Christ's Lutheran Church in 1870

[ Christ's Church on the Sawkill ]

Pastor Hiram Wheeler, replaced during this year by William I. Cutter (who had been the church's pastor a little over a decade earlier), 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).

[ Beer's Atlas map of Woodstock ]

Above is a map of the Woodstock village, published just a few years later, showing the Church on the Rocks on the east side of town, just north of current Route 212 (known then as simply Saugerties Road) and north of the Sawkill. It is identified simply as "LUTH. CH." (To enlarge the view, click it.)

According to a later reminiscence(1),

Quoted from Moseman, Magda, and Anderson, Mark, eds., Perspectives and Patterns: Christ's Lutheran Church, 1806-1976 [Woodstock, NY: self-published monograph, 1976], itself citing Nathaniel M. Nash in 1906. (Close) the church owned no parsonage. The pastor
lived in rented rooms wherever they could be procured, sometimes several miles away.
Possibly in this year (1870), the bell cracked and became unusable. It was during either this year or the next that C. L. Shufelt, a member of the Dutch Reformed Church in the village, led the Union Bible School for our congregation.

The Woodstock Region in 1870

Regional historian Alf Evers cited the reminiscences of Byron "Bide" Snyder, whose father had a store in town, about local Woodstock life at this time(2):

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, pp. 267-68, citing Snyder, Byron, recollections in the Woodstock Weekly, 1924. (Close)
The store [of my father], the tavern and the blacksmith shop were the social centers of the town. The country store at Woodstock would be a curiosity.… There were two hotels or taverns as they were called.… In the winter the town "holed up." The so-called roads were blocked with snow for months. In the spring there were merely seas of mud.

There was an old legend of a tin peddler, an extinct race who attempted to come to Woodstock in the spring. He had just crossed the little bridge below the schoolhouse [on the site of the present CVS] when man, horse, wagon and tinsmith sank out of sight in the mud. I have heard some of the oldtimers solemnly swear that on certain days one could distinctly hear the rattle of tinware every time a horse and wagon passed over the spot. Be that true or not there were days and days when the frost was going out in the spring that no one could get to Kingston on account of the hub-deep mud.

Kingston newspaper editor A. W. Hoffman commented on the denuding of the hemlock groves in the Catskills:

[The] prostrate trunks and branches of the hemlocks glistened white in the autumn sunlight, like the bleaching bones of some army of giants fallen in mighty combat upon the hillsides. And indeed the huge hemlocks had fallen in battle--the battle being carried on by Man, the ruthless destroyer of Nature, in his reckless and, as in this case, short-sighted scramble for wealth.(3) De Lisser, Richard Lionel, Picturesque Ulster, Saugerties, NY: Hope Farm Press & Bookshop, 1896, 1998, p. 185, citing Hoffman, A. W., "The Passing of the Hemlock," 1870. (Close)
Hoffman went on to explain that the trees had been slaughtered by men who were interested only in the bark that covered the lower part of the trunk--bark necessary for tanning hides into leather--the rest could be thrown away.

A Pennsylvania coal miner came to Woodstock, and with the help of some young Bearsville men

worked a vein of coal on the southern bounds of Byrdcliffe. [Coal] of good size and quality was mined but not in sufficient quantities to pay.(4) From Evers, Woodstock, op. cit., p. 144, citing Zimm, Bruno Louis, "Some History and Traditions of Mines in Woodstock," Publications of the Woodstock Historical Society, no. 7, July 1932, pp. 7-13. (Close)
By then, prospectors were exploring the Woodstock area for not only coal but also oil and gas.

Construction continued on the new Rondout & Oswego Railroad (the R&O), intended to extend from Kingston by way of the Esopus Valley and Pine Hill toward an ultimate objective of Lake Ontario. The route dared the sometimes-flooding Esopus Creek, worked its way up the steep Pine Hill in a series of exciting curves, and then moved down into Delaware County. Even before the railroad was officially open, it had been carrying freight. Open cars were now hauling lumber from forests heretofore untouched. In May, the first scheduled passenger train went from Kingston to the West Hurley station. A little later, passengers could get as far as the station named Longyear's (present-day Mount Pleasant) in honor of the one of the railroad's principal directors, Isaac W, Longyear.

A corporation was formed to take up where Isaac N. Secor of New York City and New Rochelle had left off (by inconveniently dying) in the plan to build a hotel atop Woodstock's Overlook Mountain, a hotel that would outshine the Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove, because of its higher elevation and its more breathtaking views. And also, of course, because it would be more accessible: Visitors would be able to debark from the R&O Railroad at the West Hurley station and make a short stagecoach trip to reach the hotel. Stockholders included Woodstock hotel owner William Brinkerhoff, Assemblyman Charles H. Krack, New Englander George Mead, and several local men--a butcher, a grocer, and dealers in hardware, paint, and lumber. Krack owned a floating bathhouse on the East River in New York City. Mead already operated a small summer boardinghouse halfway up Overlook, and his place could be used as a refreshment stop for guests and horses. Designer and builder Lewis B. Van Wagonen began construction, enlarging the existing modest shelter that had stood there for years.

There were a large number of huge woodworking factories in the Catskills, turning out tremendous volume. Some of them were "stock factories," making parts wholesale; others made wooden bowls, wooden legs, rolling pins, policemen's billy clubs, little wooden pharmacy boxes, and porch pillars and balusters. These factories were shipping large orders of hardwood products to Europe, the West Indies, Central America, and South America.

The export trade in cane-seated chairs and in rocking cradles was very important. The furniture factory of Lemuel Chichester (son of Hunter furniture baron Samuel Chichester) in the factory town named for him produced up to 3,600 chairs and 900 rocking cradles per week. Hiram Whitney was also manufacturing chairs on a large scale in the Shandaken Valley.

Some operations were small, however: The Vosburgh brothers in Woodstock ran a small handicraft "turning mill" and would make anything to order.

William Smith and Andrew Smith of Poughkeepsie, known as the "Smith Brothers," who had for the preceding 23 years been selling good-tasting cough drops to passengers on the stagecoaches between New York City and Albany that stopped in Poughkeepsie, at last patented Smith Brothers Cough Drops, with their bearded faces as the trademark (William as "Trade" and Andrew as "Mark"). Daily production of the cough drops jumped from 5 pounds to 5 tons.

Painter John F. Kensett of the Hudson River School exhibited Storm Over Lake George, famous for its color gradations; and painter Homer Martin of the same school exhibited Lake Sanford.

[ Sojourner Truth ] Former New Paltz and Hurley slave Isabella Bomefree Van Wagenen, now an abolitionist itinerant preacher residing in Michigan and known as Sojourner Truth, 73, pictured here, addressed white audiences in Northern states on religion, on Negro and women's rights, and on temperance.

The United States in 1870

[ Ulysses S. Grant ]

Ulysses S. Grant, 48 (Republican), was President. The 41st Congress was in session. (The midterm elections that year would elect the 42nd Congress.) A dollar in that year would be worth $14.11 in 2006 for most consumable products. The amount of money per capita in circulation was $19.42 ($274.02 in 2006 dollars).

The seven-member Supreme Court declared the 1862 Legal Tender Act unconstitutional, thereby making illegal the 18-year-old Congress-authorized legal-tender bank note, called the "greenback" or "folding money," whose gold value had continuously depreciated under a cloud of dubious legality and popular distrust. This decision was welcomed by "hard money" supporters--bankers, creditors, and business owners--who wanted the "battle-born currency" to disappear from circulation. The decision was denounced by the far more numerous "cheap-money" supporters--agrarian and debtor groups. With the concurrence of the Senate, President Grant augmented ("packed") the Supreme Court bench with two additional justices who could be counted on to help reverse that decision.

The U.S. population was 39.8 million, of whom 4.9 million were freed Negroes and 2.3 million were immigrants who had arrived within the previous 10 years. The population had increased nearly 27% from a decade earlier; the immigrant tide had augmented the native births to more than compensate for the bloody losses of the Civil War. The United States was now the third most populous nation in the world, ranking behind Russia and France.

Immigrants from the British Isles and western Europe (especially Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany)--the so-called "Old Immigrants," most of them boasting a comparatively high level of literacy and accustomed to some level of representative government, who were either Protestant (most of them) or Catholic, were arriving during this decade at an average annual rate of 159,300. The "New Immigrants," those from southern and eastern Europe (especially Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia), largely illiterate and impoverished, who tended to be either Catholic, Orthodox, or Jewish and who had little experience with representative government, were arriving at an annual rate of 18,100--11% of the Old Immigrants' rate. The New Immigrants huddled together in large cities, such as New York City and Chicago.

