Christ's Lutheran Church in 1850

[ Christ's Church on the Sawkill ]

Pastor Hiram Wheeler, whose pastorate ended during this year. For the next couple of years, "it seems there was no settled pastor. Some records were made by P. S. Nellis."(1)

Quoted from Frederick, Rev. Walter, "Historical Address, Woodstock, N.Y., May 3, 1931," 6, itself citing, without attribution, Traver, Charles H., D.D., of West Camp, "History of Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, N.Y., 1806-1906," an earlier source from the centennial, when Reverend Frederick was pastor. (Close) Services were conducted in 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(2)

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:
[ 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.

The church owned no parsonage. The pastor
lived in rented rooms wherever they could be procured, sometimes several miles away.

The Woodstock Region in 1850

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 a few 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.

Many Woodstockers died this year from a combination of typhus and diaorrea. Former tenant John Reynolds lost several children, and became irrational.

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 ($112.95 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.

Erastus O. Haven recalled many years later what he had seen and felt on top of Woodstock's Overlook Mountain:(3)

Quoted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, p. 263, citing Haven, Erastus O., Autobiography, New York, 1883, pp. 98-99. (Close)
Overlook furnishes a view unsurpassed in the world for beauty.… I stood there once when a light mist hovered over the land. Before me and beneath me, except just where I stood, was invisibility--one step forward and I should have been with the angels. All at once a slight whisper of wind arose in the forest behind us; the mists broke into forms which contended with each other in an aerial ocean. They rapidly spread and lifted themselves into a canvas stretching from the sky down into interminable depths below me; and from horizon to horizon appeared, in lights and shades superior to those of Raphael, that stupendous panorama. Now it was lost; now it re-appeared, and thus it vanished and came into being again and again, and trembled and moved as if quivering with life. I stood entranced and speechless with my friends, till I ventured to inquire: "Does that seem to you like a picture or a fact?" "Like a picture," they all answered, and I knew the scene was not a dream, but a transparency, exhibited by the great Artist on the clouds.

German immigrant entrepreneur Lewis Luckenbach acquired a tugboat and started a towing and salvage business in Rondout that would become the Luckenbach Steamship Company.

The 48-year-old Ulster and Delaware Turnpike (present-day Route 28), leading up the Esopus Valley from Kingston and over the Pine Hill into Delaware County, was improved: floored with heavy hemlock planks.

Wappingers Falls tailor James A. Orr returned home from the California after splitting his pants while panning for gold. He formed a partnership with his nephews C. E. Sweet and S. W. Sweet--the Sweet-Orr Company--to produce overalls. They bought six sewing machines and hired girls to operate them.

The commodious Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove, owned and operated by Charles L. Beach, 41, was struck by lightning, which

passed down the conductor near the Porter's room… it passed up to the shelves lined with brass and iron candlesticks… [it] left its imprint upon twenty to thirty of them, welding two together, then passed up the bell wires into the office [and stunned the clerk].(4) Quoted from Evers, Alf, The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972, p. 453, citing the Kingston Journal, July 3, 1850. (Close)
The clerk survived, and soon there were dozens of 5-foot-long lightning rods all over the hotel's roof.

Hotel guest Charles B. Foster of Utica slipped over the brink of Kaaterskill Falls and fell 80 feet to the rocks, but he somehow survived after being patched up by a hotel doctor.

[ Sojourner Truth ] Former New Paltz and Hurley slave Isabella Bomefree Van Wagenen, now known as Sojourner Truth, 53, pictured here, published her autobiography Narrative of Sojourner Truth, finished with the help of abolitionist Olive Gilbert.

The United States in 1850

[ Zachary Taylor ]

Zachary Taylor, 65 (Whig), pictured left, was President, succeeded during this year by his Vice President, Millard Fillmore, pictured right. [ Millard Fillmore ] The 31st Congress was in session. (The midterm elections that year would elect the 32nd Congress.) A dollar in that year would be worth $22.59 in 2006 for most consumable products.

The following is a table of the prices advertised in 1850 in the Virginia Free Press. (Prices were considerably higher in California.) You can see the result of inflation since then by looking at the right-hand column, the price in 2006 dollars (whatever differences you might notice from your own grocery bills might be explained by the fact that some items were more plentiful in those days and some items less plentiful).

Lard (by the ½ pound) . . . . . $0.12 $2.71
Bacon (by the pound) . . . . . $0.11 $2.48
Ham (by the pound) . . . . . $0.20 $4.52
Spare ribs (by the pound) . . . . . $0.05 $1.13
Potatoes (by the peck) . . . . . $0.13 $2.94
Corn meal (by the peck) . . . . . $0.25 $5.65
Rice (by the pound) . . . . . $0.08 $1.81
Flour (by the barrel) . . . . . $6.00 $135.54
Codfish (by the ½ pound) . . . . . $0.06 $1.36
Cheese (by the ½ pound) . . . . . $0.12 $2.71
Cane sugar (by the pound) . . . . . $0.15 $3.39
Crackers (by the ½ pound) . . . . . $0.12 $2.71
Ear corn (by the bushel) . . . . . $0.60 $13.55
Eggs (by the dozen) . . . . . $0.10 $2.26
Tea (by the pound) . . . . . $1.00 $22.59
Coffee (by the ½ pound) . . . . . $0.12 $2.71
Candy (by the ¼ pound) . . . . . $0.31 $7.00
Cantelope (each) . . . . . $0.06 $1.36
Mollasses (by the gallon) . . . . . $1.00 $22.59
Beans (by the pound) . . . . . $0.10 $2.26
Bread (by the loaf) . . . . . $0.11 $2.48
Cake (each) . . . . . $0.25 $5.65
Currents (by the ½ pound) . . . . . $0.12 $2.71
Live hen (each) . . . . . $1.00 $22.59
Wine (by the bottle) . . . . . $0.50 $11.30
Port wine (by the bottle) . . . . . $1.50 $33.89
Whiskey (by the gallon) . . . . . $4.00 $90.36
Jamaica rum (by the pint) . . . . . $0.37 $8.36
Brandy (by the pint) . . . . . $0.50 $11.30
Porter and Brown Stout beer (by the bottle) $0.30 $6.78
Tobacco (by the pound) . . . . . $0.50 $11.30
Cigars (per 100) . . . . . $5.00 $113.00
Stove coal (by the ton) . . . . . $10.00 $225.90
Coal oil (by the gallon) . . . . . $1.25 $28.24
Glass lantern (each) . . . . . $0.85 $19.20
Coffee pot (each) . . . . . $0.30 $6.78
Tea kettle (each) . . . . . $0.75 $16.94
Rent a wagon (by the day) . . . . . $3.00 $67.77
Crochet needle (each) . . . . . $0.10 $2.26
Matches (for 2 boxes) . . . . . $0.01 $0.23
Saddles (each) . . . . . $20.00 $451.80
Door spring (each) . . . . . $1.00 $22.59
Gold-bordered and painted window shades $0.65 $14.68
Tar (by the ½ barrel) . . . . . $4.00 $90.36
Garden seeds . . . . . $0.02 $0.45
Milk crocks (each) . . . . . $0.12 $2.71
Gallon jugs (each) . . . . . $0.25 $5.65
Broom (each) . . . . . 13½ cents $3.05
Water bucket (each) . . . . . 31¼ cents $7.06
Candles (each) . . . . . 2½ cents $0.56
Iron shovel (each) . . . . . $0.75 $16.81
Soap (by the pound) . . . . . $0.06 $1.34
Ball of thread (each) . . . . . $0.10 $2.26
Calico (by the yard) . . . . . $0.09 $2.03
Cashmere (by the yard) . . . . . $1.23 $27.79
Cotton (by the yard) . . . . . 12½ cents $2.82
Gingham (by the yard) . . . . . 12½ cents $2.82
Muslin (by the yard) . . . . . $0.55 $12.42
Ribbon (by the yard) . . . . . $0.55 $12.42
Scissors (each) . . . . . $0.50 $11.30
Sewing needles (each) . . . . . $0.50 $11.30
Writing paper (by the sheet) . . . . . . . . . . $0.02 $0.45
Ink (by the bottle) . . . . . $0.15 $3.39
Medicine (by the bottle) . . . . . $0.40 $9.04
Medicated prunes (by the can) . . . . . . . . . . $0.25 $5.65
Cridler patent medicine for killing worms $0.25 $5.65
Hair dye (by the bottle) . . . . . $0.25 $5.65
Nails (each) . . . . . ½ cent $0.11
Wool hoop skirts (each) . . . . . $1.00-2.50 $22.59-56.48
Hair nets (each) . . . . . $1.00 $22.59
Bonnet (each) . . . . . 87½ cents $19.77
White and colored corsets (each) . . . . . $2.00 $45.18
Gloves (for a pair) . . . . . $1.00 $22.59
Black silk mitts (for a pair) . . . . . 12½ cents $2.82
Undersleeves (for a pair) . . . . . $0.50 $11.30
Coats (each) . . . . . $2.25-4.00 $50.83-90.36
Fancy belts (each) . . . . . $0.25-0.75 $5.65-16.94
Shoes, men's (for a pair) . . . . . $0.62-1.40 $14.01-31.63
Silk veil (each) . . . . . $1.50 $33.89
Cotton socks (for a pair) . . . . . $0.33 $7.45
Men's boots (for a pair) . . . . . $6.50 $146.84
Men's dress shirts (each) . . . . . $1.25 $28.24
Shirt collars (each) . . . . . $0.15 $3.39
Ties (each) . . . . . $0.35 $7.91
Vests (cotton, silk) (each) . . . . . $0.90-4.50 $20.33-101.66
Cotton suspenders (for a pair) . . . . . . . $0.60 $13.55
Work shirts (each) . . . . . $0.65 $14.68
Night shirts (each) . . . . . $0.75-1.00 $16.94-22.59
Hats (wool, felt) (each) . . . . . $3.87-5.00 $87.42-112.95
Panama hats (each) . . . . . $2.50 $56.48
Wood cane (each) . . . . . $0.35 $7.91
Straw hats (each) . . . . . $0.80-1.00 $18.07-22.59

