For a 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)
According to church historian Mark Anderson, Pastor Nellis was probably just "passing through" and doing a few sacramental favors. He was a descendant of the Palatine Lutherans from Stone Arabia in Montgomery County.
Then, during this year, Reverend Thomas Lape, 51 (who had been pastor a decade and a half earlier) became the official pastor. Pastor Lape had earned a reputation as a
clear, methodical preacher … instructive … gentle, amiable, cheerful and faithful pastor; … a humble Christian, and a sincere friend. He stood well among the Lutheran clergy of the State.(2)
Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], draft, quoting the 1879 tribute presented by Rev. P. A. Strobel, of the Hartwick Synod obituary committee. (Close)
The year before Pastor Lape had published his work on the Atonement, the Manual of the Christian Atonement (to enlarge the title page, just click it).
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(3)
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 in 1906. (Close)
about what the third was like in the 1850s:
My memory dates back fifty years, and that old church standing upon the rocks is the same in outward appearance now as it was then. The door in the center of the south end opened directly into the church, there being no vestibule or hall. The stove stood between the door and the first row of seats.… The stove was a solid cast iron stove … it took long wood and when it got hot it was awful hot. The pipe suspended by wire ran the whole length of the church to the chimney at the north end.… The seats were planed pine boards with backs and ends, and I think the hard side of the boards was up. I could not sit still on them. …The church owned no parsonage. The pastor
The church was lighted with candles, a candlestick on each end post of the pulpit and tin candle holders hanging upon the wall--just enough of them to make darkness visible. Every little while the sexton would go around with the snuffers and snuff the candles and sometimes he would snuff too low when out would go the light.
There was no carpet on the floor.… There was no bell, so when it was time to commence service, someone would come out and tell those outside to come in.…
It would be a sight worth seeing today to see the vehicle on a Sunday morning that stood about the church grounds with the teams tied to the pine trees.… [F]arm wagons with long boxes on them and boards laid across for seats, and bed quilts for lap coverings in cold weather, the same kind of wagon with wooden springs with seats attached which they put inside the box (which simply emphasized the jolts); the Gondola pleasure wagon which turned up slightly at both ends with no door but with springs under it; and others of various styles. And in the winter the long sleigh, the farm bobs and … you could see any Sunday that there was sleighing … in some neighborhoods one farmer would take his team and long box wagon and gather up all that wanted to go to church and the next Sunday another would take his team and bring them. In this way those not having teams could get to church. How they all enjoyed the ride! Neither do I think they were proud, for many if not all wore the garments spun, woven, dyed and fashioned by their own mother's hands.
lived in rented rooms wherever they could be procured, sometimes several miles away.… [Reverend Lape] lived part of the time in West Camp on [his own place], coming up on Saturday and going back on Sunday afternoon or Monday.…
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.
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.
Charles L. Beach, 43, proprietor of the commodious Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove, was host to many famous and illustrious guests. During this year, the great actor Edwin Forrest, the operatic contralto Madame Marietta Alboni, and the talented but naughty Lola Montez with her monkey and poodle were guests at the same time.
Beach had enlarged his popular hotel several times, and he often had cots set up in halls and odd corners, but he was unable to keep up with the overflow of guests. Sometimes more than a hundred aspirant guests would be waiting for rooms, some of them waiting for days, camping out in neighboring farmhouses, sheds, and barns. Lowland innkeeper Peter Schutt and his son Jacob L. Schutt (known as "Shakespeare Schutt" because of his resemblance to the Chandos portrait of the bard) now opened Laurel House at Kaaterskill Falls to take on boarders and lodgers, usually the less well off.
It was now possible for Beach's guests to debark from the Hudson River Railroad across the river from Catskill, cross to the village on a ferry that Beach owned, then finish the journey to the hotel in a stagecoach also owned by Beach. This was apparently the closest that Beach wanted the steam, rails, and smoke of a railroad to get to his romantic hotel.
