Christ's Lutheran Church in 1856

[ Christ's Church on the Sawkill ]

Pastor Thomas Lape, 55, replaced during this year by William I. Cutter (son-in-law of former Pastor William H. Emerick), conducting services 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).

This was Pastor Cutter's first charge after his return from mission work in India. He gave lectures on India and showed the heathen gods that he had brought back with him. Nathaniel M. Nash(1)

From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], p. 101, citing Nathaniel M. Nash. (Close) remembered that
[e]very two weeks or once a month on Sunday afternoon he preached a sermon in German as there were several German families in the congregation. He was sure to have a full house on that occasion as many of us had never heard a German sermon before.
Pastor Cutter reported to the Hartwick Synod the following:
I feel encouraged that we shall be permitted to see a better state, more liberality and christianity among my people.
We have no description of what it was like in the first or second church building, but here is Nathaniel Nash's 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], citing Nathaniel M. Nash. (Close) about what the third one 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.… [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.…
This was the 50th anniversary of the church.

The Woodstock Region in 1856

The Ulster County Glass Manufacturing Company, founded three years earlier in Shady (also called Bristol) by a group headed by Kingston lawyer Marius Schoonmaker, on the ruins of (and thereby reviving) the New York Crown and Cylinder Glass Company, which had gone out of business more than a decade earlier, was struggling to stay in business under superintendent Peter Reynolds. Unfortunately, it was difficult for this factory, originally sited 46 years earlier for its proximity to plenty of wood, to compete effectively with coal-fueled glass factories that were located close to good sources of coal. Besides the original hardwood forests nearby had already been depleted, necessitating either that wood (or coal) be brought in at great expense from an ever-increasing distance or that the furnaces be fired by hemlock or other less efficient fuels.(3)

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town [Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987],from ibid., p. 130. (Close)

One of Woodstock's only resident doctors was Dr. Stephen L. Heath, whose house still stands just to the east of the old brick post office building on Tinker Street. Dr. Heath was active in politics and was commissioner of schools. He would ride his horse all the way to the end of Mink Hollow to deliver a baby--for a fee of $5.00 ($100.85 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.

The United States in 1856

[ Franklin Pierce ]

Franklin Pierce, 52 (Democrat), was President. The 34th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $20.17 in 2006 for most consumable products.

Thousands of German immigrants 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 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.

Thousands of Irish immigrants also came to the United States, at an annual rate of 92,000. 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) With the new transoceanic steamships, the immigrants--Irish, German, and others--could come across speedily, in a matter of 10 or 12 days rather than 10 or 12 weeks. On board they were jammed into unsanitary quarters, thus suffering an appalling death rate from infectious diseases, but the nightmare was more endurable because it was shorter. Liverpool, Le Havre, and Hamburg were the principal points of embarkation; most arrived in the seaports between Boston and Baltimore, and remained in the North. Many arrived penniless, after exhausting their savings on the journey.

Forced to live in squalor, the Irish immigrants 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.

The invasion of the immigrant "rabble" created religious, economic, political, and social problems, which inflamed the prejudices of American nativists and often provoked mob action.(5)

Information in this paragraph has been quoted in Wellman, Paul I., The House Divides: The Age of Jackson and Lincoln, from the War of 1812 to the Civil War, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966, pp. 201-202; and from Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen, op. cit., pp. 305-06. (Close) The nativists feared that these foreign hordes would outbreed, outvote, and overwhelm the old "native" stock. Not only did the newcomers take jobs from "native" Americans, but the bulk of the displaced Irish were Roman Catholics, as were a substantial minority of the Germans. The Church of Rome was still widely regarded by many old-line Americans as a "foreign" church; convents were commonly referred to as "popish brothels." Nativists professed to believe that in due time the "alien riffraff" would "establish" the Catholic Church at the expense of Protestantism and would introduce "popish idols." Irish Catholics were a special target for violence, although Germans were sometimes involved. In some places Catholic churches were burned and priests beaten. For a time it seemed that the forces of law and order could not cope with these adjustments.

Adhesive postage stamps became obligatory for mailing letters.

The whaler E. L. B. Jennings returned to New Bedford, MA, after 4½ years with 2,500 barrels of sperm oil.

Boston exported more than 130,000 tons of "fine, clear" ice from Massachusetts lakes and ponds. The market for ice had more than doubled in the preceding 10 years.

Street trains pulled by steam engines began running between Boston and Cambridge, MA.

The Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, MA, held the first recorded observance of Children's Day.

The Church of the Transfiguration ("the Little Church Around the Corner") opened on 29th Street east of Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Harper's Weekly began publication in New York City, succeeding the 6-year old Harper's Monthly Magazine.

The New York News Agency, an organization of several New York City and other newspapers formed 8 years before to take advantage of telegraph communication, renamed itself the Associated Press (AP).

Ezra Cornell, 49, and Hiram Sibley, 49, chartered the Western Union Company as an amalgamation of small U.S. telegraph firms.

Texas inventor Gail Borden, 55, set up with a couple of partners a condensed-milk factory in Wolcottville, CT, and attempted to market his product in New York City, but residents there rejected it, because they were too accustomed to watered-down milk doctored with chalk to make it white and with molasses to make it creamy. Borden abandoned his factory and sold a half-share of his patent to one of the partners.

The 5-year-old I. M. Singer and Company of New York inventor Isaac Merrit Singer, 44, and New York City lawyer Edward Clark, with 14 branch stores and pretty demonstrators, offered a $50 trade-in allowance ($1,009 in 2006 dollars) on old sewing machines turned in for brand-new Singer continuous-stitch sewing machines as well as an installment buying plan allowing the $5 monthly rental fee ($101) to be applied toward the ultimate purchase price. Singer sales increased by 200 percent within the year.

