Christ's Lutheran Church in 1847

[ Christ's Church on the Sawkill ]

Pastor William H. Emerick, 41, 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):
[ 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.…

[ Farm wagon ] 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.

[ Reverend Emerick ] The church owned no parsonage. The pastor (pictured)
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.…
The land on which the church sat was leased, as was most of the holdings in the Catskills, in the feudal system that had been in effect for generations: A landlord, often an absentee landlord, actually owned land that a tenant was able to reside on and farm by virtue of a "three-life lease" (at the death of [usually] the grandchild of the original tenant, the land reverted to the landlord). Most of the land in Woodstock had been owned by the Livingston family on the other side of the Hudson. In October of this year, as a result of the what had been decided by the Anti-Rent War, the congregation of Christ's Church of Woodstock was able to purchase the land outright from Eugene Augustus Livingston for the sum of $1.00 ($20.93 in 2006 dollars).

[ Revival camp meeting ] 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.

Baby Nathaniel M. Nash was baptized into the congregation.

The Woodstock Region in 1847

In the wake of the Anti-Rent War of the early 1840s, a land rush continued, with tenants besieging the Livingston brothers and other manorial landlords with offers to buy the farms they had been tilling for generations. In the years following that war and continuing for several more 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.

Governor John Young pardoned all the rest of the sentenced Anti-Renters. The men returned to their homes in triumph. Prattsville baron Zadock Pratt treated the heroes returning to his village with a brass-band parade and a sumptuous dinner.

Quite a few Anti-Rent tenants in Delaware County refused opportunities to buy their acres, convinced that they would gain possession without paying once the state invalidated the landlords' titles.

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 ($104.65 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.

Thomas Cole, 46, of the Hudson River School of painting came once again to Woodstock with his clergymen friends to climb Overlook Mountain (then known as South Peak), his final visit, and spend the night close to the summit. According to his friends, Cole was convinced that he had not much longer to live, Here is what his companion and religious mentor, the Reverend Louis L. Noble, said about Cole's reverent farewell to the Hudson River and the Catskills from the cliff with the best view:

From this dizzy crag Cole took a long and silent look up and down the beloved valley of the Hudson. He had gazed upon it, from other points unnumbered times, alone and with companions… it had filled his heart for years. This was his last look. A few hundred feet below, by a rivulet, expanding into a small, glassy pool, bordered with moss, and roofed with the gay foliage of the month, he took his final mountain repast, a sandwich and an apple, seasoning a quiet hour with his usual pleasantry.…(2) Excerpted from Evers, Alf, The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972, pp. 448-49, citing Noble, L. L., Course of Empire, New York, 1853, pp. 399-400. (Close)
Cole died a few months later.

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. During 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).

Poughkeepsie restauranteur James Smith acquired a recipe for a good-tasting cough remedy and soon began offering to afflicted patrons the cough drops he had made in the kitchen. His sons, William and Andrew Smith, known as the "Smith Brothers," began selling the cough drops to passengers on the stagecoaches between New York City and Albany that stopped in Poughkeepsie.

The United States in 1847

[ James K. Polk ]

James Knox Polk, 51 (Democrat), was President. The newly elected 30th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $20.93 in 2006 for most consumable products.

The first U.S. adhesive postage stamps went on sale--the 5-cent Benjamin Franklin stamp and the 10-cent George Washington stamp ($1.05 and $2.10, respectively, in 2006 dollars).

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.

The New York Commissioner of Emigration began to keep accurate records.

Thousands of Irish immigrants 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.

The 1,422-ton wooden-hulled S.S. Hibernia, with a service speed of 9.5 knots, owned by the Royal Mail Steamship Line of Samuel Cunard, arrived in New York City.

A great migration from the Netherlands began toward America, many immigrants settling in the Middle West.

A contingent of 35 Chinese immigrants reached New York City from Canton aboard the seagoing junk Kee Ying, marking the beginning of Chinatown.

Thousands of German immigrants also came to the United States, at an annual rate of 43,000. One German immigrant living in Cincinnati wrote to his relatives in Germany:

A lot of people come over here who were well off in Germany but were enticed to leave their fatherland by boastful and imprudent letters from their friends or children and thought they could become rich in America. This deceives a lot of people, since what can they do here? If they stay in the city they can only earn their bread at hard and unaccustomed labor. If they want to live in the country and don't have enough money to buy a piece of land that is cleared and has a house then they have to settle in the wild bush and have to work very hard to clear the trees out of the way so they can sow and plant. But people who are healthy, strong, and hard-working do pretty well.(3) Quoted in Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 301. (Close)

City dwellers lived without sewers and contended with garbage strewing the streets. They lived with smelly slums, feeble street lighting, inadequate policing, impure water, foul sewage, ravenous rats, and improper garbage disposal. The principal water source for New York City was at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street (the present Public Library site). Residents in most cities drew their supply for cooking and drinking from backyard wells typically adjacent to privies or from mosquito-hatching rainwater cisterns. There were also tank wagons that sold country water door to door. Waste water from baths and sinks was discharged into street gutters.

New York City had a population of nearly 400,000.

One visitor to New York City reported the following:

The streets are filthy, and the stranger is not a little surprised to meet the hogs walking about in them, for the purpose of devouring the vegetables and trash thrown into the gutter.
Thousands of pigs ran freely on New York City streets.
I cannot refrain from saying a few kind words on behalf of the favored pet of the Americans, the swine. I have not yet found any city, county or town where I have not seen these lovable animals wandering about peacefully in huge herds… the swine have shown certain good traits which are of real practical value; in the country they greedily devour all kinds of snakes and the like, and in the towns they are very helpful in keeping the streets "cleaner than man can do" by eating up all kinds of refuse.(4) Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 302, citing McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993), p. 99, who cited O. M. Reader (1847), excerpted in This Was America. (Close)
"Hog reeves" were appointed to round up troublesome or stray hogs from the city streets. "Well-mannered" swine were left alone, but sometimes poor folk would kill them and eat them.

