Christ's Lutheran Church in 1872

[ Christ's Church on the Sawkill ]

Pastor William I. Cutter ended his pastorate during this year. After preaching three sermons in our church, Rev. William Sharts was called to be the new pastor, 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.)

[ The first parsonage ] Largely through the efforts of trustee Eli Wolven, the congregation purchased a parsonage, the first one for this congregation's pastors, for $700 ($10,987 in 2006 dollars) about 1/2 mile east of the church (a house that still stands on the corner of Route 212 and Easton Lane); to enlarge the picture and see other views, just click it. In December, several of the men from the congregation (Benjamin Fradenburg, Hiram Cramer, Nathaniel (?) Nash, and S. Cunyes) went with sleighs to Athens to move the new pastor's furniture into the "new" parsonage. (Afterward, the congregation voted to pay their expenses for the trip.) The congregation seemed to have had hopes that providing a parsonage for pastors would extend their stay with the church.

A "liturgy" was purchased for 75 cents ($11.78 in 2006 dollars). This might have been the brand-new Church Book developed by the Pennsylvania Ministerium and brought out 4 years earlier by the new breakaway synod, the General Council. On the other hand, it might have been the Church Book with Music, which was published during this year; if so, it would have been one of the earliest uses of what scholars consider the reclaiming of historic Lutheran liturgies, which would eventually culminate in the common service.(1)

From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], p. 41. (Close)

Through the untiring effort of Miss Evalyn Cramer, a Sunday School was organized.

The English-language New York Synod, which had seceded from the New York Ministerium 5 years earlier, and the English-language New Jersey Synod, which had seceded from the Ministerium 11 years earlier, merged during this year as the New York and New Jersey Synod. (The Hartwick Synod, and Christ's Lutheran Church in Woodstock with it, had seceded from the Ministerium 42 years earlier, but it was not part of this merger.)

The Woodstock Region in 1872

Regional historian Alf Evers cited the recollections about local Woodstock life at this time of Byron "Bide" Snyder, whose father had a store in town, including a telegraph office, operating the line running from the West Hurley railroad station through Woodstock up to the Overlook Mountain House(2):

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, p. 268, citing Snyder, Byron, recollections in the Woodstock Weekly, 1924. (Close)
Tomatoes were not thought fit to eat, they were considered "pizen." Every farmer raised his own stuff and the "women folks" did it up. They had plenty of honey, maple sugar and apple butter… they would boil down a barrel or two of cider and cook certain kinds of apples in it. The art of making it has been lost.… Granulated sugar was not used much. They had what was known as soft white, almost as white as granulated but soft, and two or three grades of brown sugar. When you asked for sugar the clerk did not put it in a bag. He weighed it out and slid it on a sheet of coarse, brown, straw paper and deftly did it up in a neat package. If you happened to be hungry while shopping you simply sliced off a piece of cheese or took a couple of red herring and never thought of paying for it. If you wanted a smoke, why a box of clay pipes and another of tobacco always stood on the counter. Matches were not free, as they were expensive. Three cents [47 cents in 2006 dollars] for a box of about fifty.

The congregation of the 28-year-old "Second Baptist Church" (the "First" one being in Kingston) in Lake Hill dismantled the building and moved it piece by piece to The Corner (Mount Tremper).

Prospectors were exploring the Woodstock area for coal, oil, and gas.

Construction had continued on the new Rondout & Oswego Railroad (the R&O), originally intended to extend from Kingston by way of the Esopus Valley and Pine Hill toward an ultimate objective of Lake Ontario. By now, however, the objective was moved closer, to Syracuse, and the railroad's name was changed to the New York, Kingston & Syracuse Railroad (the N.Y.,K.&S.). 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. By November the first train made it all the way from Kingston to Stamford.