The Oneida "Perfectionist Community" of farmers and mechanics in central New York State, founded in 1848 by New England clergyman John Humphrey Noyes, 45, 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. Community members developed dishwashing machines as well as machines for paring apples and washing vegetables.

St. Lawrence University was founded in Canton, NY.

Seton Hall College was founded in South Orange, NJ.

Thomas A. Scott, superintendent of the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, advised his newly hired secretary, Scots immigrant Andrew Carnegie, 20, to buy 10 shares of Adams Express Company stock for $500 ($10,085 in 2006 dollars).

Ferdinand Schumacher opened his German Mills American Oatmeal Factory in Akron, OH, and used water-powered millstones to grind 3,600 pounds of oatmeal per day.

German immigrant bank clerk Rudolph Wurlitzer, 25, grandson of German violin maker Hans Adam Wurlitzer, founded the Wurlitzer Company in three small rented rooms in Cincinnati, to import musical instruments.

The 458-mile Wabash and Erie Canal opened after 28 years of construction marked by loss of money to embezzlers and loss of life to cholera, connecting Lake Erie to the Ohio River, the longest canal ever dug in the U.S.

Pittsfield, MA, store clerk Marshall Field, 22, moved to Chicago and began clerking for the dry-goods firm of Cooley, Wadsworth & Co. With the intention of rising in the company and buying share in it, he slept in the store, bought no clothes other than overalls, and worked 18 hours a day for an annual salary of $400 ($8,068 in 2006 dollars), to be able to save half his pay.

The baseball team Chicago Unions was organized.

The Illinois Central Railroad now extended between Chicago and Cairo, IL, opening up more of the central prairies to profitable agricultural settlement.

A railway bridge was constructed across the Mississippi River between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, and it was tested by a train of three locomotives and eight passenger cars. Within a couple of weeks the steamboat S.S. Effie Afton rammed the bridge, and its parent company sued the La Salle and Rock Island Railroad for violating its right of way. Lower courts declared the bridge a public nuisance, but Springfield, IL, attorney Abraham Lincoln, 47, persuaded the Supreme Court to uphold the bridge's legality.

German immigrant bookkeeper Joseph Schlitz, 25, took over the 7-year-old August Krug brewery in Milwaukee, WI, by marrying the widow of its founder. He changed the name of the brewery and increased production.

Auburn University was founded in Auburn, AL.

A hurricane destroyed the island of Ile Dernière near New Orleans; 400 people perished.

Virginia was still an important producer of tobacco, although states west of the Appalachians raised more than half of the total U.S. crop--especially the Bright Yellow variety, which grew best on poor soil. The tobacco-growing states of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina 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.

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 ] Brigham Young, 55, pictured here, 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.

Borax was discovered in California.

French immigrant Pierre Pellier introduced the Agen plum into the Santa Clara Valley of California.

Hundreds of Chinese immigrants were fleeing the disintegrating Chinese Empire, risking the penalty of beheading to do so, almost all from the southern district of Toishan, and coming to the United States, at an annual rate during this decade of 4,140, many of them gold seekers sailing into San Francisco, which they named "golden mountain." Some came with money pooled by their families back home, but most were desperately poor and in debt to Chinese middlemen. Most were men (the ratio was 19 males for each female).

The population of California was now 300,000--a 1000-percent ballooning in only 7 years. The gold fields had yielded $450 million ($8.1 billion in 2006 dollars) in precious metal during that time.

The 2-year-old U.S. Mint branch in San Francisco continued to pay miners the official rate of $16 per ounce ($323 per ounce in 2006 dollars) for gold and produced nearly $24 million ($484 million in 2006 dollars) in gold coins.

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. One contemporary noted:

In Kansas alone, where scarcely one legal title had as yet been granted, there were more acres laid out for cities than were covered by all the cities in the northern and middle states. Nearly the whole West swarmed with speculators, who neither intended to cultivate the soil or settle there, but who expected to realize fortunes, without labor, out of the bona fide settler. Lots in "cities," where was scarcely a house, were sold to the inexperienced and unwary, at prices equaling those in large cities.(6) Quoted from ibid., pp. 386-87, who cites R. M. Devens, Our First Century, Great and Memorable Events (1876). (Close)

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.

The following is an excerpt from a New Orleans advertisement for the auction of a "choice gang" of slaves(7):

Taken from Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 332. (Close)
S L A V E S !



Belonging to a co-partnership and sold to close the same. The said slaves comprise a gang of 41 choice Negroes. On the list will be found a good Blacksmith, one superior Bricklayer, Field Hands, Laborers, one Tanner, one Cooper, and a first-rate woman Cook.

LEWIS, a black man, aged 32, good field hand and laborer.
SHELLY, a black man, aged 26, good field hand and laborer.
PHILIP, a black man, aged 30, fair bricklayer.
HENRY, a black man, aged 24, fair cooper.
JACOB BATES, a black man, aged 22, good field hand and laborer.

GEORGE, a black man, aged 30, No. 1 blacksmith.
WESTLY, a griff, aged 24, a fair tanner and bricklayer.
NELSON, a black man, aged 30, good field hand and laborer.

ANDERSON, a black man, aged 24, a No. 1 bricklayer and mason.

LOUISA, a griff, 30 years, a good cook … and excellent servant.
ROBERT, 13 years old, defect in one toe.
JASPAR, 24 years old, and extra laborer, driver, and coachman.
The slaves can be seen four days previous to the day of sale. They are fully guaranteed against the vices and maladies prescribed by law, and are all selected slaves.

TERMS OF SALE-- One year's credit for approved city acceptance or enclosed paper, with interest at 7 per cent, from date, and mortgage on the slaves if required.…

After the sale of the above list of Slaves, will be sold Another lot of Negroes, comprising Field Hands, House servants and Mechanics.…

"ANDERSON, a black man, aged 24, a No. 1 bricklayer and mason," brought a top price of $2,700 ($54,459 in 2006 dollars).