Cesspools and manure piles were everywhere. Flies, mosquitoes, and other insects were prevalent pests. Windows had no screens, although many people slept under a cotton mosquito net draped over their four-poster beds. The only way to keep flies from the food was to cover everything and wave a fan over the table.

A mob mania had developed in the United States, and it was by no means confined to the dispute over abolition and slavery. The immigrants from Europe created religious, economic, political, and social problems, which often provoked mob action.

Irish Catholics were a special target for violence, although Germans were sometimes involved. In some places Catholic churches were burned and priests beaten. For a time it seemed that the forces of law and order could not cope with these adjustments.(5) 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, pp. 201-202. (Close)
Slavery agitation, however, furnished the most ominous undertone to the nation's life. The Irish fiercely resented the blacks, with whom they shared society's basement, for the same reasons that the older American stock had resented the Irish: wage-depressing competitors for jobs. Race riots between black and Irish dockworkers flared up in several port cities, and the Irish were generally cool to the abolitionist cause.

A Democratic Party convention in New York State adopted a so-called "cornerstone resolution" expressing "uncompromising hostility" toward extending slavery in the Western territories, thereby splitting the Democratic Party; the "Barnburners" (former Locofocos, named for those who would be willing to burn down the barn to get rid of the rats), disappointed 2 years earlier that they had not been given cabinet positions in President Polk's administration, carried this convention but alienated the national party as a whole. The Barnburners would ultimately become Free-Soilers.

[ John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina ] Historian Paul Wellman has described the mutual hostility between the South and the North in the middle of the Nineteenth Century(6):

Quoted in ibid., pp. 428-29. (Close)
The rise of abolitionism was the beginning of the really severe resentment in the South. South Carolina Senator John Caldwell Calhoun [pictured here] said that abolitionism
originated in that blind, fanatical zeal which made one man believe that he was responsible for the sins of others; and which, two centuries ago, tied the victim that it could not convert to the stake.
There was some truth to that statement. Oral and written abuse of slaveholders, and indeed the entire South, became an abolitionist obsession, and went to extremes. Southern men were pictured as sadistic and greedy upholders of "unbridled licentiousness and despotic control." Sex, an ever-sensational subject, was brought up with wildest exaggerations, to fan public opinion to heat. For example, abolitionist Wendell Phillips characterized the South as
one great brothel where a half million of women are flogged in prostitution.
The Southern people responded with wrath and shock, having convinced themselves that they were the benefactors of slaves, caretakers who assumed the burden of providing for an inferior people.(7) The material comparing the lot of Southern slaves with that of other unfortunates is quoted directly from Schwartz, Marie Jenkins, Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000, pp. 6 ff. (Close) Southern slaveowners were eager to demonstrate that the form of slavery they imposed on people of African descent benefited the enslaved as well as the enslaver. They bragged of their own slaves' supposed contentedness and argued that bondage in the United States was more humane, less cruel, than it was on the sugar, coffee, and cocoa plantations of Latin America and the Caribbean, where bonded children did not thrive. Indeed, they believed that Southern slaves were better fed, clothed, and housed than many free laborers in the North. Thousands of white children in the North, said the slaveowners (with some truth), labored 14 hours a day in mills and shops at an age when slave children of the South were supposedly free to play. They cited legislative reports showing that the factory system of the North made virtual slaves of white workers by binding them economically to crushing and ceaseless toil. Southern propagandists defended slavery as more humane than the exploitation of the poor working-class "wage slaves" in the North, and they quoted biblical justifications for slavery, and insisted on the supposed racial inferiority of blacks, belonging to the "prognathous" species of mankind with a nervous system "somewhat like the ourang outang."

In the North the net product of the ceaseless drumfire of abolitionist denunciation created first contempt for, then detestation of, the whole South. Slavery was wrong. The stubbornness with which the slaveholders clung to it turned Northern opinion against them.

Senator Calhoun, in an effort to counter the preceding year's Wilmot Proviso, which would have barred slavery in the land wrested from Mexico, introduced a series of resolutions arguing that Congress had no right to prohibit slavery from any territory: The territories belonged to all the states, slave and free, and all should have equal rights in them. Calhoun's resolutions had no chance in the House of Representatives, just as the Wilmot Proviso had had no chance in the Senate. (Calhoun's doctrine did, however, become embodied during this year as "the platform of the South" in resolutions by the Virginia legislature.)

President Polk proposed that the 27-year-old Missouri Compromise line, 36° 30' N, be extended to the Pacific, allowing slavery to the south of it, but Northern legislators would not consider it. Lewis Cass of Michigan, 65, proposed another idea: organizing new territories without mentioning slavery, leaving it to the local settlers to decide for themselves--an idea that became known as "popular sovereignty" or "squatter sovereignty."

[ Frederick Douglass ] Escaped slave Frederick Douglass, 30, pictured here, began publishing the abolitionist newspaper North Star in Rochester, NY.

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.

Trains, rattling along at speeds of 20 miles per hour (twice as fast as the stagecoach, four times as fast as the canal boat), subjected passengers to sundry discomforts.(8)

Quoted in McCutcheon, op. cit., pp. 70-71. (Close) Along with a pervasive unease over potential derailments and boiler explosions, passengers complained about the racket the cars made over the tracks and of the ashes and cinders that constantly rained on them from the locomotives' smokestacks. One woman found thirteen holes burned in her gown from the engine's relentless belching of sparks. Others registered horror over the number of livestock being run down and at the potential for pedestrian accidents at railway crossings.

