighbors disapproving of their polygamous practices.
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.
Boston aristocrat Francis Parkman, 23, started out on the Oregon Trail from Missouri but was overcome by illness. Here is what he later recorded in his Oregon Trail:
Last spring, 1846, was a busy season in the city of St. Louis. Not only were emigrants from every part of the country preparing for the journey to Oregon and California, but an unusual number of traders were making ready their wagons and outfits for Santa Fe. The hotels were crowded, and the gunsmiths and saddlers were kept constantly at work in providing arms and equipments for the different parties of travellers. Steamboats were leaving the [dock] and passing up the Missouri, crowded with passengers on their way to the frontier.(12)This is how Parkman was affected later by a buffalo hunt on the Plains:
Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 349. (Close)
Again and again that morning rang out the same welcome cry of buffalo, buffalo!… At noon, the plain before us was alive with thousands of buffalo--bulls, cows, and calves--all moving rapidly as we drew near.… In a moment I was in the midst of a cloud, half suffocated by the dust and stunned by the trampling of the flying herd; but I was drunk with the chase and cared for nothing but the buffalo.(13)
Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 457. (Close)
Jesse Applegate, 24, discovered a better route than the northern Oregon Trail, which brought so much loss of life and property in the Columbia Gorge through the Cascade Range. Applegate's trail left the California Trail at the Humboldt River (in northern Nevada), crossed the Nevada desert to Klamath Lake and then over the Cascades through an easier pass to the Applegate River (named for him) to present-day Grants Pass, OR, and then along the Umpqua River Valley to the Willamette. Still a difficult and dangerous road, but at least possible. Now an avalanche of Oregon-bound settlers began from the United States, an avalanche that could not be matched by Canadian or British pioneers stimulated by promotions of the Hudson's Bay Company. Americans were taking not only the available lands south of the Columbia River, but they were spreading north of the river as well.
The 10-year-old Christian mission of Dr. Marcus Whitman, 44, and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 30, had formerly been flourishing among the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley of eastern Oregon Country, but the Cayuse were now becoming estranged from the Whitmans because tough characters among the migrations of the preceding 2 years 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.
In winning Oregon, the Americans had great faith in their procreative powers. Boasted one Congressman:
Our people are spreading out with the aid of the American multiplication table. Go to the West and see a young man with his mate of eighteen; after the lapse of thirty years, visit him again, and instead of two, you will find twenty-two. That is what I call the American multiplication table.(14)
Quoted in Bailey et al., op. cit., p. 385. (Close)
Some 500 Americans traveled the California Trail through the Truckee Pass over the Sierra Nevada into the Mexican Province of Alta California, settling near Sutter's Fort at the junction of the American and Sacramento Rivers. Jacob Donner, 56, led an unfortunate party of 87 persons along this trail. They attempted the Sierras too late in the year and were engulfed in the tremendous snows. The drifts overwhelmed their crude cabins and tents, and many of them died and were eaten by the survivors. James Frazier Reed, 45, went on ahead, fighting his way through the snow, to Sutter's Fort to bring back a rescue party. Two children were found by these rescuers, dining on the partly roasted liver and heart of their dead father. There were only 47 survivors of the party.
New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley, 35, pictured here, published the following advice to adventurous Americans:
If you have no family or friends to aid you,… turn your face to the great West and there build up your home and fortune.(15)
Quoted in Davidson and Stoff, op. cit., p. 350, citing Greeley, "To Aspiring Young Men," New York Tribune. (Close)
Tennessee Congressman Andrew Johnson, 38, introduced a free homestead bill into the House of Representatives. Combining to defeat it were Northern Whigs (to keep laborers near the factories) and Southern Democrats (to keep the West empty of free farmers).
The Young America movement--modeled on European youth movements, inspired by the "manifest destiny" notion, and founded the previous year by Edwin de Leon and by 41-year-old newspaper editor and social reformer George Henry Evans (co-founder of the 17-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"])--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.
Over strenuous objections from New England and middle state Whigs lamenting that American manufacturers would be ruined, the 29th Congress, inspired by Young America Democrats, passed the Walker Tariff Act, which had been initiated and lobbied through Congress by Treasury Secretary Robert S. Walker from Alabama. The act taxed luxuries heavily but lowered import duties on many items and enlarged the list of items that were duty-free. Average rates dropped from 32% (from the Tariff of 1842) to about 25%. Americans would now enjoy lower prices for manufactured goods from Great Britain.
President Polk was able to achieve the restoration of the independent treasury, despite protests from pro-bank Whigs.
One of the U.S. troops, marching on the flank of Taylor's column, tried to shoo a large black wild bull out of the way by firing at him. He missed and the bull charged in a rage right into the U.S. column, "scattering regiments like chaff," with soldiers falling over one another, files breaking into a rout, and swearing officers unable to halt the debacle. No one dared fire at the animal for fear of wounding a soldier. Finally, the bull galloped away unharmed, having thrown the American army into confusion.(16)
Once on the left bank of the Rio Grande, General Taylor sent General William Jenkins Worth, 52, across the river with a communication to his Mexican counterpart, General T. Mejía, expressing
a desire to maintain amicable relations, and… willingness to leave the port of Brazos Santiago [a few miles north of the mouth of the Rio Grande] open to citizens of Matamoros until the boundary question should be settled.Mejía rejected this proposal, refused to allow Worth to interview the American counsel at Matamoros, and told Taylor that the movement of the American army was "regarded as an act of war."