The U.S. used energy at an annual rate of 7,091 pounds of coal per capita (a rate many advanced nations would not attain before 1970), but 91 percent of U.S. energy came from wood, the rest largely from whale oil.

Americans annually consumed 205 pounds of wheat flour per capita (up by 35 pounds over the preceding two decades), and they consumed an average of 184 pounds of meat (up by 6 pounds over those two decades).

Elastic was now available to the well-to-do, as were rubber galoshes. Vulcanized rubber, Portland cement, and corrugated or galvanized iron had become available (although not yet in wide use).

There were more than 1,500 woolen mills in the Northern states--typically small, individually owned businesses that produced flannel, blankets, and coarse worsteds and that employed people in the neighborhood.

Some 631,000 tons of iron were produced in the United States, nearly twice that of a decade earlier, three and a half times that of two decades earlier, and nearly 30 times that of three decades earlier.

The U.S. led the world in the production of goods requiring the use of precision instruments. The locks, clocks, rifles and pistols produced in the U.S. had a tremendous reputation.

There were 254 daily newspapers in the U.S., an increase of 116 over the preceding decade.

Some books were now clothbound, and photography had become possible (although not widely known).

The population of the United States grew 36% during the preceding decade. The growth of towns and cities of 8,000 or more people showed a 90% increase during the decade.

Half of all Americans were under the age of 30. A married couple in America had an average of 5.42 children. Only half of the children born in the U.S. reached the age of 5.

New York State contained a seventh of the U.S. population. There were 515,547 people in New York City (Manhattan), two thirds of them immigrants from Ireland, and 96,838 in Brooklyn. (The built-up part of Manhattan extended to 42nd Street; everything north of 44th Street was countryside.) The total population of the U.S. was 23.1 million, including 1.7 million immigrants.

New settlers continued to roll westward: There were now nearly 192,000 people in Iowa, more than a fourfold increase in a single decade; Wisconsin now had 305,000 people, nearly a tenfold increase during the same period.

Many New Englanders had been migrating to the Upper South, successfully restoring worn-out farmlands there (although the intensification of the sectional conflict, this "Vandal Invasion" [as a Richmond editor had called it] was waning). Still, however, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, with their reputation as tobacco-growing states, were concentrating more and more on diversified farming--corn, wheat, vegetables, fruits, and livestock. The South as a whole produced 60% of all the corn grown in the U.S. Cotton growing had been migrating ever westward, more and more of it was being grown west of the Mississippi River.

Galphin claim affair

Secretary of War George Walker Crawford, 52, former Governor of Georgia, acquired half the settlement of a 73-year-old claim originally worth $45,000 ($1 million in 2006 dollars). His friends helped him get a bill through the 31st Congress, appropriating that amount. With the help of Attorney General Reverdy Johnson, 54, and Treasury Secretary William Morris Meredith, 51, Crawford was able to turn that into an additional payment of $191,353 ($4.3 million) for the seven decades of interest, half of which made him a nice little fortune. When the chicanery came to light, the Taylor Administration was extremely embarrassed by the scandal.

Nearly 16 percent of the U.S. population was black.

The United States had become the largest slaveholding nation in the world, with more than 4 million slaves. There were 6,242,418 white folks in the slave-holding states, but slaves were by now so expensive that the percentage of whites who owned slaves was not large and was ever declining. Only 255,258 families owned slaves, only a third of them owned 10 slaves or more, only 1,733 oligarchic plantation families owned more than 100 slaves each, and only 254 plantations had 200 or more slaves.

The slave system encouraged larger agricultural units. The size of the average American farm was 203 acres, but the average size in Alabama was 289 acres, in Louisiana 372 acres. (On the other hand, the majority of Southern farmers, who had few or no slaves, had farms close to the American average.)

In the South, slave property, at least on paper, was important to its possessors. A few large owners had great numbers of slaves. For example, the Hairston family in Virginia were reported to be "rich in Negroes" as follows(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, p. 136n, citing the Richmond Whig in 1854. (Close)
Sam Hairston owns 1700--Mrs. R. Hairston owns 1300--Marshall Hairston owns 700--Robert Hairston owns 950--Harden Hairston owns 600--and George Hairston owns 200 after giving off to his children some 700. Here is an aggregate of nearly 6000 slaves in the possession of one family. Their land property is said to be valued in proportion. Their government of slaves is said to be at once humane and successful. The annual increase in the whole family is thought to be three or four hundred. The united wealth of the Hairstons cannot fall short of $15,000,000 ($342 million in 2006 dollars).
The price of a slave had tripled over the preceding two decades, a rise chiefly due to the increased value of the South's agricultural output: The crop value per slave had risen fivefold. In the cotton fields of the Deep South, slaves brought several hundred dollars per head more than in the older regions, so the tendency to sell them "down the river" continued unabated.

The U.S. cotton crop reached 2,136,000 bales (more than a billion pounds). Nearly 60% of the slaves in the U.S. were employed in growing cotton.

Of all the reforms advocated by the hotheads of the Transcendentalist era, the abolitionist crusade against slavery topped them all.

Compromise of 1850

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. Crime was flourishing: 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. Law-abiding Californians were petitioning the federal government in Washington, DC, for an effective government under statehood.

Responding to an invitation from President Taylor to draft a constitution and apply immediately for statehood, bypassing the usual territorial apprenticeship stage, Californians had the previous year convened a constitutional convention and ratified it with amazing speed. Much to the dismay of the South, the constitution prohibited slavery.

On the grounds that most of California lay north of the Missouri Compromise 36°30' N line and that that compromise should be honored, Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 68, supported California's apparent establishment of a slaveless precedent (possibly to be followed by the rest of the territory that had been conquered from Mexico, largely through Southern sweat and blood). Slaveholding Southerners were alarmed and outraged. Mississippi Senator Henry Stuart Foote, 46, who had the preceding year proposed legislation to organize three territories--California, New Mexico, and Utah--without any prohibition of slavery, was intent on blocking California's admission as a state.

Senator Benton denounced Senator Foote's stonewalling. Foote rose from his seat, drew a pistol, and pointed it at Benton's chest. Benton roared:

Let him fire! Stand out of the way and let the assassin fire!(6) Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 432. (Close)

President Taylor, too, had been furiously criticized for having encouraged California's "impertinent" stroke for freedom. Now it looked like California had established some kind of precedent: Other territories within the "Mexican Cession" (the land conquered from Mexico)--New Mexico and Desert (Utah) in particular--were agitating for statehood with slavery banned.

Many Southerners also found Northern agitation for abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia infuriating, and they were even more furious by what they perceived as the ease with which runaway slaves made it to Canada through the "Underground Railroad." So-called "fire-eaters" in the South were advocating secession unless the abolition tide was stopped.

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 had take 3 weeks, with 63 ballots. Even candidates for the post of doorkeeper were tested for their opinions on slavery. Now some old-guard Senators wanted to push for some kind of compromise.

[ Henry Clay of Kentucky ] The once-glamorous Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, 73, the "Great Pacificator," pictured here, now disillusioned, enfeebled, and racked by coughing fits, introduced compromise resolutions, "founded upon mutual forbearance," designed to reduce the growing polarity between the North and the South(7):

Much of the following text has been quoted liberally from Wellman, op. cit., pp. 323-35. (Close)

After offering this proposal, Clay waited a week and then rose to speak on its behalf to a crowded Senate chamber. He gave logical justifications for each of the proposals. As for "popular sovereignty" in the Mexican Cession outside of California, he reassured his Northern colleagues and predicted that although Southerners would be allowed to bring their slaves there, none would do so.