Men frequently spat wherever they pleased on trains, so the railroads strategically placed spittoons throughout their cars.(9)

Quoted in ibid., pp. 76, 174, citing "Travels in the United States in 1846-47" in The Western World. (Close)

Young men and women initially met and took a cotton to or a fancy to a member of the opposite sex at harvest celebrations and bees. In the fall farmers frequently invited local youths to participate in corn huskings and apple parings and put on barn dances in exchange for labor. "I must pass on to the antagonisms of the corn-husking," said Dr. Drake in 1847.

When the crop was drawn in, the ears were heaped into a long pile or rick, a night fixed on, and the neighbors notified, rather than invited, for it was an affair of mutual assistance. As they assembled at nightfall, the green glass quart whiskey bottle, stopped with a cob, was handed to every one, man and boy, as they arrived, to take a drink.(10) Quoted in ibid., p. 24, citing Dr. Drake, Pioneer Life in Kentucky, pp. 54-56. (Close)
The young flirters might also meet at church and school (how could one remain shy year after year in the same one-room schoolhouse?). Sometimes boy and girl boldly flirted on the streets or on a public beach. Accounts exist of young women strolling the sidewalks of New York in groups, openly flirting with men on Broadway and the Bowery and pairing off for a night of frolic. Most teens and young adults probably got to know a prospective date by simply hanging out together.

In winter, couples harnessed the family horse to a sleigh (sleighs were much cheaper than coaches or carriages, so many families owned one), snuggled up under a pile of buffalo robes, and went off alone or in groups for a moonlit excursion--an immensely popular date.(11)

Quoted in ibid., pp. 204-05. (Close) Coaching was popular among upper-class couples; a hot date on wheels might include dinner and a night at the theater, followed by a few stolen kisses in the coach's darkened--and often plush--interior. For the economically disadvantaged couple, an old swaybacked horse could provide a romantic escape by itself. Couples also took walks, went berrying, attended lectures, cuddled in haylofts, danced at neighborhood parties, communed at church socials, sang to one another, and, most often perhaps, sequestered themselves in the girl's parlor, assuming her family was tactful enough to withdraw to other rooms.

Camden, ME, baker's apprentice Hanson Crockett Gregory, 15, knocked the soggy center out of the fried doughnuts he was making, thereby introducing the ring doughnut.

A theater company from Havana, Cuba, performed for six consecutive weeks the Italian operas Ermani by Verdi and Norma by Bellini to huge crowds at the gas-lighted Howard Atheneum in Boston.

New England clergyman John Humphrey Noyes, 36, who had been preaching promiscuity and free love at his religious commune in Putney, VT, calling it the communism of the early Christian church, was indicted for adultery and was run out of Vermont.

Paran Stevens opened the Revere House hotel in Boston.

An acting company from Havana played Italian opera (including Ernani by Verdi and Norma by Bellini) to huge crowds for 6 consecutive weeks at Boston's gas-lighted Howard Athenaeum. (Because of Puritan prejudice, almost every New England theater was disguised under the name of "Athenaeum" or "Museum.")

Louisburg Square in Boston was completed after 13 years of construction.

Massachusetts poet and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, 38, became dean of the Harvard Medical School.

[ Lucy Stone ] Tiny, 110-pound Lucy Stone, 29, pictured here, began lecturing on women's rights in a church in Gardiner, MA, where her brother was a minister.

The Maumkoag Steam Cotton Mill in Salem, MA, began production, the first mill in the U.S. powered by steam.

Dorr Rebellion of 1842 (continued)

Harvard law graduate Thomas Wilson Dorr, 42, who 5 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 3 years earlier been sentenced to solitary confinement at hard labor for life for his treason conviction, had been nonetheless pardoned and released 2 years earlier with ruined health. 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 4 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.

Gerhon Fox opened his G. Fox dry-goods store (later a department store) in Hartford, CT, and offered free delivery by wheelbarrow.

The "extreme" clipper ship Sea Witch--sleek, tall-masted, huge-sailed, with its narrow bow, high stern, aft-displaced beams--returned to New York City from Hong Kong in a record 81 days against a monsoon, flying past older ships that took 5 months for the journey.

There were 16 daily newspapers in New York City, including the 46-year-old New York Evening Post, the 14-year-old New York Sun, the 12-year-old New York Herald, and the 6-year-old New York Tribune.

The New York Academy of Medicine was founded.

After attending a convention in Philadelphia of representatives of medical schools and medical societies, upstate New York doctor Nathan Smith Davis, 30, founded the American Medical Association (AMA), with Connecticut physician Jonathan Knight as president.

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

Civil engineer Charles Ellet, Jr., 37, finished construction of a suspension bridge over the Niagara River.

Arunah S. Abell installed at his Philadelphia Public Ledger newspaper the rotary press invented the previous year by Richard M. Hoe, 35. Now some 8,000 copies of the paper could be printed per hour, making it the first large daily edition.

The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin began publication.

Pennsylvania businessman Samuel M. Kier, 34, sold bottled petroleum as a patent medicine.

Colonel David Hostetter became a millionaire with his extensively advertised patent medicine cure-all Hostetter's Stomach Bitters, made with 44 percent alcohol.

Cincinnati Quaker inventor Obed Hussey, 55, set up a factory in Baltimore to manufacture his improved grain reaper.

John Edmund Liggett, 18, joined the tobacco business started by his grandfather Christopher Fouls.

Many New Englanders were migrating to the Upper South, successfully restoring worn-out farmlands there. Using the 15-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.

John Chapman, known as "Johnny Appleseed," died at the age of 72.

The Chicago Daily Tribune began publication.

Cyrus Hall McCormick, 38, formed a partnership with C. M. Gray to build a three-story factory in Chicago to produce McCormick's horse-drawn mechanical reaper that could do the work of six men mowing wheat and other grains with hand tools. Farmers using the reaper were already shipping great tonnages of grain by means of William Ogden's new Galena and Chicago Union Railroad.

John Deere, 43, built a factory in Moline, IL, to produce his lightweight steel-moldboard plows, which could be pulled by a horse rather than by a team of slow-moving oxen.