American cities were now growing rapidly, most of the growth resulting from immigration from abroad (augmented by considerable immigration from domestic farms). American government at all levels was not well suited to urban swelling and did little or nothing to ease the assimilation of immigrants into society, and municipal governments especially were totally inadequate to the task. It was left to the urban political machines, run by "bosses," to minister to the needs of the new arrivals. Jobs on the city payroll, housing, food, clothing, medical care, and legal help were cynically distributed in exchange for votes and other forms of political loyalty.

There were 63,199 Chinese in the United States, only 1% of them having been born in the country. There were 13 male Chinese for every female. The total number who had immigrated from China in the preceding decade was 64,301.

Only 2% of Americans 17 years and older were high school graduates; 67% of children between 5 and 17 were students. During this year, about 16,000 Americans graduated from high school, 9,371 from college. One of every five Americans was illiterate.

The U.S. canning industry, employing barely 600 workers, put up 30 million cans, a 600-percent increase from a decade before.

Serious epidemics of yellow fever, smallpox, typhus, and cholera killed thousands in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Memphis, and New Orleans.

A U.S.-British convention for the suppression of the African slave trade was concluded in June.

Reconstruction and reaction

Military rule authorized by the 3-year-old harsh Reconstruction Acts finally ended in the South. The remaining four former Confederate states under military control were finally readmitted to the Union: Virginia (from Military District I, under the command of General John McAllister Schofield, 49), Mississippi (from Military District IV, under the command of General Edward Otho Cresap Ord, 51), Texas (from Military District V, under the command of General Winfield Scott Hancock, 46), and (for the second time) Georgia (from Military District III, under the command of General John Pope, 48). Each of these states, and each of the former rebel state that had been readmitted over the previous couple of years, had Republican state governments and Congressional delegations--except for Virginia, which had installed a white-supremacist "Redeemer," or "Home Rule" Democratic regime the preceding year, and North Carolina, which installed a Redeemer government during this year.

Even without official military rule, however, there were still 6,600 Union troops stationed in the South, down from 15,000 3 years earlier.

An Englishman visiting the South was horrified by the devastation he saw there(5):

Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 482. (Close)
[The entire Tennessee Valley consists] for the most part of plantations in a state of semi-ruin, and plantations of which the ruin is for the present total and complete.… The trail of war is visible throughout the valley in burnt up [cotton] gin-houses, ruined bridges, mills, and factories, of which latter the gable walls only are left standing, and in large tracts of once cultivated land stripped of every vestige of fencing. The roads long neglected, are in disorder, and, having in many places become impassable, new tracks have been made through the woods and fields without much respect to boundaries.… Borne down by losses, debts, and accumulating taxes, many who were once the richest among their fellows have disappeared from the scene, and few have yet risen to take their places.
In Virginia,
from Harper's Ferry to New Market…the country was almost a desert.… The barns were all burned; a great many of the private dwellings were burned; chimneys standing without houses, and houses standing without roofs.
As for Charleston:
Never had a completer ruin fallen upon any city than fell upon Charleston.
In North Georgia there was
a degree of destitution that would draw pity from a stone.

[ William Lloyd Garrison ] Secretary of State Hamilton Fish proclaimed the ratification, by 29 states, of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which the 41st Congress had passed the year before, forbidding the right to vote to be abridged because of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude," giving the right to vote to black men but not to black women. William Lloyd Garrison, 65, pictured here, applauded the ratification(6):

From "Transwiki: American History Primary Sources Reconstruction and the New South," Wikiquote (part of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.), at _Primary_Sources_Reconstruction _and_the_New_South, accessed 7 April 2007. (Close)
This wonderful, quiet, sudden transformation of four millions of human beings from… the auction-block to the ballot-box.

Here was the reaction of the Oregon legislature to the Fifteenth Amendment, which it had refused to ratify(7):

The reaction of Oregonians to the Fifteenth Amendment is excerpted from Taylor, Dr. Quintard, Jr., "History 101: Survey of the History of the United States--Manual, Chapter 4, Civil War and Reconstruction" (Seattle: University of Washington), citing McLagan, Elizabeth, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 (Portland, 1980), pp. 68-74, taken from, accessed 31 January 2007. (Close)
[The Amendment is] an infringement on popular rights and a direct falsification of the pledges made to the state of Oregon by the federal government.
Nonetheless, a state Supreme Court decision that year, involving two black men, C. H. Yates and W. S. Ford, who had voted in the election of a county commissioner in Wasco County, did affirm the right of black men to vote. The Oregonian ran an editorial which admitted:
There are but a few colored men in Oregon, and their political influence cannot be great. But these here are, as a rule, quiet, industrious and intelligent citizens. We cannot doubt they will exercise intelligently the franchise with which they are newly invested.
Oregonians realized that federal civil rights legislation had to be acknowledged, if not endorsed; blacks were granted civil rights under the terms imposed by the federal government, without the endorsement of the state legislature. (The Fifteenth Amendment itself was finally ratified by the centennial legislature of 1959.)

The Olympia Commercial Age in Washington Territory outlined its position on black voting by publishing a long letter on the subject from one of its local readers(8):

From ibid., citing the Olympia Commercial Age, March 26, 1870. (Close)
Although the Fifteenth Amendment does not particularly affect us in this Territory, as the colored folks have been voters among us for sometime already, yet it will be a matter of much importance in both Oregon and California. The following from an exchange contains much truth and will prove of interest to many of our readers:
The number of colored men whose right to vote will be established by the Fifteenth Amendment is estimated at 850,000. Of these 790,000 are in the South, 41,000 in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana; 7,500 in New England, and 8,500 in the remaining Western States. These statistics we find in the [Baltimore] Sun, and assume that they are approximately accurate.

These 850,000 black men may perhaps hold the balance of power between the two political parties in the next presidential election and for a long time to come. If the Democratic party persists in its long-time inveterate hostility to the negro, some of the closely-divided states will in all probability be insured to the Republicans by the negro vote. Among these states we may mention Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Ohio. But will the Democratic party be so stupid as to drive these new voters en masse into the Republican fold? We doubt it. On the contrary, we expect to see that party making special efforts to win these voters--enough of them, at least, to divide their strength. But, if the Republicans are true to themselves and their principles, they will have a decided advantage over their opponents in this struggle--at least, so far as the more intelligent of the negroes are concerned.

The negroes know, of course, that they owe their enfranchisement to the Republican party, while they have every reason for regarding the other party with aversion and distrust. But they cannot all be expected to take the highest view of their obligations as citizens; and many of them, will, no doubt, be ready to fall into the snares which unscrupulous Democrats will be sure to lay in their path. The Republicans, moreover, are by no means all saints, nor all entirely exempt from the spirit of estate. Mean men in this party, as in the other, will, no doubt, continue to behave shabbily toward the new-made voters, thus helping the Democrats to "divide that they may conquer." It will be a happy day for the country when the people shall no more care to inquire whether a voter or a candidate for office is white or black than whether he is tall or short.

It would be several decades before the loyalty of blacks to the Republicans could be undermined, and racist whites in the South would be solidly Democratic for almost a century after this editorial. The "happy day" forecast by the editorial has not yet dawned.

Blacks in Montana Territory wrote the following letter to the editor of the Helena Daily Herald(9):

From ibid., citing the Helena Daily Herald, April 15, 1870. (Close)
We, the colored citizens of Helena, feeling desirous of showing our high appreciation of those God-like gifts granted to us by and through the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and knowing, as we do, that those rights which have been withheld from us, are now submerged and numbered with the things of the past, now thank God, is written and heralded to the wide world that we are free men and citizens of the United States--shorn of all those stigmatizing qualifications which have made us beasts. To-day, thank God, and the Congress of the United States, that we, the colored people of the United States, possess all those rights which God, in His infinite wisdom, conveyed and gave unto us.

Now, we, the citizens of Helena, in the Territory of Montana, in mass assembled, on the 14th of April, A.D. 1870, do, by these presents, declare our intentions of celebrating the ratification of the 15th Amendment, on this 15th day of April, by the firing of thirty-two guns, from the hill and to the south of the city.

J.R. JOHNSON, Secretary

Many of the newly freed blacks moved from the plantations to work in cities and towns of the South, where they were protected and where they enjoyed mutual assistance from existing black communities. The church became a focus of community life, and black churches grew robustly. For example, the black Baptist Church now had 500,000 members, a 330% increase in two decades, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church now had 400,000, a 400% increase during the same period. These churches gave rise to other benevolent, fraternal, mutual aid societies.

Some self-improvement societies were raising funds to purchase land, construct schoolhouses, and hire teachers, enabling the newly freed to learn how to read and write. White women sent by the American Missionary Association volunteered as teachers.