South Carolina planter poet William J. Grayson argued that slavery was better than freedom was for the laboring man in the North. In his poem "The Hireling and the Slave," he described the lot of the slave:

Secure they toil, uncursed their peaceful life,
With labor's hungry broils and wasteful strife.
No want to goad, no faction to deplore,
The slave escapes the perils of the poor.(8) Quoted in ibid., p. 375. (Close)
In spite of the implications in such claptrap, many a slave wanted to escape their secure slavery.

The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act 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. 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.

Two years earlier Wisconsin abolitionist editor and leader Sherman Miller Booth, now 44, had helped to rescue black fugitive slave Joshua Glover in Milwaukee and had therefore been arrested for violating the Fugitive Slave Law. Booth had appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus, stating that he had been restrained of his liberty by U.S. marshal Stephen V. R. Ableman and that his imprisonment had been illegal because the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law was unconstitutional and void. A justice had initially ruled that Booth be freed, but Ableman had applied for a certiorari; in the resulting case Ableman v. Booth, the court had ultimately ruled the Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional, freeing Booth, and assessing costs against Ableman. But Marshal Ableman took the suit to federal court: In January of the preceding year, the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin in a grand jury proceeding had indicted Booth on the original charge. Convicted by a jury, Booth had been sentenced for 1 month and had been fined $1,000 ($20,920 in 2006 dollars) plus costs. Booth had again appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on the grounds that the Fugitive Slave Law was unconstitutional and that the federal court had no jurisdiction to try or punish him. Again the state court had freed Booth. A few months later, however, U.S. Attorney General Caleb Cushing had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court (the emaciated Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, 79, from the slave state of Maryland, presiding), arguing that the state court had no jurisdiction. The case would continue to drag on over the ensuing 3 years.

Northern antipathy toward not only slavery but toward the South itself and toward all Southern white people was further inflamed by the continued popularity of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1851 sentimental slavery-indicting novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, which was going through scores of editions and selling hundreds of thousands of copies. 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. During this year the 45-year-old author published Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, where she stated that slavery was causing society to deteriorate.

Historian Paul Wellman, in describing the mutual hostility between the South and the North at the brink of the Civil War, highlights the racist fears of the Southern whites(9):

The following is from Wellman, op. cit., pp. 428-29. (Close)
If the Negroes were to remain in the United States, Southerners could see no solution for the distinctive problems they presented. These were the irritations and problems which provided, in the words of Albert J. Beveridge, "the spectacle of fewer than six million white people defying more than three times their number, their resources even smaller than their man power, the very spirit of the age against them… to take the field and fight, suffer, and sacrifice with a desperation not even surpassed in the history of the world."

[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ] Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, 53, stated:

I do not see how a barbarous community and a civilized community can constitute a state. I think we must get rid of slavery or we must get rid of freedom.(10) Quoted in Bailey et al., op. cit., p. 365. (Close)
(In his English Traits, which he published during this year, Emerson credited his Anglo-Saxon ancestors for his literary individuality.)

Churches were divided on the slavery question. Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist denominations separated into two independent bodies, North and South.

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.

South Carolina Governor James H. Adams urged a repeal of the 1807 law against the slave trade. (May as well repeal it; it wasn't being enforced anyway.) He was reacting to pressure from members of the Southern middle class, who could not afford to buy slaves at the prevailing price (more than $2,000 for a prime field hand [$40,340 in 2006 dollars]). If there were more fresh slaves available, the price per slave would go down.

Bleeding Kansas

At the beginning of the year, two governments existed in Kansas Territory: a proslavery government based on a fraudulent election, with Shawnee Mission as its capital, and an antislavery government based on an extralegal election, with Topeka as its capital.(11) Much of the following text in the next few paragraphs has been quoted liberally from Wellman, op. cit., 1966, pp. 351-58, 367-71; as well as from Bailey et al., op. cit., pp. 424-25; Garraty, op. cit., pp. 386-88; and Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 592. (Close) Although it was the responsibility of President Pierce, whose administration was almost completely in the hands of his Southern advisors, to ensure that elections were orderly and honest, he denounced the Topeka regime, thereby encouraging the proslavery settlers to assume the offensive. When the first governor objected to the manner that the proslavery legislature had been elected, Pierce replaced him with a yes-man.

The former postmaster at Westport, MO, proslavery Samuel J. Jones, 36, became the sheriff of Douglas County in that state. To "aid the Sheriff in executing the laws," he brought his "posse" of Lieutenant James McIntosh of the 1st Cavalry (sent by Colonel E. V. Sumner), 10 troops, and a noncommissioned officer, to the chief citadel of antislavery forces in Kansas Territory, Lawrence, in order to arrest the lawyer Samuel Newitt Wood, 29 , on several warrants. Jones arrested six men for whom he had warrants, but Wood had departed already. An assassin shot Jones right below the heart, but the wound was not fatal.

In May, Dr. Charles Robinson, 38, whom antislavery men had elected Governor of Kansas Territory the year before was declared an outlaw, since Wilson Shannon, 54, had been "duly authorized" as the Governor. J. B. Donaldson, a U.S. Marshal, brought a "posse" of about 800 proslavery Missouri men to Lawrence, to carry out orders of a grand jury convened under Kansas Federal Judge Samuel D. Lecompte. The grand jury had indicted Robinson, Wood, James Henry "General Jim" Lane, 42, and several other antislavery men for "constructive treason." Governor Robinson was arrested and held in prison for several months. Several others were arrested, too, but Lane and Wood managed to escape. Donaldson's orders also included the destruction of two antislavery Lawrence newspapers, which the grand jury said should be "abated as nuisances," and that the fortress Free State Hotel be burned down. The posse burned down two structures (the hotel and the house of Governor Robinson, broke up presses, scattered proscribed newspapers, confiscated all weapons they could find, and did considerable other damage, thereby starting the Kansas-Missouri Border War.

