Pastor Hiram Wheeler, 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
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.
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. 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.
Quite a few Anti-Rent tenants in Delaware County had been refusing opportunities to buy their acres, convinced that they would gain possession without paying once the state invalidated the landlords' titles. Now the state attorney general had brought lawsuits to test the validity of "the manorial titles." The suits were dragging on in the justice system. Meanwhile, tenants meeting in Andes organized as the "friends of Equal Rights," petitioning the attorney general to stay the collection of rents until the suits were decided.
There was still Anti-Rent agitation outside of the Livingston acres. When John Kiersed, agent for landlord John Hunter, stayed overnight in the Neversink Valley, his horse was stolen and his wagon carried off and burned.
Alfred A. Mott of New York City, of the family owning the New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company in Shady (also called Bristol), put ten 200-acre "half-cleared" Shady farms on the market. He advertised the farms as
well watered and… considered some of the best grass farms in the country,… well worthy of the attention of persons engaged in the grazing business.Christian Baehr, the German-born storekeeper who would be giving his name to the hamlet of Bearsville, bought most of the land.(2)
Many Woodstockers died this year from a combination of typhus and diaorrea.
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 ($108.65 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.
In these days many folks believed that there were spirits from the other world seeking means to communicate with this. In Rochester, New York, the Fox sisters had the previous year started spirit rappings and table burnings. The entire community had been agog with this cult of Spiritism. Locally, Betsy Booth MacDaniel was cooking and cleaning for some summer boarders whom she came upon in the parlor, seated around a table
engaged in the popular sport of "spirit rapping," in which a spirit was thought to answer questions by raps of the table legs on the floor. "Is your spirit a good one or a bad one?" [MacDaniel] asked. Before any one could reply a ball of fire came down the stairs (there was no thunderstorm in progress at the time) and smashed the table to pieces. "I thought as much," said [MacDaniel].(3)
Quoted from ibid., p. 208; also from Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 517-18. (Close)
Smelly tanneries in the Catskill region continued converting animal hides into leather, using chips and powder from hemlock bark in the tanning (softening) process and thereby leaving millions of bark-skinned hemlocks to die while standing. The largest such operation was the New York Tannery in the factory town of Edwardsville (present-day Hunter), which was tanning 26,000 hides per year. Even though hemlocks were getting ever more scarce, it was predicted that that tannery would outlast all the others in the upper Catskills.
James Knox Polk, 53 (Democrat), was President, succeeded during this year by Zachary Taylor, 64 (Whig). The newly elected 31st Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $21.73 in 2006 for most consumable products.
Many New Englanders were migrating to the Upper South, successfully restoring worn-out farmlands there. Using the 17-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. During this year, Virginia's wheat crop was worth twice as much as its tobacco crop. Cotton growing had been migrating ever westward, more and more of it was being grown west of the Mississippi River.
Massachusetts philosopher Henry David Thoreau, 32, pictured here, published Resistance to Civil Government, describing his 1-day imprisonment 4 years before for refusing to pay a poll tax to support the Mexican-American War, which violated his antislavery views. The essay was reissued under the title On the Duty of Civil Disobedience; it asserted that every citizen had a duty to oppose bad government by acts of passive resistance:
I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe--"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.(4)Thoreau also published A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, which sold only 200 copies, but included the following interesting comments, lamenting what dam builders were doing to the shad, a fish
Quoted in Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 349. (Close)
formerly abundant here and taken in weirs by the Indians, who taught this method to the whites by whom they were used as food and as manure.… [The shad are also disappearing as] the dam, and afterward the canal at Billerica and the factories at Lowell, put an end to their migration hitherward.(5)
Quoted in Trager, James, ed., The People's Chronology: A Year-by-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979, p. 465. (Close)
Thousands of Irish immigrants came to the United States, at an annual rate of 78,000.
Thousands of German immigrants also came to the United States, at an annual rate of 43,000.
Many in the North resented the Irish and other immigrants, who were gathered in urban slums and voted in blocs according to what their political bosses told them to do. Immigrants sold their votes in order to satisfy immediate needs--jobs, relief, shelter, friendship. Urban politicians and the underworld of prostitution and gambling formed a strong alliance with the immigrant voters.
Anti-immigrant bigots organized the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, which called for reforms in the naturalization laws, including a 20-year waiting period before citizenship could be conferred, and the deportation of alien paupers. They also promoted a lurid anti-Catholic literature, and they sometimes incited violence against immigrants.
The English actor William Charles Macready, 56, was playing the lead in Macbeth at the Astor Place Opera House in New York. Partisans of his rival actor, American Edwin Forrest, 43, of Philadelphia, mustered by the Tammany brave, "Captain Rynders" and possibly instigated by Forrest, who had been mistreated 4 years earlier in London, mobbed the theater, shattered all its windows, and fought back a state militia company. In the riot 22 people were killed, 36 were seriously injured, and the theater was gutted. Edward Zane Carroll Judson, 26, whose pseudonym for his action stories had been Ned Buntline and who had been publishing Ned Buntline's Own for the past 3 years in New York City, was convicted of having led the riot and was sentenced to a year in prison.