The newly enfranchised Southern black men were now organizing politically, particularly through the Union League: Northern blacks assisted former slaves to form a network of political clubs to teach civic duties, to campaign for Republican candidates, to represent black grievances before employers and government bureaucracies, and to recruit militias to protect black communities from white retaliation. Black men and women organized parades and rallies, and they assembled mass meetings in the newly constructed black churches. Black men were participating with whites to formulate the new constitutions that provided for universal adult male suffrage regardless of race. Blacks were now holding political office in the South, including in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hiram Rhoades Revels, 43, a black Republican who had been educated at Knox College and had been pastor of a Baltimore church before the war and had served as chaplain to a black regiment, was elected to the U.S. Senate from Mississippi, to fill the seat once held by Jefferson Davis. J. H. Rainey, another black Republican, was elected to the House of Representatives from South Carolina.

The 5-year-old Freedmen's Bureau had its greatest success in teaching literacy to thousands of blacks, particularly those who wanted to read the Bible. In one North Carolina elementary class four generations sat together. By this year, free public education for all children (although in racially separate schools) had been established throughout the South.

In other areas, however, the accomplishments of the bureau were less than stellar. It had been authorized to settle former slaves on 40-acre tracts confiscated from plantations, hardly any land was given to blacks. Local administrators actually collaborated with planters in cajoling town blacks to sign labor contracts to work on plantations. (Without capital, the blacks had little to offer but their labor, and thousands of them, along with thousands of landless poor whites, became sharecropper farmers--essentially serfs, slaves to the soil and to their creditors.) Nonetheless, white Southerners resented the Freedmen's Bureau as a threat to their dominance.

Northerners, called "carpetbaggers," and Southerners, called "scalawags," had joined the Republican Party to carry out the congressional Reconstruction program in the South, sometimes meddling in the region's political affairs for their own benefit. The Republican regimes in the former Confederacy introduced some badly needed reforms: streamlining tax systems, launching public works, guaranteeing property rights for women, and establishing adequate public schools. Some of these governments were ridden with graft, however--especially in Louisiana and South Carolina, where unscrupulous promoters used naïve blacks as pawns. Such governments would, for example, purchase "stationery" as "legislative supplies," consisting of suspenders, bonnets, corsets, perfumes, hams, perfumes--even a coffin. One "thrifty" carpetbag governor "saved" $100,000 from his $8,000 salary ($1.9 million from $155,000 in 2006 dollars). According to historian John Garraty(10):

Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 436, citing Coulter, E. M., The South During Reconstruction (1947). (Close)
Legislators paid themselves large salaries and surrounded themselves with armies of useless, incompetent clerks. Half the budget of Louisiana in some years went for salaries and "mileage" for representatives and their staffs.… Large sums were appropriated for the building of imposing state capitols and other less-than-essential buildings. As for corruption, in The South During Reconstruction Professor E. Merton Coulter has described dozens of defalcations of various sorts that occurred during these years. One Arkansas Negro took $9,000 ($174,780 in 2006 dollars) from the state for repairing a bridge that had cost only $500 ($9,710) to build. A South Carolina legislator was voted an additional $1,000 in salary ($19,420) after he had lost that sum on a horse race. A judge in Louisiana contrived to sell a state-owned railroad worth several million for $50,000 ($971,000).
Notably, this sort of corruption was by no means confined to the South; it was happening in all levels of government all over the country during this "Era of Good Stealing." Also, in Mississippi fraud was almost nonexistent during the period that blacks participated in public affairs. In any event, historians have agreed that white thieves in the South got the "loaf," leaving only crumbs for crooked blacks.

Dangerously defiant white Southerners cursed the "damnyankees" and referred to the federal government as "your government." Here is the Reverend Robert Lewis Dabney of Virginia on the Yankees(11):

From "Transwiki," op. cit. (Close)
I do not forgive. I try not to forgive. What! Forgive these people, who have invaded our country, burned our cities, destroyed our homes, slain our young men, and spread desolation and ruin over our land! No, I do not forgive them.
Persisting in their conviction that their view of secession was the correct one and that the "lost cause" was a just war, these Southerners admitted of no crime in their rebellion. Here were the words to a popular song:
Oh, I'm a good old rebel,
Now that's just what I am:
For the "fair land of freedom"
I do not care a dam.
I'm glad I fit against it--
I only wish we'd won,
And I don't want no pardon
For anything I done.
The unreconstructed Southern whites were particularly incensed at the idea of former slaves holding political office.

With muffled horse hooves, the besheeted night riders of the 5-year-old "Invisible Empire" of the white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan, directed by its Grand Wizard, former slave trader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, 49, continued to break up black prayer meetings and invade black homes at night to steal firearms. The group was formally dedicated to resist Reconstruction and all activities of the Republican Party. Determined to force blacks to "keep in their place," they terrorized, flogged, mutilated, and murdered "upstart" ex-slaves and carpetbaggers. Here were some verses from one of their terrifying broadsides, including the carpetbagger Union League in its list of enemies:

Niggers and Leaguers, get out of the way.
We're born of the night and we vanish by day.
No rations have we but the flesh of man--
And love niggers best--the Ku Klux Klan:
We catch 'em alive and roast 'em whole,
Then hand 'em around with a sharpened pole.
Whole Leagues have been eaten, not leaving a man,
And went away hungry--the Ku Klux Klan.
Any scoundrel could don a sheet; the Klan was a refuge for several bloodthirsty bandits and cutthroats.

The 41st Congress responded to the outrage of such lawlessness by passing the Force Act, authorizing federal troops to stamp out Klan activity. The Invisible Empire went underground, however, continuing its tactics to flout the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments while disguised as a "missionary society" or a "dancing club" or a "rifle club."

The formerly seceded states at last produced a cotton crop as large as the one of 1860, most of the yield coming from new acreage in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. In fact, the yield for the country as a whole was now up to 4.03 million bales annually, up 15 percent from a decade previously. The New York Cotton Exchange was founded by 100 firms, including the 25-year-old Lehman Brothers of Mobile, AL, and with Mayer Lehman, 40, on the Board of Governors.

Confederate General Robert Edward Lee died at the age of 63.

In the unfamiliar era of big money following the Civil War, corruption flourished. Except in attitudes toward the vanquished South, the victorious Northerners believed in a policy of governmental noninterference with laissez faire business. Harvard professor Francis Bowen summed it up in his American Political Economy:

"Things regulate themselves"… means, of course, that God regulates them by his general laws.
Essentially, progress in the United States was viewed by most Republicans as independent of legislation. As a result, waste, extravagance, speculation, graft, and fraud at all levels in the country created such a fetid, contaminated atmosphere during this "Era of Good Stealing" that it was said the Man in the Moon had to hold his nose when passing over America. According to historians Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen:
Unscrupulous stock-market manipulators were a cinder in the public eye. Too many judges and legislators put their power up for hire. Cynics defined an honest politician as one who, when bought, would stay bought.(12) From Bailey, Thomas A., Kennedy, David M., and Cohen, Lizabeth, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, p. 514.(Close)
Senator James Wilson Grimes of Iowa, 54, wrote to his colleague Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, 57, that the Republican Party was "going to the dogs," that it had become
the most corrupt and debauched political party that has ever existed.(13) Quoted in Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 730. (Close)
The cabinet of President Grant was essentially a nest of incompetents and grafters. The administration was infamous for its failure to substantially reduce wartime customs duties, its failure to reform the civil service, and its intimacy with New York financiers of sullied reputation.

Harper's Weekly cartoonist German immigrant Thomas Nast, 30, continued to draw caricatures mercilessly pilloring the Tweed Ring of New York City, headed by burly, 240-pound State Senator William Marcy "Boss" Tweed, 47, the Tammany leader, who possessed the loyalty of important immigrant groups. The Ring had defrauded the city of at least $200 million ($2.9 billion in 2006 dollars). Tweed's cynical motto had been

Addition, division, and silence
Anyone blowing the whistle on these shenanigans had found his tax assessments raised. Tweed complained that his illiterate followers could not help seeing "them damn pictures" (Nast's cartoons), and he unsuccessfully tried to bribe Nast to desist.

The donkey as the symbol for the Democratic Party appeared in Harper's Weekly in cartoons by Nast.

Some 1.86 million tons of iron were produced in the United States, twice as much as a decade earlier, three times as much as two decades earlier, nearly a sixfold increase over three decades earlier, a tenfold increase over four decades earlier, and 85 times as much as five decades earlier. During this year 77,000 tons of steel were manufactured; in earlier decades--before the widespread use of the Bessemer method or the open-hearth method--hardly any steel was produced.

Pennsylvania farmboy Henry Clay Frick, 21 (employee and grandson of Abraham Overbolt, of the 60-year-old Old Overbolt Whiskey Company, who died this year at the age of 86), persuaded Irish immigrant banker Thomas Mellon, 57, of Pittsburgh, to invest in the construction and operation of coke ovens in the Connellsville area of Pittsburgh.