Northern newspapers decried this "Sack of Lawrence" in "bleeding Kansas." Meanwhile, other "border ruffians" from Missouri poured into Kansas Territory by the thousands in a move to pack the territorial legislature and get it admitted to the union under Senator Stephen Douglas's "popular sovereignty" notion. The Kansas Territorial Legislature indicted Free Soil leaders for treason. Free Soilers and slavery proponents engaged in pitched battles. (Some of the raids, lootings, lynchings, and murders arose out of claim jumping rather than from the slavery issue, however.)

[ Charles Sumner ] In a Senate debate over the admission of Kansas to the union, tall and imposing, highly educated but cold and humorless Senator Charles Sumner, 45, pictured left, of Massachusetts, a fervent abolitionist, whose reputation as an egotistical fanatic caused his colleagues in the Senate to avoid him and deny him committee appointments, prepared a blistering address called "The Crime Against Kansas," full of stinging and offensive language. (He printed many copies of this address, to be sent to distant cities for publication.) He termed what was happening in Kansas

the rape of a virgin territory, compelling it to the hated embrace of territory.
He characterized the Pierce administration policy in Kansas as tyrannical, imbecilic, absurd, and infamous. He condemned the proslavery men as
hirelings picked from the drunken spew and vomit of an uneasy civilization.
He demanded that Kansas be admitted to the Union at once as a free state.

[ William Henry Seward ] Even fervent abolitionist New York Senator William Henry Seward, 55, pictured right, urged him to tone down his language--in vain. Sumner took 2 days to deliver the spiteful speech, insulting anyone who had disagreed with him--for example--Illinois Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas, the "Little Giant" (5 feet 4 inches tall), 43, the acknowledged leader of the Northern Democrats and the champion of "popular sovereignty," the doctrine that was just then causing Kansas to bleed. Sumner called Douglas the Sancho Panza,

the squire of slavery, ready to do its humiliating offices.
and he further insulted Douglas:
The noisome, squat and nameless animal, to which I now refer, is not a proper model for an American Senator. Will the Senator from Illinois take notice?
[ Stephen Douglas ] When Douglas, pictured here, replied with mild sarcasm, Sumner responded:
Again the Senator has switched his tongue, and again he fills the Senate with its offensive odor!
Calling the Kansas-Nebraska Act a "swindle," Sumner inveighed repeatedly against its author, Douglas, who was heard to mutter:
That damn fool will get himself killed by some other damn fool.
Sumner saved his most insulting vituperation for South Carolina and the well-liked Senator Andrew P. Butler, 62, from that state. He called Butler a Don Quixote whose Dulcinea was "the harlot slavery." He assailed Butler thus:
He has chosen a mistress to whom he has made his vows, and who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight--I mean the harlot, Slavery.
There was an implied double entendre in this, implying miscegenation. Sumner further ridiculed the "incoherent phrases" of Senator Butler. Michigan Senator Lewis Cass, 74, condemned the speech, and Douglas defended Butler as "the venerable, the courteous, the distinguished Senator from South Carolina."

Two days after Sumner's speech, Butler's hot-tempered nephew, Congressman Preston Smith Brooks, 38, approached Sumner while he was writing at his desk in the Senate, which had just adjourned. Not considering Sumner a social equal and therefore not worthy of a challenge to a duel, Brooks determined to chastise the Senator as one would an unruly dog. He waited until a talkative woman in the lobby had left, so that she would be spared the sight of violence. Then he walked up to Sumner's desk.

I have read your speech twice over. It is a libel on South Carolina, and on Mr. Butler, who is a friend of mine.

[ Brooks beating Sumner ]

Brooks then physically assaulted Sumner with an 11-ounce gutta-percha cane, pounding him until the cane broke. Several nearby Senators watched the thrashing without interfering. Brooks later boasted:

I… gave him about thirty first-rate stripes.… Towards the last he bellowed like a calf. I wore my cane out completely but saved the head which is gold.
Sumner was beaten so badly that he fell bleeding to the floor unconscious.

The House of Representatives censured Brooks but could not muster enough votes to expel him. Brooks did resign but was triumphantly reelected. His admirers sent hundreds of canes to him, some of them gold-headed, to replace the one he had broken over Sumner. One of the milder Southern responses was in the Virginia's Petersburg Intelligencer:

Although Mr. Brooks ought to have selected some other spot for the altercation than the Senate chamber, if he had broken every bone in Sumner's carcass it would have been a just retribution upon this slanderer of the South and her individual citizens.
Sumner was forced to leave his seat for 3½ years and go to Europe for painful and costly treatment. He had became a hero and martyr in the North, even among those who did not like abolitionists. The moderately antislavery Illinois State Journal declared:
Brooks and his Southern allies have deliberately adopted the monstrous creed that any man who dares to utter sentiments which they deem wrong or unjust, shall be brutally assailed.
George Templeton Strong, 36, wrote the following in his diary:
News tonight that Charles Sumner of the Senate has been licked by a loaded cane by a certain honorable Carolinian Brooks for his recent rather sophomorical anti-slavery speech. I hold the anti-slavery agitators wrong in principle and mischievous in policy. But the reckless, insolent brutality of our Southern aristocrats may drive me into abolitionism yet.
Massachusetts would defiantly reelect the invalid Sumner, leaving his seat eloquently empty. Free-Soilers in the North condemned the "Bully" Brooks as "uncouth" and "cowardly" and bought tens of thousands copies of Sumner's speech. Southerners were further angered that the intemperate speech was so extravagantly applauded in the North.