General Pedro Ampudia, relieving Mejía of command, politely invited Taylor to retire north beyond the Nueces. Taylor politely declined on the grounds that he was in U.S. territory already; he began to build a fort opposite Matamoros, which he called "Fort Texas," with its guns bearing on the Mexican town. Hesitating, General Ampudia was replaced by the hawkish General Mariano Arista.
General Taylor learned that two ships intended to ascend the Rio Grande with supplies for the Mexican forces, and he ordered a blockade. General Arista then began sending his army across the Rio Grande, intending to cut Taylor off from his base of supplies at Port Isabel. U.S. Captain S. B. Thornton, reconnoitering with a company of dragoons, was ambushed by a detachment of Arista's cavalry. Sixteen Americans were killed or wounded, and others were captured.
Taylor left the partly finished Fort Texas under the command of Major Jacob Brown and a garrison of an infantry regiment and two batteries of artillery. He then led a few troops to secure his base at Port Isabel, after which he turned to meet the General Arista's 6,000 Mexicans, who were then besieging Fort Texas, where Major Brown was mortally wounded. General Arista, thinking that Taylor was retreating when he was on his way to Port Isabel, pursued him, only to meet the returning Americans, who had been slightly reinforced by some marines and Texas volunteers to a force numbering 2,228. With help from artillery pieces near a water hole, the waddings of which ignited the brush and caused smoke to blow in the Mexicans' faces, and because of ineffective Mexican cavalry lancer charges, Taylor won the Battle of Palo Alto, having lost only 4 killed and 42 wounded, compared with Mexican casualties of 102 killed and 127 wounded.
On the following day, after being routed by the American artillery in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, the Mexicans were chased south of the Rio Grande. Many of the fleeing Mexicans drowned in the river. American losses were 39 killed, 125 wounded; Mexican losses were 262 killed, 355 wounded, 159 missing. Taylor renamed Fort Texas after its mortally wounded defender Major Brown: Fort Brown (later Brownsville, TX).
Without waiting for orders, General Taylor moved his army across the river and occupied Matamoros, which offered no resistance. "Old Rough and Ready" was now a national hero.
President Polk called his cabinet to work all through a Sunday to prepare a war message, responding to documents proving the "wrongs and injuries" the United States had supposedly suffered from Mexico. As the President confided to his diary,
It was a day of great anxiety to me, and I regretted the necessity which had existed to make it necessary for me to spend the Sabbath in the manner I have.(17)Here is part of the message he gave to the 29th Congress(18):
Quoted in Morison, op. cit., p. 561. (Close)
The cup of forbearance has been exhausted. After reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood on American soil.Congress interrupted its debate on whether to close down the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, to declare war:
By act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that Government and the United States.Congress appropriated $10 million ($202 million in 2006 dollars) for operations, and approved the enlistment of 50,000 soldiers. (So many West Point graduates performed brilliantly in the battles to come that the debate on closing the academy was never resumed.)
Unfortunately for President Polk's schemes, Secretary of State James Buchanan, 55, that evening proposed to send a circular letter to American ministers and consuls that would include the following statement(19):
Quoted in ibid. (Close)
In going to war we did not do so with a view to acquire either California or New Mexico or any other portion of the Mexican territory.Polk, who had all along been baiting Mexico into war to get California, coldly ordered Buchanan to forget the circular letter. Polk had already expressed his attitude; he "wanted the whole hog, not just the trotters"--in particular, California (in more particular, the great bays of Yerba Buena [San Francisco] and San Diego, which he and industrialists deemed useful for the whaling and shipping interests).
Thomas O. Larkin, 44, the U.S. consul at Monterey, Alta California, wrote to Abel Stearns of Los Angeles:
Only better government by Mexico in California can keep the people here loyal to Mexico. They already begin to look abroad for help. Some look to England, some to the United States, and a few to France. The last is a dernier resort…Two weeks later, Larkin noted:
Overtures have been made by British agents to the Government of California to declare its independence, and at the same time requesting to declare itself under the protection of that Government and offering guarantees…(20)Worried about British designs on California, President Polk, rebuffed like his predecessors in attempts to purchase California, now determined to take it by conquest. Larkin sent Marine Lieutenant Archibald Gillespie to bear a dispatch he had received from Washington to John Charles Frémont, 33, pictured here, at that time in a camp on the shores of Klamath Lake in Oregon, instructing both Larkin and Frémont to "conciliate" the Californians and make them as friendly as possible to the United States. Frémont took his small exploring party down into California, to the ranch of mountain man Peter Lassen, 46, on Deer Creek, north of Sutter's Fort on the Sacramento River. He mustered some American mountain men, stole some horses, and "captured" the hamlet of Sonoma and an abandoned fort. The settlers raised a flag with a crude painting of a bear on it and proclaimed the Black Bear Republic, independent of Mexico.
Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., p. 241. (Close)
Meanwhile, U.S. Commodore John Drake Sloat, 65, with five vessels off the Mexican coast near Mazatlán, learned from "reliable sources" that hostilities had begun between the U.S. and Mexico and sailed northward toward Alta California. Although he had no formal notice of a declaration of war and no orders from the War Department, he decided to intervene when he observed a flotilla of British warships under Admiral Sir George Seymour. He landed his sailors in Monterey and occupied the government buildings and the town, claiming California for the United States. Two days later, his subordinate John Berrien Montgomery, 52, captured Yerba Buena (San Francisco). Then Commodore Robert Field Stockton, 51, succeeding Sloat as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, took possession of Los Angeles with the help of Frémont.
British anti-expansionists ("Little Englanders") had been arguing that the Columbia River in the Oregon Country was not a natural frontier like the St. Lawrence was in the East and that turbulent American hordes might simply seize the Oregon region one day soon; why should Britain fight a hazardous war over a wilderness on behalf of the "furred-out" Hudson's Bay Company monopoly? It looked like the U.S. was willing to go to war over Oregon; Hudson's Bay Company officials were alarmed with the growth of American settlement in the Willamette Valley (some 5,000 there, whereas the part north of the Columbia River had no more than 750 British subjects), and the company transferred its headquarters from the Columbia to Vancouver Island. Then, in May, President Polk notified the UK that he intended to terminate the 1818 treaty of joint occupation, and British experts reported that the Oregon country could not possibly be defended in case of war.
George Hamilton Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen ("Lord Aberdeen"), 62, the British Foreign Secretary, had been willing all along to accept the compromise 49°N boundary, and was appalled when he learned that his minister to Washington, Richard Packenham, had the preceding year rejected that compromise on his own initiative. Lord Aberdeen now himself suggested the 49° line; President Polk, irked by the rebuff he had received the year before from Packenham, referred the decision to the Senate.
Colonel Atoche, an American citizen who was an adherent and friend of former Mexican dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna, 52 (who was enjoying his exile in Cuba on a honeymoon with a teenaged bride), approached President Polk, wearing a gaudy uniform. He suggested that for certain sums of money--$30 million ($606 million in 2006 dollars) to the Mexican nation and, say, $500,000 ($10 million) to meet "present purposes" for a certain personage for whom Atoche would speak--he would arrange that when that "person" returned to power in Mexico, a conclusion with the United States "at a show of force," whereby Texas and certain lands to the west of Texas, would be ceded by the Mexican government. The Rio Grande would be the southwestern border of Texas and the boundary of California would run through San Francisco. President Polk, with incredible naïveté, swallowed this intrigue at face value.
The President, contemplating having to ask Congress for a "secret fund" appropriation to pay Atoche, asked his cabinet for advice. The cabinet went along, although some with misgivings. Then Polk sounded out party leaders. Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 64, and Texas Senator Sam Houston, 53, agreed to the sum involved, but Polk foresaw problems with South Carolina Senator John Caldwell Calhoun, 64, pictured here, but Calhoun agreed that the western lands were worth up to $25 million ($505 million in 2006 dollars). Calhoun pointed out, however, that existence of the fund would soon become public knowledge and would embarrass the ongoing negotiations with the United Kingdom for Oregon. Calhoun suggested that Polk drop his demands for his campaign bluster of insisting on getting Oregon all the way up to 54°40' N and rather compromise with the British for a boundary at 49° N--that is, extending the existing boundary from the Continental Divide to the Pacific.
President Polk abandoned his belligerent attitude and agreed to the compromise. The treaty stipulated not only that the 49° boundary between the United States and Canada be extended from the Continental Divide to Puget Sound, but that all of Vancouver Island be left to the British, that both nations retained the right to navigate in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. and that the British could still navigate on the Columbia River.
Many manifest-destiny Democrats and some Whigs from the old Northwest states argued against the treaty. There were a few diehard shouts of "Fifty-four forty forever!" and "Every foot or not an inch!" from those willing to go to war with the British, including Democratic Representative Stephen Arnold Douglas, 33, of Illinois, already a prominent Young America adherent.
Nonetheless, the Senate approved the compromise: The United States and the United Kingdom concluded the Oregon Treaty, establishing Latitude 49° N as the boundary between the United States and Canada as far west as the Strait of Georgia. All of Vancouver Island was recognized as part of Canada. Still undetermined was the status of the San Juan Islands, between the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound.
Hothead Manifest Destiny advocates condemned the Oregon compromise with the U.K. with the rhetorical question
Why all of Texas but not all of Oregon?Senator Benton answered:
Great Britain is powerful and Mexico is weak.In spite of hothead objections, the Senate ratified the treaty with the British by a large majority.