The Oneida "Perfectionist Community" of farmers and mechanics in central New York State, founded the previous year by New England clergyman John Humphrey Noyes, 38, sawmill owner Jonathan Burt, and farmer Joseph Ackley, continued to thrive, with hundreds of converts living in communal buildings made of timber from the community's farms. The community practiced free love ("complex marriage"), birth control (through "male continence," or coitus reservatus), and the eugenic selection of parents to produce superior offspring. Men and women were treated equally, and all classes of work were viewed as equally honorable. Noyes called his system "Bible Communism." Children were reared in the "children's house," operated by men and women considered best qualified.
It was now fashionable for men to brush their hair forward to form a cowlick. Side and middle parts had become 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.
Social reformer Amelia Jenks Bloomer, 31, urging a reform of women's clothing, popularized garments designed the previous year by Elizabeth Smith Miller: full-cut trousers ("bloomers") under a short skirt. Many men were already mocking the style:
Gibbey, gibbey gab
The women had a confab
And demanded the rights
To wear the tights
Gibbey, gibbey gab.
The unofficial heavyweight champion boxer Tom Hyer knocked out the Englishman Yankee Sullivan.
A power dam across the Connecticut River was completed at Holyoke, MA.
The Nautilus Insurance Company in New York City, directed for the preceding 4 years by actuary Pliny Freeman and funded 8 years earlier by prominent New York investors, changed its name to the New York Life Insurance Company, capable of paying claims to relatives of yellow fever and cholera victims as well as to victims of Indian attacks.
Watchmaker and inventor James Bogardus, 49, erected the first modular prefabricated cast iron and glass "curtain wall" building at the corner of Washington and Murray Streets in New York City--with columns and spandrels bolted together, the bolt heads covered by cast iron rosettes and other decorative ornaments.
The tuition-free Free Academy (later CUNY) opened at Lexington Avenue and 23rd Street in New York City.
Sewing machine inventor Walter Hunt, 53, of New York City designed the first modern safety pin in his 3-hour effort to bend wire into various forms; he sold the patent rights for $400 ($8,692 in 2006 dollars) in order to satisfy a debt of $15 ($326) he owed to J. R. Chapin.
Upstate New York entrepreneur John Butterfield, 47, founded Butterfield, Wasson & Company.
Elizabeth Blackwell, 28, received her medical degree from a medical school in Geneva, NY--the first woman in the world to become an M.D.
By this time, the United States--in the Eastern part, at least--had become more "civilized" and more mechanized(6):
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. 338-39. (Close)
In what had once been the frontier east of the Mississippi the forests at last had been conquered, and the land was now covered with tilled fields, turnpikes, [and, by now] telegraph lines between the larger cities--and railroads.
The impact of the railroads is difficult to overestimate.… The early railroad builders faced severe problems. One difficulty was the question of the gauge, which varied according to the railroad's ideas as to the best practical distance between rails. For example, the Mohawk Hudson's gauge was 4 feet 9 inches,the Camden & Amboy's was 4 feet 10 inches, the Charleston & Hamburg 4 feet, the Baltimore & Ohio 4 feet 8½ inches. It was impossible to switch cars or trains from one of these systems to another, and it took years before the Baltimore & Ohio's gauge was accepted as "standard," both in this country and Great Britain.
Locomotives, at first inefficient and weak, had to be improved [and during this year New York inventor George Corliss, 32, patented an efficient steam engine with four valves rather than only one].…
Engineering problems of railroad grades, excavation of cuts, bridging of watercourses, and other necessary construction all had to be surmounted without power machinery and chiefly by hand labor. The invention of the "T-rail" to replace the old "strap-rail" was a mighty step forward.
Most of the railroad construction was north of the Ohio River, because capital and credit were available there for the work; whereas in the South money was largely tied up in land and slaves. [During this year, the first railroad west of the Mississippi River, the Pacific Railroad Company, was chartered.]…
The railroads generally drove turnpike companies out of business, and canals, though longer lasting, since once built they could compete with railroads in cost though not in speed of transportation, began slipping behind. But though this revolution in transportation produced an economic shock in some quarters, that was soon overcome as it was perceived that the railroads were producing growth and prosperity. [Men were now] looking for new territories to be tapped by the rails.
Civil engineer Charles Ellet, Jr., 39, finished construction of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad bridge over the Ohio River at Wheeling, more than 1,000 feet long.
Eastern Michigan University was founded in Ypsilanti.
The Chicago and Galena Railroad now extended to Chicago as its locomotive number 1, the Pioneer, steamed into the city.
A fire in St. Louis destroyed 27 steamships and more than 400 buildings within 15 city blocks, causing damage estimated at $6 million ($131 million in 2006 dollars).
The newly elected 31st Congress established Minnesota Territory. The St. Paul Pioneer began publication.
The entire Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) was split into two mutually hostile factions, the "Old Settlers," who had moved west years earlier in response to pressure from white settlers, and the Eastern Cherokees, who had arrived from (and had survived) the 1838 forced removal they called Nuna-da-ut-sun'y ("The Trail Where They Cried"), better known as the "Trail of Tears." Several missionaries and teachers who had been with the Indians a long time in the East had come with the Eastern Cherokees on the cruel journey. Now new teachers were arriving from the North. Some of these missionaries were violently opposed to slavery, but the Indian agents and other government officials, many of whom were from the South, believed in slavery very strongly, and, in fact, several Cherokees owned slaves.
Brigham Young, 48, pictured here, continued to organize the State of Deseret, an independent nation with Young as President, extending, according to the Mormons, from the Great Salt Lake down to southern California (encompassing most of present-day Arizona, all of Nevada, and parts of California, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon, as well as all of Utah). Young's Salt Lake City had adobe brick buildings, avenues wide enough for a wagon and four oxen to make a U-turn, an ornate temple, and the first major irrigation project ever undertaken by American whites, irrigation that enabled the settlers to raise crops and herds on the desert. Other well-planned towns were springing up.