Millard Fillmore, 52 (Whig), was President. The 32nd Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $22.59 in 2006 for most consumable products.
Thousands of Irish immigrants came to the United States, at an annual rate of 92,000. (This year was actually the peak year for emigration from Ireland.) The luckless immigrants received no red-carpet treatment on their arrival in America.(4)
This description of the Irish immigrant experience liberally quoted from Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, pp. 302-05. (Close)
Forced to live in squalor, they were rudely crammed into the already-vile slums. They were scorned by the older American stock, especially "proper" Protestant Bostonians, who regarded the scruffy Catholic arrivals as a social menace. Barely literate "Biddies" (Bridgets) took jobs as kitchen maids. Broad-shouldered "Paddies" (Patricks) were pushed into pick-and-shovel drudgery on canals and railroads, where thousands left their bones as victims of disease and accidental explosions. It was said that an Irishman lay buried under every railroad tie. Large numbers of these unskilled laborers, eager for work of any kind, were absorbed into the factories of the Northeast. They depressed wages and discouraged union organization; destitute, they accepted whatever an employer offered them.
Any immigrants who had money left became victims of waterfront sharpers. "Runners," themselves immigrants a few years back, steered these gullible arrivals into run-down boarding houses and hovel hotels. They often conned them to voyage out west, promising first-class passage but delivering the worst possible accommodations. Eventually, the immigrants got word of this swindle and insisted on staying in the port city they had arrived at.
Thousands of German immigrants also came to the United States, at an annual rate of 95,000. The bulk of them were uprooted farmers, displaced by crop failures and other hardships. Some were liberal political refugees, fleeing after the collapse of the democratic revolutions of 1848. Many of the Germans, unlike the Irish, possessed a modest amount of material goods. Most of them pushed out to the lush lands of the Midwest, notably Wisconsin, where they settled and established model farms.
Emigration to America continued to appear as an attractive escape from the horrible conditions for the common people in Europe--especially for the Irish and the Germans. In America there was freedom from aristocratic caste and state church; there was abundant opportunity to secure broad acres and better one's condition. Much-read letters sent home by immigrants--"America letters"--often described in glowing terms the richer life: low taxes, no compulsory military service, and "three meat meals a day." The reality was usually somewhat different.
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 2 years before 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.
Sarah Josepha Hale, 63, editor of Godey's Lady's Book, who had been campaigning for the preceding 6 years for Thanksgiving Day observances in November to commemorate the feast given by the Pilgrims in 1621 for their Wampanoag benefactors, had now persuaded people to celebrate the feast on the same day in 30 of the 32 states, in consulates abroad, and on U.S. ships in foreign waters.
The Oneida "Perfectionist Community" of farmers and mechanics in central New York State, founded in 1848 by New England clergyman John Humphrey Noyes, 41, 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.
The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, sneeringly referred to in the North as the "Bloodhound Bill" or the "Man-Stealing Law," was "tested" by many incidents: 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. Many slaves were recaptured, and some free Negroes were carried off into slavery. Many Northern whites feared that the draconian measures against blacks might eventually be used against them as well, and many heretofore moderates had become strong antislavery men. 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.