Rock Island, IL, settler George Davenport and his associates founded the Rock Island & LaSalle Railroad.

Iowa State University was founded in Iowa City.

Lawrence College was founded in Appleton in Wisconsin Territory.

Minneapolis was founded in Minnesota Territory across from St. Anthony's Falls on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

Marthasville, GA, 4 years previously named for the daughter of Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin, Martha Atlanta Thomson, changed its name to Atlanta and was incorporated.

Merchant Henry Lehman, 25, was joined by his brother Emanuel Lehman, 20, in the 2-year-old dry goods business in Montgomery, AL. It had expanded to cotton trading in general and in the extension of long-term credit to planters.

French immigrant Alexandre Lazard opened his dry-goods business in New Orleans.

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, 24, traveling on the Oregon Trail out of St. Louis but overcome by illness, suffered a nervous breakdown in Oregon and had to be taken home half-blind to Boston.

The 11-year-old Christian mission of Dr. Marcus Whitman, 45, and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, 31, had formerly been flourishing among the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley of eastern Oregon Country, but the Cayuse had become estranged from the Whitmans because tough characters among the migrations of the preceding 3 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. Now a measles epidemic (also attributable to the migrations) killed many of the Cayuse Indians who were patrons of the mission. Cayuse warriors became convinced that the medicine the Whitmans were using to treat infected Indians was poison, and they killed most of the whites at the mission, including the two Whitmans and 12 other settlers. The Cayuse held the remnants (53 women and children) for ransom until they were rescued by Peter Skene Ogden, 53, of the Hudson's Bay Company.

By this time there were 14 Jesuit missionaries in Oregon Territory. Father Pierre-Jean de Smet (known to the Indians as "Blackrobe") had founded Sacré Coeur Mission near present-day Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

[ Brigham Young ] Brigham Young, 46, pictured here, commanding the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), employed frontiersman Jim Bridger, 43, to lead his 15,000 followers on a trek into Mexico (present-day western Colorado and Utah), looking for a place to settle where they would not be harassed by neighbors disapproving of their polygamous practices. His people did not know where he was taking them, nor, perhaps, did he. He just wanted to get beyond the reach of the United States. Along the way, Young established stations, where those who followed could rest, repair wagons, and recoup their livestock. The men drilled frequently as militia companies, and they kept strict discipline in their caravans to protect themselves from Indian raiders. Prayers were said at morning and night at the call of the bugle. At last an advance party of the 12,000-person trek reached the Great Salt Lake. "This is the place," said Young, assured that they had reached their "promised land." They organized the State of Deseret, an independent nation with Young as President. Young founded Salt Lake City, with avenues wide enough for a wagon and four oxen to make a U-turn. They built their dwellings out of adobe bricks, and they erected the first major irrigation project ever undertaken by American whites. Wave after wave of Mormons followed the advance party; Mormon wagon trains struggled across the plains and over the Rockies to Deseret; those without wagons made the trip pulling their gear in handcarts. By the end of the year there were more people of American background living in the valley of the Great Salt Lake than there were residing in either California or Oregon.

The Donner Party of 87 emigrants on their way to California were trapped in the deep snow of the Sierra Nevada. Only 47 of them survived, some by eating the flesh of those who had died.

Horticulturist Henderson Lowelling traveled from Iowa by covered wagon to Oregon Territory and planted 700 grafted miniature fruit trees--quince, plum, pear, sweet cherry, and apple--in the Willamette Valley.

The Young America movement--modeled on European youth movements, inspired by the "manifest destiny" notion, and founded 2 years earlier by Edwin de Leon and by 42-year-old newspaper editor and social reformer George Henry Evans (co-founder of the 18-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. The movement was already an important faction within the Democratic Party and was influential in promoting the expansionist war with Mexico.

Mexican-American War

[ Zachary Taylor ] Determined not to be eclipsed by General Winfield "Old Fuss and Feathers" Scott, 61, hero of the War of 1812, General Zachary "Old Rough and Ready" Taylor, 62, pictured here, took the offensive. Against his orders and against good sense, he had decided to take his reduced army of fewer than 5,000 south across the rugged mountains and deserts to San Luis Potosí, and from there perhaps onward to Mexico City itself. After a few months he had traveled 18 miles from Saltillo, and he camped at Agua Nueva. Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna, 53, the "Napoleon of the West," learning of Taylor's rash movements, marched northward with more than 20,000 troops and lots of artillery to crush him. General John Ellis Wool, 63, convinced the thick-headed Taylor to retire some 11 miles to the narrow pass of La Angostura, near the hacienda of Buena Vista. Santa Anna almost cornered some 900 Americans under General Wool and Colonel Arch Yell before they could fall back to the pass.

[ General Antonio López de Santa Anna ] The next day the forces met in the Battle of Buena Vista. Santa Anna, pictured here, sent the following message to the heavily outnumbered Americans:

General Taylor: You are surrounded by twenty thousand men, and cannot, in any human probability, avoid suffering a rout and being cut to pieces with your troops; but, as you deserve consideration and particular esteem, I wish to save you from such a catastrophe, and for that purpose give you notice, in order that you may surrender at discretion, under the assurance that you will be treated with the consideration belonging to the Mexican character; to which end you will be granted an hour's time to make up your mind, to commence from the moment my flag of truce reaches your camp. With this end in view, I assure you of my particular consideration. God and liberty! Antonio López de Santa Anna.
Taylor sent the following back with the same messenger, without using up the hour for making up his mind:
General Santa Anna: I beg leave to say that I decline acceding to your request. With high respect, I am, Sir, your obedient servant. Z. Taylor.(12) Quoted in Wellman, op. cit., pp. 236-37. (Close)
Santa Anna sent General Pedro Ampudia with a column of troops into the heights above the Indiana regiment, where they poured down shells on them and then routed them. Colonel Jefferson Davis, 39, with his colorful Mississippi Rifles reinforced the Illinois 2nd Regiment, which rallied the Indiana troops. With artillery barrages of the Kentucky 2nd regiment of Colonel Braxton Bragg, 30, the advance of Ampudia was rolled back. Throughout the day, until hurricane rains began to fall in the afternoon, the Americans just barely repulsed one nearly victorious Mexican surge after another. Throughout the night, they waited in dread for the next day's battle--but by morning they saw that Santa Anna had withdrawn his army. Taylor's losses were 267 killed, 456 wounded, and 23 missing; Santa Anna's were 591 killed, 1,049 wounded, and 1,854 prisoners or missing. Santa Anna lost many more during the retreat across the desert to thirst, fatigue, or desertion--reaching San Luis Potosí with only half of his orginal force.