Meanwhile, President Polk pursued the secret deal he was negotiating with Santa Anna for the $30,500,000 ($616 million in 2006 dollars) that the Mexican schemer was demanding both for the Mexican nation and for himself. Polk now was sufficiently emboldened to ask Congress for his secret appropriation of $2 million ($40 million) as a down payment to "negotiate peace"--in other words, to bribe Santa Anna in order to purchase the new territory that was to be conquered, California in particular.
This appropriation was not voted at the time, but Democratic Representative David Wilmot, 32, of Pennsylvania, after remarking that buying California was not a problem, declared that extending slavery into conquered territories was incompatible with American democratic principles. He introduced an amendment to the funding measure, an amendment would become known as the Wilmot Proviso, providing, in the language of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787,
as an express and fundamental condition to the acquisition of any territory from the Republic of Mexico [that] neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted.Southern speakers assailed the Proviso with fury (and those few Southern Whigs who supported in the interest of peace were denounced as traitors to the South). Northern orators furiously upheld the Proviso (and those Northern Democrats who voted against it in the interest of peace were dismissed as "doughfaces," or "Northern men whith Southern principles"). Although the Proviso passed the House of Representatives it was defeated in the Senate. No other measure to organize conquered territory was proposed.
Meanwhile, President Polk sent U.S. Navy Captain Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, 43, to Cuba, stupidly in full uniform, to negotiate with Santa Anna. The consequent publicity played right into Santa Anna's hands.
Santa Anna, pictured here, was allowed to pass through the U.S. blockade and land at Veracruz. Once there, he double-crossed his American handlers and repudiated all his secret agreements with them. In tones of righteous indignation, he proclaimed himself the hero of the Mexican people. He denounced the "treachery" of former President Herrerra for attempting to negotiate with the U.S. Santa Anna assumed command of the Mexican Army at Mexico City. Vice President Bravo, an adherent of Santa Anna, ousted President Peredes and ensured that Santa Anna was proclaimed El Presidente. In his inaugural address, President Santa Anna promised to "punish the barbarians" who were invading Mexico from the U.S.
Meanwhile, General Taylor was receiving and writing letters promoting his popularity as a victorious general and possible candidate for President in 1848. One Kentucky politician wrote him:
People everywhere begin to talk of converting you into a political leader, when the War is done.(21)General Taylor was ordered to proceed with the war, but he was not really ready. He wasted a lot of time buying mules for transport wagons. Volunteers arrived in Matamoros, swelling his forces to 12,000 men and making him worry how he was going to feed them. Finally Taylor set forth with some 6,600 officers and men, with all the requisite artillery. They reached Camargo on the Rio Grande, establishing it as the advanced base of supplies. He worried all this time that the Polk administration was trying to kill his Presidential prospects by arranging a military defeat for him.
Quoted in Garraty, op. cit., p. 319. (Close)
Eventually Taylor set out for Monterrey (Nuevo León), and only with the help of a body of Texas Rangers under Ben McCulloch, 35, and John Coffee "Jack" Hayes, 29, and divisions under General David Emanuel Twiggs, 56, General William Jenkins Worth, and General William Orlando Butler, 55, Lieutenant Ulysses Simpson Grant, 23, Captain Braxton Bragg, 29, Lieutenant James Longstreet, 25, Lieutenant George Gordon Meade, 31, Lieutenant John F. Reynolds, 26, and Lieutenant George Henry Thomas, 30, and formidable artillery, Taylor won the Battle of Monterrey, capturing the city from 10,000 Mexican troops under General Ampudia after a 3-day bloody battle. American losses were heavy: 142 killed and 340 wounded. Mexican losses were much heavier but were never determined.
Taylor allowed General Ampudia to evacuate his garrison without surrendering their arms and agreed to an armistice of 8 weeks. Taylor's superiors severely criticized him for these generous terms and ordered him to suspend the truce immediately. War Secretary Marcy, persuaded by General Winfield "Old Fuss and Feathers" Scott, 60, designated Taylor's forces the "Army of Occupation" and ordered him to make no further advances but rather stay on the defensive and hold the northern Mexican provinces.
The War Department designated the forces of Colonel (soon to be Brigadier General) Stephen Watts Kearny, 52, the "Army of the West," which was to penetrate the western provinces of Mexico, and the forces of General Scott himself the "Army of the Centre"; Scott laid before War Secretary Marcy his plan for a campaign against the Mexican capital. With all available troops, including those he could siphon off from Taylor, Scott would capture Veracruz and then march on the capital.
General Taylor captured Saltillo, the capital of Coahuilla. General John Ellis Wool, 62, marched south from San Antonio, intending to occupy Chihuahua, but the roads would not accommodate his baggage and artillery. He then went to Monclova. General Taylor ordered him to go to Parras and then to Saltillo, where he joined Taylor--inflating his forces to 17,000. The War Department ordered Taylor to send 5,000 troops under Generals Robert Patterson, 54, Worth, and John Anthony Quitman, 48 [pictured, son of Christ Lutheran's founding pastor, Frederick Henry Quitman], to occupy the port of Tampico in Tamaulipas. U.S. Naval forces under Commodore David Conner, meanwhile, captured Tampico.