Born a slave, Jack Payne would later recall his experience of being a human chattel in Texas, always performing services for others, never for himself:
I was born in 1844.… First [thing] I remember was my ma and us [children] being sold off the [auction] block to Mistress Payne. When I was… too little to work in the field, I stayed at the big house most of the time and helped Mistress Payne feed the chickens, make scarecrows to keep the hawks away and put wood on the fires. After I got big enough to hoe, I went to the field same as the other[s].… In the summer after the crop was laid by I helped to cut wood for winter, build fences, cut bushes.… I never earned any money for myself.… I didn't hardly know what money looked like.(5)
Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 377. (Close)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, 41, sister of abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, 39, and mother of six children, became famous during this year. Her novel of the previous year, Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, a sentimental portrayal of slave suffering, was becoming a bestseller all over the North: It went through 120 editions and sold 300,000 copies there, with similar sales overseas. The novel laid bare slavery's wicked inhumanity, especially the cruel splitting of families. Here(6)
Quoted from Bailey et al., op. cit., p. 422. (Close)
is from the closing scenes, where Uncle Tom's brutal master, Simon Legree, orders the $1,200 ($27,100 in 2006 dollars) slave savagely beaten (to death) by two fellow slaves. Through tears and blood Tom exclaims:
"No! no! no! my soul an't yours Mas'r! You haven't bought it--ye can't buy it! It's been bought and paid for by One that is able to keep it. No matter, no matter, you can't harm me!"The book created a fury in the North, not only against slavery but against the South itself and all the Southern white people. In Europe too, especially in England and France, the novel was immensely popular, creating a feeling of "Tom-mania" and a hostility toward American slaveholders.
"I can't" said Legree, with a sneer: "we'll see--we'll see! Here, Sambo, Quimbo, give this dog such a breakin' in as he won't get over this month!"
Naturally, the book was heartily condemned in the South as an "unfair" indictment, however, and the author referred to as that "vile wretch in petticoats," a "quack," a "cut-throat," and a "coarse, ugly, long-tongued woman." They accused her of trying to "awaken rancorous hatred and malignant jealousies" that could only undermine national unity. One reviewer called the book a
criminal prostitution of the high functions of the imagination to the pernicious intrigues of sectional animosity.(7)
Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 379. (Close)
Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, 34 (pictured here), a former slave, addressed an Independence Day meeting sponsored by the Rochester (NY) Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society:
This… is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom.… It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act.… Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance.… The principles contained in [the Declaration of Independence] are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.…
Fellow-citizens--Pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?… Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to those questions!… But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.… This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.…
I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of this nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.…
What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy--a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the every-day practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.…
Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a byword to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice.…
Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country.… While drawing encouragement from the "Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference.… A change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corner of the globe.… Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.… No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light.
Churches were divided on the slavery question. Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist denominations separated into two independent bodies, North and South.
A prime field hand slave in the South fetched $1,500 ($33,885 in 2006 dollars) and up in the market. Slavery tied up capital in human beings when it might better have been employed in labor-saving improvements. Some 1,000 Southern families shared in an income of $50 million per year ($1.13 billion per year)--an average of $50,000 per family ($1.13 million per family)--whereas another $60 million ($1.36 billion) was divided among 600,000 families--an average of $100 per family per year ($2,259 per family per year). Even rich Southern slaveholders, however, had their earnings eaten up by commissions, freight charges, tariffs, imports of manufactured goods from the North, and by the care and maintenance of slaves whose labor was actually more costly than was free labor in the North.
In the cotton fields of the Deep South, slaves brought several hundred dollars per head more than in the Upper South; the urge to sell slaves "down the river," therefore, remained strong. Slave trading was a thriving business. There were some 50 dealers in Charleston, 200 in New Orleans, most of them very prosperous and thus now considered quite respectable in high society. John Armfield and Isaac Franklin were the most successful dealers, collecting slaves at their "model jail" in Alexandria, VA, and shipping them either by sea or land to their huge depot in Natchez, MS.
Three-quarters of all Southern whites did not own even a single slave.(8)
The following couple of paragraphs are quoted partially from Bailey et al., op. cit., pp. 365-66. (Close)
They tended to scratch out a simple living from the thinner soils of the back-country and the mountain valleys. They often sneered at the lordly pretensions of the cotton "snobocracy." They were subsistence farmers, raising corn and hogs rather than cotton, and they lived isolated lives punctuated periodically by extended socializing and sermonizing at religious camp meetings. Even the slaves scorned these whites as "poor white trash" or "hillbillies" or "rednecks" or "crackers" or "clay eaters." They were often described as listless, shiftless, and misshapen; it is possible that many of them suffered from malnutrition and the hookworm parasite.