Unfortunately, however, the N.Y.,K.&S. was in trouble. Roxbury native and robber baron Jay Gould, 36, had been working in New York City with robber baron financier James "Diamond Jim" Fisk, 38, and State Senator William Marcy "Boss" Tweed, 49 (the Tammany leader, who since the previous year had been under indictment for fraud in New York City for defrauding the city of at least $30 million [$446 million in 2006 dollars], for profiting from tax favors, and for buying votes), in the so-called "Erie Ring," to enlarge his Erie Railroad after looting its treasury by gobbling up stock in fledgling railroads in the Northeast. In January, business rival Edward S. Stokes (also a rival for the favors of Fisk's mistress, the actress Josie Mansfield) shot Fisk to death. The resulting scandal drew attention to all the corruption that had been flourishing under the administration of President Grant.

Local citizens along the N.Y.,K.&S. route, meanwhile, had invested well over a million dollars ($15.7 million in 2006 dollars) into the venture and were worried about what the remaining "railroad pirates" (after Fisk's demise)--Gould and Tweed--might be up to, that they might be trying to ruin the "people's railroad." Since the N.Y.,K.&S. management was not dealing openly with the investors, General George H. Sharpe, who 6 years earlier had been opposed to the railroad, now acted in the investors' interest to replace Thomas Cornell as president. Soon General Sharpe was not trusted either. Wild rumors were circulating throughout the Catskills; citizens were worried that soon thugs hired by Gould and Tweed would be doing whatever was needed to destroy the line, as their thugs had done 3 years earlier in the struggle with transportation magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt for control of the Erie. Now the Kingston Daily Freeman charged that

seven out of the ten directors own only one share each.(3) Much of the wording and all of the quotations concerning the railroad are from Evers, Alf, The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972, p. 465, citing the Kingston Daily Freeman, September 27, 1872, and November 29, 1873; the Kingston Argus, January 21, 1874. (Close)
The Freeman later commented that General Sharpe had transferred
the people's railroad to a set of sharpers.… [These men] make a business of gobbling up railroads and … haven't a dollar's interest in the locality.
The Kingston Argus stated that
this railroad as a robbing machine has no equal.

Woodstock's new Overlook Mountain House was struggling along, trying to compete with the 49-year-old Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove. The management was still waiting for the promised visit by President Grant. At least, the hotel was more accessible than was the Catskill Mountain House: Visitors could debark from the N.Y.,K.&S. station in West Hurley and take a short stagecoach trip to reach the hotel. In the meantime, there were shooting and croquet matches, shadow pantomimes, dances, and other entertainments. The resident pianist, Professor A. Lee Van Buren of Kingston, played excellent parlor piano, gave music lessons, and composed the Overlook Hotel Waltz. There were famous visitors to stare at, solitary singers, amateur music clubs, one-man bands--even a trained-bear show. Bartender DePuy Davis performed feats of high jumping and broad jumping. The black waiters in the dining room were students on summer break from Lincoln University in Philadelphia. The principal amusement was boulder pushing--finding boulders to send plunging down the side of the mountain. Another attraction was looking at the scenery. And everyone talked about the healthy mountaintop air, praised for its purity and exhilarating qualities--especially victims of hay fever or tuberculosis, who sat and coughed on the piazza in shawled and blanketed rows.

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.

Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church, 46, saw the completion just south of Hudson of his Islamicized Olana studio, designed by architect Calvert Vaux, 48, from a plan drawn 5 years earlier by Beaux Arts architect Richard Morris Hunt.

The New York State Forest Commission halted sales of forest lands to commercial interests.

[ 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, 75, pictured here, addressed white audiences in Northern states on religion, on Negro and women's rights, and on temperance.

The United States in 1872

[ Ulysses S. Grant ]

Ulysses S. Grant, 50 (Republican), was President. The 42nd Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $15.70 in 2006 for most consumable products.

In spite of new silver discoveries in Nevada, the U.S. Treasury was stubbornly and unrealistically maintaining that an ounce of silver was worth only a sixteenth as much as an ounce of gold, even though open-market prices for silver were higher. Silver miners had no incentive to offer their product for sale to the federal mints.

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

The American Public Health Association was founded.