President Polk wanted to curtail the political ambitions of General Taylor, a Whig, who was writing to the newspapers and promoting himself. In fact, he wanted to curtail the ambitions of another Whig as well, General Scott. For his entire political career he had distrusted all Whigs, considering them incompetent "merely because they were Whigs." Now he was genuinely worried about the political capital an effective and therefore popular Whig general might gain. He tried to appoint a Democrat--Senator Thomas Hart Benton or General Robert Patterson, by then at Tampico, as head of all the armies by making him a Lieutenant General. The 64-year-old Benton remarked that Polk wanted
a small war, just large enough to require a treaty of peace, and not large enough to make military reputations dangerous for the presidency.(22)Congress refused to accede to the President's desires in this.
Quoted in ibid. (Close)
General Scott requisitioned some of Taylor's best troops for his campaign against Mexico City. Taylor bitterly complained that he had "lost the confidence of the government" and was being
sacrificed.… But, however much I may feel personally mortified and outraged by the course pursued, unprecedented at least in our history, I will carry out in good faith, while I remain in Mexico, the views of the government, though I may be sacrificed in the effort.(23)Determined not to be eclipsed by General Scott, Taylor took the offensive. Against his orders and against good sense, he decided to take his reduced army south across the rugged mountains and deserts to San Luis Potosí., and from there perhaps onward to Mexico City itself.
Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., p. 233. (Close)
Meanwhile, at Fort Leavenworth in Missouri Colonel Kearny organized his "Army of the West"--300 regulars of his own regiment, the 1st Dragoons; two companies of light artillery; two battalions of volunteers; the 1st Missouri Mounted Volunteers commanded by Colonel Alexander William Doniphan, 38; the 2nd Missouri Mounted Volunteers under Colonel Sterling Price, 37; the "Mormon Battalion" (some 540 persons of all ages and both sexes) shepherded by Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, 37; and some 400 wagons of the annual Santa Fe trading expedition from the Missouri River towns. Kearny set forth on the Santa Fe Trail and marched 650 miles along the Arkansas River to Fort Bent. He sent an escort to conduct trader James Wiley Magoffin, 47, to treat with the showy and obese Nuevo Mexico Governor, General Manuel Armijo. Magoffin was apparently authorized to bribe Armijo with $25,000 ($505,000 in 2006 dollars) to lose to Kearny's forces. Armijo loudly proclaimed that he was going to "exterminate the invader" and marched northward to Apache Canyon with 4,000 troops (largely poorly armed and untrained Indian and peon levies) and a couple of cannon. Kearny crossed Raton Pass and reached Las Vegas, New Mexico, and issued a proclamation "absolving" the New Mexicans from all allegiance to Mexico. When Kearny reached Apache Canyon, Armijo retreated to Santa Fe, where he gathered up as many valuables as possible and then continued southward to endure disgrace as a coward. Armijo responded to this denunciation with:
¡Adiós! They do not know that I had but 75 men to fight 3,000. What could I do?Kearny reached Santa Fe and raised the U.S. flag and proclaimed New Mexico (including the present states of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah) as a U.S. territory. He appointed Charles Bent, 46, of the Bent & St. Vrain fur trading firm as Governor. He then began construction of Fort Marcy, named for the Secretary of War.
Kearny ordered Colonel Doniphan to draw up a code of laws, pacify the Indians in the surrounding wilds, and then march southward to join General Wool in Chihuahua. Doniphan declared the statutes of the State of Missouri legal and binding in New Mexico, with a few exceptions governing land grants, acequias, and a few other matters peculiar to the territory. Doniphan also met with the Pueblos, who promised to keep the peace. While all this was happening, many of Doniphan's Missouri boys were getting venereal disease in Santa Fe.
Finally, Doniphan was able to march southward with his straggling Los Goddammies (their nicknamed earned from their favorite word, uttered whether happy or angry, at work or at play, fighting or frolicking) toward General Wool with a force somewhat depleted by the "dissipations of the New Mexico metropolis." The jovial and carefree men could not be restrained from shooting at jackrabbits, prairie dogs, and prairie owls. Lieutenant George Frederick Ruxton, a British Army officer heading north, encountered a camp of Doniphan's men and was shocked:
From appearances no one would have imagined this to be a military encampment. The tents were in line but there all uniformity ceased.… The camp was strewed with the bones of the cattle slaughtered for its supply, and not the slightest attention was paid to keeping it clear from other accumulations of filth. The men, unwashed and unshaven, were ragged and dirty, without uniforms, and dressed as, and how, they pleased.… The most total lack of discipline was apparent in everything. These very men, however, were as full of fight as gamecocks.… Of drill and maneuvering the volunteers have little or no idea. "Every man on his own hook" is their system in action; and trusting to, and confident in, their undeniable bravery, they "go ahead" and overcome all obstacles.(24)At last Los Goddammies of Colonel Doniphan made it through the 90-mile waterless Jornada del Muerto, from Valverde to Las Cruces, in good humor and ready for battle. They reached Brazito (Little Arm), near El Paso, on Christmas Day, slaughtering and barbecuing cattle, singing "Hail Columbia" and "Yankee Doodle," and firing their rifles into the air. While they were playing cards, Mexican forces, more than 1,400 of them, under General Ponce de León fell upon them. At this Battle of Brazito, the rough Americans routed the numerically superior Mexicans, capturing their provisions and "delicious wines." Colonel Doniphan occupied El Paso, where he was soon reinforced by men and artillery led by Major Meriwether Clark.