You have got what is worth more than a thousand Wilmot Provisos. You have nature on your side.(8) Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 326. (Close)
As for slave trading in Washington, DC, Clay quoted the long-dead John Randolph of Roanoke, who had referred to the slave pens in the District as "an abomination." That Congress would have no power to interfere in the slave trade was merely an affirmation of a Supreme Court verdict. He pleaded that both the North and the South be magnanimous. He stated that the failure of the North in enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law had given the South "just cause for complaint." He warned the South that secession would be ruinous for it, and that they would lose all their main objectives: admission of slaves to the territories, continuance of slavery in the District of Columbia, and any possible return of fugitive slaves. Furthermore, the Midwest would never acquiesce to secession(9): Quoted in Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 571. (Close)
My life upon it that the vast population which has already concentrated… on the headwaters and the tributaries of the Mississippi, will never give their consent that the mouth of that river shall be held subject to the power of any foreign state.
Secession would lead to "furious, bloody, implacable, exterminating war" and would bring sure disaster to the South.

[ Daniel Webster of Massachusetts ] [ William Henry Seward ]

At the end, Clay received a tremendous ovation. Georgia Senator Robert Augustus Toombs, 40, was filled with enthusiasm for Clay's heroic stand. Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, 69, pictured left, suffering from a liver complaint brought on by his high living, was in favor of the compromise. Others were more reserved. President Taylor, however, convinced by the wiry, husky-throated New York Senator William Henry Seward, 49, pictured right, and some members of his cabinet, and nursing a grudge against Clay (who had failed to help Taylor's 1848 Presidential campaign), was against the compromise; he insisted that his own plan be adopted.

[ Jefferson Davis ] At the same time Clay faced a continuous drumfire of opposition in the 31st Congress from extremists on both sides. Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, 42, pictured here and walking with a cane after his wound suffered at the Battle of Buena Vista, charged the North with trying to establish "perpetual domination" over the rest of the nation, with slandering the character of the Southern people, and with denying the South equality under the Constitution. Northern spokesmen insisted that Clay's compromise gave all the concessions to the South; abolitionists in particular inveighed against Clay as an advocate of slavery and all many of other indictments.

After another week, Clay rose again, stating that he was glad to find himself assailed by fanatics of both sides: Since they attacked with equal fury, he was all the more convinced that the compromise had merit. He appealed not to fanatics but to the thinking men of the nation. He said that though he represented a slave state and sympathized with slaveowners, he considered slavery "a social and political evil; that it is wrong, as it represents those who are subject to the institution of slavery." He said that he had the year before drafted a plan for gradual emancipation, though he knew his own Kentucky constituents would never have supported it. After his speech, his compromise resolutions were referred to a select committee--6 Democrats, 6 Whigs, with himself as chairman. The committee made its report, submitting an Omnibus Bill, incorporating the compromise resolutions in a unified form.

[ John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina ] Now South Carolina Senator John Caldwell Calhoun, 68, the "Great Nullifier," pictured here, failing in health (dying of tuberculosis)--who had, after recently fainting in the Senate lobby, told his younger colleague Robert Barnwell Rhett, 50,

Ah, Mr. Rhett, my career is nearly done; the great battle must be fought by you younger men,
and who had been heard to moan with tear-filled eyes "The South--the poor South"--announced that he would make an appearance, probably his last, before the Senate. Again the Senate and halls in the Capitol were packed when Calhoun, the "Sentinel of the South," entered. The frail Senator's "Speech on the Slavery Question," which was actually read by his colleague, Virginia Senator James Murray Mason, 52, declared that abolitionist agitation had brought the nation near to disunion.
I have, Senators, believed from the first that the agitation of the subject of slavery would, if not prevented by some timely and effective measure, end in disunion.
Vainly had Calhoun tried to take steps to prevent the disaster, but the crisis was now at last at hand. "The cords that bind the States together" were snapping one by one: Already three great evangelical churches were divided North from South, for example. He recited all the wrongs that the South had suffered: violation of states' rights (the Federal Union was "being permanently and hopelessly converted into the means of oppressing instead of protecting" the South), exclusion from common territory (the North should "do justice by conceding to the South an equal right in the acquired territory" of California and New Mexico), tariff laws that halted the South's economic progress, attacks on the character and motives of Southerners, concentration of authority in the Northerners' hands. Calhoun's solution was to leave slavery alone ("cease the agitation of the slave question"), guarantee the South its rights as a minority, and restore the political balance. (It was later revealed that he advocated a system of electing two Presidents, one from the North and the other from the South, each wielding veto power.)

Essentially Calhoun refused to compromise. He insisted that slavery should be allowed in the western territories and that Southern slaveholders had the right to reclaim their slave "property" as a consequence of a firm fugitive-slave law. If the North could not agree to these demands of the Southern states,

let the states… agree to separate and part in peace. If you are unwilling that we should part in peace, tell us so, and we shall know what to do.(10) Quoted in Davidson and Stoff, op. cit., p. 433. (Close)
Many Southerners, deeply moved by the dying Senator's speech, rethought their acceptance of compromise.

Clay appealed to Webster for help. Webster, representing Massachusetts, the hotbed of abolition, was reluctant, knowing that he would be assailed as a traitor. But he finally realized it was his duty to speak in favor of compromise. "I know not," he wrote his son Fletcher, "with what weapons to beat down the Northern and Southern follies, now raging in equal extremes." While he was preparing a speech to answer Calhoun, he learned that the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society had adopted resolutions promoting the breakup of the Union, and he was barraged with letters urging him to take a stronger stand against the South.

When Webster delivered his 3-hour-long "For the Union and Constitution" speech, the Senate was more crowded than ever.

Mr. President, I wish to speak today not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American.… The imprisoned winds are let loose, the East, the North, and the stormy South, combine to throw the whole sea into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and disclose its profoundest depths.… I speak today for the preservation of the Union. Hear me for my cause!
Meanwhile, Senator Calhoun was helped to a seat so that he could hear Webster, who was appealing to the best in men, tracing the history of slavery, its existence through the ages, to the present.
There are thousands of religious men, with consciences as tender as any of their brethren at the North, who do not see the unlawfulness of slavery…
They were "just as conscientious" in their support of the peculiar institution as were their Northern opponents against it. But the world was changing, Webster said, and with it the feeling of the people. He spoke of those who believed everything was "absolutely wrong, or absolutely right."
They deal with morals as with mathematics, and they think what is right may be distinguished from what is wrong with the precision of an algebraic equation.
Webster described the growth of the nation, the addition of new territories from which slave states were carved, and agreed that the South's desire to extend the cotton territory was based on a natural desire to prosper. But what of those most lately acquired territories? "The law of nature, or physical geography, the law of the formation of the earth," forever excluded a plantation economy (and, hence, slavery) from all territory acquired from Mexico. Apparently, God Himself had already passed the Wilmot Proviso simply by creating the geography, topography, and climate of the Mexican Cession.
Why re-enact the will of God?
To do so would be an act of sacrilege. (Webster could not know that California was to become a great cotton-producing state a century later.)

Why needlessly taunt the South by an act of Congress? continued Webster. He would never support any assertion of

superior power, exercised for no purpose but to wound the pride… of the citizens of the Southern states.
He conceded that the South had reason for feeling aggrieved at the North's failure to return fugitive slaves; the Constitution and laws alike had been violated by that failure.
The South has been injured in this respect, and has a right to complain.
Upholding property rights over human rights, as was his wont, Webster asserted that the North's obligation to return fugitive slaves was "binding in honor and conscience." What had been the result of all the abolitionist agitation? Webster asked. "The bonds of the slaves were bound more firmly," as Southern sentiment hardened. Extreme and untactful things were said by both sides, until feeling was acute and even dangerous. But secession?
Secession! Peaceable secession! Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast country without convulsion! The breaking up of the fountains of the great deep without ruffling the surface! Who is so foolish, I beg everybody's pardon, as to expect to see any such thing? Sir, he who sees these States, now revolving in harmony around a common center, and expects to see them quit their places and fly off without convulsion, may look the next hour to see the heavenly bodies rush from their spheres, and jostle against each other in the realms of space, without causing the wreck of the universe. There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility. Is the great Constitution under which we live, covering this whole country, is it to be thawed and melted away by secession, as the snows on the mountain melt under the influence of a vernal sun, disappear almost unobserved, and run off? No, sir! I will not state what might produce the disruption of the Union; but, sir, I see as plainly as I see the sun in heaven what that disruption itself must produce; I see that it must produce war.
Webster referred to a convention of extremists in Nashville that was drafting secession plans.
What! Plot the overthrow of this Union over the bones of Andrew Jackson?
He became prophetic.
Ere long the strength of America will be in the valley of the Mississippi.
Would that river be cut in two by separate governments of slave states and free states?
I would rather hear of natural blasts and mildews, war, pestilence, and famine, than to hear gentlemen talk of secession.… No, Sir! No, Sir! There can be no secession!
Webster pleaded for calm and sweet reasonableness:
Let us not be pygmies in a case that calls for men.
The Washington Republic said of Webster's speech:
Fears… for the Union melted… and with them dwindled the consequence… of those who disturb the repose of society by brandishing firebrands near the altar of the temple.