Taylor had immediately become the "Hero of Buena Vista." One Kentuckian prophesied that "Old Zack" could be elected President in 1848 by "spontaneous combustion."

The "Mormon Battalion" (now some 400 persons of all ages and both sexes) shepherded by Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, 38, under the ultimate command of Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny, 53, traveled through desert, mountains, and hostile Apache country, and digging wells along the way, made it all the way in 100 days from Santa Fe in New Mexico to San Diego in Alta California, thereby establishing the Santa Fe Trail. General Kearny, meanwhile, having been mauled by ranchero lancers at San Pasqual, waited for reinforcements from Commodore Robert Field Stockton, 52, who had come from San Francisco Bay to San Diego. Finally the Americans were able to march on Los Angeles, a march futilely disputed by rancheros at the San Gabriel River and again near Los Angeles. By a capitulation, the Californian rancheros gave up their arms and promised to return peaceably to their homes, getting in return protection for their lives and property.

[ John Charles Frémont ] Meanwhile, freebooter John Charles Frémont, 34, pictured here, promoted himself to Lieutenant Colonel clashed with Kearny. Later, at Fort Leavenworth, Kearny would have Frémont arrested, court-martialed, and convicted on charges of mutiny, disobedience of orders, and conduct prejudicial to military discipline. President Polk, however, remitted the punishment; Frémont, unwilling to accept clemency, resigned from the Army.

Colonel Alexander William Doniphan, 39, resting after his Missouri Los Goddammies Volunteers had occupied El Paso and had been reinforced to a strength of 824, marched toward Chihuahua, 235 miles to the south, to join General Wool. (By then Wool had marched east from there to join Taylor at Saltillo. Doniphan's scout and guide was notorious scalp hunter Jim Kirker, who sold scalps, supposedly from Apaches (but often from Mexicans), to the Chihuahua government for a bounty of $100 for a brave's scalp, $50 for a squaw's, and $25 for a papoose's ($2,093, $1,047, and $523, respectively, in 2006 dollars); Kirker claimed that the Chihuahua government owed him $30,000 ($627,900) for unredeemed scalps, and he was determined to get his payment. Chihuahua was defended by General José A. Heredia and his 4,220 men, who had redoubts and entrenchments commanding the crossings of the Sacramento River near the city. Major Clark led the Americans over an arroyo, bypassing the fortifications, and approached Heredia's flank. The foolhardy Missourians routed the orderly Mexicans in this Battle of Sacramento, killing 304, wounding at least 500, and capturing 70 prisoners including General Cuilta. They also took vast quantities of ammunition, $6,000 in specie (coined money) ($125,580), sixteen pieces of silver and brass artillery, horses, mules, cattle, and sheep.

After waiting in Chihuahua for several months and getting homesick (Doniphan was reported to have said, "I'm for going home to Sarah and the children!"), Los Goddammies marched toward Saltillo to join Taylor and Wool. On the way they saved some Mexican women and children from marauding Comanches. When Doniphan finally reached Saltillo, Wool was scandalized by their appearance, attired, he said, "some like Mexicans, some like Comanches." Wool, nonetheless, appreciated these fighters:

No troops can point to a more brilliant career than those commanded by Colonel Doniphan, and no one will ever hear of the battles of Brazito, or Sacramento, without a feeling of admiration for the men who gained them.(13) Quoted in ibid., p. 256. (Close)
The Missouri Volunteers were then mustered out, allowed to return home. They went down the Rio Grande, embarked for New Orleans (many of them almost naked by the time they reached there), and thence up the Mississippi to Missouri, where they participated in barbecues and barn dances.

[ Winfield "Old Fuss and Feathers" Scott ] General Scott, pictured here, gathered about 12,000 troops for his assault on Veracruz--including promising young officers: Robert Edward Lee, 40, Ulysses Simpson Grant, 24, Thomas Jonathan Jackson, 23, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, 29, George Brinton McClellan, 21, James Longstreet, 26, Joseph Eggleston Johnston, 40, George Gordon Meade, 32, Philip Kearny, 32--most of them graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Within a 24-hour-period Scott, using 65 "surf boats," landed his entire force--men, artillery, horses, vehicles, and supplies--on the beach 3 miles south of the walled and heavily gunned city of Veracruz, defended in the harbor by Fort San Juan de Ulúa. In the Battle of Veracruz Scott, aided by navy siege guns, first captured the fort and then the city after a brisk siege of less than 3 weeks, taking 5,000 prisoners and 400 pieces of artillery, suffering only 67 casualties.

Santa Anna, returning to Mexico City after his defeat at Buena Vista, had first to suppress a revolt against his rule. After a brilliant and inflammatory speech, he persuaded the Mexican congress to make him General-Dictator for the "emergency." He proclaimed that he would "triumph over the invaders or die in the cause." He started then for the coast, mobilizing all available troops along the way--including those whom Scott had paroled after their defeat at Veracruz.