Even though they had no apparent economic stake in the slaveholding system, these folk were among its stoutest defenders. In accord with the "American dream" of upward social mobility, many hoped to be able to eventually buy a slave or two. They also had fierce pride in their supposed racial superiority.
In a special category among Southern whites were the tough-fibered mountain folk of Appalachia. Civilization had largely passed them by, and they rarely ever saw a slave. They tended to hate both the haughty planters and their gangs of blacks; they regarded the impending war talk between the North and South as "a rich man's war but a poor man's fight." They were hostile to any secessionist notion.
Kentucky Whig Senator Henry Clay, author of many compromises--especially the Compromise of 1850--died at his quarters in Washington at the age of 75. He was eulogized by the 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Whig Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, 43, pictured here, in a speech assailing both the abolitionists of the North (who would "shiver into fragments the Union of these States; tear to tatters its now venerated Constitution") and the fire-eaters of the South (in whose idolatry of slavery they denied the basic premise of the Constitution, that "all men are created equal").
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.
The Young America movement was already an important faction within the Democratic Party and was supported by such influential politicians as Illinois Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas, 39, the "Little Giant," pictured here, as a way to distract Americans from the explosive sectional issue of slavery. With a remarkably favorable reputation that he had earned 2 years earlier by steering the Compromise of 1850 through Congress, he was now intent on winning the Democratic nomination for President. For the past year, young Douglas had been traveling around the nation making speeches consistent with his Young America ideals, disparaging European monarchs and demanding that Cuba be annexed.
Douglas's main rivals were Michigan Senator Lewis Cass, 70, the unsuccessful Democratic Presidential candidate 4 years earlier but still formidable, and James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, 61, pictured here.(9)
Most of the analysis of the campaign, including the direct quotes, comes from ibid., p. 411, and Garraty, op. cit., p. 382. (Close)
Both considered that their age and experience made them more qualified than the Little Giant. Ever aggressive Douglas expressed his open contempt for Buchanan and ridiculed Cass, who had been a diplomat, that his "reputation was beyond the C." Douglas's foes, including William Learned Marcy, 66, of New York, combined against him at the nominating convention in Baltimore, which soon became hopelessly deadlocked between Cass and Buchanan. (Douglas had no chance at the convention.)
Finally, on the 49th ballot, another "dark horse" candidate was brought forward: the convivial but unrenowned lawyer-politician and utterly undistinguished General Franklin Pierce from the hills of New Hampshire, 48, pictured here on the left. His military career in the Mexican War gave his opponents occasion to laugh: He was known as the "Fainting General," because a painful groin injury had caused him to fall off his horse. Scandalmongers liked to point to his fondness for liquor, too. But his Whig opponents really made much of his obscurity with the cry "Who is Frank Pierce?" to which Democrats responded: "The Young Hickory of the Granite Hills." To balance the ticket (appeasing the South), the Democrats nominated William R. King as Pierce's running mate.
The Democratic platform emphatically endorsed the Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slave Act and all. In addition and further appeasing the South (although, ironically, undercutting the federal act so detested in the North), the Democrats endorsed the 1798 Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions that advocated states' rights over federal prerogatives.
The Whigs also met in Baltimore and announced a platform also endorsing the Compromise as a lasting arrangement (though not as enthusiastically as had the Democrats), but they failed to nominate any politician associated with it: They passed over both the colorless President Fillmore and Secretary of State Daniel Webster, 71, and instead chose another military hero, a tactic that had worked well for them in the two elections they had won, 1840 and 1848. They turned to the ablest American general of his generation, the pompous and egotistical General Winfield "Old Fuss and Feathers" Scott, 66, pictured on the right, with North Carolina Senator William Alexander Graham as his running mate.
In contrast to the two major parties, the Free Soil Party, anathema to Southern voters and still marginal in the North, condemned the Compromise of 1850 and slavery itself. They nominated John Parker Hale of New Hampshire, with George Washington Julian of Indiana as his running mate.