Calhoun got to his feet after Webster's speech and spoke just a few words on "broken faith," in that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, carried largely by Northern votes, was now being disavowed by the North in the question of the status of the territories in the Southwest. Calhoun died soon afterward, murmuring the following lamentation:

The South! The South! God knows what will become of her!

There was great clamor for printed copies of Webster's speech; he mailed out 100,000 and commented that twice that much would not have satisfied the demand. The banking and commercial interests of the North were pleased, since secession would mean the loss of millions of dollars in investments. A prominent banker in Washington, DC, was especially pleased: He forgave two of Webster's loans, totaling $5,000 and sent him in addition a personal check for $1,000 ($112,950 and $22,590, respectively, in 2006 dollars) along with a note of congratulations.

Unfortunately, however, as he had predicted, Webster was furiously attacked by his New England constituents and other antislavery radicals in the North. Poet William Cullen Bryant, 56, publisher Horace Greeley, 39, and other editors condemned him as a traitor in slashing editorials. He was described as having

the ineffable meanness of the lion turned spaniel in his fawnings on the masters whose hands he was licking for the sake of the dirty puddings they might choose to toss to him.

Seward, President Taylor's representative in the Senate, decried any new and stronger Fugitive Slave Law partly on the grounds that it could never be enforced. But he went much further: He argued that if his fellow legislators were Christians, they must obey God's moral law as well as man's mundane law. So what if the Constitution recognized slavery? he asked.

There is a higher law than the Constitution which regulates our authority over the domain.
The Fugitive Slave Law, Seward insisted, would endanger the Union far more than any antislavery measure:
All measures which fortify slavery or extend it, tend to the consummation of violence; all that check its extension and abate its strength, tend to its peaceful extirpation.
It was clear that President Taylor would veto the Omnibus Bill were it to be passed by Congress.

[ Stephen Douglas ] Illinois Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas, 37, pictured here, the "Little Giant" (5 feet 4 inches tall), the acknowledged leader of the Northern Democrats, insisted that his part of the Democratic Party had no desire to extend slavery.

There is a power in this nation greater than either the North or the South--a growing, increasing, swelling power, that will be able to speak the law to this nation, and execute the law as spoken. That power is the country known as the great West--the valley of the Mississippi, one and indivisible from the Gulf to the Great Lakes.… There, sir, is the hope of this nation--the resting place of the power that is not only to control, but to save, the Union!
Douglas was a prominent adherent of the Young America movement:

The Young America movement--modeled on European youth movements, inspired by the "manifest destiny" notion, and founded 5 years earlier by Edwin de Leon and by 45-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 2 years earlier), 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 supported by such influential politicians as Douglas as a way to distract Americans from the explosive sectional issue of slavery.

There was considerably oratory in the House of Representatives as well as in the Senate.

Webster responded to his bitter critics in the North, in his last speech in the Senate:

Sir, I shall stand by the Union, and by all who stand by it.… I mean to stand upon the Constitution.… I shall know but one country.… I was born an American; I will live as an American; I shall die an American.… What are the personal consequences?… No man can suffer too much, and no man can fall too soon, if he suffer or if he fall in defense of the liberties and Constitution of his country.
Vice President Millard Fillmore, 50, assured Clay, a devoted friend whom he admired greatly, that if there were a tie vote in the Senate, as President of the Senate, he would cast the deciding vote in favor of the Omnibus Bill.

Meanwhile, the secession convention in Nashville turned into a fiasco, with hardly any credentialed delegates attending. Southern delegates introduced a resolution that as a "concession" the South would be willing to see the new territories divided by the 1820 Missouri Compromise line, 36°30' N, thereby condemning the acceptance of the whole of California as a free state.

Still President Taylor remained intransigent.

Meanwhile, the residents of New Mexico held a convention in Santa Fe and sent a delegate to Washington to apply for the admission of New Mexico as a state. Unfortunately, the Texas state legislature had 2 years previously claimed all of New Mexico that was east of the Rio Grande as "Santa Fe County" as part of Texas. President Taylor espoused the cause of the New Mexicans; he wanted to admit both California and New Mexico at once as free states--in direct opposition to the compromise measures embodied in Clay's Omnibus Bill.

Texas, meanwhile, was making motions that looked as if it might invade New Mexico and seize Santa Fe. President Taylor ordered Colonel John Munro, military governor of New Mexico, to resist the Texans with federal troops. He proposed leading an army in person against the Texans and seemed determined to "Jacksonize" all who disagreed with him, hanging all the "damned traitors." A small civil war seemed imminent--perhaps a large one if the rest of the South rallied to the defense of Texas.

Southern Whigs appointed three representatives--Robert Augustus Toombs of Georgia, 40, Humphrey Marshall of Kentucky, 38, and Charles Magill Conrad of Taylor's own State of Louisiana, 46--to call upon the President and convince him to change his mind, and to persuade him to accept the Omnibus Bill, for the sake of peace in the nation.

The interview must have been a stormy one. (Edward) Thurlow Weed of New York, 53, entering the President's office after the three representatives had left, found Taylor pacing around furiously. "Did you see those traitors?" he exploded at last.

I told them that if it becomes necessary I will take command of the Army myself to enforce the laws. And I said "If you men are taken in rebellion against the Union, I will hang you with less reluctance than I hanged spies and deserters in Mexico!"

Soon afterward, President Taylor, already depressed by the recent revelations from the Galphin claim affair implicating three members of his cabinet, was subjected to 2 hours of Fourth of July oratory from Mississippi Senator Foote in the broiling sun. He tried to cool off by consuming a large quantity of cucumbers, iced water and milk, and too many cherries, and came down with acute gastroenteritis (then known as cholera morbus). He might have recovered on his own, but physicians in DC and Baltimore rushed to his bedside, drugged him with calomel, ipecac, opium, and several 40-grain doses of quinine, and then blistered and bled him. The President died within the week, at the age of 65, and was succeeded by portly, round-faced Vice President Fillmore.

The new President appointed compromiser Daniel Webster to be his Secretary of State, much to the chagrin of anti-compromise William H. Seward, now shorn of influence and power. But even though Fillmore favored the Omnibus Bill, it was defeated during its first time up for a vote in the Senate--an unexpected, crushing blow to Clay.

According to rumor, Clay had promised a government printing contract worth $100,000 ($2.26 million in 2006 dollars) to an important Virginia newspaper editor if he would only back the compromise. Many Southerners were outraged. On the other hand, to prevent a disruption in their Southern business, several New York merchants had submitted a petition with 25,000 signatures in favor of compromise, an act that left a favorable impression in the South.

Stephen A. Douglas, Democrat of Illinois, now rallied to the support of Clay and his Omnibus Bill. They turned to the compromise parts of the Bill, intending to pass each part of it piecemeal, but Clay, worn out, had to take a vacation in Newport, Rhode Island, leaving the field to Douglas, who was Chairman of the Committee on Territories.

The possibility of the federal government paying off the debt of Texas had attracted a horde of speculators agitating for compromise; Texas bonds more than doubled in value in 7 months, and Washington banker W. W. Corcoran, holding more than $400,000 ($9.04 million in 2006 dollars) of these bonds, doled out large globs of cash to lobbyists and shamelessly entertained legislators. Douglas was able to frame a bill, approved by Secretary of State Webster, that not only assumed the debt of Texas but that fixed the limits of the state to today's boundaries and paying it $10 million ($226 million) for the peaceful cession of its claims on New Mexico. Here are some examples of how certain Senators voted: Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, the pro-slavery fire-eater, opposed this bill. Ohio Senator Salmon Portland Chase, 42, an ardent abolitionist, also opposed this bill, as did New York Senator William H. Seward.

Next, in August, Douglas got 17 Democrats and 15 Whigs in the Senate to support admitting California to the Union as a free state, the 31st state of the Union. Not surprisingly, Senator Davis opposed this bill, too, whereas Senators Chase and Seward supported it.

The next day, Douglas was able to get two measures passed (supported by 11 Northerners and 16 Southerners)--one setting up New Mexico (south of latitude 37° N, including present-day New Mexico, Arizona, and the far southern part of Nevada [around current Las Vegas]) as an official territory under the principle of popular sovereignty (Senators Davis and Seward remained silent on this bill, Senator Chase opposed it); and the other setting up Utah (or "Deseret" as the Mormons called it, north of latitude 37° N, including present-day Utah, the rest of Nevada, and Colorado west of the Continental Divide) in the same way (Davis voted for this bill, Chase and Seward against it). That is, each territory could be admitted to the Union when qualified,

with or without slavery as [its] constitution may prescribe.