The two armies met 2 weeks later in the Battle of Cerro Gordo, at a difficult pass. Scott kept Santa Anna occupied with a frontal barrage, while Captain Robert E. Lee prepared a road for artillery to hit the Mexican flanks with General David Emanuel Twiggs, 57, gaining the heights and General James Shields, 41, working around to the Mexican rear. With great difficulty, the Americans triumphed, suffering 431 casualties. Mexican casualties were never known, but Scott captured 3,000 prisoners, 43 pieces of artillery, and 5,000 stands of arms.

Scott advanced to Jalapa, where he rested his forces (who were beginning to succumb to the Mexican vomito). Scott's forces also needed to halt because President Polk wished to try negotiating a peace. State Department clerk Nicholas Philip Trist, 47, the chief negotiator, who had traveled to Veracruz under the name "Dr. Taurreau," first communicated the terms to Scott in an officious 30-page letter: Polk was offering $30 million ($627 million in 2006 dollars) for New Mexico, Alta California, and Baja California as well as the right of transit across the Isthmus of Tehauntepec for a proposed interocean canal. Scott considered it a "personal dishonor" to be asked to defer to one he regarded as a State Department flunky. The two quarreled, for which they were later rebuked by the Polk Administration.

Trist then soothed General Scott and got the British legation to communicate the terms to the Mexican government, which flatly rejected them. Santa Anna, however, sent agents to Jalapa to confer with Scott: If $1 million were given to Santa Anna at the conclusion of the peace, with an immediate down payment of $10,000 for "present expenses" ($20.9 million and $209,300, respectively, in 2006 dollars), Mexican commissioners would be appointed to confer on the terms. Scott called in his generals for a conference, and after considerable debate he accepted the offer. Santa Anna got $10,000 and 3 months to improve his position. President Polk, impatient, recalled Trist, who immediately drafted a 65-page letter explaining why he was not coming home.

[ Franklin Pierce ] General Franklin Pierce, 43, pictured here, arrived with nearly 2,500 reinforcements, replacing many of the volunteers whose terms of duty were expired. Scott left a garrison and his sick at Puebla and set forth for the capital on the same route Cortez had taken in 1519. Approaching the capital, Captain Robert E. Lee, Scott's chief engineer, found an undefended path through the marshes through which the forces managed to move artillery, while the main body of the army distracted the Mexicans in a frontal barrage at El Peñon.

Santa Anna, realizing too late that the Americans had again outwitted him, confronted Scott at last in the Battle of Contreras. One of his subordinates, General Valencia, endeavored to cut off the American flank, but Colonel Bennet Riley, 60, and Colonel George Cadwalader, 43, reinforced by General Persifer Frazer Smith, 49, were able to maneuver through heavy rains to surprise Valencia in the rear. The slaughter was terrible, punctuated by the screams of the mujeres de guerra (the soldiers' mistresses).

The Battle of Churubusco, an assault on a daunting fortress guarding the capital, was more difficult for Scott. Only after heavy losses (177 killed or missing, 879 wounded--1 in 7 becoming a casualty, most of them inflicted by the artillery of the defending San Patricio batallion made up of Irish and other American deserters) were his forces able to capture that position and some 3,000 Mexican prisoners, including 8 generals.

Santa Anna again cajoled Scott into a truce, in order, he said, that he might discuss terms of peace with Trist. Santa Anna then strengthened the outer works of the city and received reinforcements. Trist, meanwhile, was demanding cession of all territory in the provinces of Nueva Mexico, Alta California, and Baja California, recognition of the Rio Grande del Norte as the boundary of Texas, and the right of free transit across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (with an eventual canal proposed), in return for money, assumption of all claims against Mexico. The Mexican government rejected these terms.

General Scott, realizing that Santa Anna was not abiding by the terms of the truce, notified him that it was over. The Battle of Molino del Rey commenced when the artillery of General William Jenkins Worth, 53, opened on the massive stone buildings of that mill. After severe losses, the Americans prevailed. Then, 5 days later, they scaled a fortified hill on the outskirts of Mexico City and defeated Mexican forces in the Battle of Chapultepec, with horrific losses on both sides. Mexican teenaged soldiers (los niños) from the local military academy perished every one.

After releasing some 2,000 criminals from the city prisons to "fight the enemy," Santa Anna fled from the city with 4,000 cavalry and 5,000 infantry (the flower of the Mexican Army). The fighting was bitter but, for the defenders, futile, with many criminal looters being shot. The American troops were taking cover under the arches of the aqueducts, while Lieutenant Grant and Lieutenant Raphael Semmes mounted howitzers on roofs and belfries.

[ John Anthony Quitman ] Finally a white flag of truce was displayed. Brigadier General John Anthony Quitman, 49 (pictured, son of Christ Lutheran's founding pastor, Frederick Henry Quitman), who had lost a boot during the battle, led a vanguard of battered, mud-stained American doughboys and marines into the main plaza. Soon General Scott, in a splendid uniform and mounted on a superb horse, clattered into the plaza with his dragoons. The Americans had lost some 2,700 out of a force of 11,000; Mexican losses were not recorded but were extremely heavy. Santa Anna abdicated.

Trist once again resumed peace negotiations, this time at Guadalupe Hidalgo.

At home, where news of the battles would not reach for a long time, there continued fervent domestic opposition to the war--particularly among Whigs and abolitionists. Whig abolitionist Joshua Reed Giddings, 52, declared that the American army had "planted itself in the midst of Mexican cornfields" and "unarmed peasants had been murdered" including "women, children, and helpless age… virgins outraged." Ohio Senator Thomas Corwin, 53, a Whig, roared that "this desolating war" had been caused by American invasion.

Sir,… if I were a Mexican I would tell you, "Have you not room in your own country to bury your dead men? If you come into mine, we will greet you with bloody hands, and welcome you to hospitable graves."