But it was the major parties that most voters paid attention to, and they had soft-pedaled the explosive issue of slavery and endeavored to appeal to every section. As usual, the campaign degenerated into silly attacks on the personalities of Pierce and Scott. Whigs, running with a war hero, mocked Pierce as the hero of "many a well-fought bottle." Democrats played up Scott's repellent haughtiness and cried exultantly:
We Polked 'em in '44; we'll Pierce 'em in '52.Unfortunately for them, the Whigs were hopelessly divided, as the Democrats had been 4 years earlier. Antislavery Whigs in the North deplored the party platform, which endorsed the Fugitive Slave Act:
We accept the candidate but spit on the platform.Southern Whigs, in contrast, accepted the platform but were suspicious of Scott.
Fortunately for the Democrats, the New York "Barnburners," who had gone to the Free Soilers 4 years earlier, returned to their old Democratic home for this election. Several of the Southern "Cotton Whigs" went with the Democrats as well.
During the campaign and just a few months after Clay's death, the Secretary of State Daniel Webster, who had been so devoted to the Union and had been so influential in getting the Compromise of 1850 passed, died at his home in Marshfield, Massachusetts, at the age of 71. Free Soilers, Whigs, and Democrats took part in the funeral procession, but abolitionists refused to join. Wendell Phillips, 41, excoriated any who showed Webster any honor in his death. He was praised by many Southern Whigs, however: More than 5,000 Whigs in Georgia, who became known as "finality men," voted for the deceased Webster rather than their party's official nominee, Scott.
As a result mainly of this defection, the inconspicuous and thus enemyless Pierce won in a landslide with 254 electoral votes. Scott received only 42 (carrying only Vermont, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Tennessee); his friends whimsically quipped that he was not used to "running." Pierce won 50.8 percent of the much closer popular vote (1,601,117), versus 43.9 percent for Scott (1,385,453) and 4.9 percent for Hale.
The disorganized Whig Party was in the process of dissolving over the slavery issue, leaving the field to purely sectional political alignments. The "Cotton Whigs" of the South, thoroughly alienated by the antislavery "Conscience Whigs" of the North, migrated to the Democrats. Those Conscience Whigs and the conservative "Silver Gray Whigs" of the North were more and more at odds with each other.
The 33rd Congress was elected as well as the President and Vice President, to begin serving in the following year. It was overwhelmingly dominated by Southern Democrats, fanatical exponents of expanding slavery into the territories.
Missouri slave Dred Scott, 57, pictured here, who, backed by interested abolitionists, had brought suit in 1846 to claim his legitimate freedom on the ground that he and his wife, Harriet, had resided for 5 years in free territory (in both Illinois and Wisconsin Territory) lost his case in the Missouri state supreme court, on the grounds that since he had returned to Missouri voluntarily, he had resumed his status as a slave. The chief justice of the state supreme court, antislavery man Hamilton R. Gamble, strongly dissented in the decision, however. Scott then brought suit in federal district court against John F. A. Sanford, who was administering the estate of Scott's late owner, army surgeon Dr. John Emerson.
An intercollegiate rowing race took place between Yale and Harvard on Lake Winnepesaukee, NH; Harvard won by 4 lengths.
Massachusetts, Vermont, and Louisiana enacted a prohibition law.
No doubt capitalizing on the discovery by Canadian physician Abraham Gesner, a Boston pharmaceutical firm distilled "coal oil" from coal tar and, after discovering that it could not only be a lubricant but could also burn in lamps, although not yet efficiently, began selling it--just in time for the improved lamp chimney devised by German immigrant inventor Christopher Dorflinger.
A street railway began operations in Boston, with a single horse-drawn car between Union Square in Somerville and Harvard Square in Cambridge.
Boston shipbuilder Donald McKay, 42, launched the 2,856-ton clipper ship Sovereign of the Seas.