A week later, Douglas got a stronger Fugitive Slave Act through the Senate, strengthening the old 1793 act by substituting federal jurisdiction for state jurisdiction. (No less than 21 Senators and 36 Representatives absented themselves when this measure came to a vote.) Any Negro who was accused of being a fugitive, no matter whether actually a slave or not, merely upon the submission of an affidavit by his or her "owner," could be apprehended, denied bail, and denied the right to testify in his or her own behalf. Federal officers (commissioners with authority to issue warrants) were required to act as slave catchers, and private individuals who refused to aid in the arrests of refugees, or who aided in any slave's escape, were subject to heavy fines, imprisonment, and civil damages. Davis supported this bill, Chase vehemently opposed it, and Seward abstained.

In a separate measure that passed at the beginning of the following year, Congress abolished the slave trade in Washington, DC. Davis opposed this bill, but Chase and Seward supported it.

President Fillmore exerted all his influence in favor of all these measures. Only four Senators voted for all of them, but each of them managed to pass, usually with more support from the Democrats than from the Whigs. The bills passed the House, too, and were duly signed into law by the new President. Then, after a record session of 302 days, the 31st Congress adjourned.

The ailing Clay, in Newport, was wildly acclaimed as the author of the Compromise of 1850. He received a standing ovation when he returned to Congress and oversaw the last of his measures passed: the prohibition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia. There was great jubilation in Washington: bonfires, cannon salutes, processions, cheers, demands for speeches. In spite of his poor health, Clay delivered more than 70 speeches to help crystallize acceptance of the Compromise in the North. Secretary of State Webster commented:

You would suppose that nobody had every thought of disunion. All say they always meant to stand by the Union to the last.(11) This and the following are quoted in Garraty, op. cit., p. 328. (Close)
When Congress resumed after its recess, the rancor was missing. Senator Douglas told his colleagues:
I have determined never to make another speech on the slavery question.… Let us cease agitating, stop the debate, and drop the subject.
He hoped that the compromise could be accepted as a "final settlement."

New England was not celebrating, however, nor was it in the mood for settlement. Secretary of State Webster wrote of the abolition fury in his home region:

No drum-head in the longest day's march, was ever more incessantly beaten and smitten, than the public sentiment in the North has been, every month, and every day, and hour, by the din, and roll, and rub-a-dub of abolition writers and abolition lecturers. This is what has created the prejudice.
[ William Lloyd Garrison ] Webster was likened to Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot. William Lloyd Garrison, 45, pictured here, editor of the abolitionist organ Liberator, published Webster's speech under the headline "THE LATE SATANIC SPEECH OF DANIEL WEBSTER." Wendell Phillips, 39, exclaimed:
It is not often… the Providence permits the eyes of twenty millions of thinking people to behold the fall of another Lucifer, from the very battlements of Heaven to that "lower deep of the lowest deep" of hell.
Massachusetts poet John Greenleaf Whittier ("the Quaker Poet"), 42, characterized Webster in his poem Ichabod:
So fallen! so lost! the light withdrawn
Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone
For evermore!…
Then, pay the reverence of old days
To his dead fame;
Walk backward, with averted gaze,
And hide the shame!
Webster soldiered on anyway and was acclaimed at great Union meetings in New York City, Boston, and other large cities. The Washington Republic gave him this tribute:
He braved the prejudice of the North, he rebuked the intemperance of the South. He bared his breast to the assaults of fanaticism and exposed his name to the malice of faction. But he may well be content to forego the plaudits of madmen and plotters of treason, to receive the homage of a continent of freemen.

Southern "fire-eaters" were also violently opposed to the Compromise--of course, for opposite reasons. One newspaper in South Carolina claimed that it loathed the Union and hated the North as much as it did Hell itself. In state elections that autumn there were hardly any Whigs or Democrats; it was the Union Party versus the Southern Rights Party, the latter advocating immediate secession. Many in the South advocated a boycott of Northern manufactured goods. Most Southerners, however, accepted the verdict of Congress, and in every Southern state but South Carolina the Unionists won.

Meanwhile, the new Fugitive Slave Act, sneeringly referred to in the North as the "Bloodhound Bill" or the "Man-Stealing Law," was "tested": New York freedman James Hamlet was arrested by a deputy U.S. marshal in New York City as a fugitive from Baltimore; he was seized, convicted, and rushed off to slavery in Maryland without even being allowed to say good-bye to his wife and children. The arrest aroused so much public indignation in New York that a popular subscription was taken to buy his freedom; Hamlet was redeemed and freed. The Chicago City Council moved not to sustain the new act, but a mass meeting in New York City resolved that the act should be sustained. Many Northern whites feared that the draconian measures against blacks might eventually be used against them as well, and many heretofore moderates became strong antislavery men.

Free black abolitionist Martin Robinson Delany, 38, told a crowd in Pittsburgh:

Sir, my house is my castle.… If any man approaches that house in search of a slave--I care not who he may be, whether constable or sheriff, magistrate or even judge of the Supreme Court… if he crosses the threshold of my door, and I do not lay him a lifeless corpse at my feet, I hope the grave may refuse my body a resting place, and righteous Heaven my spirit a home. O, no! He cannot enter that house and we both live.(12) Quoted in Davidson and Stoff, op. cit., p. 435. (Close)

Escaped slave couple William and Ellen Craft, having 2 years earlier traveled all the way by train and steamboat from their respective masters' rice plantations in Georgia, had become famous enough that their former masters had learned of their whereabouts and were now determined to reclaim them according to the Fugitive Slave Law. In September, a group of Boston blacks--including William Craft as well as Lewis Hayden and William C. Nell--met at the African Meeting House, where members vowed to

exert a united and persevering resistance to the ungodly, anti-American law.
[ Frederick Douglass ] Black abolitionist leaders Frederick Douglass, 33, pictured here, and Joshua B. Smith vowed to protect Boston's black community by any means necessary. They joined with white abolitionists Theodore Parker and Francis Jackson to form the interracial Vigilance Committee of Boston. When two Georgians came to reclaim William and Ellen Craft, the committee jeered at them and threatened to lynch them. The Georgians were forced to go home empty-handed.

A slaveowner pursuing some fugitives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was murdered when he tried to claim them.

The Underground Railroad, which for years had smuggled slaves over the border into Canada, increased its activities. Black prisoners were delivered from jails by white mobs. A slave owner, in the North to regain his human property, was murdered. Yet many slaves were recaptured, and some free Negroes were carried off into slavery. Pulpits and newspapers denounced the law, there were meetings of protest, and many of the Northern states in effect set about to nullify the law by simply refusing to comply with it--which increased the South's feeling of injury and aggravation.

About 200,000 Americans had joined antislavery societies by this year, and many hundreds of thousands more were generally sympathetic to the movement.

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; 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.

Thousands of German immigrants came to the United States, at an annual rate of 43,000.

Thousands of Irish immigrants also came to the United States, at an annual rate of 78,000. One recent arrival, Margaret McCarthy, captured the complexity of the immigrant experience in a letter she wrote from New York City to her family in Ireland:

This is a good place and a good country, but there is one thing that's ruining this place. The emigrants have not money enough to take them to the interior of the country, which obliges them to remain here in New York and the like places, which causes the less demand for labor and also the great reduction in wages. For this reason I would advise no one to come to America that would not have some money after landing here that would enable them to go west in case they would get no work to do here. But any man or woman without a family are fools that would not venture and come to this plentiful country where no man or woman ever hungered or ever will. I can assure you there are dangers upon dangers, but my friends, have courage and come all together courageously and did adieu to that lovely place, the land of our birth.(13) Quoted in Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 302. (Close)

Many in the North resented the Irish and other immigrants, who were gathered in urban slums and voted in blocs according to what their political bosses told them to do. 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, who had the previous year organized the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, 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 group's membership was rapidly expanding.

The U.S. Mail Steamship Company of Edward Knight Collins, in competition with the 11-year-old Royal Mail Steam Packet Company of Samuel Cunard, launched from New York City the 2,856-ton, 282-foot-long 200-passenger paddle-wheeler liner S.S. Atlantic, which damaged her side-wheelers on ice off Sandy Hook but still broke the Royal Mail's speed record on the transatlantic return voyage of only 10 days, 16 hours.

The Oneida "Perfectionist Community" of farmers and mechanics in central New York State, founded in 1848 by New England clergyman John Humphrey Noyes, 39, 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.

According to Pennsylvania lecturer and poet Sara Jane Clarke Lippincott, 27, writing under the pseudonym Grace Greenwood, in her newly published her Greenwood Leaves(14):

Quoted from Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999; Perennial, 2003, p. 113. (Close)
True feminine genius is ever timid, doubtful, and clingingly dependent; a perpetual childhood.