Quoted in ibid., pp. 249-50, who quoted George Frederick Ruxton, Life in the Far West. (Close)
General de León retreated all the way to Chihuahua, where he was arrested for cowardice. Seeing the fortifications at that city, he predicted that the Americans would overwhelm them:
Yes, those are all right, but those Americanos will roll over them like hogs; they do not fight as we do.
Brigadier General Kearny, meanwhile, hurried westward with his dragoons and artillery, encountering Christopher "Kit" Carson, 37, riding eastward with dispatches telling of the "conquest" of California by Frémont. Kearny persuaded Carson to turn around and join him on the march to California, along the Gila River. A Mexican hostler working for Kearny named Sancho Pedro was killed by Apaches along the way, and Kearny honored him with a pine slab headstone with the following epitaph:
Here lie the bones of Sancho Pedro, the only damn decent greaser I ever knew. Killed by Apache Indians, 1846, Gen. S.W.K. U.S.A.
Kearny also met the Apache chief Mangas Coloradas ("Red Sleeves"), 55, who had a grudge against treacherous Mexican and American scalp hunters but who greeted the U.S. troops as allies:
You have taken Santa Fe. Let us go on and take Chihuahua and Sonora. We will go with you. You fight for honor. We fight for plunder and vengeance. Their people are truce breakers. Let us punish them as they deserve.Kearny rejected the proposal, much to the puzzlement of the Apaches.
Meanwhile, Kearny's "Mormon Battalion" under Colonel Cooke was heading west along a better trail. Unfortunately, a whole herd of bulls charged the column, and Cooke ordered his men to load their muskets and repel the "enemy." The volley was badly aimed and hastily fired; the bulls kept charging. One bull gored a soldier, throwing him over his back. Another bull attacked a team of mules and killed them both. A number of bulls were finally killed, and the rest withdrew. Colonel Cooke named the nearby creek Bull Run in honor of this battle.
Californians, meanwhile, angered by the arbitrary actions of Frémont and Stockton, broke out in revolt against the Americans. A body of rancheros captured some Americans at the Rancho del Chino (south of present-day Pomona). They would have massacred the Americans, but their leader Serbulo Valera intervened. They marched on Los Angeles with their prisoners and forced the Americans there to withdraw to San Pedro, where the guns of the U.S.S. Savannah protected them.
Kearny finally reached San Diego. Rancheros under General Andrés Pico, brother of Governor Pí'o Pico, gathered to attack the Americans with their long steel-bladed lances. The two forces met in the Battle of San Pasqual, and the Americans were badly mauled.
To alleviate the shortage of firearms due to the war, Texas Ranger Samuel Hamilton Walker, 29, persuaded President Polk to place an order for revolvers with Samuel Colt, 32, who engaged Elisha King Root, 38, to help him mass-produce the revolvers with interchangeable parts.
The Mexican War was very popular in the Mississippi Valley and in Texas itself; those regions furnished some 49,000 volunteers, lusting to "revel in the halls of the Montezumas." In the original 13 states there was less enthusiasm; only 13,000 volunteers came from there. In some sections of the East, there was fervent domestic opposition--particularly among Whigs and abolitionists. In the Senate both Henry Clay of Kentucky, 69, and Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, 64, denounced the struggle as a conspiracy to bring more slave-holding states into the Union. Boston poet-essayist James Russell Lowell, 27, began publishing The Biglow Papers, about a fictional Ezekiel Biglow, who discusses in dialect the Mexican-American War and how it will help to extend slavery in the United States.
They just want this CalifornyThe Massachusetts legislature insisted that the war's purpose was to strengthen the slave power, that it was actually a war against the free states, that it was unconstitutional and insupportable by honest men, that it should be concluded without delay, and that it should be followed by
So's to log new slave-states in
To abuse ye, an' to scorn ye,
An' to plunder ye like sin.(25)
Quoted in Morison, op. cit., p. 562. (Close)
all constitutional efforts for the abolition of slavery within the United States.(26)A Whig newspaper declared that the war would be a
Quoted in ibid. (Close)
joy to hear that the hordes under Scott and Taylor were every man of them swept into the next world.(27)
Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., p. 216, who quoted Lynn Montross, War Through the Ages. (Close)
Some Whigs, especially in the Midwest, were not yet anti-war, and the local Springfield Whig organ, the Sangamo Journal, demanded that President Polk adopt a "sterner course" with Mexico:
Mexican authorities have insulted our government, and robbed our people sufficiently, to call for some other policy. . . . Nothing but pusillanimity on our part will continue our present policy with Mexico.In spite of their opposition to the war, even the "Conscience Whigs" consistently voted for war credits and supplies.