[ John Brown ] Meanwhile in Kansas itself, abolitionist and former horse thief John Brown, 56, of Osawatomie, with his sons--Owen Brown, 32, Frederick Brown, 26, Salmon Brown, 20, and Oliver Brown, 17--and two other men--James Townsley, 49, and Theodore Wiener--attacked the rude cabins of proslavery men in the dead of night along Pottawatomie Creek and hacked five of them--William P. Doyle and his two sons, Allen Wilkinson, and "Dutch Henry" Sherman--to death in revenge for the sacking of Lawrence.

When news of the Pottawatomie massacre became known, the Border Times of Westport, MO, shouted "WAR! WAR!" It was a savage, merciless little war: Men would be shot from ambush, or called to their doors and shot down, or hanged without benefit of trial. There were murderous skirmishes at Osawatomie, Black Jack, Franklin, Slough Creek, and Hickory Point. Georgia duelist "Captain" Charles A. Hamelton had five Free Soil men executed before a "firing squad" near the Marais de Cygnes River.

By the end of the year some 200 people had been killed in Kansas. Popular sovereignty had proved a colossal failure.

(The idea of bringing slaves into Kansas was silly at any rate. The slaveowners had a lot of money invested in their human "property" and would not want to take them where bullets were flying (and where the popular sovereignty vote might go against slavery). One wit commented that the entire quarrel over slavery in the territories was about "an imaginary Negro in an impossible place.")

Presidential election of 1856

[ Abraham Lincoln ] The new Republican Party, formed just 2 years before, had become a catch-all for every discontented group of citizens, drawing into its ranks Free-Soilers, antislavery Democrats, Know-Nothings, abolitionists, and many of the leading Whigs. The 6-foot-4-inch-tall, 180-pound, narrow-chested, stoop-shouldered melancholic Abraham Lincoln, 47, pictured here, a committed Illinois Whig, reluctantly accepted the position of delegate from Springfield to an Illinois statewide "anti-Nebraska" convention in Bloomfield (bringing together all those opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Senator Douglas's notion of "popular sovereignty," and any extension of slavery into the territories). The convention had a strong Republican tinge, and old-line Whigs such as Lincoln had shunned the Republicans as radical abolition extremists. But after opening extremist rants responding hysterically to the events in Kansas and in the Senate, Lincoln addressed the assembly with a speech that gave constructive direction to the movement. He called for calmness and moderation, and he predicted that unless the violence in Kansas was halted,
Blood will flow… brother's hand will be raised against brother.
He demanded a restoration of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and referred to Senator Douglas with sarcasm. He asserted that the South was entitled to a "reasonable and efficient" Fugitive Slave Law. He answered a heckler who cried "No!" with:
I say yes! It was part of the bargain… but I will go no further!
He received thunderous applause at this, and he went on, speaking indignantly of the Sack of Lawrence and the Sumner affair but counseling against retaliation.
Let the legions of slavery use bullets; but let us wait patiently until November and fire ballots at them in return.
He spoke passionately about preserving the Union.
We will say to the Southern disunionists, we won't go out of the Union, and you shan't!
The Illinois state "anti-Nebraska" convention cheered him wildly.

[ John Charles Frémont ] At its enthusiastic national convention in Philadelphia the fast-growing Republican Party adopted a sectional platform that guaranteed no Southern support: revival of the 1820 Missouri Compromise and prohibiting the extension of slavery into the territories.(12)

Adapted from and quoted in Bailey et al., op. cit., pp. 332, 425-26. (Close) The Republicans also addressed the issue of polygamy, as practiced by the Mormons:
It is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism--Polygamy and Slavery.
Though Senator "Higher Law" Seward of New York was the most conspicuous Republican leader, the delegates nominated the black-bearded, dashing but erratic Captain John Charles "Pathfinder" Frémont, 43, pictured here, of California and other places. Unfortunately, Lincoln could not enthusiastically support Frémont's impulsiveness, his insubordination, his overgallantry, and his dash. Lincoln received 110 delegate votes for Vice President candidate, but William Lewis Dayton of New Jersey, 49, was ultimately chosen.

[ James Buchanan ] The Democrats held their national convention in Cincinnati. Though weak-kneed President Pierce, who had recognized the pro-slavery legislature in Kansas, sought reelection, the party cast him aside. The dynamic Senator Douglas expected to have the nomination sewed up, but the delegates shied away from him as well. Though the Democratic platform was emphatically for popular sovereignty, both Pierce and Douglas were too much identified with the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act that had institutionalized that notion. The delegates finally settled on the 6-foot-tall, muscular, short-necked and white-haired James "Old Buck" Buchanan of Pennsylvania, 65, pictured here, mediocre and confused, whose role in the 1854 goofball Ostend Manifesto (when he was Ambassador to the United Kingdom) made him appealing to Southerners. He was also without significant enemies (the term used for him was "Kansasless"--that is, free of connection with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, because he had been out of the country as a "diplomat" during the debates and fallout concerning that legislation). John Cabell Breckenridge, 35, of Kentucky was nominated as Buchanan's running mate.

[ Millard Fillmore ] During the preceding year the nativist American Party, derided by outsiders as the Know-Nothings, had held a national convention in which Southern members had gained control and had passed proslavery resolutions. They had also nominated former President Millard Fillmore, 56, pictured here, for President in this year's election. The platform included the following text(13):

Quoted in ibid., p. 306, with context about the campaign from ibid., pp. 425-26. (Close)
Americans must rule America; and to this end, native-born citizens should be selected for all state, federal, or municipal offices of government employment, in preference to naturalized citizens.
The Know-Nothings were alarmed with the recent influx of immigrants from Ireland and Germany. The intense nativist feeling in Baltimore erupted into what became known as the Know-Nothing riots. Neighborhood gangs (Rip Raps, Plug Uglies, and so forth) identified either with the Know Nothings or with the Democrats, most of them operating out of local firehouses, battled on the streets in a series of well-organized, well-planned series of assaults throughout the autumn leading up to the November election, with nearly a score of fatalities.