There was now more than 52,000 miles of railroad in the United States, a 48% increase over the mileage of only 5 years earlier.

The 5-year-old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (the "Katy") at last adopted that name, extending with 3,000 miles of track St. Louis through Missouri to Kansas City and then on to San Antonio, Houston, and Galveston.

Construction began in Minnesota on the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad, projected to extend from Lake Superior to Puget Sound in Washington Territory. The first through railway cars from the Pacific Coast reached New York City in July over the new (year-old) Union Pacific and Central Pacific transcontinental railroad, extending from Omaha, NE, to Sacramento, CA.

As with the completed new transcontinental railroad, the nation's first, government subsidies in land grants continued to act as an inducement to railroad construction (the private railroad companies might not otherwise hazard huge sums needed to lay tracks across hundreds of miles of rugged, empty country, tracks whose traffic would not yield profits for years). Congress was awarding millions of acres of public land, and the states themselves were contributing million of acres more. For transcontinental routes in particular, the land was typically granted in broad belts along the proposed routes, within which the companies were allowed to choose the best location for the tracks; until they chose--and even long after--all the land within the belts was unavailable for settlement (and, for land adjacent to transcontinental routes, would be unavailable for another 17 years). The builders of the railroad projects were authorized to take the timber, stone, and other material needed from the public-land right of way it had been granted.

Historian John Garraty has summarized what was happening(14):

From Garraty, op. cit., p. 489.(Close)
Here was a clear conflict between equal opportunity and rapid economic growth, between the idea of the West as a national heritage to be disposed of to deserving citizens and the concept of the region as a boundless prize to be gobbled up in giant chunks by those interests powerful and determined enough to take it. When it came to a choice between giving a particular tract to railroads or to homesteaders, the homesteaders nearly always lost out. To serve a necessary national purpose, the linking of the sections by rail, the land of the West was dispensed wholesale as a substitute for cash subsidies.

Railroad promoters let out all the stops to reap the land grants. They were able to pocket millions of dollars from selling off granted land (at an average price of $3 per acre [$42.33 per acre in 2006 dollars]), investing a pittance of that to bribe Congressmen with cash contributions and lucrative stock. For example, the Crédit Mobilier company, which had been formed by Union Pacific directors and insiders, was dispersing a yearly average of $67,000 ($945,000) for "legal expenses," which were actually thinly disguised bribes to stave off government investigations into corruption.

A frontier village could become a flourishing city if it could host a new railroad; whatever settlement bypassed by the railroad typically became a "ghost town." Communities contended with one another to get the rails, offering monetary and other attractions to promoters, who sometimes blackmailed the communities to get even more generous handouts.

Railroads--especially the new transcontinental line---created an enormous integrated domestic market, a huge commercial empire, for manufactured goods as well as raw materials, and they attracted both domestic and foreign investors. The new lines stimulated both agriculture and mining, especially in the West, taking farmers and miners to their remote holdings, bringing manufactured necessities to them, and hauling to market the product of their labors. The iron horse stimulated immigration; the railroad companies advertised in Europe to seduce settlers to buy land from the grants. Now the entire Midwest--Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas--would become farmland, and the high-plain prairies of Dakota and Montana Territories would become cattle ranges; the white pines of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota would be cut for lumber, rushed by rail for construction of houses and fences in the treeless prairies.

Railroad construction itself generated a gigantic backlog for the young steel industry.

Some railroad promoters were grossly overoptimistic (or simply unscrupulous), however, cashing in construction bonds to penetrate areas that lacked even a potential population that could support a line, laying rails that led "from nowhere to nothing"; when the promoters declared bankruptcy, their trusting investors would be left with only "two streaks of rust and a right of way" (making rails out of steel rather than iron would solve the rust problem).

Railroad construction and operation made a new millionaire aristocracy and stimulated Wall Street speculation for amassing colossal wealth. The bedazzled public was not detecting, or was disregarding, the corrupt financial maneuvers and rapacious skullduggery. Railroad stock promoters became adept at "stock watering": exaggerating the assets and profitability of whatever line they were hawking, selling its stock and bonds at prices far surpassing their true value. Then, in order to redeem the oversold financial obligations, the line's managers would be forced to charge extortionate rates.

They would also feel it necessary to wage ruthless competitive wars, such as the battle between the "Erie Ring"--made up by rapacious robber baron Jay Gould, now 34, and "Boss" Tweed--on the one hand, and transportation magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, 76, on the other hand. Gould was busy enlarging his Erie Railroad after looting its treasury by gobbling up stock in fledgling railroads in the Northeast. The year before Gould and Tweed had hired thugs to try to destroy Vanderbilt's line.

Railroad barons were recruiting lobbyists, anointing their own "creatures" into high political office, and bribing journalists, legislators, and judges with cash or free travel. They could exercise more direct control over the lives and welfare of people than could the President of the United States.

(Vanderbilt, meanwhile, continued to consolidate his Hudson River Railroad and his New York Central Railroad, thereby gaining a monopoly in rail transport between New York and Buffalo. He was amassing a gigantic fortune by offering superior railway service at rates lower than those charged by his unfortunate competitors. Vanderbilt was popularizing the tougher steel rail, safer and more economical than the conventional iron, because it could bear a heavier load; he had to import the steel from England, however, since there not yet a reliable domestic source. His consolidation efforts also helped to standardize the track gauge, eliminating the inconvenience and expense of repeated changes from one line to another.)

Industrial expansion was now assuming mammoth proportions. Liquid capital had become abundant. The natural resources of the nation were being exploited more and more. Massive immigration made unskilled labor plentiful and cheap. Industrialists were perfecting techniques of mass production. Tens of thousands of patents were being issued every year, facilitating business operations.

The 11-year-old petroleum "black gold" industry was booming, especially now with the derivative kerosene, which on a cotton wick in a glass chimney lamp burned so much brighter than the ever-more-expensive sperm oil from whales. Already kerosene was the the fourth most valuable U.S. export.

Kerosene was no longer the only valuable petroleum product, however. By now refiners were learning how to "crack" petroleum

by applying high temperatures to the crude in order to break up and rearrange its molecular structure, thus increasing the percentage of kerosene yielded. By-products such as naphtha, gasoline (used in vaporized form as an illuminating gas), rhigolene (a local anesthetic), cymogene (a coolant for refrigerating machines), and many lubricants and waxes began to appear on the market.(15) Quoted from ibid., p. 506. (Close)
By now the great increase in crude oil had driven prices down, a factor that put a premium on refining efficiency--larger plants utilizing expensive machinery and employing skilled technicians.

The 3-year-old three-man Cleveland, OH, partnership of abstemious, parsimonious John Davison Rockefeller, 30, Samuel Andrews, and Henry Morrison Flagler, 37--Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler--had been driving out all competition in the chaotic petroleum industry in the United States, acquiring more and more refineries and pipelines as the firm grew larger and more efficient, being able to refine 1,500 barrels of crude per day--a thousand times more than competitors. Rockefeller, the driving force of that firm, now incorporated Standard Oil Company of Ohio at $1 million ($14.1 million in 2006 dollars), with himself as president, taking 2,667 shares, while his brother William Rockefeller, Andrews, Flagler, and Stephen Vanderburg Harkness, 52, took 1,333 shares each.

Rockefeller had been working on a technique for allying with competitors to monopolize the petroleum market and controlling bothersome rivals--the "trust"--and with Standard Oil he perfected it, with his unwritten motto

Let us prey.
Stockholders of several small oil companies would assign their stock to the Standard Oil board of directors, and all operations of formerly competing firms would be consolidated and aligned. Weak competitors not part of the trust were plowed under.

Industrialists, almost all of them identified with the Republican Party and enjoying the tariffs that that party had secured, continued building new factories. These businessmen constituted a new class of gaudy, brassy, noisy, extravagant millionaires, plutocrats who defended their unbridled capitalism and their heartless contempt of the poor by adapting the theory of Charles Darwin: survival of the fittest.

Approximately half of all U.S. working people still worked on farms, but that number was shrinking. More and more Americans, formerly self-employed farmers or artisans, were becoming wage earners toiling in the new factories, continually fearing unemployment from swings in the business cycle or simply from arbitrary whims of the businessmen. The sweat of these laborers was lubricating the robust new industrial machine, but the laborers themselves shared very little of the benefits enjoyed by the plutocrats. Like the Roman galley slave, the worker was merely an unskilled and easily replaced lever puller for a depersonalized, soulless, conscienceless corporation.

Working people rejected the attitude of the church. According to one anonymous worker:

[The] church has, as an organized body, no sympathy with the masses. It is sort of a fashionable club where the rich are entertained and amused, and where most of the ministers are [controlled] by their masters and dare not preach the gospel of the carpenter of Nazareth.