[ Lucy Stone ] In opposition to that notion, Lucy Stone, 32, pictured here, organized a national women's rights convention, advocating women's suffrage, in Worcester, MA. Another women's rights convention met in Seneca Falls, NY.

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania was founded for the medical education of women.

Antoinette Louisa Brown, 25, graduated from the theology school in Oberlin College in Ohio, found that her name had been left off the class list--presumably because the theology school did not want their admission of a female student to be made public. Brown was active in the peace society there and in antislavery work, she taught black students, and she had organized a debating club for girls. She was chosen to write the commencement address but was told that it would be delivered by a man; she refused to write it.

Girls working and living at the textile factories in Lowell, MA, received wages of $2 per week ($45.20 per week in 2006 dollars); the companies they worked for spent $1.23 per week ($27.79) to house and feed them; thus, the total outlay for the labor force was $3.23 ($72.99 per worker). Unskilled Irish immigrants, who demanded less "coddling," were even cheaper and had begun to replace the girls in large numbers.

President Fillmore had a cooking stove installed in the White House, but his cooks resigned because they preferred to prepare meals over the fireplace. They returned to work after an expert from the Patent Office spent an entire day, teaching them how to regulate the heat with dampers.

Connecticut showman Phineas Taylor Barnum, 41, continued his career of showing carnival attractions. Now he engaged Swedish coloratura Johanna Maria "Jenny" Lind ("the Swedish Nightingale"), 30, for a 2-year American tour, paying her $1,000 per night ($22,590 per night in 2006 dollars) plus all expenses. Her opening night at Castle Garden in New York City grossed $17,864.05 ($403,548.88). Over the next couple of years, Lind earned $130,000 ($2.93 million), donating $100,000 ($2.26 million) of it to charities.

New York shirtmaker Oliver Fisher Winchester, 39, set up an arms manufacturing company, the New Haven Volcanic Repeating Arms Company.

The year-old Butterfield, Wasson & Company, the 6-year-old Wells & Company, and the Livingston, Fargo & Company merged into the American Express Company.

The Brooklyn Institute imported eight pairs of English sparrows to protect Brooklyn shade trees from caterpillars.

Harper's Monthly Magazine began publication in New York City.

Composer George Frederick Bristow, 25, produced the opera Rip Van Winkle in New York City.

Telegraph communication had begun between New York City and Chicago.

The University of Rochester was founded in Rochester as a Baptist college.

Railroads were already changing the landscape. There was 9,031 miles of railroad track in the U.S.-- more than a twelvefold growth in 15 years (a threefold growth in 10 years). There were 3,600 miles of canals, a 9-percent growth in 10 years.

The 22-year-old Chesapeake & Ohio Canal finally reached Cumberland, MD (which the B&O Railroad had reached 8 years earlier). The $22-million ($497-million in 2006 dollars) 184.5-mile 74-lock canal was already obsolete, and it now abandoned its plans to continue another 180 miles to the west to Pittsburgh. (Still, the canal would be used for another 74 years.)

The University of Dayton was founded in Ohio.

There were 115,000 people in Cincinnati; it was shipping pickled pork by flatboat and steamer down the Ohio and Mississippi, flour by canal boat, and cattle on the hoof the 1,000 miles to New York City.

Illinois Wesleyan University was founded in Bloomington.

The Red Delicious apple was discovered as a chance seedling in Iowa.

Cyrus Hall McCormick, 41, bought out William Ogden for twice the $25,000 ($564,750 in 2006 dollars) Ogden had invested in McCormick's Chicago reaper business.

Police detective Allan Pinkerton, 31, who had recently helped apprehend railway and express company robberies, opened his Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.

In the first of the land grants to the railroads, Congress gave the Illinois Central Railway nearly 2.6 million acres of Illinois land.

The 4-year-old successful Graniteville Company, a large-scale cotton mill in Horse Creek Valley, SC, founded by William Gregg, 50 (who had argued that economic domination by the North was best met by Southern industrialization) employed by now some 300 poor whites who lived in company houses, traded at the company store, and worshiped in the company-owned church. Liquor and dancing were prohibited. Children of employees under 12 were required to attend the company-built school. Although Gregg's operation was successful, it amounted to very little when compared with what was going on up north. The entire state of South Carolina employed only 900 textile workers, and the single Massachusetts city of Lowell had more spindles turning than did the entire South.

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company was incorporated in Kentucky.

Merchants Henry Lehman, 28, and his brother Emanuel Lehman, 23, were joined in their Montogomery, AL, 5-year-old dry-goods business H. Lehman & Bro. by their brother Mayer Lehman, 20. The firm prospered in cotton trading and in extending long-term credit to planters.

Texas merchant Charles Stillman funded Rio Grande steamboat operator Richard King, 25, and former navy commander Mifflin Kenedy to set up a steamboat venture to monopolize all Rio Grande traffic.

Open-range longhorn cattle on the western plains numbered approximately 50 million head, sharing the prairie with 20 million head of buffalo. Many frontiersmen hunted the cattle for their 4-to-5-foot horns (tip to tip), used for forks, spoons, buttons, and rifle racks, and their hides, used for clothing, buckets, whips, ropes, and (after being soaked and dried) even for nails.

Many of the full-blood Cherokees in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) belonged to a secret society known as Kee-too-wah (the "Pins"), so named because each member wore two common pins in the form of a cross on the coat or hunting shirt. Its purpose was to encourage the retention of the old tribal customs and to prevent their taking up the ways of the whites. Few of the full-bloods owned slaves, and the Kee-too-wah was usually opposed to slavery. Nonetheless, many Cherokees did own slaves.

A proclamation issued by the federal government to deal with the Indians stated:

There should be assigned to each tribe, for a permanent home, a country adopted to agriculture, of limited extent and well-defined boundaries.
These lands were originally termed "territories" or "colonies," but eventually they would be known as "reservations."

A cholera epidemic continued to spread through the Midwest.

Monthly overland mail delivery was implemented from Independence, MO, to Salt Lake City in the new, huge Utah Territory, created by the Compromise of 1850 (the Mormons continued to call it the State of Deseret).

[ Brigham Young ] Brigham Young, 49, newly appointed by President Fillmore as Governor of Utah Territory, continued to develop what he called it--the State of Deseret, considered by its residents as an independent nation with Young as President, extending, according to the Mormons (and disregarding the arrangement worked out by Senator Douglas), 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. Young was suspected of involvement in the 1849 murder by Ute Indians (Mormon allies) of surveyor John Williams Gunnison, who had exposed the Mormon practices of polygamy and blood atonement.

The University of Utah was founded in Salt Lake City.

Remarkable fortunes were being taken from the ground in the California gold fields. The vast proportion of the gold discovered, however, was in the form of "grains and flour," and thousands of seekers were finding no gold at all. 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." 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 was $91 million ($2 billion in 2006 dollars).

Many mining towns had been springing up: Hangtown (later Placerville), Angel's Camp, Grub Gulch, Poker Flat, Red Dog, Poverty Hill, You Bet, and Helltown. Population was growing almost unbelievably in San Francisco and Sacramento and many other towns that were becoming cities. 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. Businesses that sold goods and services to miners were flourishing. Eggs sold for $10 a dozen ($226 a dozen in 2006 dollars). Fortunes made in the gold diggings were lost overnight in a 'Frisco faro palace or in speculation in goods and land.

Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss, 20, arrived in San Francisco with a bundle of canvas fabric he hoped to sell to a tentmaker; instead, learning that prospectors needed sturdy pants, he employed a tailor and began manufacturing jeans.

French immigrant Felix Verdier, who had exiled himself from France in despair at its growing repressiveness, opened a dry-goods shop, the City of Paris, at the corner of Stockton and Geary Streets in San Francisco.

With top-quality coffee beans shipped directly from Central America, San Francisco entrepreneur James Folger offered to prospectors coffee that had been already roasted, ground, and packaged, relieving the purchasers from doing those chores.

San Francisco endured three major fires.

Henry Miller arrived in San Francisco with only $6 ($136 in 2006 dollars) in his pocket. Rather than prospecting for gold, he borrowed money to buy up land along rivers, cutting out back-country homesteaders from the water and forcing them to sell out at distress prices. Taking advantage of a law that permitted a settler to get title to swamp land for free if they agreed to drain it, he had himself pulled in a rowboat on a wagon and then swore he had covered the land with a rowboat.

U.S. commodity prices were soaring as a result of the California gold discoveries. Workers were striking for higher wages, but all the wage hikes could not keep up with the rising 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. Much of the capital was put into new railroads into areas where there were as yet no settlers, so there was no revenue generated from freight. Land speculation attracted funds far exceeding their value as well.

California raised 15,000 bushels of wheat.