Except in proslavery Maryland, however, the Know-Nothings, with the proslavery resolutions, fell out of favor in the North. The movement soon collapsed, commemorated in this epitaph by Rufus Choate(14):

Quoted in Morison, op. cit., p. 591. (Close)
Any thing more low, obscene, feculent the manifold heavings of history have not cast up.

The disintegrating Whigs also nominated Fillmore, but they refused to endorse the bigoted Know Nothing platform.

During the national campaign, Senator Seward described the dispute between the North and the South:

It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either an entirely slave-holding nation or entirely a free-labor nation.
Salmon Portland Chase, 48, the Free Soil Democrat Governor of Ohio, made several speeches, as did abolitionist Owen Lovejoy, 45. Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull, 43, left the Democratic Party and joined the Republicans.

Republicans mocked "Old Buck" Buchanan as "Old Fogey" for his reputed stubborn fussiness and as "Doughface" because they were sure he lacked the force of character to stand up against Southern extremists. They also criticized the bland Democrat with typical campaign irrelevancy for being a bachelor: The fiancée of his youth had died after a lover's quarrel.

The Republicans injected into the campaign spiritual overtones, especially over slavery. The foremost religious journal The Independent had considered the nomination of Frémont "the good hand of God" and, as election day neared, declared:

Fellow-Christians! Remember it is for Christ, for the nation, and for the world that you vote at this election! Vote as you pray! Pray as you vote!
With the zeal of crusaders, the Republicans shouted "We follow the Pathfinder!" and "We are Buck hunting!" as well as the slogan
Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, Frémont.
They even organized glee clubs and sang the following to the tune of the "Marseillaise":
Arise, arise ye brave!
And let our war-cry be,
Free speech, free press, free soil, free men,
Frémont and victory!
The Democrats, known as "Buchaneers," sneering at the Republican slogan, were fond of appending "And free love" to it. The Republicans had a tough time with their candidate during this campaign, with the mudslinging typical of all campaigns. Frémont was a bastard (his young mother had left her elderly Virginia planter husband for a romantic French adventurer), and his irregular parentage was counted against him in those Victorian times. Democratic Governor Henry Alexander Wise of Virginia, 50, declared that Frémont was
born illegitimately in a neighboring state, if not ill begotten in this very city.… Tell me if the hoisting of the black flag over you by a Frenchman's bastard, with the arms of civil war already clashing, is not to be deemed an overt act and a declaration of war?
Frémont was also alleged to be a Roman Catholic, and this alienated possible Know-Nothing and nativist support (mostly already committed to Fillmore). There were, in addition, grave doubts as to Frémont's honesty, capacity, and sound judgment. Probably much more significant were the threats of Southern "fire-eaters" that the election of any section "Black Republican" would be considered a declaration of war on the South, a reason for them to secede from the Union. When independent Virginia Whig John M. Botts called this an idle threat, an editorial in the Richmond Enquirer suggested that he leave the state lest he
provoke the disgrace of lynching.
Many Northern businessmen, with profitable investments in the South, were sufficiently intimidated by the secession threat into supporting Buchanan.

[ William Lloyd Garrison ] Southerners may have identified Republicans with abolitionists, but many Republicans and many radical abolitionists repudiated the connection. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, 51, pictured here, refused to vote for Frémont. Wendell Phillips, 45, declared:

I want no man for President… who has not got his hand half-clenched, and means to close it on the jugular vein of the slave system.
Garrison had been crying the treasonous, secessionist
No Union with slave holders!
and Phillips topped that with:
Treason? Treason runs in the blood that flowed on Bunker Hill!

To nearly everyone's surprise, the Republicans carried every Northern and Western state, except California (where Frémont was well known and not so well loved), Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. The final vote was: Buchanan 174 electoral votes (1,838,169 popular votes, less than a majority but still enough to win handily); Frémont 114 electoral votes (1,341,264 popular votes); Know-Nothing Fillmore, with only one state (Maryland, home of the Know-Nothing riots), 8 electoral votes (876,534 popular votes [21% of the total]). Buchanan's running mate, Breckenridge, was elected Vice President.

Both the Whigs and the Know Nothings disappeared as parties; most of their adherents became Republicans. The Republican Party, only 2 years old, had made an astonishing showing, Poet John Greenleaf Whittier, 48, who this year published The Panorama, including "Barefoot Boy" and "Maud Miller," exulted:

Then sound again the bugles,
Call the muster-roll anew;
If months have well-nigh won the field,
What may not four years do?

The 35th Congress was elected as well as the President and Vice President, to begin serving in the coming year.

Arts and culture in America: Other Specifics

Boston historian Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, 52, published A Chronological History of the United States (probably shorter than these Web pages, since she didn't have to go past 1856); and historian John Lothrop Motley, 42, published The Rise of the Dutch Republic, full of sharp characterizations based on masses of detail, especially in his depiction of Philip II of Spain, his archvillain.

Congress enacted copyright protection for dramatists, thereby stimulating several new plays.

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, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Harper's Weekly, Yale Literary Magazine, Knickerbocker Magazine, Spirit of the Times, National Police Gazette, and Scientific American.