Thousands of Young's Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) followers, from different parts of the world, obeyed his commands without question. They paid a tenth of all they acquired into the coffers of the church. Young made polygamy part of the Mormon doctrine (he himself had some 27 wives and begat 56 children during his lifetime). From his spacious and rich "Lion House" mansion in Salt Lake City, Young, acting in what he was convinced were the best interests of his people, brooked no opposition from his followers, or from anyone else, and he was unscrupulous to that end. He condoned, if not actually ordered, many murders, and he warped justice in the courts. He was determined to resist the rule of the United States government. Young and his followers made emigrant travel to the Pacific Coast difficult and sometimes dangerous, since the Territory of Deseret lay right athwart the Overland Trail. Discipline in the church was maintained by a more or less secret body of men known as Danites (or "Destroying Angels"). Those disobeying church laws, especially "apostates," were sometimes murdered by these agents. Emigrants passing through Mormon country were frequently robbed and their livestock stolen.
The federal government dispatched John Williams Gunnison to map out the American West and to investigate what was going on in Mormon Deseret, especially since Brigham Young had been laying claim to an enormous amount of land. Gunnison was to negotiate a more reasonable claim. After Gunnison and his team completed their mission, he wrote about his experiences, relating details about polygamy and blood atonement. Even though Gunnison had praised Mormon virtues of perseverance and resourcefulness, Young and the Mormon faithful were enraged with the exposure of their more controversial practices. When Gunnison returned to Deseret to complete his survey work, he was murdered by Ute Indians under Chief Walkara ("Walker"), an ally of Young. The Mormons blamed the killing on the Indians, but there was great speculation that Young had arranged it.
To meet the needs of settlers in the West, the U.S. Department of the Interior was created by an act of Congress. Former Treasury Secretary Thomas Ewing was appointed Secretary of the Interior. The U.S. Patent Office moved from the State Department to Interior; the Bureau of Indian Affairs moved from the War Department to Interior.
If a man is going to California, he announces it with some hesitation; because it is a confession that he has failed at home.(7)
Quoted in Bailey et al., op. cit., p. 403. (Close)
Thousands of farmers in the U.S. were deserted by workers who left for California to get rich. Many felt impelled to deal with the labor shortage by investing in machinery: They bought McCormick reapers at $100 each ($2,173 each in 2006 dollars). Cyrus Hall McCormick, 40, stocked warehouses throughout the upper Mississippi Valley, he guaranteed the reapers, and he let farmers buy on the installment plan. He never sued any of his customers for payment, but he also paid his workers a pittance for the long hours they worked.
Some 30,000 Forty-Niners went by sea (of whom 23,000 were Americans, the rest from Europe, Uruguay [Basque shepherds], Argentina [Basque shepherds], Chile, Peru, Australia, Hawaii, China, and other far lands). Part of these took ship to the Isthmus of Panama, crossed it overland, and boarded ship again on the other side. Disorganization of transport, bad food, and tropical diseases killed hundreds of them. Others took the hard and stormy passage around Cape Horn--3 or 4 months at sea.
Every available ship was put into service, and some schemers outfitted rotting hulks so unseaworthy that some sank with all aboard. On one single day, 61 vessels, all crowded, left eastern ports for the long voyage to California.
The first gold seekers from the East arrived at San Francisco aboard the S.S. California, a 1,050-ton sidewheeler of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company that could accommodate 60 saloon passengers and 150 in steerage (she had left New York City almost empty but picked up the passengers at Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, Callao, Paita, Callao, and Panama, taking on more than twice her capacity).
Ocean freight rates between New York City and San Francisco were now as high as $60 per ton ($1,304 per ton in 2006 dollars).
Most of the gold seekers--42,000, of whom 33,000 were Americans--went overland, by wagon. One route went along the Gila River, through Apache country. Another took the Old Spanish Trail, through Utah. The greatest route, however, was the Overland Trail. They could not start the journey until early May, when the grass grew green enough to support their teams of mules and oxen, as well as their riding horses.(8)
By the thousands the Forty-Niners (or "Argonauts," as they liked to call themselves) gathered at the Missouri River ports, Westport (now a part of Kansas City, MO), St. Joseph, MO (the steamboat terminus and supply center, population 3,000), and Kanesville (now Council Bluffs, IA), to begin their 2,000-mile walk to California. Wagon trains were organized, with elected officers to command them.
They then set forth, full of optimism and almost all pathetically green. Every man went heavily armed--usually with a rifle or shotgun and a brace of pistols--against the supposed peril of the wild Indians; but it turned out that they were more dangerous to each other than to the red warriors. Many hardly knew which end of a gun to point. They pulled loaded weapons out of wagons, muzzle first, and shot themselves. They dropped guns and set them off, wounding themselves or others. They fired wild fusillades at rabbits or antelope; and sometimes a companion was in the way. At least one man was killed "foolishly holding a trunk cover for another man to shoot at." From one end of the trail to the other, gunshot accidents caused almost daily casualties, and more men were killed or wounded in this manner than might have fallen in a first-class Indian battle.