The Anglos entering California held all the cards over the Hispanics who had lived there for generations, often getting away with stealing their land, as the family of Guadalupe Vallejo could attest:

[One] of the leading American squatters came to my father, Don J. J. Vallejo, and said, "There is a large piece of your land where the cattle run loose, and your vaqueros have gone to the gold fields. I will fence the field for you at my expense if you will give me half." He liked the idea, and assented, but when the tract was inclosed the American had it entered as government land in his own name, and kept all of it. In many similar cases American settlers in their dealings with the rancheros took advantage of the laws which they understood, but which were new to the Spaniards, so robbed the latter of their lands. Notes and bonds were considered unnecessary by a Spanish gentleman in a business transaction, as his word was always sufficient security.

Perhaps the most exasperating feature of the coming-in of the Americans was owing to the mines, which drew away most of the servants, so that our cattle were stolen by thousands. Men who are now prosperous farmers and merchants were guilty of shooting and selling Spanish beef "without looking at the brand," as the phrase went. My father had about ten thousand head of cattle, and some he was able to send back into the hills until there were better laws and officers, but he lost the larger part. On one occasion I remember some vigilantes caught two cattle-thieves and sent for my father to appear against them, but he said that although he wanted them punished he did not wish to have them hanged, and so he would not testify, and they were set free. One of them afterward sent conscience money to us from New York, where he is living in good circumstances.(15)

Excerpted from Vallejo, Guadalupe, "Ranch and Mission Days in Alta California--Part II," The Century Magazine, XLI, 2, December 1890, provided by "The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco" ( (Close)

There were still some 100,000 Indians living in California.

The Portland Oregonian began publication.

Cayuse War

To revenge the massacre 3 years earlier by Cayuse Indians of Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, and 12 other white settlers at the Waiilatpu Christian mission in the Walla Walla Valley of eastern Oregon Territory, a force of over 500 militiamen, led by fundamentalist clergyman Cornelius Gilliam and supported by the United States Army, had marched 2 years earlier against the Cayuse and their Indian allies. The Cayuse had initially refused to make peace and had raided isolated settlements. The firepower of the militiamen had driven the Cayuse into the Blue Mountains, however, from where they had continued trying to stage raids. Finally, the tribe was forced to hand over 5 of its members--Tiloukaikt, Tomahas, Klokamas, Isaiachalkis, and Kimasumpkin--to be tried for the murder at the Waiilatpu mission. All five Cayuse were convicted in early June by a military commission. Here is Kimasumpkin's final statement before his hanging(16): From Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (, itself citing the Washington State History Museum (, accessed 14 May 2007. (Close)
I was up the river at the time of the massacre, and did not arrive until next day. I was riding on horse back; a white woman came running from the house, she held out her hands and told me not to kill her. I put my hand upon her hand and told her not to be afraid. There were plenty of Indians all about. She with the other women and children went to Walla Walla to Mr. Ogden's. I was not present at the murder nor was I any way concerned in it. I am innocent. It hurts me to talk about dying for nothing. Our chief told me to come down and tell all about it. Those who committed the murder are killed and dead. The priest say I must die tomorrow, if they kill me I am innocent. My Young Chief told me I was to come here to tell what I know concerning the murderers. I did not come as one of the murderers, for I am innocent. I never made any declaration to any one that I was guilty. This is the last time that I may speak.
The hanging of all five defendants was conducted by U.S. Marshal Joseph L. Meek. Sporadic bloodshed continued for another 5 years, however, between the Cayuse and the whites.

Some Americans were now eating tomatoes (heretofore considered by many to be poisonous).

The polka and the quadrille were popular dances.

Poker had become a popular game.

Anagrams was invented by a Salem, MA, schoolteacher.

The modern public education system of grades 1 through 12 had been adopted in every place where there were enough pupils. By then the following basic principles of American education had been established: that free public primary and secondary education should be available for all children; that teachers should have professional training; and that all children should be required to attend school up to a certain age (although this might be in a parochial school).

The expression "O.K." had came into general use in the United States.

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.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

Actor-mechanic Isaac Merrit Singer, 38, invented his continuous-stitch sewing machine; and Neponsit, MA, inventor Silas Putnam devised a trip hammer that the U.S. cavalry could use to make horseshoe nails.

Astronomer William Bond produced a clear daguerreotype photograph of the moon; and he and George Bond discovered the innermost ring of Saturn (the "crepe ring"), giving it the official name of "c" ring.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ] New York portrait photographer Mathew B. Brady, 27, displayed his Gallery of Illustrious Americans, gaining him national prominence; Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, 47, pictured here, published his Representative Men; poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 44, published "The Building of the Ship": novelist Herman Melville, 31, called attention to abuses in the U.S. Navy with his White-Jacket (Congress then abolished flogging in the Navy). Melville also made the following observation:
[What] sort of a belief is this for an American, a man who is bound to carry republican progressiveness into Literature as well as Life? Believe me, my friends, that men, not very much inferior to Shakespeare, are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio. And the day will come when you shall say, "Who reads a book by an Englishman that is modern?"

Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, 46, published The Scarlet Letter, attacking Puritan hypocrisy; Susan Warner published The Wide, Wide World, a melodrama about a sad girl who cried a lot; Boston cabinetmaker Jonas Chickering, 53, developed the overstrung bass scale for pianos; architect James Renwick, 58, designed St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City; and horticulturalist and architect Andrew Jackson Downing, 35, the most noted of the Gothic Revival designers, published The Architecture of Country Houses, emphasizing the relationship between a dwelling and its surroundings.

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.

The song "Camptown Races," by Pittsburgh songwriter Stephen Collins Foster, 23, became popular. Other popular songs included "Oh! Susanna" (also by Foster), "Jim Crack Corn" (also known as "Blue Tail Fly"), "Ben Bolt, or Oh! Don't You Remember," "The Blue Juanita," "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, 35, 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(17):

Morison, op. cit., pp. 495-96. (Close)
In the first act the performers, most of them white men in blackface, sat in a semicircle around the interlocutor, a dignified colored gentleman in dress suit who acted both as master of ceremonies and butt for the jokes of the end men--"Mistah Tambo" who banged a tambourine, and "Mistah Bones" who rattled castanets. Besides repartee and horseplay, the cast played banjo melodies and sang comic or sentimental songs. The second act, known as the olio, included a "hoe-down" dance, comic parodies of grand opera, and a "walk-around," in which the players one by one took the center of the stage for individual songs or dances while the rest clapped time to the music.

Orchestras now frequently included the saxophone and the xylophone.

The World at Large in 1850

There were 1 billion human beings alive on planet Earth (by some estimates, 1.24 billion), the population having doubled in the preceding two centuries.

The expansionist Young America movement inspired the following overseas adventures.

[ John Anthony Quitman ] Cuban soldier-of-fortune General Narciso López, 52, charmed Mississippi Governor John Anthony Quitman, 52 [pictured, son of Christ Lutheran's founding pastor, Frederick Henry Quitman], to help him in a campaign to "liberate" Cuba. Quitman raised the funds, and López made an unsuccessful "filibustering" attempt (filibustero is Spanish for "freebooter" or "pirate") with several hundred Spanish refugees and American Southerners but was repulsed.

An oddly assorted group of filibusters set out from San Francisco to capture Ecuador. They actually captured and occupied Guayaquil for a few days.

Several groups of Frenchmen started out from San Francisco determined to conquer northern Mexico.

The Accessory Transit Company of the piratical-minded, foghorn-voiced New York shipping magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt (van Derbilt), 56, inspired by promoter Ferdinand de Lesseps, 45, was very successful, garnering most of the Argonaut (Forty-Niner) traffic across Central America, cutting the price charged and the time needed by the rival Pacific Steamship Company, which helped travelers cross the Isthmus of Panama. Vanderbilt was earning over $1 million a year ($23 million a year in 2006 dollars) with his venture. He had improved the San Juan River channel, had built docks on both of Nicaragua's coasts and at Virgin Bay in Lake Nicaragua, and had constructed a 12-mile blacktop road to the Pacific side. He had also built 8 new steamers.

Nicaragua was also a vital concern of the United Kingdom, which feared Yankee monopolization of trade arteries there and therefore challenged the Monroe Doctrine by establishing the foothold of Greytown at the likely eastern end of any cross-isthmus canal--a challenge that raised the possibility of an armed clash between the British and the Americans. U.S. Secretary of State John Middleton Clayton, 54, and British diplomat Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, however, negotiated the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, regulating the interests of both countries in Central America (neither country was to occupy any part of the region) and agreeing to neutrality about any canal project across Nicaragua--that is, the demilitarization and joint Anglo-American control of any future canal there. Unfortunately, the wording was ambiguous: The U.S. assumed that the treaty required the British to withdraw from Nicaragua, whereas the British entertained no such assumption.