Otterbein College student Benjamin Russell Hanby released "Darling Nelly Gray," sympathizing with the plight of slaves; the song became popular right away. The song "Gentle Annie," by Stephen Collins Foster, 29, was also released and became popular. Other popular songs included "Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming" (also by Foster), "Old Folks at Home" (also by Foster), "Massa's in de Cold Cold Ground" (also by Foster), "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair" (also by Foster), "Camptown Races" (also by Foster), "Oh! Susanna" (also by Foster), "Listen to the Mockingbird," "Jim Crack Corn" (also known as "Blue Tail Fly"), "Buffalo Gals," "Old Dan Tucker," "Turkey in the Straw," and "Amazing Grace."

The Christy Minstrels of showman Edwin Pearce Christy, 41, 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(15):

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

Science and technology in America: Specifics

H. L. Lipman received a patent for a pencil with an eraser attached; Moses Farmer, 36, discovered a commercially feasible method for using electrolysis to coat metal objects; and inventor David E. Hughes patented a printing telegraph.

The World at Large in 1856

Aggressive, "fire-eating" Southerners, including some in the cabinet of President Pierce, were determined to be compensated for the closing of the Mexican Cession to slavery by acquiring more distant slave territory through imperialistic Manifest Destiny adventures at the expense of Latin America. In fact, they were dreaming of a distinct slavery-friendly nation separate from the Yankees in the North. During this year a Texan proposed the following toast, which was drunk with gusto:

To the Southern republic bounded on the north by the Mason and Dixon line and on the South by the Isthmus of Tehauntepec [southern Mexico], including Cuba and all other lands on our Southern shore.(16) Quoted in Bailey et al., op.cit., p. 412. (Close)

Nicaragua adventure

Freebooter filibusterer and soldier of fortune William Walker, 32, the "Gray-Eyed Man of Destiny," was determined to conquer Nicaragua. He was receiving continued backing and funding from banker Cornelius K. Garrison and ship owner Charles Morgan (who were battling the piratical-minded, foghorn-voiced shipping magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt (van Derbilt), 62, to gain control of Vanderbilt's profitable Accessory Transit Corporation, which had been transporting California-bound Argonauts [Forty-Niners] across the Isthmus). From his base at León where he had the support of Nicaraguan rebel "Democratists," Walker and his La Falange Americana, which included Californians interested in Nicaragua's beautiful women as well as Southerners interested in expanding slavery-friendly territory, had attempted to capture the government "Legitimist" stronghold of Rigas; he had been repulsed--but not defeated. Now he sacked Grenada, the Legitimist capital of Nicaragua. He "unified" the nation and in May gained U.S. recognition of his regime. He was "elected" its "President" (actually dictator) in July.

One of Walker's first acts was to revoke, by decree, Nicaragua's 30-year-old prohibition against slavery, much to the delight of slave owners in the U.S. South. One Southern newspaper proclaimed that Walker

now offers Nicaragua to you and your slaves, at a time when you have not a friend on the face of the earth.(17) Quoted in ibid. (Close)
Then Walker seized the Legitimist aristocrats' large estates and mines. His agenda was clearly a Central American military empire based on slave labor, agricultural development, and a cross-isthmus canal.

[ Queen Victoria ] Queen Victoria, 37, pictured here, signed a Royal Warrant establishing the Victoria Cross, awarded "For Valour" as the United Kingdom's highest military decoration.

Crimean War veterans introduced cigarettes (generally considered effete and effeminate) at London clubs. Veteran Robert Gloag set up a cigarette factory in London.

A 13½-ton bell named "Big Ben" (after Sir Benjamin Hall, Director of Public Works) was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and installed at the Houses of Parliament.

Joseph Tetley & Company, Wholesale Tea Dealers, opened in Mincing Lane in London.

Architects enlarged the 20-year-old Buckingham Palace with a new south wing and a 110-foot-long ballroom.

English tailor Thomas Burberry of Basingstoke introduced the Burberry raincoat, made of water-repellant fabric.

London merchant David Lewis founded Lewis's Ltd. of Liverpool, handling nearly half of all British shipping, including twice that of London itself.

The boundary between France and Spain was precisely defined.

Johann C. Fuhrott discovered the remains of a prehistoric man, including his skull, In the Neanderthal Valley near Düsseldorf in Germany. French surgeon Paul Broca, 32, insisted that the skull was from an early form of man, but Berlin physician Rudolf Virchow, 35, countered that the skull was from a prehistoric man with bone disease or some congenital skull malformation.

Frankfurter Zeitung began publication in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany.

A 40-tunnel railroad through the Black Forest began operation in Germany.

The Crédit Suisse bank was founded in Zurich.

Architect Heinrich, Freiherr von Ferstal, 28, began construction of the Votivkirche in Vienna, which would be completed in 23 years.

The Austrian government offered amnesty for the rebels of 1848-49.

The Hapsburg Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, 26, visited Lombardy and Venice and appointed his brother Archduke Maximilian, 24, governor of those provinces.

Giovanni Buitoni opened a new pasta factory at Citta di Castello in Umbria in Italy.

A new 2,200-seat opera house for the Bolshoi Theater opened on Petrovsky Street in Moscow.

Crimean War

In response to Austria's ultimatum issued the preceding year to officially join the Allies if Russia refused to accept the peace terms that had been proffered to it, Russia in February did agree to the terms at Vienna. With the Congress of Paris the following month, Russia agreed to the neutralization of the Black Sea. Russia ceded the mouth of the Danube and part of Bessarabia. The Danubian Principalities (modern-day Rumania) were placed under the joint guarantee of the European powers. The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) was admitted to the Concert of Europe, and the integrity of the empire was recognized.

Austrian, French, and British ambassadors to Constantinople forced the Ottoman Turks to make sweeping reforms. Sultan Abdul Mejid guaranteed the rights (life, honor, and property) of his Christian subjects. The civil power of Christian church heads was abolished. Torture was also abolished, prisons were reformed, freedom of conscience was guaranteed, and all civil offices were open to all citizens. Christians were now liable for military service, but they could purchase exemptions. Foreigners could acquire property under certain circumstances.