For their part, the Indians, astonished at the appearance of such hordes of white men--it is estimated that 7,000 wagons were on the trail at a time, with others waiting to follow--withdrew from the noise and confusion, and except for stealing a few cattle and mules, did little harm.
The early stages of a typical journey, with the wagon train snaking its way along the Platte River bottom, the grass green and wild flowers blooming, was like a picnic, a gay procession. But after Fort Child (later Kearny, NE) was passed, the fun rapidly ceased. Heavy storms drenched and chilled the travelers and made going difficult. Flooded rivers had to be crossed and men and animals drowned.
To these dangers was added another, unforeseen and terrible. Starting in New Orleans and working its way up the Mississippi the dread Asiatic cholera appeared. Great cities in the East were stricken, and among the victims of the disease was former President James Knox Polk, who had finished his term only a few months previously. Panic gripped the land because the mortality rate was so terrible, and the plague so rapid in its course, that a man stricken in the morning might be dead by night. Deaths from cholera on the California Trail in 1849 have been estimated as high as 5,000. Dysentery and Rocky Mountain fever later added to the toll. The whole long route from the Missouri River to the Sierra Nevada was lined with graves, some marked with crude headboards or stones, but many not marked at all.
(A cholera epidemic spread by the Argonauts on their way to California wiped out the leadership of the Commanches in the Texas Panhandle. The Commanches continued their resistance to white settlement, nonetheless.)
Yet on rushed the Argonauts in their wild migration. Teams began to give out. By the time landmarks like Chimney Rock and Scott's Bluff were reached, broken wagons, scattered trunks, even piles of bacon, coffee, and other foods were beginning to be abandoned. The tenderfeet gaped at buffalo, elk, and antelopes, and at great villages of prairie dogs, and each night the coyotes gave voice to their wild mockery around the camps.
Past Fort Laramie went the wagons, and entered the mountains as they headed for Fort Bridger. More animals died, more vehicles were abandoned, more brief funerals held. But the Argonauts pressed on, passed Independence Rock where they carved their names, went through the grim cleft of Devil's Gate, surmounted South Pass, crossed the sagebrush desert to Fort Bridger--where perhaps they obtained some supplies and refreshment--and then up the Bear River Valley to Soda Springs.
Now they were bone-weary, and many had been left behind in those shallow graves. Yet the worst of the journey remained before them. Down the Humboldt River--an ugly, sluggish stream with barren banks so cut by ravines that travel difficulties multiplied--went the trail. Heat, dust, and alkali poisoning killed more animals and the river itself disappeared at last in a desolate morass called the Humboldt Sink.
Between the Humboldt Sink and the Carson River was 45 miles of trail with no water at all. Still the wagons fought on. Joshua Breyfogle, in his diary, recorded his impression:
Emigrants passing in crowds, nearly perishing for water… leaving mules, horses, and oxen to starve on the plains for they can't drive them on. I don't know what will become of the back trains.… This is the most horrid night I ever passed. The road was strewed with the carcasses of dead mules, horses, and cattle.… The 45-mile stretch is now almost impassible because of the stench of the dead animals along the road which is literally lined with them and there is scarcely a single train or wagon but leaves one or more dead animal, so it must be getting worse every day.By the time the Carson River was reached, so many animals had died that more wagons and articles had to be discarded. Because of the debris, including clothing, featherbeds, furniture, canvas covers, and other articles, all worn and beaten by the weather, this place became known as Ragtown. And after that the Sierra Nevada passes had to be faced before the gold country could be reached.
Many gold seekers died of scurvy, but thousands avoided that fate by eating winter purslane (Montia perfoliata), an herb that became known as "miner's lettuce."
The gold rush was causing some unrest in Brigham Young's State of Deseret (present-day Utah), so much so that Young announced in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle(9):
From Bancroft, Hubert Howe, and Bates, Alfred, History of Utah, 1540-1886 Boston: Harvard University Press, 1889, republished 2006 by The History Company, pp. 303-4. (Close)
There is more delusion and the people are more perfectly crazy on this continent than ever before.… If you Elders of Israel want to go to the gold mines, go and be damned! If you go, I would not give a picayune to keep you from damnation.… I advise the corrupt, and all who want, to go to California to go and not come back, for I will not fellowship them.… Prosperity and riches blunt the feelings of man. If the people were united, I would send men to get the gold who would care no more about it than the dust under their feet, and then we would gather millions into the church.… Some men don't want to go after gold, but they are the very men to go.Most of the Mormons stayed in Deseret, however, and sold corn and potatoes to the passing Argonauts.
Remarkable fortunes were taken from the ground in the California gold fields. Patrick McChristian, Jacob F. Lease, and Jasper O'Farrell took $75,000 ($1.6 million in 2006 dollars) in dust and nuggets from a single bar on the Yuba River. Iowa Hill, American Bar, Mud Canyon, Boston Ravine, and Coyote Hill yielded millions of dollars over the next few years (scores of millions in 2006 dollars). One giant nugget, the "Monumental," was a solid mass of gold weighing 148 pounds 8 ounces and sold for $40,000 ($869,000). Another found near Carsonville weighed 112 pounds and was worth more than $30,000 ($652,000). The vast proportion of the gold discovered, however, was in the form of "grains and flour," and thousands of seekers found no gold at all. Cradles, rockers, long toms, and sluices littered the mountain streams. Flumes were built several miles in length, and many streams and rivers were diverted to permit their sands to be worked over. The annual take in gold production for 1849 and the decade following was $91 million ($2 billion in 2006 dollars).