Larvae of the gypsy moth (Porthetria dispar) continued to spread from Medford, MA, where French naturalist Leopold Trouvelot had brought the insect from Europe 3 years earlier with hopes to start a silk industry in New England. The moth population was exploding and defoliating New England woodlands.

Reconstruction and reaction

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.

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. 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." Persisting in their conviction that their view of secession was the correct one and that the "lost cause" was a just war, they 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.
These 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 7-year-old "Invisible Empire" of the white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan 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.

Tennessee and Virginia had installed a white-supremacist "Redeemer," or "Home Rule," Democratic regime 3 years earlier, North Carolina 2 years earlier, and Georgia the preceding year. South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas remained under Republican control. Radical Republicans in Congress consistently favored federal intervention in the former Confederate states in order to protect the basic civil rights of black Americans and their white Republican compatriots. Democrats, in contrast, vehemently opposed such federal intervention, voted against Reconstruction legislation, and called for the withdrawal of federal troops from political duty in the South.

After the presidential election, the outgoing 42nd Congress passed the General Amnesty Act, pardoning all but some 500 citizens of the former Confederacy and restoring their civil rights. (The exceptions had been highly placed Confederate leaders.)

The 7-year-old Freedmen's Bureau was allowed to expire.

Without capital, most blacks had little to offer but their labor, and thousands of them, along with thousands of landless poor whites, had become sharecropper farmers--essentially serfs, slaves to the soil and to their creditors. Even those who owned land had a hard time keeping up with debts to store owners for their supplies, and many lost their land and became sharecroppers themselves.

Money, particularly banking capital, remained extremely scarce in the South and was accumulating very slowly. For example, the total capitalization of the banks of Georgia was only $2 million ($31.4 million in 2006 dollars).

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.

In the unfamiliar era of big money and expanding government following the Civil War, corruption flourished. Waste, extravagance, speculation, graft, and fraud at all levels in the United States 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.(4) 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)
The cabinet of President Grant was essentially a nest of incompetents and grafters. Favor seekers plied Grant with wines, cigars, and horses. Several dozen of his in-laws in the Dent family assumed highly paid do-nothing jobs for the administration, which 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.

The New York Sun accused several prominent Republicans of accepting bribes in the form of stock from the 5-year-old Crédit Mobilier company, the construction company that had built the Union Pacific Railroad and that had bribed U.S. Congressmen to stave off investigation into the high personal profits Union Pacific directors had been making, paying themselves dividends of 348% and overcharging for the per-mile construction costs by as much as an additional two thirds. Although most of the graft had taken place during 1867 and 1868, before Grant had taken office, his Vice President, Schuyler Colfax, 49, was implicated in the scandal. The scandal made the autumn's election campaigns exciting and spicy, but Congress waited to investigate itself until afterward.

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.

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.

A growing number of the new working class in the factories were women--about 40,000 working full time in New York City.(5)

Information on working conditions has been quoted from McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993, p. 129. (Close) Most sewed garments--at home or in the factory. Some toiled as shop girls, clerks, governesses, and teachers. They were paid a fraction of what the men received. According to one observer:
The wrongs inflicted upon the working women are many. There are hoop-skirt manufactories where, in the incessant din of machinery, girls stand upon weary feet all day long for fifty cents [$7.85 for the day in 2006 dollars].
Child labor was certainly an abuse of the times:
Long hours of labor were put in on father's farm from an early age.… [Child] workers in factories, mills and mines numbered about 700,000; they worked twelve- to sixteen-hour days and earned around $2.50 per week [$39.25 per week in 2006 dollars], exceedingly cheap labor for greedy employers who ignored what few labor laws were in place at the time.
After lobbying by feminist Belva Ann Lockwood, 42, Congress passed a law providing equal pay for equal work in all federal employment at least.