[ Abraham Lincoln ] The 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln, 38, pictured here, following the Whig Party line, also attacked President Polk and the war in general. He introduced "spot resolutions" in the 30th Congress, demanding that Polk admit that the "spot" where the first blood was shed in the war was on Mexican, not United States, soil, and he questioned the whole basis of the war. He was so persistent with these "spot resolutions" that he was referred to as "spotty Lincoln," who would surely die of "spotted fever." Some of his vitriolic and intemperate statements were repeated by his enemies in the Illinois State Register, back in Springfield.

I think Lincoln will find that he had better remained quiet. He will… regret that he voted that Illinois officers [naming them] fell while leading brave Illinoisans to "robbery and dishonor… in aid of a war of rapine and murder…"; that he has thrown upon the escutcheon of Illinois the stain of having sent six thousand men to Mexico "to record their infamy and shame in the blood of poor, innocent, unoffending people, whose only crime is weakness"…; that he has declared… that the "God of Heaven has forgotten to defend the weak and innocent and permitted the strong hand of murderers and demons from hell to kill men, women, and children, and lay waste and pillage to the land of the just."
Lincoln toned down the version of the speech he had published in the Congressional Globe (forerunner of the Congressional Record), but he was not able to forestall the strong negative reaction of his constituents.

Extreme antislavery agitators in the North, many of them Whigs, called the President a liar, referring to him as "Polk the Mendacious." The antislavery Whigs in the 30th Congress--called "Conscience Whigs" or "Mexican Whigs"--denounced the "damnable war," and, after gaining control of the House of Representatives, they threatened to vote down supplies for the armies in the field (which would have forced Scott to retreat from the positions he had won).

Polk was bewildered by the Whig opposition to the war, and more so by defections among the Democrats:

The slavery question is assuming a fearful… aspect.… It has, and can have no legitimate connection with the War with Mexico, or the terms of peace which may be concluded with that country. It… must divide the country by a sectional line and lead to the worst consequences.… Such agitation is not only unwise, but wicked.… I will do my duty and leave the rest to God and my country.(14) Quoted in ibid., p. 217. (Close)

The War with Mexico was by no means exclusively a Southern war. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania regiments fought bravely by the side of regiments from South Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. The war was also not exclusively a war of the Democratic Party. Henry Clay, Jr., 27, son of Whig Henry Clay of Kentucky, 70, who was busy denouncing the war, helped raise a regiment of volunteers in Kentucky and he went to the front, where he was killed in the Battle of Buena Vista. Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, 65, lost a son in the war, and many Whig leaders fought in that conflict--including Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott.(15)

Quoted in ibid., p. 218. (Close)

Fur trader Charles Bent, 47, the new U.S. Governor of New Mexico Territory was attacked in Taos by Pueblos and Mexicans. He and 12 other Anglos were killed with arrows. Women and children were spared. U.S. forces sent a punitive expedition under Colonel Sterling Price, 38, with the 2nd Missouri Mounted Volunteers against the Pueblos. Price surrounded a church where the Pueblos were holed up, and killed 150 of them and wounded some 300. Only 10 Americans were killed in the action. The nomadic Navajos were more difficult to subdue, especially in the Canyon de Chelly; they finally surrendered, however, at Ojo del Oso and kept the peace for a few months.

German-born Swiss pioneer "General" John Augustus Sutter, 44, the impresario on his extensive holdings (100,000 acres of prime land) called "New Helvetia" (or, more commonly, Sutter's Fort) on the Sacramento River in Alta California, had been making friends with everyone: the Californio rancheros and many American immigrants (he had been very helpful with the rescue of the Donner Party, for example). He had granaries, warehouses, mills, tanneries, dwellings, and stores. Between 700 and 800 persons, mostly his employees and their families, lived there, and his stock ranges supported 12,000 cattle, 2,000 horses and mules, 1,000 hogs, and 15,000 sheep. His fields grew wheat and other crops. After the Mormon Battalion was discharged following the conquest of California, many of its members were employed by Sutter. Now Sutter contracted with mechanic James W. Marshall, 37, a Mormon from New Jersey, to build and operate a sawmill in the upper country on the American River, which feeds into the Sacramento.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

Tailor-shirtmaker Ebenezer Butterick, 21, invented a technique for printing and cutting paper dress-making patterns that could be used with sewing machines.

A 15-inch refracting telescope was installed at the Harvard Astronomical Observatory; Massachusetts astronomer Maria Mitchell discovered a comet and determined its orbit; Massachusetts physician Edward Jarvis published a bestseller that popularized public health; a stamping process was developed to make tin cans cheap enough for wider sale; and Pennsylvania paleontologist Joseph Leidy proposed that changes within a species (evolution) was affected by environment.

Connecticut chemist Benjamin Silliman, 68, founded the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, designed to supplement lectures and readings in physics, chemistry, geology, and minerology with laboratory research.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

Painter George Caleb Bingham, 36, unveiled Raftsmen Playing Cards; William Hickling Prescott, 51, completely blind, published his 2-volume History of the Conquest of Peru; novelist Herman Melville, 28, published his controversial Omoo, about life in Tahiti and the hypocrisy of Christian missionaries there; and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 41, published Evangeline.

Popular periodicals included the Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, Scientific American, American Farmer, Christian Watchman, Police Gazette, 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.

Popular songs included "The Blue Juanita," "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," "Stop Dat Knockin' at My Door," "The Old Granite State," "Jim Crack Corn" (also known as "Blue Tail Fly"), "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."

The Christy Minstrels of showman Edwin Pearce Christy, 32, began a long engagement at Mechanic's Hall on Broadway in New York City. Here is a description of a typical minstrel show by historian Samuel Eliot Morison(16):

Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, 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 1847

The Canada Life Insurance Company was founded in Hamilton, Canada West (western Ontario).

Manuel Oribe, 51, former President of Uruguay who had been ousted from power 8 years earlier, in alliance with Juan Manuel de Rosas, 52, the dictator of Argentina, continued his civil war in Uruguay and his prolonged siege (now in its fourth 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 third year) of the Rio de la Plata.