Many mining towns sprang up: Hangtown, Angel's Camp, Grub Gulch, Poker Flat, Red Dog, Poverty Hill, You Bet, and Helltown. Population grew almost unbelievably. San Francisco, at first nearly deserted with the rush of the locals to the fields, soon had close to 40,000 inhabitants. Sacramento had about 7,000. Hangtown (which became Placerville) boasted 5,600. Remote mountain counties like Eldorado, Calaveras, Yuba, and Nevada had 20,000 to 40,000 each. (Los Angeles at that time had only 1,600 inhabitants.) California's population tripled in the next couple of years.
Yankees, Yorkers, Indiana "Hoosiers," Illinois "Suckers," Michigan "Wolverines," Missouri "Pukes," Georgia "Crackers," Indians, Mexicans, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Sydney "Ducks," and "Heathen Chinese" all rubbed shoulders with one another.
The most reliable profits were made by those who mined the miners, particularly by charging outrageous prices for washing soiled laundry or performing other personal services. Eggs sold for $10 a dozen ($218 a dozen in 2006 dollars). Henderson Lewelling, 40, took his crop of Oregon apples to San Francisco and sold all 100 of them for $5 each ($109 each) to prospectors hungry for fresh fruit. Fortunes made in the gold diggings were lost overnight in a 'Frisco faro palace or in speculation in goods and land.
Mark Hopkins, 36, founded the New England Trading and Mining Company and rounded Cape Horn to Sacramento, CA, with 26 men, each of whom had put up $500 capital ($10,865 in 2006 dollars), and a year's supply of stores and equipment. Oneonta, NY, shopkeeper Collis Potter Huntington, 28, gave up prospecting after 1 day and joined Hopkins to found Huntington & Hopkins to supply California prospectors with clothing, food, and equipment.
Surveyor-land agent Gail Borden, 48, from Galveston, TX, invented the "meat biscuit"--dessicating a concentrated extract of the meat and baking it with flour or vegetable meal. He invested $60,000 ($1.3 million in 2006 dollars) in developing his product and promoted it as a staple for the Forty-Niners.
Italian merchant Domingo Ghirardelli left Latin America and arrived in San Francisco to sell tent stores to gold seekers. He opened a chocolate factory in San Francisco and began importing Guatemalan cacao.
Businessman Henry Meiggs, 38, chartered the packet Albany to carry New York State lumber to San Francisco; he made a fortune in lumber and land speculations.
A fire destroyed a large section of New Orleans, including the 2-year-old dry-good business Lazard Frères. Two of the brothers, Alexandres and Simon, moved to San Francisco and bought an interest in a fabric house making woolen yard goods. They took their youngest brother Elie and their cousin Alexandre Weill into partnership and soon the Lazard Frères business shifted from dry goods to trading in gold.
The giant redwood trees of California were named sequoias in honor of the famous inventor of the Cherokee alphabet George Guess "Sequoya," who had died 6 years earlier.
U.S. commodity prices leaped as a result of the California gold discoveries. Workers struck for higher wages, but all the wage hikes could not keep up with the cost of living. The times were characterized by extravagance and wild speculation. Money by the millions of dollars that should have been used for legitimate investment was instead devoted to dubious schemes for sudden wealth.
The sudden influx of tens of thousands of gold seekers and their vendors into California completely overwhelmed the simple rural government there. A very high proportion of the newcomers were outcasts, miscreants, scoundrels: lawless men and virtueless women. Most of the gold seekers were
[r]ough, hard men, separated from their women, lusting for gold in a strange wild country where fortunes could be made in a day, gambled away in an hour, or stolen in an instant.…(10)Here is a contemporary song(11):
Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 325. (Close)
Oh what was your name in the States?Crime was flourishing in California: claim jumping, robbery, murder, only partly stemmed by vigilante justice. San Francisco, for example, beset by scores of violent murders, staged only three semilegal hangings in the 8-year period following the discovery of gold. The alcaldes appointed by the military Governor of the newly conquered California administered whatever law they pleased--the Napoleanic code of Mexico, common law, or lynch law. The situation demanded control--for example, through the establishment of an effective territorial government, and law-abiding Californians began petitioning the federal government in Washington, DC, for help.
Was it Thompson or Johnson or Bates?
Did you murder your wife,
And fly for your life?
Say, what was your name in the States?
As soon as President Taylor was inaugurated, meanwhile, it had become apparent that the rancor of sectional feeling had increased. Southern lawmakers in the new 31st Congress felt that the new President had been recreant in choosing a largely antislavery cabinet. The North suspected him of slavery tendencies. Illinois Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas, 36, pictured here, expressed the foreboding that never had the country stood in such peril.
President Taylor sent a representative to urge California to form a constitution and apply immediately for statehood, bypassing the usual territorial apprenticeship stage and leaving the question of slavery up to the Californians. (The remainder of the Mexican Cession could be formed into another state, he suggested, also under the doctrine of "popular sovereignty.")
For their part, the Californians immediately elected representatives to a convention that met in Monterey and drafted a constitution in 6 weeks (by October) and ratifying it within a month afterward by a popular vote of over 12,000 to 800. The Californians did not wait for the approval of Congress before electing a Governor and a legislature.
Much to the dismay of the South, the California constitution prohibited slavery. President Taylor was furiously criticized for having encouraged California's "impertinent" stroke for freedom.