Merchants Eben D. Jordan and Benjamin L. Marsh changed the name of their year-old dry-goods shop in Boston to Jordan, Marsh Co.
The Massachusetts legislature enacted laws requiring all children between ages 8 and 13 to attend school at least 12 weeks during the year, with 6 of those weeks being consecutive--the first effective compulsory school attendance law in the U.S.
Educator George Ticknor, 61, with help from Edward Everett, 58, and private donations solicited in a drive by financier Joshua Bates, 64, established the Boston Public Library.
Boston State College was founded.
Publisher Henry Oscar Houghton, 29, who had begun 16 years earlier as a printer's apprentice in Burlington, VT, now began operating the Riverside Press in Cambridge, MA.
Hosea Ballou II, nephew of a prominent Universalist clergyman, founded Tufts College in Medford, MA.
Construction was completed on the ornate Victorian Château-sure-Mer in Newport, RI, for William S. Wetmore, who had made his fortune in the China trade.
Horace C. Wilcox, 28, sales agent with his younger brother Dennis for the Rogers Brothers (William, Asa, and Simeon) silverplate manufactory in Hartford, CT, founded through a merger the Meriden Britannia Company in Meriden, CT, a tableware company that would later become International Silver Company.
Mount Sinai Hospital was established in New York City.
There more than a hundred piano manufacturers in New York City.
The New York City comic weekly Diogenes, Hys Lantern portrayed "Uncle Sam" in cartoon form--the first such appearance.
The 2,856-ton S.S. Pacific went into service for the United States Mail Steamship Company, now called the Collins Line, and was able to cross from New York City to Liverpool in less than 10 days.
William George Fargo, 34, transformed the 8-year-old express service company that he had started with Henry Wells--Wells & Company--renaming it Wells, Fargo & Co., and stating its purpose to
forward Gold Dust, Bullion, Specie, Packages & Freight of all kinds, to, and from New York and San Francisco… and all the principal towns of California and Oregon.(10)
Quoted in Trager, James, ed., The People's Chronology: A Year-by-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979, p. 474. (Close)
Sparrows were imported from Germany to help control caterpillars.
The first Holstein cow in the U.S. arrived on a Dutch vessel.
The Caroline Fry Marriage Association advertised "wives for poor and deserving young men."
A suspension bridge was constructed over the Niagara River at Niagara Falls, NY.
Philadelphia clergyman Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, 42, designed a practical movable-frame beehive.
The Pennsylvania Railroad now extended between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The State of Pennsylvania adopted a railroad gauge different from that of New York, in order to prevent the Erie Railroad from passing through Pennsylvania into Ohio.
The First Plenary Council of American Roman Catholics was held in Baltimore, MD.
Joseph Borrows Tate, 34, launched the 2-page penny daily Washington Evening Star; after only 6 months, William Wallack bought him out and added 2 more pages to it.
Durham, NC, farmers Eli and Elisha Slade discovered "bright tobacco" by heating some of the crop over hot flues to make a sweet smoke. Virginia was still an the leading producer of tobacco, although states west of the Appalachians raised more than half of the total U.S. crop--especially this new Bright Yellow variety, which grew best on poor soil.
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. Cotton growing had been migrating ever westward, more and more of it was being grown west of the Mississippi River.
The 41-year-old National Road (formerly called the Cumberland Road, the present-day U.S. 40), which had extended 35 years earlier from Cumberland, MD, on the Potomac River to Wheeling on the Ohio River, now reached as far as Illinois.
Massachusetts educator Horace Mann, 46, founded Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, under the auspices of the Disciples of Christ and matriculating both male and female students.
Pennsylvania wagon maker Clement Studebaker, 21, founded the H. and C. Studebaker Company at South Bend, IN, with his older brother Henry, to produce wagons and carriages.
The Michigan Southern Railway sent the first through train from the East Coast all the way to Chicago.