The United Presbyterian Church of Scotland was established.

The British Parliament passed the third Factory Act, augmenting the acts of 14 years earlier and 3 years earlier, restricting the working day to 10 hours for women and for teen-age children.

Engineer William G. Armstrong, 37, of hydraulic crane and hydroelectric machine fame, founded the Ellswick Engineering Works.

Two British telegraph networks, including the year-old Electric Telegraph Company of J. L. Ricardo, M.P., and W. F. Cooke, were in operation--the northern system coving cities from Edinburgh to Birmingham, the southern network linking Dover, Gosport, and Southampton with London. The companies based rates on distance, and long-distance telegraphy was prohibitively expensive.

England fell into a severe economic depression: Provincial banks failed, and even the 153-year-old Bank of England came under dire pressure.

An influenza epidemic in London killed 15,000 people over the next couple of years.

London physician John Snow, 34, introduced ether into British surgery. Scots physician James Young Simpson, 36, used ether as an anaesthetic in obstetrics; he also discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform and used it as well.

The Irish radical Feargus O'Connor, 53, was elected to Parliament from Nottingham and was determined to revive the Chartist movement of 1842.

The newly formed Communist League in London retained German socialist Karl Marx, 29, and German political philosopher Friedrich Engels, 27, to write and publish the pamphlet Manifest des Kommunismus ("The Communist Manifesto"), which included the following exhortation(17):

This and the following quotation are from 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. 456. (Close)
Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have the world to win. Workers of the world, unite!
The pamphlet called for
  1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, and a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of child factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.…

A radical Irish group attempted to secure the repeal of the union of Great Britain and Ireland. The British Parliament suspended Habeas Corpus for all of Ireland. 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 had been dependent on potatoes. Unfortunately, once again, the potato crop failed, this time due more to excessively damp weather rather than to any fungus disease. Once again, famine swept Ireland when the food reserves were exhausted. Emigration was reducing the Irish population further: Some 60,000 people were emigrating each year, paying a fare of between £3 and £5 per head (and providing their own food) on small sailing vessels, many of which were not seaworthy.

Russian anarchist Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin, 33, was expelled from Paris for making a violent speech urging the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in Russia and Poland.

The first Swiss railroad between Zurich and Baden opened.

Swiss federal forces defeated those of the seven Catholic cantons of Switzerland that had organized 2 years before into the Sonderbund league to protect their local interests; the central government was strengthened.

The Hamburg-America Line was founded by shipping magnates.

The first Roman Catholic working men's club was founded in Cologne, Germany.

Liberia was proclaimed a free and independent republic under the presidency of Virginia octoroon Joseph Jenkins Roberts, 38.

French expansion into Africa

French forces smashed the Berbers in Algeria.

British expansion into Africa

British forces defeated the Kaffirs in South Africa and established British Kaffraria (now part of Transkei) as a native reserve.

American expansion into Hawaii

King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli), 34, granted a small parcel of land at the base of Mauna Kea volcano to American John Palmer Parker, 57, who had married his niece 21 years earlier. Palmer built his Parker Ranch there for raising the cattle, from which he provided hides and meat to the royal family.

World science and technology

German physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz, 26, published On the Conservation of Energy; Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero, 35, discovered the highly explosive nitroglycerin by mixing glycerol with nitric and sulfuric acid; English physician Sir James Simpson published Account of a New Anaesthetic Agent, describing how chloroform could be used in childbirth; English mathematician Charles Babbage, 55, invented the ophthalmoscope; English self-taught mathematician George Boole, 32, published The Mathematical Analysis of Logic; German chemist Baron Justus von Liebig, 44, produced a meat extract; English geologist Henry Sorby, 21, described the role of sulfur and phosphorus in crops; and English astronomer John Herschel, 55, published his extensive observations of the sky over the Southern Hemisphere.

World philosophy and religion

German socialist Karl Marx, 29, attacked in his The Poverty of Philosophy the economic and philosophical arguments that his erstwhile socialist comrade Pierre Joseph Proudhon, 38, had set forth in The Philosophy of Poverty, accusing Proudhon of wanting to rise above the bourgeoisie when in fact Proudhon is a bourgeois himself (this despite that fact that Proudhon had been born into a socially and economically lower status than had Marx himself).

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English painter George Frederic Watts exhibited Alfred Inciting the Saxons; dramatist George Dibdin Pitt, 48, produced his grisly melodrama The String of Pearls, or The Fiend of Fleet Street in London about "the demon barber" Sweeney Todd; novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, 36, published Vanity Fair over several months (completed the following year), exposing the hypocrisy of Victorian society; novelist Captain Frederick Maryatt, 55, published Children of the New Forest; and each of the three Brontë sisters published a controversial autobiographical novel: Charlotte, 31, Jane Eyre, Emily Jane, 29, Wuthering Heights, and Anne, 27, Agnes Grey.

World arts and culture

Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, 34, produced the opera Macbeth at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence and the opera I Masnadieri at Her Majesty's Theatre in London; and German composer Friedrich von Flotow, 36, produced Martha (oder Der Markt zu Richmond) at the Hofoper in Venice. Hungarian piano virtuoso and composer Franz Liszt, 36, performed his final piano concert and devoted himself thereafter to composing and conducting. German composer Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn died at the age of 38.

German historian Leopold von Ranke, 52, published Neun Bücher preussicher Geschichte; German physician Heinrich Hoffmann, 38, published Struwwelpeter; French novelist and playwright Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, Baronne Dudevant (George Sand), 43, published Le Péché de M. Antoine; French poet and critic Charles Baudelaire, 26, published the autobiographical novel La Fanfarlo; and French dramatist Alfred Louis Charles de Musset, 37, produced Un Caprice ("A Caprice") at the Comédie-Française in Paris.


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