Workers were struggling to organize themselves into unions. The 4-year-old 600,000-member National Labor Union, headed by William H. Sylvis, 42, attracted the skilled, the unskilled, and farmers, but it excluded Chinese and made only nominal efforts to include women and blacks. It continued to lobby Congress to promote workers' interests, agitating for the arbitration of labor disputes and for an 8-hour workday (mandated only for federal employees; most workers still toiled for 10 to 12 hours per day).

Black workers had organized their own Colored National Labor Union as an adjunct. But since the blacks tended to support the plutocrats' Republican Party, and since the white unionists were persistently racist, the two unions could not work together in a common effort.

Workers in the year-old Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor, originally a group of garment cutters, continued to meet in Philadelphia as a secret society with passwords, handshakes, and a private ritual. Such secrecy forestalled possible reprisals from employers.

William Underwood & Co. of Boston registered the first food trademark in the U.S., number 82, a red devil for its "deviled entremets."

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts was chartered.

Architect Henry Hobson Richardson, 32, designed Brattle Street Church in Boston in the Romanesque style.

Christopher Columbus Langdell, 43, was named dean of the Harvard Law School and introduced there the "case study" method of teaching law.

The Harvard baseball team went on a "Western tour" as far as St. Louis, winning 21 games (including one with the Chicago White Stockings) and losing 5 (including one with the Cincinnati Red Stockings).

Larvae of the gypsy moth (Porthetria dispar) continued to spread from Medford, MA, where French naturalist Leopold Trouvelot had brought the insect from Europe a year before with hopes to start a silk industry in New England. The moth population was exploding and defoliating New England woodlands.

Production of paper from pulpwood began in New England.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was chartered in New York City, after real estate investor Willliam T. Blodgett bought three important private collections in Paris (174 picutres for $116,180 [$1.6 million in 2006 dollars]).

Hunter College for Women was founded in New York City.

Publisher Frank Howard Dodd, 28, and his cousin Edward S. Mead founded Dodd, Mead & Co. in New York City.

The New York Tribune installed a rotary press capable of printing both sides of a page in a single operation.

Rutherford Stuyvesant built New York City's first apartment house on East 18th Street from designs by Richard Morris Hunt, 43, a five-story walk-up building modeled on Parisian apartment buildings, complete with a concierge, and renting from $1,000 to $1,500 per year ($14,110 to $21,165 per year in 2006 dollars) for six rooms with bath, far beyond the means of most New York residents and considered objectionable by many well-off New Yorkers. According to one New York commentator,

Gentlemen will never consent to live on mere shelves under a common roof.(16) 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. 541. (Close)

German immigrant merchant Frederick August Otto Schwarz, 34, opened his F. A. O. Schwarz toy shop on Broadway at 9th Street in New York City.

The British schooner Cambria lost to the schooner America in New York Bay in an unsuccessful bid to win back the America's Cup, originally lost 19 years previously.

St. John's University was founded in Brooklyn, NY.

Syracuse University was founded in Syracuse, NY.

Stevens Institute of Technology was founded in Hoboken, NJ.

German immigrant baker Christian Frederick Mueller, 30, who had been for 3 years selling his homemade egg noodles door to door from a pushcart in Jersey City, NJ, expanded his very popular C. F. Mueller Company and now bought his flour by the barrel rather than the bag, replaced his pushcart with a horse and wagon, and became an ever larger producer of egg noodles, macaroni, and spaghetti.

Wellfleet, MA, fishing captain Lorenzo Dow Baker, 30, part owner of the 70-ton two-masted schooner Telegraph of Wellfleet, bought 1,400 coconuts at 12 for a shilling and 608 bunches of bananas at a shilling each in Port Antonio, Jamaica, sailed for 11 days to Jersey City, NJ, with the bananas beginning to turn yellow, and sold the lot to an Italian merchant at Baker's offering price of $2.25 per bunch ($31.75 per bunch in 2006 dollars) (the coconuts sold at almost no profit).

The boardwalk was completed at Atlantic City, NJ.

Vermont-born entrepreneur Henry Alden Sherwin, 28, with backing from Edwin Porter Williams, purchased a retail paint store in Cleveland, OH, for $2,000 ($28,220 in 2006 dollars), thereby founding the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company.

Ohio State University was founded in Columbus.

The University of Cincinnati was founded, as was the University of Akron.

The 2-year-old Gaff, Fleischmann and Company in Cincinnati, manufacturing compressed yeast, began wrapping the product in tinfoil, enabling shipments anywhere. The firm also began producing Fleischmann's Gin.

Marshalville, GA, orchardman Samuel Rumph developed the Elberta peach variety, naming it after his wife.

The 53-year-old University of Michigan at Ann Arbor enrolled women for the first time.

Chicago's population reached 300,000, a 350-percent increase in a little over a decade.

The 3-year-old Chicago meatpacking firm Armour and Company of Philip Danforth Armour, 38, and John Plankinton added lamb to its line of beef and pork products.

Jesuits founded St. Ignatius College (later Loyola University) in Chicago.

There were 6.8 million workers on farms, and the value of farm productions was $2.4 billion ($34 billion in 2006 dollars).

The Grange, or the Patrons of Husbandry, with its secret rituals, passwords, and hierarchies (from Laborer to Husbandman for men, from Maid to Matron for women) founded 3 years earlier by Oliver H. Kelley, now 44, continued to grow in popularity among the farmers of the Midwest. Its stated aim was to enhance the lives of isolated farmers with educational, social, and fraternal activities--picnics, concerts, lectures in schoolhouses around potbellied stoves--with an emphasis on reading and discussion, much of that concerning freight rates, high taxes, and politics.

Grangers were able to get the constitution of Illinois revised, declaring railroads to be public highways and authorizing the legislature to "pass laws establishing reasonable maximum rates" and to "prevent unjust discrimination."

Canadian-born entrepreneur James Jerome Hill, 32, started north in midwinter from the frontier town of St. Paul, MN, by dogsled to meet Donald Alexander Smith, 50, resident governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, who sledded down from Winnepeg. They made camp in a storm, and planned the future Canadian Pacific and Great Northern railways.

The 8-year-old Homestead Act, designed to stimulate the family farm and to encourage a rapid population growth in the West, authorized any U.S. citizen, or any alien intending to become a citizen, to take 160 acres of Western land (a quarter section) for just a $10 registration fee ($141.10 in 2006 dollars), provided that he make certain improvements and that he live on the tract for 5 years. Alternatively, the settler might acquire land after only 6 months of residence for a nominal price of $1.25 per acre ($17.64 per acre in 2006 dollars). Either way, the land acquired was to be exempt from attachment for debt.

Of course, the act augmented immigration. Tens of thousands of settlers applied for homesteads each year, a third of them actually receiving land. During this year, nearly a million acres of public lands were legally transferred to private ownership.

Unfortunately, most landless Americans were too poor to become independent farmers; the expense of moving a family from the East to the ever-receding frontier was prohibitive, and the subsequent costs of equipment, fencing, and housing was formidable for most. Industrial workers were ill-suited to transform themselves into farmers; most of the homesteaders were already farmers and were situated close to the frontier anyway.

Also, the standard quarter section was typically inadequate for raising livestock or for the kind of commercial agriculture that was suitable on the dry Great Plains; approximately two-thirds of the homesteaders eventually surrendered in their struggle against draught. Cynics joked that the government had put up the 160 acres against the $10 registration fee in a cruel bet that the settlers would not last the requisite 5 years. Notably, about five times as many families purchased their land from the states, the land companies, or the railroads.

The Homestead Act and similar laws spawned considerable fraud: Settlers often swore that they had "improved" their claim by erecting a "twelve-by-fourteen" dwelling, which actually measured 12 by 14 inches. Wealthy speculators used the law to obtain large tracts. Unscrupulous corporations bribed aliens with beer or a little cash to become a "dummy" homesteader so that they could snatch properties containing oil, minerals, and timber. And, as stated earlier, the railroad barons always had the upper hand over the homesteaders.

The U.S. corn crop exceeded a million bushels for the first time.

Kansas City's population reached 32,260, a 900-percent increase in only 5 years, because the year-old Hannibal Bridge across the Missouri River was attracting residents.

Some 4 million buffalo were still roaming the American plains south of the River Platte, wandering in the way of the Union Pacific Railroad. But already commercial (and other white) buffalo hunters were systematically slaughtering the buffalo in large numbers, often deliberately to undermine the way of life of the Indians, who used the animal for food, housing, bowstrings, lariats, and fuel. Replacing this magnificent animal more and more was the Texas longhorn cattle, brought in by cattlemen who had discovered how well the hardy stock survived the winters on the plains foraging on the seemingly limitless forage left behind by the buffalo. They began improving the stock (tenderizing the meat without diminishing the resistance to harsh conditions) by breeding them with pedigreed Hereford bulls. Provided that the cattleman rancher could get access to limited water, he could fatten thousands of steers on public land (in other words, without buying title to a private ranch) and then sell the result for beefsteak and leather at a bonanza profit.