Manuel Oribe, 54, former President of Uruguay who had been ousted from power 11 years earlier, in alliance with Juan Manuel de Rosas, 55, the dictator of Argentina, continued his civil war in Uruguay and his prolonged siege (now in its seventh 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 sixth year) of the Rio de la Plata.

With the British Parliament having the preceding year repealed the Navigation Acts, thereby ending restrictions on foreign shipping, U.S. clipper ships could now bring their cargoes of China tea into British ports. The first such ship, the Oriental, brought in to London from Hong Kong 1,600 tons of China tea selling for $48,000 ($1.08 million in 2006 dollars) [which nearly paid for the ship's construction]. British shipbuilders were unable to copy the ship's lines, because taxation policies favored the slower short and deep ships built at Aberdeen and on the Clyde.

The United Kingdom had by now embraced free trade principles, removing tariffs on foodstuffs and becoming a net food importer and depending on her manufacturing industry to provide the foreign exchange needed to feed her people. From this time forward, food prices would rise less swiftly than other prices and British wage increases, ushering in a "Golden Age" of prosperity.

British telegraph networks had been in operation for the past 3 years--the northern system covering cities from Edinburgh to Birmingham, the southern network linking Dover, Gosport, and Southampton with London. The companies had been basing rates on distance, making long-distance telegraphy prohibitively expensive, but now competition forced the rate down to 10 shillings for any distance.

Royal gardener and architect Joseph Paxton, 49, began building the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, to accommodate the following year's Great Exhibition.

The British Parliament passed the Public Libraries Act.

After soliciting large contributions from worker members, providing benefits to members, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers in Great Britain vigorously pursued measures to improve wages and working conditions through collective bargaining and direct action.

Salmon was taken for the last time (until after 1970) from the polluted River Thames.

The Royal Meteorological Society was founded.

The School of Mines (later the College of Science and Technology) was established in London.

A cast-iron bridge was opened at Newcastle, England.

The English medical journal Lancet announced that an analytical and sanitary commission had been appointed to study the quality of British foods.

The British Royal Navy reduced its rum ration from ¼ pint to ¼ cup, to be dispensed before lunchtime.

The English now preferred tea just as much as they preferred coffee.

To combat radical migrant workers, the French government enacted an electoral law requiring a 3-year voter residency, attested by tax receipt or employer affidavit. In a crackdown on Republican aspirations, the government forbade Republican clubs and public meetings, dismissed Republican civil servants at the slightest provocation, searched Republican homes, and hit Republican newspapers with lawsuits and fines.

France enacted old-age insurance.

The French Ex-King Louis Philippe, ousted 2 years earlier, died at the age of 77.

King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia proposed the Prussian Union plan for a confederation of Prussia and the smaller states in the crazy-quilt patchwork German Confederation. Austria opposed the plan, and it was abandoned in the Treaty of Olmütz, restoring the German Confederation.

Prussia adopted a liberal constitution.

A church council was called to manage the Protestant churches in Prussia.

Prussia and Denmark concluded the Peace of Berlin, in which both countries reserved their right to Schleswig-Holstein.

German industrialist Friedrich Bayer, 25, set up his aspirin company in Elberfield.

The Austro-Hungarian customs union was formed.

Hungarian physician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, 32, enforced antiseptic practices in the obstetric ward of St. Rochus Hospital in Budapest.

Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, 40, became Prime Minister of Piedmont.

Anti-Semitic mobs in Athens, Greece, burned down the home of David Pacifico, 66, a British subject who 8 years earlier had ended his 5-year service as Portuguese Consul General "Don Pacifico" to Greece, and who had substantial claims against the Greek government. British Foreign Secretary Henry J. Temple Viscount Palmerston, 66, ordered a naval squadron to the Piraeus to force a settlement of the Don Pacifico claims, and the British embargoed Greek vessels there and then seized some Greek ships. The Greeks succumbed to British demands, and Palmerston defended his actions in Parliament, appealing to British patriotism with the Latin phrase "civis Romanus sum."

Persian religious leader Ali Muhammad of Shiraz, 31, called the Bab (or the Gate) by his followers, had 5 years earlier founded Babism. Muslim leaders had called his views heretical and had begun persecuting him and his followers. He was now condemned to death and executed in the public square at Tabriz. His follower, Husayn Ali, 33, assumed responsibility for the mission and was exiled to Baghdad, then to Constantinople, then to Adrianople, and finally to Acre, claiming to be the leader promised by the Bab. Husayn Ali took on the title Bahaullah ("Splendor of God") and preached the new faith Bahai.

Russian expansion into central Asia

Russian forces began efforts to conquer the Syr Darya Valley (the ancient Jaxartes, in present-day southern Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, draining into the Aral Sea).

T'ai P'ing Rebellion

An uprising began against China's ruling Manchu dynasty in Kwangsi Province and rapidly spread. Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, 38, a schoolmaster and mystic in Kwangsi, proclaimed himself the younger brother of Jesus Christ as well as the T'in-wang ("Heavenly Prince," effectively the Emperor of China). He called his dynasty T'ai P'ing ("Great Peace"). With the help of strategist Yang Hsiu-ch'ing, Hung led southern peasants against the Chinese government, attacking Peking and capturing Nanking and Shanghai.

Great Kaffir War

Kaffirs in the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony in South Africa rebelled against British control.

English scientist and explorer Francis Galton, 28, explored Damaraland in Southwest Africa.

The University of Sydney was founded in Australia.

The native population of the Hawaiian Islands was approximately 75,000, a 50 percent drop over the preceding three decades. King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli), 37, gave up the rights of much of his lands in the Great Mahele; foreigners took over these lands.

Erasmus Ommanney led an expedition to search for English explorer John Franklin, who had set out to find the Northwest Passage 5 years earlier.

World science and technology

French physiologist Claude Bernard, 37, demonstrated that the human liver manufactures the complex sugar glycogen from the sugars broken down in digestion; Swiss anatomist Rudolf Albert von Kölliker, 33, published the first textbook of histology in Würzburg; Russian mathematician Pafnuty Lvovich Chebyshev, 29, published On Primary Numbers; German geologist Johann von Lamont, 45, discovered that there are periodic fluctuations in the magnetic field of the Earth; German physicist Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius, 28, devised the Second Law of Thermodynamics ("Heat cannot of itself pass from a colder body to a hotter body"); German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, 29, invented the burner that was named after him at Heidelberg University; German physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz, 29, invented the opthalmoscope, measured the velocity of a nerve impulse, and proposed from that measurement his theory of the conservation of energy; and English engineer Sir William Armstrong, 40, invented the hydraulic accumulator, thereby ending the dependence that hydraulic machinery had heretofore on a nearby water source.

World philosophy and religion

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, 62, published his resolutely empirical Parerga und Paralipomena, including the following statement:
Philosophy … is a science, and as such has no articles of faith; accordingly, in it nothing can be assumed as existing except what is either positively given empirically, or demonstrated through indubitable conclusions.

English philosopher Herbert Spencer, 30, published Social Statistics, beginning the science of sociology.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, 41, published In Memoriam, including the following lines:
'Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all.
English mystery novelist William Wilkie Collins, 26, published Antonina; novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, 39, published Pendennis; artist John Everett Millais, 21, exhibited Christ in the House of His Parents and because of it was accused of blasphemy by novelist Charles (John Huffman) Dickens, 38, who this year published The Personal History of David Copperfield, with illustrations by "Phiz"; artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 22, exhibited Ecce Ancilla Domini and published the poem "The Blessed Damazel"; and poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 44, published her 44-sonnet collection Sonnets from the Portuguese, which included No. 43:
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach…
Poet laureate William Wordsworth died at the age of 80 and was succeeded by poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, 41.

World arts and culture

German dramatist Otto Ludwig, 37, produced Der Erbförster; Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, 22, published Cataline; Russian novelist and dramatist Ivan Turgenev, 32, produced A Month in the Country; and Russian author Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen, 38, published From Another Shore. Austrian poet Nikolaus Lenau died at the age of 48, and French novelist Honoré de Balzac died at the age of 51.

German painter Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel, 45, unveiled Round Table at Sansouci; French painter Jean-Babtiste-Camille Corot, 54, unveiled Une Matinée; French painter (Jean Desiré) Gustave Courbet, 31, unveiled The Stone-Breakers and Burial at Ornans (the latter depicting 40 life-size figures in a peasant funeral), thereby establishing the Realism School of painting; and French painter Jean-François Millet, 36, exhibited The Sower and The Binders and was criticized for his socialist themes. German sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow died at the age of 86.

German composer Robert Schumann, 39, produced the opera Genoveva in Leipzig; Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, 39, conducted the opera Lohengrin by German Romantic composer Richard Wagner, 37, who was unable to attend because he was in political exile; and the Bach-Gesellschaft was founded in Germany to publish the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach, a task that would take 50 years to complete in 46 volumes.


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