Taking his cue from residents of the territories of New Mexico and Deseret (Utah), Senator Joseph Mosley Root of Ohio, 42, a radical antislavery man, proposed that these two territories be organized under the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, which would have outlawed slavery in the territories snatched from Mexico. In addition, Senator Douglas offered a constitution that had been drafted by Deseret (Utah), with a petition for statehood with slavery prohibited.
Slaveholding Southerners were alarmed and outraged. California seemed to be establishing a slaveless precedent to be followed by the rest of the territory that had been conquered from Mexico, largely with Southern sweat and blood. Mississippi Senator Henry Stuart Foote, 45, proposed legislation to organize three territories--California, New Mexico, and Utah--without any prohibition of slavery.
Senator Foote also proposed that Texas be divided into two slaveholding states, Texas and Jacinto, divided at the Brazos River. Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 67, proposed that Texas be reduced to approximately its present boundaries, in return for a payment of $15 million ($326 million in 2006 dollars) for ceding all the other land it claimed--including, in particular, the eastern half of present-day New Mexico. Many hot-blooded Texans were unhappy with these proposals and began to threaten to seize Santa Fe and all the territory they regarded as rightfully theirs.
Many Southerners were angered by Northern agitation for abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, thereby establishing a ten-mile-square oasis of free soil between slaveholding Virginia and slaveholding Maryland. They were even more upset by how many slaves were escaping and fleeing north--about a thousand a year out of a total of 4 million slaves. This was an astounding 0.025 percent per year! But then it was the principle of the thing that weighed heavily on slaveowners: The abolitionists had adopted a holier-than-thou attitude, and they were refusing to obey slave-catching laws solemnly passed by Congress under the Constitution, which protected slavery. According to one Southern Senator(12):
Quoted in ibid., p. 405. (Close)
Although the loss of property is felt, the loss of honor is felt still more.Most of these runaway slaves escaped through the "Underground Railroad," the informal chain of "stations" (antislavery private homes) through which scores of "passengers" (runaway slaves) were spirited by "conductors" (abolitionists, some white and some black) from the slave states all the way to freedom in Canada. For example, illiterate Maryland slave Harriet Tubman, 29, pictured here, newly escaped to the North, had already begun her fearless career as conductor, during which she would rescue hundreds of slaves and earn the title of "Moses." Virginia Senator James Murray Mason, 51, introduced a measure to more aggressively enforce the 56-year-old Fugitive Slave Law, not only facilitating the recapture of escaped slaves but also fining anyone who obstructed such a recapture $1,000 ($21,730 in 2006 dollars).
Escaped slave couple William and Ellen Craft, having at the end of the preceding year traveled with the help of the Underground Railroad all the way to Philadelphia by train and steamboat from their respective masters' rice plantations in Georgia, now arrived in Boston. They told their amazing story to local abolitionist groups and became famous enough that their former masters learned of their whereabouts.
Gradually, those in the North were becoming aware of what slavery was all about in the South. For example, the "peculiar institution" brought out the ugliest sadistic tendencies in overseers. Here is the reminiscence of one who had to endure frequent cruelties(13):
Quoted in McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993, pp. 216, 221, citing Jenny Proctor, "Alabama," in Lay My Burden Down. (Close)
We might-a done very well if the old driver hadn't been so mean, but the least little thing we do he beat us for it and put big chains round our ankles and make us work with them on till the blood be cut out all around our ankles. Some of the masters have what they call stockades and puts their heads and feet and arms through holes in a big board out in the hot sun, but our old driver he had a bull pen. That's the only thing like a jail he had. When a slave do anything he didn't like, he takes 'em in that bull pen and chains 'em down, face up to the sun, and leaves 'em there till they nearly dies.
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 four ships spent most of their time in the Cape Verde Islands, a good thousand miles from the nearest barracoon. According to one of the officers(14):
Quoted in Morison, op. cit., p. 597. (Close)
No one thinks of catching slavers, nor do I believe the officers of the squadron… wish to catch them.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; in fact, the number was now greater than it had been half a century earlier, when the trade had been legal. 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.
President Taylor was asked to explain his actions in detail with regard to his sending a representative to California and what steps he or that representative might have taken to bring about an antislavery constitution there. Taylor urged that California be admitted, and that the other territories remain as they were. He refused to endorse the Wilmot Proviso, and he refused to endorse the right of Southerners to bring their slaves into any territories they wanted to. He bumbled and hesitated; he didn't know what to do.
Thomas Lanier Clingman, 37, of North Carolina asserted that were either the Wilmot Proviso passed or slavery outlawed in the District of Columbia, the Southern states should secede from the Union. A seceded South would benefit in many ways--lowered tariffs, the acquisition of foreign capital for railroad building and other improvements--and, with its fine military traditions, had nothing to fear from a possible war with the North. The Governor and legislature of South Carolina was contemplating secession as well, hesitating only because they were hoping to be joined by the rest of the South. Here is what South Carolina Senator John Caldwell Calhoun, 67, wrote to his daughter(15):
Quoted in ibid., pp. 569-70. (Close)
I trust we shall persist in our resistance [to the admission of California] until the restoration of all our rights, or disunion, one or the other, is the consequence. We have borne the wrongs and insults of the North long enough.
At the same time, many Northerners, including former Massachusetts Governor Edward Everett, 59, who was then president of Harvard, were discussing the possible advantages of secession from the Southern states, brought about in a friendly spirit, "like reasonable men."