Chicago merchant Potter Palmer opened a shop in Chicago destined to become a large department store.
The 5-year-old Rock Island & LaSalle Railroad, now named the Chicago, Rock Island Line, extended 40 miles from Joliet, IL, to Chicago. Its first train was a brightly painted locomotive named the Rocket, pulling six yellow coaches.
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.
Brigham Young, 51, continued to develop the State of Deseret (Utah Territory, as it was known by the federal government and other non-Mormons), considered by its residents as an independent nation with Young as President, extending, according to the Mormons (and disregarding the arrangement that Congress had worked out in 1850), 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.
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.
Miners completed a 45-mile canal to bring in water for hydraulic mining at the rate of 60 million gallons per day. Miner Anthony Chabot devised a canvas hose with an 8-inch-thick nozzle to wash gold-bearing gravel from stream banks into placer pits. Labor was saved, but California hillsides were devastated as tons of topsoil and gravel were washed into bottomland for each ounce of gold extracted.
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. Fortunes made in the gold diggings were lost overnight in a 'Frisco faro palace or in speculation in goods and land.
The Governor of California called for land grants to encourage the continued immigration of Chinese, "one of the most worthy of our newly adopted citizens." Some 50,000 Chinese had escaped China (where the penalty for attempted emigration was beheading), almost all from the Toishan district of southern China, to come to California's gold fields. The Chinese Six Companies, named for the six districts of China where most had come from, was formed as an immigration agency to advance money to newcomers so that they could buy picks, shovels, and other mining supplies. Most of the immigrants were men (the ratio was 19 males for each female).
Mills College for Women was founded in Oakland, CA.
U.S. commodity prices were still 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. When dividends did not accrue, some railroad stocks would begin a decline--especially the stocks of some of the Western lines. At the same time, land speculation had been attracting funds far exceeding their value. New territories and parts of some of the Western states that were not yet populated were covered with "paper cities," and the credulous were invited to "invest" at fabulous prices.
Popular periodicals included the Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, American Farmer, Christian Watchman, Saturday Evening Post, National Preacher, Godey's Lady's Book, Ladies' Repository, Peterson's Ladies' National Magazine, Home Journal, Boys' and Girls' Magazine and Fireside Companion, Harper's Monthly Magazine, Yale Literary Magazine, Knickerbocker Magazine, Spirit of the Times, National Police Gazette, and Scientific American.
The songs "My Old Kentucky Home" and "Massa's in de Cold Cold Ground" by Stephen Collins Foster, 25, were released and became popular as plantation melodies (during this year Foster made his only trip to the South). Other popular songs included "Old Folks at Home" (also by Foster), "Camptown Races" (also by Foster), "Oh! Susanna" (also by Foster), "Jim Crack Corn" (also known as "Blue Tail Fly"), "Ben Bolt, or Oh! Don't You Remember," "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, 37, continued their long engagement at Mechanic's Hall on Broadway in New York City. Here is a description of a typical minstrel show by historian Samuel Eliot Morison(11):
Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 495-96. (Close)
In the first act the performers, most of them white men in blackface, sat in a semicircle around the interlocutor, a dignified colored gentleman in dress suit who acted both as master of ceremonies and butt for the jokes of the end men--"Mistah Tambo" who banged a tambourine, and "Mistah Bones" who rattled castanets. Besides repartee and horseplay, the cast played banjo melodies and sang comic or sentimental songs. The second act, known as the olio, included a "hoe-down" dance, comic parodies of grand opera, and a "walk-around," in which the players one by one took the center of the stage for individual songs or dances while the rest clapped time to the music.
The Accessory Transit Company of the piratical-minded, foghorn-voiced New York shipping magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, 58, inspired by promoter Ferdinand de Lesseps, 47, 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.
Argentine rebel General Justo José de Urquiza, 51, with support from Brazil and from Uruguayan liberals, defeated the forces of Juan Manuel de Rosas, 57, the dictator of Argentina, in the Battle of Monte Caseros. Rosas fled to England, and there were no further Argentine designs on Uruguay.