Prodded by his wife, the 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Illinois Whig state assemblyman Abraham Lincoln, 37, pictured here, once more ran for the coming year's 30th Congress, arguing that it was his turn to be the Whig candidate from his district--having been passed over in previous elections by John J. Hardin in 1843 and Edward D. Baker in 1844. "Turn about is fair play," he insisted, but Hardin insisted that he wanted to be the candidate again, much to Lincoln's chagrin. After great pressure, Hardin finally withdrew.
Lincoln in particular supported the war in his campaign against the Democrat Reverend Peter Cartwright, a Methodist circuit rider. Both candidates considered slavery an "evil," but neither considered it a "sin." Lincoln won the election, 6340 to 4829. Meanwhile, Lincoln's rival for the past 10 years, Illinois Democrat Stephen Arnold Douglas, 33, pictured here, was elected to the Senate.
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.
Fashionable men were wearing very stiff collars.
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.
Women's skirts had grown shorter from the styles of previous decades, but sleeves were now enormous. Very large hats had become fashionable, and they were ornamented with flowers and ribbons.
By this time, families were getting much smaller than they had been a quarter century before. The fertility rate was dropping sharply among white women. Birth control was still a taboo topic for polite conversation, and contraception technology was primitive, but clearly some form of family limitation was being practiced quietly and effectively in countless families, rural and urban alike. Women undoubtedly played a large part--perhaps the leading part--in decisions to have fewer children.
Newspapers carried ads for "female syringes," sold with such chemicals as alum or sulfites of zinc or iron, for the purpose of contraceptive spermacidic douching. A woman might also use a contraceptive sponge with an attached thread for easy removal.
Swiss naturalist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, 39, moved to the United States.
Boston dentist William Thomas Green Morton, 27, heard a lecture by chemist Charles T. Jackson, 41, explaining how sulfuric ether brings on unconsciousness. He tried ether on himself and on his dog. He then used it on a patient in extracting a tooth painlessly. Boston surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow read an account of this in the newspaper (the patient leaked the story) and persuaded Morton to publicly demonstrate the effectiveness of ether as an anesthetic at Massachusetts General Hospital: New England's leading surgeon, John Collins Warren, performed the operation on a "congenital but superficial vascular tumor" with the patient feeling no pain. Morton claimed the discovery of ether's anesthetic qualities and obtained a patent, but he had to contend with Jackson and with Georgia physician Crawford Long, who had performed a surgery with ether 4 years earlier, so he could not enforce the patent. Massachusetts poet and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, 37, suggested to Morton the word anaesthetic for ether, and physicians began using it regularly--in particular, for dealing with wounds suffered in the Mexican War.
Boston machine shop apprentice Elias Howe, Jr., 30, was able to patent his two-threaded, interlocking-shuttle sewing machine he had invented 3 years earlier. In a wager, he proved that he could use it, calmly pumping its foot pedal, to sew a piece of clothing faster than five seamstresses combined, working feverishly with their needle and thread. Unfortunately, garment makers were reluctant to use the machine for fear of antagonizing their workers. Howe's British agent pirated the British royalties on the machine. There is also wide infringement on the patent.
New Jersey inventor Nancy Johnson invented a portable hand-cranked ice cream freezer; and New York printing press manufacturer Richard M. Hoe, 34, patented his rotary "lightning press," whose type form was attached to a central cylinder rather than to the typical flatbed of that time and which could run 10,000 sheets of paper per hour.
No slave-hunt in our borders--no pirate in our strand!Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 40, published The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems, including "The Arsenal at Springfield" and "The Arrow and the Song"; Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, 43, pictured here, published his Poems, including "Woodnotes" and "Give All to Love"; Pennsylvania Quarker painter Edward Hicks, 66, painted Noah's Ark; painter George Caleb Bingham, 35, unveiled The Jolly Flatboatmen; playwright Cornelius Mathews wrote Witchcraft, or the Martyrs of Salem; Virginia poet and novelist Edgar Allan Poe, 37, published in Godey's Lady's Book the short story "The Cask of Amontillado"; and novelist Herman Melville, 27, published the instantly successful Tyee about his own experiences in Polynesia and making him known as "the man who had lived among the cannibals."
No fetters in the Bay State---no slave upon our land!
Mary Cornelius of Boston published the cookbook The Young Houskeeper's Friend; and Catharine Esther Beecher, 45, published Miss Beecher's Receipt Book (in those days, the word recipe was spelled "receipt").
Popular periodicals included the Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, Scientific American, Police Gazette, 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.
The song "Jim Crack Corn" (also known as "The Blue Tail Fly") was released in Baltimore and immediately 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," "Oh! Susanna," "Buffalo Gals," "Old Dan Tucker," "Old Rosin the Beau," "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," "Home Sweet Home," "Turkey in the Straw," and "Amazing Grace."