British expansion (contraction?) into central Asia

Persian forces directed by Nasir Ud-den seized Herat in Afghanistan. The United Kingdom declared war on Persia.

British expansion into India

The United Kingdom annexed Oudh, west of Lucknow, in India.

English engineer James John Berkley, 37, completed the Bombay-Calcutta-Madras-Nagpur Railway.

The United States and France each negotiated a commercial treaty with King Rama IV (Phra Chom Klao Mongkut), 52, of Siam, giving the Westerners the right to establish consuls and to trade throughout the kingdom.

In Egypt, German scientist Theodore Bilharz, 31, identified the worm parasite that produces liver and kidney malfunctions in the deadly snail-fever disease chistosomiasis (also named bilharzia in his honor).

British expansion into Africa

The United Kingdom made Natal in South Africa a separate crown colony.

Bantu prophets convinced fellow tribesmen to sacrifice their cattle to invoke legendary heroes who would drive out the Europeans; after they slaughtered the cattle, some two-thirds of the Bantu population starved to death.

Boers in South Africa established the South African Republic (Transvaal), with Pretoria as its capital. Marthinus Wessels Pretorius, 37, became the President.

T'ai P'ing Rebellion, with British and French imperialism

Kwangsi Province mystic Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, 44, proclaiming himself the younger brother of Jesus Christ as well as the T'in-wang ("Heavenly Prince," effectively the Emperor of China) of the so-called T'ai P'ing ("Great Peace") dynasty, continued his rebellion, 6 years old so far, against the government of China's Manchu dynasty. Because imperial troops had withdrawn from Anhuei, North Kiangsu, and Shantung provinces in order to cope with the T'ai P'ing rebels, bandits there under the name Nien Fei continued their campaign of plunder, now 3 years old. British and French forces besieged and seized Canton, thereby precipitating a new Anglo-Chinese war.

Townsend Harris, 52, the U.S. envoy to Japan had a calf butchered for him while he awaited official ceremonial recognition at Shimoda--the first time this had ever happened in Japan. He also had a cow milked for him, to the amazement of the local population.

The British colony Victoria in Australia was granted self-government.

Australian journalists John and Henry Cooke sold their 2-year old Melbourne Age to Ebenezer Syme for £2,000, and Syme's brother David began to transform the paper into one of the world's leading dailies.

Victoria contended with New South Wales in the first Australian interstate cricket match.

James Kelly and Jack Smith contended in a bare-knuckle boxing match in Melbourne, Australia, for 186 rounds, lasting 6 hours and 15 minutes.

The British colony of Tasmania was granted self-government.

Scots immigrant to Australia James Harrison invented an ether compressor that could make ice mechanically and produce beer even in hot weather.

World science and technology

English engineer Henry Bessemer, 42, was able to produce low-cost steel by removing the carbon from melted pig iron with a blast of cold air, turning the carbon into carbon dioxide; and Anglo-German scientist Friedrich Siemens, 30, patented a metallurgic heat regeneration process for smelting, enabling the development of the open-hearth process.

English chemist Sir William Henry Perkin, 18, working as an assistant to German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann, 38, patented his method for making the synthetic dye mauve (the first dye ever made from anything other than a berry, a root, or bark.

English physicist and chemist Sir William Crookes shared his studies of cathode rays; German physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz, 35, published Manual of Physiological Optics; and German botanist Nathanael Pringsheim, 33, observed sperm entering ova in plants, thereby enlarging human understanding of the reproductive process. Russian mathematician Nikolai I. Lobachevsky died at the age of 63.

World philosophy and religion

German philosopher Rudolf Herman Lotze, 39, publshed Mikrokosmos. French philosopher Augustin Thierry died at the age of 61.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English clergyman-novelist Charles Kingsley, 37, the rector of Eversley in Hampshire, published the satiric "A Farewell," containing the line
Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever.
Dramatist-novelist Charles Reade, 42, published It's Never Too Late to Mend, detailing torture and other abuses in British prisons; historian James Anthony Froude, 38, published History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Armada; and artist John Everett Millais, 27, unveiled his The Blind Girl.

World arts and culture

French historian and critic Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, 28, published Les Philosophes classiques du XIXe siècle en France; French aristocrat historian Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clarel de Tocqueville, 56, published L'Ancien régime et la révolution; German scholar Theodor Goldstücker, 35, published Sanskrit Dictionary; German Romantic poet Eduard Friedrich Mörike, 52, published Mozart auf der Reise nach Prag; Swiss author Gottfried Keller, 37, published Die Leute von Seldwyla; Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, 28, produced The Banquet at Solhaug; French novelist Edmond François Valentin About, 28, published Le Roi des montagnes; Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, 38, published Rudin; and French lexicographer Pierre Larousse, 39, published Nouveau Dictionnaire de la Langue Française. French poet Victor Marie Hugo, 54, published the poetic Les Contemplations in grief over the drowning death of his daughter 13 years earlier. German poet Heinrich Heine died at the age of 59.

French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 76, unveiled La Source.

French composer Louis-Aimé Maillart, 39, produced the opera Les Dragons de Villars in Paris; and Russian composer Aleksandr Sergeyevich Dargomyzhsky, 43, produced the opera Rusalka in St. Petersburg. German composer Robert Schumann died at the age of 46 in an asylum, where he had been committed 2 years earlier after attempting suicide by jumping from a bridge over the Rhine.

Berlin pianomaker Carl Bechstein, 30, introduced the Bechstein piano.


The copyrighted material cited on this page comes under the definition of "Fair Use."

See also the general sources.