Meanwhile, cattle drives on the 700-mile-long Chisholm Trail from San Antonio, TX, to Abilene, KS (the actual terminus of the Kansas Pacific Railway, where cattle could be transported to Chicago), had begun on a large scale. (Driving their bawling long-horned cattle from Texas [with horn spreads reaching 8 feet] en route through Indian Territory [present-day Oklahoma], the white, black, and Mexican cowboys were ignoring the terms of the 3-year-old Medicine Lodge Treaty between the U.S. government and the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes guaranteeing these Indians undisturbed land on two reservations there. Most of the cattlemen considered all Indians as "hostile," especially as the Indians considered any four-footed animal on the prairie, longhorns included, to be "fair game.") Chicago livestock dealer Joseph Geating McCoy, 32, had 3 years earlier promised Texas ranchers $40 per head for cattle northward on the Chisholm Trail "Long Drive" to his Abilene pens that the ranchers could sell at home for only $4 per head ($564 and $56, respectively, in 2006 dollars). He couldn't quite fulfill this promise, but the ranchers did receive $20 at Abilene for a steer worth $11 in Texas ($282 and $155, respectively). This same steer would sell for $31.50 ($444) after arriving in Chicago.

Texas Christian University was founded in Fort Worth, and Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University was founded .

German immigrant lumberman Frederick Weyerhauser, 36, formed a syndicate with other Midwestern lumbermen.

Prospectors were now racing to Colorado Territory, hoping to become millionaires overnight on rumors of precious metal strikes there. The village of Leadville in the Rockies enjoyed a brief boom. Historian John Garraty has summarized the miners' point of view(17):

Quoted in Garraty, op. cit., p. 485. (Close)
The miners enthusiastically adopted the get-rich-quick philosophy, willingly enduring privations and laboring hard, but always with the object of striking it rich. Anything that stood in the way of their ambitions they struck down. They trespassed on Indian lands without the slightest qualm and "claimed" public land with no thought of paying for it. The idea of reserving any part of the West for future generations never entered their heads. The sudden prosperity of the mining towns attracted every kind of shady character, all bent on extracting wealth from the pockets of the miners rather than from the unyielding earth. Gambling houses, dance halls, saloons, and brothels mushroomed wherever precious metal was found [or was rumored to have been found]. Around these tawdry palaces of pleasure and forgetfulness gathered thieves, confidence men, degenerates, and desperados. Crime and violence were commonplace, law enforcement was a constant problem.
Eventually the "better element" in these boom towns formed "vigilante committees," which drove the outlaws out of town after a few summary hangings. Meanwhile, storekeepers in the towns charged outrageous prices, and claim holders were "salting" their worthless properties with nuggets in order to swindle gullible investors.

[ Horace Greeley ] New York Tribune editor and publisher Horace Greeley, 59, pictured here, inspired by his agricultural editor, Nathan C. Meeker (who dug the first irrigation canal in Colorado Territory) established the Union Colony (later called Greeley) in the territory. To promote the venture, he exhorted

Go west, young man!
echoing what John L. Soule had exhorted 19 years earlier in the Indiana newspaper Terre Haute Express.

White prospectors searching for mineral wealth were invading land guaranteed by treaty to the Sioux. Defending this invasion, a Wyoming newspaper pontificated(18):

Quoted in Hagan, William T., American Indians, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961, 1993, p. 128. (Close)
The same inscrutable Arbiter that decreed the downfall of Rome, has pronounced the doom of extinction upon the red men of America. To attempt to defer this result by mawkish sentimentalism… is unworthy of the age.

Utah Territory granted full suffrage to women.

Chiracahua Apache Chief Cochise, 58, continued to lead his warriors out of his hideout in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona in raids against white settlers.

California wheat growers produced 16 million bushels, receiving $20 million ($282.2 million in 2006 dollars) for the harvest, twice the value of all the gold mined in the state that year. Huge farms in Livermore Valley and San Joaquin Valley averaged nearly 40 bushels per acre, with some fields producing half again that much.

The Chinese plum that had been domesticated in Japan was introduced into 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 6,430. Most were men (the ratio was 13 males for each female). Some came with money pooled by their families back home, but most were desperately poor and in debt to Chinese middlemen, which they would need to repay in cruel conditions of indenture for years. The indenture business was known ignominiously as "pig selling." Chinatowns were springing up in railroad towns, farming villages, and cities, where the immigrants could speak their own language and seek safety from prejudice and violence. Many organized themselves into tongs (secret societies).

Opium was widely used to control mild pain. At least 100,000 people were addicted to the drug, which was openly sold in drugstores in pill form or as laudanum.

Walk along the streets any day and you will meet opium slaves by the score.… They are slaves, abject slaves suffering exquisite torture. Once in the fetters of opium and morphine they are, with few exceptions, fettered for life.(19) Quoted in McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993, p. 165, citing Lafcadio Hearn, describing the drug problem in Cincinnati. (Close)

Men were now cutting their hair shorter, with parts extending from the front all the way back to the nape of the neck. Some men wore pompadours. Muttonchops and beards under the chin were in vogue. Women frequently wore a bun or chignon, arranged in loops and braids, with puffs, ringlets, or coils over the ears.

Americans now bathed an average of once a week.

"Do a pregnant mother's experiences affect the offspring?" asked Professor Oswald Fowler, lecturer on health and education in his Sexual Science.

Indeed they do. The eminent Dr. [George] Napheys reports the case of a pregnant lady who saw some grapes, longed intensely for them, and constantly thought of them. During the period of her gestation, she was attacked and much alarmed by a turkey-cock. In due time she gave birth to a child having a large cluster of globular tumours growing from the tongue and exactly resembling our common grapes. And on the child's chest there grew a red excrescence exactly resembling a turkey's wattles.(20) Quoted in ibid., p. 170. (Close)

"We distinctly warn that [masturbation] leads to insanity, not rarely, but frequently," asserted Dr. Napheys.

We have taken pains to examine with care the latest reports of a large number of insane asylums in the United States, to ascertain precisely how many of their inmates have been driven there by this vice. The average we have found to be nearly nine per cent of all males in whom the causes were assigned; and in one prominent institution in Ohio, fourteen per cent.(21) Quoted in ibid., p. 170, citing George Napheys, M.D., The Transmission of Life, Counsels on the Nature and Hygiene of the Masculine Function, pp. 74-75. (Close)

Department stores were becoming popular.

Many people enjoyed vaudeville shows, and some enjoyed stereographs.

Roller skating was becoming wildly popular.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

New York scientist Edward DeSmedt paved a road in Newark, NJ, with asphalt; Ohio inventor Tolbert Lanston patented a padlock; New York printer John W. Hyatt patented a process for making celluloid; astronomer Benjamin Peirce, 61, published Linear Associative Algebras; and New Jersey inventor Thomas Alva Edison, 23, invented the stock ticker.

Philosophy and religion in America: Specifics

Bearded and rotund Chicago preacher Dwight Lyman Moody, 33, weighing nearly 300 pounds, a former shoe salesman who adapted old-time religion to the facts of city life, could hold huge audiences spellbound. He operated the largest Sunday School in the city as well as the 1,500-capacity Illinois Street Church.