Showman Edwin Pearce Christy, 31, continued to perform with his Christy Minstrels. Here is a description of a typical minstrel show by historian Samuel Eliot Morison(28):
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 British Parliament passed the British Possessions Act, which allowed Canada to establish tariffs.
The U.S. and New Grenada (Colombia, which consisted of present-day Colombia and Panama) signed a commercial treaty, giving the U.S. the right of way across the Isthmus of Panama.
Manuel Oribe, 50, former President of Uruguay who had been ousted from power 7 years earlier, in alliance with Juan Manuel de Rosas, 51, the dictator of Argentina, continued his civil war in Uruguay and his prolonged siege (now in its third 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 continued their blockade (now in its second year) of the Rio de la Plata.
Merchant shipping of the United Kingdom reached 3.2 million tons annually, some 4 percent of it steam-driven.
Great Britain adopted a standard gauge for railroads.
The first cheap English newspaper, the Daily News, began publication with novelist Charles (John Huffman) Dickens, 34, as editor.
J. L. Ricardo, M.P., and W. F. Cooke founded the Electric Telegraph Company, acquiring Cooke's single-key telegraph patents for £168,000, and began building networks.
The Evangelical Alliance was founded in London.
Irish tenant farmers, on the 663,153 landholdings of less than 15 acres, had been attempting to raise cattle and grain in order to raise rent money; for their own food they were dependent on potatoes. Unfortunately, once again, the potato crop failed. Famine swept Ireland when the food reserves were exhausted. British Conservatives ascribed the famine to the divine hand of Providence and stated that it would paralyze trade if they were to give food away to the Irish. There were private aid programs, however, and Americans raised $1 million and sent relief ships. Unfortunately, the aid programs were managed poorly. The Irish lacked horses and carts to carry the imported grain to famine-distressed areas inland. Also, there were not enough ovens to bake bread. Half a million Irish starved to death or died of hunger-related typhus. Emigration was reducing the Irish population further: Some 60,000 people were emigrating each year.
There was concerted opposition from Conservatives led by Benjamin Disraeli, 42, to the free trade actions of Prime Minister Robert Peel, himself a Conservative. They denounced Peel for betraying his heretofore protectionist principles, but they could not prevent the repeal of the infamous Corn Laws of 1828, which had restricted the export and import of grain. Duties were eliminated on live animal imports and drastically reduced (and soon eliminated) on imported cheeses, butter, and other foods. Britons would now enjoy lower prices for food, much of it from the United States.
In the short run, that would appear to improve the situation for the Irish, but in the long run, it hurt them. Ireland had been enjoying a favored status as a supplier to the British market, and that was no longer true. Large landowners in Ireland, most of them absentee, now switched from raising wheat to raising cattle. Cotters (small tenant farmers) were thrown off the land to make way for pasturage. This, too, increased emigration. Note Irish immigration into the United States and the conditions experienced by the immigrants.
Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, 38, nephew of Emperor Napoleon the Great, imprisoned for insurrection and subversion in the fortress of Ham, escaped and fled to London.
Dubonnet was introduced in Paris.
Electric arc lighting was installed at the Opéra in Paris.
Architect Franz Klenze began construction of the Propylaea in Munich, which would take another 16 years to complete.
German optical instrument maker Carl Zeiss, 30, opened an optical factory in Jena in Thuringia.
An insurrection in Portugal was suppressed by both Austrian and Russian forces, who entered Cracow. Austria annexed Cracow.
Pope Gregory XVI died and was succeeded by Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti as Pope Pius IX, 54.
English assyriologist Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, 36, deciphered a Persian cunieform inscription of Darius I Hystapis at Behistun, Iran, thereby enhancing the field of Babylonian and Assyrian history.
French missionaries Evariste R. Huc and Joseph Gabet, who 2 years earlier had begun journeying from China into Tibet, finally reached the closed religious city of Llasa.
The American commander of the East India Squadron, James Biddle, 63, negotiated a commercial treaty with China. Biddle then returned to command a Pacific Coast flotilla in the Mexican War,
French historian Jules Michelet, 48, published Le Peuple ("The People"), exhorting the French to unite, to find her strength in the people, to eliminate class divisions, and to return to the ideals of the French Revolution of 1789(29):
I have acquired the conviction that this country is one of invincible hope. With France, nothing is finished. Always everything begins anew.German philosopher Friedrich Theodor Vischer, 39, published Aesthetics; and German psychologist Theodor Waitz, 25, published Foundation of Psychology.
French painter Jean-François Millet, 36, unveiled Oedipus Unbound.
French composer Hector Berlioz, 43, produced the dramatic cantata La Damnation de Faust ("The Damnation of Faust") at the Opéra Comique in Paris; German composer Gustav Albert Lortzing, 45, produced the opera Der Waffenschmied in Vienna; German composer Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn, 37, produced the oratorio Elijah at the Birmingham Music Festival in England; German composer Robert Schumann, 36, produced Symphony No. 2 in C major at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig; and Belgian instrument maker Antoine Joseph Sax, 32, patented the saxophone, which he had invented 5 years earlier.