Congress (and the country at large) was paralyzed with the mean, combative sectional rancor. Just for such a routine action as the election of a Speaker for the House of Representatives took 3 weeks, with 63 ballots. Even candidates for the post of doorkeeper were tested for their opinions on slavery.
The Young America movement--modeled on European youth movements, inspired by the "manifest destiny" notion, and founded 4 years earlier by Edwin de Leon and by 44-year-old newspaper editor and social reformer George Henry Evans (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 (such as each of the uprisings in Europe the preceding year), 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. For example, during this year, after news had arrived that Hungary had fallen before a Russian invasion and had been incorporated into Austria, the legislatures of Indiana, Ohio, and New York called for U.S. intervention--to no avail. The movement was already an important faction within the Democratic Party and was supported by such influential politicians as Senator Stephen A. Douglas as a way to distract Americans from the explosive sectional issue of slavery.
Virginia poet and novelist Edgar Allan Poe, 40, published Annabel Lee and The Bells. In a state of extreme drunkenness, he arrived in Baltimore on a steamer from Richmond just before the fall election. He was seized and hustled into a "coop," where local Whig politicians kept down-and-outers "on ice" for repeated voting. After a detention of 5 days, Poe was rescued, but his health was ruined. He soon died in a Baltimore hospital.
Popular periodicals included the Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, Police Gazette, Scientific American, 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.
Who's Who began publication.
The song "Nelly Was a Lady" by Pittsburgh songwriter Stephen Collins Foster, 22, was released and became popular. Other popular songs included "Ben Bolt, or Oh! Don't You Remember," "The Blue Juanita," "Jim Crack Corn" (also known as "Blue Tail Fly"), "Oh! Susanna" (also by Foster) "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, 34, continued their long engagement at Mechanic's Hall on Broadway in New York City." Part of their repertoire was Foster's "Oh! Susanna!," sung by Christy himself, helping to make that song part of every minstrel show repertoire. It was sung by gold seekers bound for California. Here is a description of a typical minstrel show by historian Samuel Eliot Morison(16):
Ibid., pp. 495-96. (Close)
In the first act the performers, most of them white men in blackface, sat in a semicircle around the interlocutor, a dignified colored gentleman in dress suit who acted both as master of ceremonies and butt for the jokes of the end men--"Mistah Tambo" who banged a tambourine, and "Mistah Bones" who rattled castanets. Besides repartee and horseplay, the cast played banjo melodies and sang comic or sentimental songs. The second act, known as the olio, included a "hoe-down" dance, comic parodies of grand opera, and a "walk-around," in which the players one by one took the center of the stage for individual songs or dances while the rest clapped time to the music.
Composer Richard Storrs Wills, 30, composed the Christmas hymn "It Came upon the Midnight Clear," with lyrics by Unitarian clergyman-poet Edward H. Sears.
The chamber music group the Mendelssohn Quintette Club gave its first concert.
With the repeal of the British corn laws, many Canadians--particularly English merchants in Lower Canada (Quebec)--sought to escape the resulting terrible economic depression by requesting annexation to the United States. A group of Montrealers issued the Annexation Manifesto, pointing out all the advantages that Canada would have by being part of the United States. But French Canadians, jealous of the special status the Catholic church had with the status quo, were not interested in becoming Americans. Also, the majority of English Canadians, particularly in Upper Canada (Ontario), felt too much loyalty to the British crown. Southerners in the United States were also not interested in acquiring any more territory where slavery was not welcome.
Daniel Massey, 51, established the Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory, to manufacture farm equipment at Bond Head on Lake Ontario in Upper Canada.
Railroad construction began across the Isthmus of Panama to facilitate passage to California.
Many Argonauts (Forty-Niners) used the Pacific Steamship Company to reach California: They traveled by boat to Panama, then by land across the Isthmus on muleback, and then onto steamers to the Pacific Coast and up to California. The piratical-minded, foghorn-voiced New York shipping magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, 55, inspired by promoter Ferdinand de Lesseps, 44, established the Accessory Transit Corporation, which provided a similar service as the Pacific Steamship Company's via an overland route across Nicaragua, which saved 600 miles (and several days) and cut the going price by half. This move netted him over $1 million a year ($21.7 million in 2006 dollars). He improved the San Juan River channel, built docks on both of Nicaragua's coasts and at Virgin Bay in Lake Nicaragua, and constructed a 12-mile blacktop road to the Pacific side. He built 8 new steamers.
Manuel Oribe, 53, former President of Uruguay who had been ousted from power 10 years earlier, in alliance with Juan Manuel de Rosas, 54, the dictator of Argentina, continued his civil war in Uruguay and his prolonged siege (now in its sixth 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 fifth year) of the Rio de la Plata.
The British Parliament repealed the Navigation Acts, thereby ending restrictions on foreign shipping.
Provided by a Parliamentary statute of 3 years earlier, the United Kingdom had by now reduced its duties on food imports to nominal levels.
During a cholera epidemic in London, clergyman Henry Moule, 48, part of the Health of Towns Association and the Great Sanitary Movement, worked indefatigably to help victims. He invented a dry-earth system of sewage disposal.
Tea wholesaler Henry Charles Harrod, 49, of Eastcheap took over the grocery shop of Philip Henry Burden at 8 Brompton Road in London and began to convert it into a large department store.
Bedford College for Women was founded in London.