Political orator and agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll, 37, champion of the so-called "Golden Age of Freethought" and promoter of the evolution theories of Charles Darwin, published his Life and Writings of Thomas Paine, attacking conventional religious belief(22):

Quoted from Independence Edition of the Centenary Issue of the Life and Writings of Thomas Paine (I:287), edited and annotated by Daniel Edwin Wheeler [hand-typed by Cliff Walker],, accessed 8 January 2007. (Close)
Through all the centuries gone, the mind of man has been beleaguered by the mailed hosts of superstition. Slowly and painfully has advanced the army of deliverance.… One of the bravest soldiers in this army was Thomas Paine.… He knew that every abuse had been embalmed in Scripture -- that every outrage was in partnership with some holy text. He knew that the throne skulked behind the altar, and both behind a pretended revelation from God. By this time he had found that it was of little use to free the body and leave the mind in chains. He had explored the foundations of despotism, and had found them infinitely rotten. He had dug under the throne, and it occurred to him that he would take a look behind the altar. The result of his investigations was given to the world in the "AGE OF REASON" From the moment of its publication he became infamous. He was calumniated beyond measure.… In all ages reason has been regarded as the enemy of religion. Nothing has been considered so pleasing to the Deity as a total denial of the authority of your own mind. Self-reliance has been thought a deadly sin; and the idea of living and dying without the aid and consolation of superstition has always horrified the church. By some unaccountable infatuation, belief has been and still is considered of immense importance. All religions have been based upon the idea that God will forever reward the true believer, and eternally damn the man who doubts or denies. Belief is regarded as the one essential thing. To practice justice, to love mercy, is not enough. You must believe in some incomprehensible creed. You must say, "Once one is three, and three times one is one." The man who practiced every virtue, but failed to believe, was execrated. Nothing so outrages the feelings of the church as a moral unbeliever -- nothing so horrible as a charitable Atheist.…

Intellectual liberty, as a matter of necessity, forever destroys the idea that belief is either praise or blame-worthy, and is wholly inconsistent with every creed in Christendom. Paine recognized this truth. He also saw that as long as the Bible was considered inspired, this infamous doctrine of the virtue of belief would be believed and preached. He examined the Scriptures for himself, and found them filled with cruelty, absurdity and immorality.… He contended that it is a contradiction in terms to call anything a revelation that comes to us second-hand, either verbally or in writing. He asserted that revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication, and that after that it is only an account of something which another person says was a revelation to him.… He denied the divine origin of Christ, and showed conclusively that the pretended prophecies of the Old Testament had no reference to him whatever; and yet he believed that Christ was a virtuous and amiable man; that the morality he taught and practiced was of the most benevolent and elevated character, and that it had not been exceeded by any.… Paine thought the barbarities of the Old Testament inconsistent with what he deemed the real character of God. He believed that murder, massacre and indiscriminate slaughter had never been commanded by the Deity. He regarded much of the Bible as childish, unimportant and foolish.… The infamous doctrines that salvation depends upon belief--upon a mere intellectual conviction--was then believed and preached. To doubt was to secure the damnation of your soul. This absurd and devilish doctrine shocked the common sense of Thomas Paine, and he denounced it with the fervor of honest indignation.… Can it be possible that we have been endowed with reason simply that our souls may be caught in its toils and snares, that we may be led by its false and delusive glare out of the narrow path that leads to joy into the broad way of everlasting death? Is it possible that we have been given reason simply that we may through faith ignore its deductions, and avoid its conclusions? Ought the sailor to throw away his compass and depend entirely upon the fog?… Down, forever down, with any religion that requires upon its ignorant altar the sacrifice of the goddess Reason, that compels her to abdicate forever the shining throne of the soul, strips from her form the imperial purple, snatches from her hand the scepter of thought and makes her the bond-woman of a senseless faith!

If a man should tell you that he had the most beautiful painting in the world, and after taking you where it was should insist upon having your eyes shut, you would likely suspect, either that he had no painting or that it was some pitiable daub. Should he tell you that he was a most excellent performer on the violin, and yet refuse to play unless your ears were stopped, you would think, to say the least of it, that he had an odd way of convincing you of his musical ability. But would his conduct be any more wonderful than that of a religionist who asks that before examining his creed you will have the kindness to throw away your reason? The first gentleman says, "Keep your eyes shut, my picture will bear everything but being seen;" "Keep your ears stopped, my music objects to nothing but being heard." The last says, "Away with your reason, my religion dreads nothing but being understood."

So far as I am concerned, I most cheerfully admit that most Christians are honest, and most ministers sincere. We do not attack them; we attack their creed. We accord to them the same rights that we ask for ourselves. We believe that their doctrines are hurtful. We believe that the frightful text, "He that believes shall be saved and he that believeth not shall be damned," has covered the earth with blood. It has filled the heart with arrogance, cruelty and murder. It has caused the religious wars; bound hundreds of thousands to the stake; founded inquisitions; filled dungeons; invented instruments of torture; taught the mother to hate her child; imprisoned the mind; filled the world with ignorance; persecuted the lovers of wisdom; built the monasteries and convents; made happiness a crime, investigation a sin, and self-reliance a blasphemy. It has poisoned the springs of learning; misdirected the energies of the world; filled all countries with want; housed the people in hovels; fed them with famine; and but for the efforts of a few brave Infidels it would have taken the world back to the midnight of barbarism, and left the heavens without a star.…

The church is, and always has been, incapable of a forward movement. Religion always looks back.… The church never doubts--never inquires. To doubt is heresy--to inquire is to admit that you do not know--the church does neither.… Just in proportion that the human race has advanced, the church has lost power. There is no exception to this rule. No nation ever materially advanced that held strictly to the religion of its founders. No nation ever gave itself wholly to the control of the church without losing its power, its honor, and existence. Every church pretends to have found the exact truth. This is the end of progress. Why pursue that which you have? Why investigate when you know?…

The doubter, the investigator, the Infidel, have been the saviors of liberty. This truth is beginning to be realized, and the truly intellectual are honoring the brave thinkers of the past. But the church is as unforgiving as ever, and still wonders why any Infidel should be wicked enough to endeavor to destroy her power. I will tell the church why. You have imprisoned the human mind; you have been the enemy of liberty; you have burned us at the stake--wasted us upon slow fires--torn our flesh with iron; you have covered us with chains--treated us as outcasts; you have filled the world with fear; you have taken our wives and children from our arms; you have confiscated our property; you have denied us the right to testify in courts of justice; you have branded us with infamy; you have torn out our tongues; you have refused us burial. In the name of your religion, you have robbed us of every right; and after having inflicted upon us every evil that can be inflicted in this world, you have fallen upon your knees, and with clasped hands implored your God to torment us forever. Can you wonder that we hate your doctrines--that we despise your creeds--that we feel proud to know that we are beyond your power--that we are free in spite of you--that we can express our honest thought, and that the whole world is grandly rising into the blessed light? Can you wonder that we point with pride to the fact that Infidelity has ever been found battling for the rights of man, for the liberty of conscience, and for the happiness of all? Can you wonder that we are proud to know that we have always been disciples of Reason, and soldiers of Freedom; that we have denounced tyranny and superstition, and have kept our hands unstained with human blood?

We deny that religion is the end or object of this life. When it is so considered it becomes destructive of happiness--the real end of life. It becomes a hydra-headed monster, reaching in terrible coils from the heavens, and thrusting its thousand fangs into the bleeding, quivering hearts of men. It devours their substance, builds palaces for God, (who dwells not in temples made with hands,) and allows his children to die in huts and hovels. It fills the earth with mourning, heaven with hatred, the present with fear, and all the future with despair.… Infidelity is liberty; all religion is slavery. In every creed man is the slave of God--woman is the slave of man and the sweet children are the slaves of all. We do not want creeds; we want knowledge--we want happiness.…

Advocates of old-time religion were appalled by such attacks from atheists, agnostics, and adherents of Darwin. Fundamentalist Christians insisted on a literal interpretation of the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God, and they condemned what they considered the "bestial hypothesis" of evolution. Clergymen sympathetic to evolution and the rest of science were removed from their pulpits.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ] Ralph Waldo Emerson, 67, pictured here, published Civilization, including the line
Hitch your wagon to a star.

Dramatist Bronson Howard produced the comedy of manners Saratoga; poet Rose H. Thorpe, 20, published "Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight"; novelist Louisa May Alcott, 38, published An Old Fashioned Girl; Boston author and editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 33, published The Story of a Bad Boy; author Bret (Francis Brett) Harte, 34, published The Luck of Roaring Camp, and Other Sketches; and sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward unveiled his Shakespeare, which was installed in New York City's Central Park. The Dictionary of American Biography was issued for the first time.

Popular periodicals included the Lippincott's Magazine, Farmer's Home Journal, Harper's Bazaar, Sporting Times, Niles' Weekly Register, the American Journal of Science, American Farmer, Christian Watchman, Saturday Evening Post, Good Health, Godey's Lady's Book, Ladies' Repository, Peterson's Ladies' National Magazine, Home Journal, Home Monthly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Frank Leslie's Boys of America, Harper's Weekly, Yale Literary Magazine, Carriage Monthly, Phunny Fellow, National Police Gazette, Illustrated Police News, and Scientific American.

Popular songs included "Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me," "Sweet Genevieve," "Sweet By and By," "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," "Little Brown Jug," "The Flying Trapeze," "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Listen to the Mockingbird," "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair," "Camptown Races," "Turkey in the Straw," and "Amazing Grace."

The World at Large in 1870

The 7-year-old worldwide cholera epidemic continued.

Hart Almerrin Massey changed the name of his farm-equipment factory at Bond Head on Lake Ontario in Ontario Province, which he had been running for the previous 15 years (his father had founded the company 21 years earlier) from Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory to Massey Manufacturing Co.

Ontario nurseryman Allan McIntosh propagated the McIntosh apple from a seedling found on his homestead.