The Paddington Station and the King's Cross Station opened in London for rail traffic.
A saltwater aquarium was constructed in London.
Former Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, died at the age of 83. In accordance with his wishes, he was not buried for two months after his death, on the fear that he might actually be alive (he did not want to be buried prematurely).
The Convocation of the Church of England was revived.
The First Congress of Co-operative Societies, an outgrowth of the previous decade's Chartist Cooperative Land Association and the "Rochedale Society of Equitable Pioneers," met in London.
The United All-English Cricket Eleven was organized in England.
The tramp steamer John Bowes went into service at Jarrow in England as a collier, the world's first.
French President Louis Napoleon, 44, exiled the Orléans family (the dynasty of the late Ex-King Louis Philippe, ousted 4 years earlier). Louis Napoleon then ordered a new plebiscite, which endorsed a new constitution for France and the establishment of the Second Empire, with the President authorized to declare himself Emperor Napoleon III. (He styled himself "Napoleon III" in deference to his cousin "Napoleon II" [also known as the "King of Rome" or, later, the "Duke of Reichstadt"], the son of Napoleon the Great who never had a chance to rule anywhere.)
The Emperor began his reign with a huge program of public works under the direction of Baron Georges Eugène Haussmann, 42, named Prefect of the Seine. Haussmann began widening streets and opening new boulevards. He also transformed the five-century-old royal hunting ground Bois de Boulogne into a 2,100-acre park modeled on London's Hyde Park.
The Société Aérostatique, the world's first aeronautical society, was founded in Paris.
French merchant Aristide Boucicaut joined the Bon Marché in Paris and began turning the small piece-goods shop into a true department store with such retailing principles as small markups to encourage high volume and rapid turnover, free entrance with no obligation to buy, and the right to exchange or return merchandise; sales during this year were half a million francs.
When Hungarian revolutionary Lajos Kossuth, 50, visited the United States in search of aid for his struggle against Austrian oppression, President Fillmore put a warship at his disposal and thousands of Americans, inspired by the "Young America" movement, cheered him. But Fillmore had no intention of going to war with Austria.
The United Kingdom recognized the independence of the Transvaal at the Sand River Convention.
The British troopship Birkenhead foundered on the way to the Cape of Good Hope; 454 troops perished.
Scots explorer and missionary David Livingstone, 39, began exploring South Africa's Zambezi River.
German explorer Heinrich Barth explored Lake Chad in central Africa.
The six provinces of New Zealand, each under the control of a superintendent with a council elected by property owners, agreed to abide by a new constitution, providing for a governor with a legislative council and a house of representatives. Regulation of the Maori native population was left to the British Colonial Office in London.
French painter Gustave Moreau, 26, unveiled Pietà.
Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, 34, published Zapiski okhotnika ("A Sportsman's Sketches") and was then exiled to his estates for the obituary he wrote of radical Nikolai Gogol (who died that year at the age of 42); French scholar Léopold Deslisle, 26, began the study of modern paleography at the Bibliothèque Impériale in Paris; French writer Alexandre Dumas père, 50, published Ange Pitou; his writer son, Alexandre Dumas fils, 28, produced at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris the play La Dame aux Camélias ("Camille, the Lady of the Camellias"), based on the novel he had written 4 years earlier; German dramatist Gustav Freytag, 36, produced the comedy Die Journalisten ("The Journalists") in Breslau; German dramatist Christian Friedrich Hebbel, 39, produced Agnes Bernauer at the Hoftheater in Munich; German historian Leopold von Ranke, 57, began publishing his 5-volume History of France, which would take 9 more years to complete and then would include only the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and French critic and writer Théophile Gautier, 41, published his poetry collection, Emaux et Camées ("Enamels and Cameos"). Russian novelist Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol died at the age of 43.