Foxhunter William coke of Holkham, Norfolk, wanted protection from low overhanging branches when he was out hunting, so through the 90-year-old firm Lock Co. of St. James he ordered a special hat made for him by felt-hat makers Thomas Bowler, Ltd., of Southward Bridge Road: the hard "bowler hat," or "derby."
The Frankfurt Parliament adopted a constitution for a united Germany and chose King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, 53, as "Emperor of the Germans." King Friedrich Wilhelm, however, refused the honor, and efforts for German unification foundered.
German socialist Karl Marx, 31, publisher of the radical journal Neue Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne, was expelled from Prussia. Shortlived revolutions in Dresden and in Baden were suppressed.
The Chain Bridge was completed, spanning the Danube and connecting the cities of Buda and Pest in Hungary.
The Hapsburg Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, 19, sent his forces into Hungary to suppress the revolution that had begun the year before. The forces occupied Buda and Pest. The Hungarian Diet met at Debreczen and declared a republic, electing Lajos Kossuth, 46, as its "responsible governor-president" (that is, dictator). Kossuth issued a declaration of independence, stating that
the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, perjured in the sight of God and man, has forfeited the Hungarian throne.(17)Franz Josef, however, did not wish to forfeit that throne; he accepted an offer of help from Nicholas, the Russian Tsar. Russian troops invaded Hungary and defeated the rebels in the Battle of Temesovar. Hungary capitulated to the Austrians at Vilagos. Kossuth fled to the Ottoman Empire, but his successor surrendered to the Russians. The Austrian and Russian victors took drastic revenge, hanging nine generals and shooting four. Both Russia and Austria demanded extradition of Hungarian refugees, including Kossuth (whom the Turks had imprisoned), but the Ottoman Sultan refused, appealing to the United Kingdom for aid. British Foreign Secretary Henry J. Temple Viscount Palmerston, 65, promised support, and French and British naval forces made a show of force at Besika Bay. A British squadron that entered the Dardanelles to escape bad weather, however, withdrew in response to a Russian protest.
Quoted in Trager, op. cit., p. 463. (Close)
Russian anarchist Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin, 35, was sentenced to death in Austria for his revolutionary activities. (He was not executed, however.)
Under pressure from radical forces, King Charles Albert of Sardinia-Piedmont denounced the armistice with Austria of the preceding year that he had been forced into. In the Battle of Novara, however, Austrian forces under General Radetzky, 83, again defeated those of Charles Albert, who was now forced to abdicate in favor of his son Victor Emmanuel II, 29, and to go into exile.
The war was over with the Peace of Milan. Venice surrendered to Austrian forces.
King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily), 39, had retreated in the face of the revolutions to Gaeta to confer with various deposed despots; when the news of the Austrian victories reached him, he determined to return to a reactionary policy. He instructed General Carlo Filangieri to bombard the chief cities there, earning Ferdinand the epithet of "King Bomba."
The Kremlin Palace was completed in Moscow.
Petropavlosk was founded in Siberia.
Japan had been closed for two centuries to almost all foreign intercourse, the exception being a strictly regulated trade with only the Dutch and the Chinese at the single port of Nagasaki. Any foreign sailor wrecked on the Japanese coast was not allowed to leave; conversely, any Japanese sailor wrecked on a foreign coast was not allowed to return. During this year American Commander James Glynn on the USS Preble entered Nagasaki Harbor and recovered 12 American sailors. After leaving, Glynn landed at Okinawa in the Great Lew Chew (the Ryukyus) and allowed his crew ashore, a privilege never before granted any stranger.
Scots explorer and missionary David Livingstone, 36, crossed southwest Africa's Kalihari Desert and discovered Lake Ngami.
The Cape Colony in South Africa prohibited the landing there of convicts.
English archaeologist Sir Henry Layard, 32, excavated the site of Nineveh and found some 25,000 clay tablets, including state documents as well as scientific, religious, and literary works.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ("The more things change, the more they remain the same").Russian novelist Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, 29, was convicted of conspiracy, sentenced to be shot, reprieved at the last moment, and sent to Siberia.
Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, 36, produced the opera Luisa Miller at the Teatro San Carlos in Naples; Italian composer Giacomo Meyerbeer produced the opera Le Prophète at the Grand Opéra in Paris; Neapolitan composer Teodoro Cottrau, 22, produced the popular song "Santa Lucia"; German composer Robert Schumann, 38, produced the popular song "Frölicher Landmann" ("Happy Farmer"); German composer Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nikolai, 38, produced the Shakespearean opera Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor ("The Merry Wives of Windsor") at the Hofoper in Berlin and died 2 months later; Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, 38, produced the symphonic poem Tusso: Lament and Triumph at the Grand Ducal Playhouse in Weimar; French composer Hector Berlioz, 46, produced the religious music to Te Deum. German Romantic composer Richard Wagner, 36, took part in the Dresden revolt and was forced to flee to Zurich. Austrian composer Johann Strauss the elder died of scarlet fever at the age of 45. His son, Johann Strauss the younger, 23, inherited and took over the orchestra. Polish composer Frédéric François Chopin died at the age of 39.
French artist Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, 51, painted the ceiling of Salon d'Apollon at the Louvre in Paris; and French painter (Jean Desiré) Gustave Courbet, 30, exhibited After Dinner at Ornans.
French lady of fashion and playgirl of artists and literati Jeanne Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard Récamier (Madame Récamier), who decades earlier had modeled for several famous portraits, died at the age of 82.