Ontario distiller Joseph Emm Seagram, 29, joined a 19-year-old firm of millers and distillers in Waterloo, ON, and began consolidating his ownership of the firm.

Green-shirted Irish-Americans belonging to the the Irish Republican Brotherhood (the Fenians movement) to free Ireland from the United Kingdom continued crossing the Niagara River from the U.S, into Canada, drawing attention to the Fenian cause.

Red River Rebellion

The revolt of the métis (half-breeds) under Louis Riel, 26, who had the previous year captured Fort Garry (present-day Winnipeg) and set up a provisional government, collapsed before the advance of Canadian and British troops under the command of Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 36. Manitoba became a province of Canada.

Cuban rebellion

Hostilities continued.

Argentine General Barolome Mitre began publication of La Nacion in Buenos Aires, to compete with the year-old La Prensa.

The 182-year-old Lloyds of London was finally incorporated.

The 15-year-old Daily Telegraph of London had a circulation of more than 270,000, making it the largest paper in the world.

The 7-year-old dry-goods shop of London merchant William Whiteley in Bayswater that was selling not only drapery and haberdashery but also jewelry now expanded with a "foreign department" to sell oriental novelties.

Elementary education was made compulsory in England.

St. Pancras Station opened in London, with a clock from the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Compulsory education was instituted in Great Britain.

W. C. Grace and his brothers founded the Gloucester Cricket Club.

The British Parliament, led by Liberal Prime Minister William Evart Gladstone, 61, passed the Irish Land Act, protecting the Irish tenant from arbitrary eviction.

Irish lawyer Isaac Butt, 57, founded the Home Rule Association, a coalition of Irish nationalists and Protestants to work for repeal of the 69-year-old Act of Union, which had made Ireland part of the United Kingdom.

The Belfast Telegraph began publication in Ireland.

The British warship Captain sank off Finisterre, France; 472 people perished.

Steamships, still slower than clipper ships, now accounted for 16 percent of all world shipping.

The Bon Marché in Paris, with such revolutionary 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, had increased over the preceding decade fourfold to 20 million francs.

The Société Nationale de Musique was established in France to challenge German influences in music and to encourage the development of French orchestral music.

There was now 11,000 miles of railroad trackage in France, double what it had been a decade earlier.

Baden decided to join the North German Confederation under Prussian leadership.

Franco-Prussian War

Queen Isabella II of Spain, 39, after 2 years in exile in Paris, was persuaded to abdicate her throne in June. She was nominally succeeded by her son Alfonso, 12. Instead, Amadeo, 25, the Duke of Aosta and son of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, 50, was persuaded to accept the crown and began his brief reign as King Amadeus I over the Spanish monarchy, made constitutional the year before.

Unfortunately for him, the Hohenzollern prince Leopold, 35, a relative of Prussian King Wilhelm I, 72, had also been offered the Spanish crown. After first refusing the offer, Leopold accepted the offer, an act that met with vehement protests from the French government of Emperor Napoleon III, 62, who feared being encircled by Hohenzollerns. Following these protests, King Wilhelm persuaded Leopold to withdraw his acceptance of the Spanish crown.

[ King Wilhelm I ] [ Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck ]

Napoleon III wired King Wilhelm, pictured left, who was relaxing at a spa in Ems, demanding a letter of apology and an assurance that Leopold would be prohibited from accepting any future offer of the Spanish crown. King Wilhelm gave Prussian Prime Minister Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, 55, pictured right, permission to make the French demand, referred to as the Ems dispatch, public after doctoring it a bit to make it appear even more extreme, giving the impression that Napoleon was trying to humiliate Wilhelm, and assuring the aroused German public that Wilhelm had refused Napoleon's demands, deliberately goading the French into declaring war.

France declared war on Prussia in July. Three German armies immediately invaded France, while French forces invaded the Saar basin and were victorious in the Battle of Saarbrücken. German forces, however, defeated the French in the Battle of Wörth, the Battle of Weissenburg, the Battle of Mars-la-Tour, the Battle of Vionville, and the Battle of Gravelotte. Finally, on September 1, German forces defeated the French First Army Corps under Marshal Marie Edmé Patrice Maurice de MacMahon, 62, in the Battle of Sedan. On the following day, Napoleon III surrendered with 80,000 men; he was taken prisoner and taken to the castle of Wilhelmshohe near Kassel.

German forces began a 4-month siege of Paris. Parisians were forced to eat cats, dogs, and even animals from the zoo, including the beloved elephants Castor and Pollux. French lawyer Leon Gambetta, 32, escaped the city by balloon (thereby pioneering air travel) and organized defenses against the Germans and to lead partisan opposition against the occupiers.

The cities of Metz and Strasbourg surrendered to the Germans.

Italian troops entered Rome following the withdrawal of French troops there, who were rushing to defend France against the Germans. Italy annexed the Papal States, completing the unification of Italy under King Victor Emmanuel II.

In response to the defeat, French citizens subscribed 40 million francs to build the Church of Sacré Coeur on Montmartre in Paris "in witness of repentance and as a symbol of hope."

Austrian and Hungarian flour mills adopted the new porcelain rollers, which could better flatten the dark wheat germ into tiny flakes easily sifted out with the bran, producing whiter flour.

Papal nuncios at the First Vatican Council intimidated the bishops in attendance to favor in a vote of 533 to 2 a decree of papal infallibility--that the Pope was infallible whenever he declared doctrines of faith or morals ex cathedra (from his throne), now deemed "irreformable" and requiring no "consent of the church"--just at the time when the temporal power of Pope Pius IX, 78, had been diminished to the minimum. The action prompted a wave of anti-church legislation in the German states.

German-American archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, 48, began excavating the site of ancient Troy in Asia Minor.

The coffee rust (Hamileia vastatrix), which had appeared in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) the previous year, was spreading throughout the Orient, wiping out coffee plantations and causing soaring coffee prices.

Japanese Emperor Meiji Mutsihito, 18, issued an edict requiring all his subjects to adopt surnames.

The Yokohama Mainichi Shinbun began publication in Japan.

Western Australia was granted representative government.

Swedish explorer N. Adolf Nordenskjold explored the interior of Greenland.

World science and technology

English machinists James Kemp Starley, 40, and William Hillman patented a lightweight all-metal bicycle, with wire-spoked tension wheels.

English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, 47, published Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection; English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, 45, published Theory of Biogenesis; and Scots naturalist Charles W. Thomson discovered ocean invertebrates previously thought to be extinct.

German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, 59, invented the ice calorimeter, a heat-measuring device; French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, 48, discovered a way to keep beer from spoiling; Italian toxicologist Francesco Selmi coined the word ptomaine to denote certain nitrogenous poisonous compounds supposedly easily detectable by smell; and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was discovered but not yet recognized as the basic genetic material.

German chemist Julius Lothar Meyer, 60, made important contributions to an arrangement of chemical elements; and Russian chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev, 36, published Principles of Chemistry, proposing the periodic law and providing the periodic table of elements, accurately predicting the discovery of 29 elements not yet discovered.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 42, published The House of Life, consisting of poetry he had buried with his wife 8 years earlier; novelist Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), 38, published The Hunting of the Snark; Tory statesman and writer Benjamin Disraeli, 66, published Lothair; poet and artist William Morris, 36, published The Earthly Paradise, with illustrations by painter Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 34; and novelist Charles (John Huffman) Dickens left The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished because he died at the age of 58.

World arts and culture

Russian composer Petr Ilich Tchaikovsky, 29, produced the fanasy-overture Romeo and Juliet in Moscow; German Romantic composer Richard Wagner, 57, produced the opera Die Walküre in Munich, married the divorcée Cosima Liszt von Bülow, 32, and produced Siegfried Idyll on his new wife's birthday at Christmas at Villa Tribschen on Lake Lucerne; French composer Charles Camille Saint-Saëns, 34, produced Concerto No. 3 in E flat major for Piano and Orchestra; and French composer Clément Philibert Léo Delibes, 34, produced the opera Coppelia at the Théâtre Imperiale de l'Opéra in Paris.

French painter (Ignace) Henri (Joseph Theodore) Fantin-Latour, 34, unveiled Un Atelier à Batignolles; French landscape painter Jean-Babtiste-Camille Corot, 74, unveiled La Perle; and revolutionary French artist Paul Cézanne, 31, exhibited Snow at Estaque.

Russian novelist Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov, 58, published The Precipice; Austrian Realist dramatist Karl Anzengruber produced Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld, which depicted peasant life; and French science fiction writer Jules Verne, 42, published Vingt mille lieues sous les mers ("Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea"). French author Charles de Montalembert died at the age of 60, French novelist Prosper Mérimée died at the age of 67, French author Jules de Goncourt died at the age of 40, and French novelist Alexandre Dumas père died at the age of 68.


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

See also the general sources.