Workers were struggling to organize themselves into unions. Those in the 3-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. With its slogan

An injury to one is the concern of all
the Knights campaigned to include all workers--the skilled and unskilled, men and women--into "one big union." Blacks, Chinese, and "nonproducers" (lawyers, bankers, stockbrokers, professional gamblers, and liquor dealers) were excluded, however. The Knights advocated such social and economic reform as safety and health codes, an 8-hour workday, the abolition of child labor, equal pay for equal work, arbitration rather than strikes, producers' cooperatives, and currency reform. They insisted that
Labor is the only creator of values and capital.
Here is a stanza from one of their favorite songs:
Hurrah, hurrah, for labor,
it is mustering all its powers,
And shall march along to victory
with the banner of eight hours.

The 6-year-old 600,000-member National Labor Union, headed by William H. Sylvis, 44, 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.)

Because the divided National Labor Union was really more interested in social reforms than in collective bargaining, it had gradually become simply a political organization, the National Labor Reform Party, which had little effect on the presidential election.

Presidential election of 1872

Though there was really little difference between Republican and Democratic voters or between official party platforms on such issues as currency, the tariff, and vain promises for civil-service reform, there was a pronounced difference in style, tone, and religious sentiment. Rank-and-file Republicans--particularly strong in the Midwest and the small-town and rural Northeast, among the grateful freedmen in the South, and among the several thousand Union veterans in the fraternal Grand Army of the Republic (GAR, often said to stand for "Generally All Republicans")--tended to adhere to Calvinistic creeds descended from Puritanism, stressing strict codes of personal morality and advocating government regulation of morality. Democrats, in contrast, still somewhat cursed with the Copperhead label from the Civil War, had a solid base among whites in the vanquished South as well as among immigrant Lutherans and Roman Catholics in the industrial cities of the North (where their votes were controlled by well-oiled political machines); the Northern Democrats, at least, took a less stern view of human weakness than their Republican neighbors and were more tolerant of imperfections. Education and prohibition figured large in local politics between the parties.

[ Chester A. Arthur ] The spoils of patronage--the awarding of government jobs (especially in the postal service) in return for party service, kickbacks, and votes--was vitally important within both parties and was essentially a big business like any other Gilded Age capitalist enterprise. Among the Republicans, those unabashedly advocating time-honored patronage and thoroughly opposed to any reform of the civil service were known as Stalwarts, a faction led by the handsome, imperious New York Senator Roscoe "Lord Roscoe" Conkling, 43, and his protégé Chester Alan Arthur, 43, pictured here, the Collector of the Port of New York. Conkling, mocked 6 years earlier by rival Republican James Gillespie Blaine, 42, Congressman from Maine and currently Speaker of the House, as having a "turkey gobbler strut," was continually depicted by cartoonists as a turkey. For his part, the flashing-eyes, demagogic Blaine led the faction known as Half-Breeds, who gave lip service to civil service reform but who really wanted to displace the Stalwarts as spoils beneficiaries. The two factions stalemated each other and deadlocked the party.

Radical Republicans (populated by both Stalwarts and Half-Breeds), those favoring a tough Reconstruction policy as a means to retain political power, nominated President Grant for reelection in spite of the corruption in his administration. (For most of them, it was because of the corruption, which they were deeply benefiting from.) Since Vice President Colfax was implicated in the Crédit Mobilier scandal, it was important to make a show at least of cleaning up the corruption, so Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson, 60 (who also, ironically, became implicated in the scandal during the subsequent Congressional investigation), was nominated as Grant's running mate.

Grant's opponents derided him as a swindler, a drunkard, and an ignoramus. Writing three and a half decades later, historian Henry Adams, said that

Grant… had no right to exist. He should have been extinct for ages.… That, two thousand years after Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, a man like Grant should be called--and should actually and truly be--the highest product of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous.… The progress of evolution, from President Washington to President Grant, was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin.… Grant… should have lived in a cave and worn skins.(6) From Bailey et al., op. cit., p. 512, quoting Adams, Henry, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907.(Close)
Grant's supporters countered the charges of his being a drunkard and an idiot with the chant "Grant us another term!"

[ Horace Greeley ] Reform-minded citizens who were disgusted with all the scandals unfolding during the Grant administration banded together in the Liberal Republican Party. With the slogan "Turn the Rascals Out!" they demanded the end of corruption through civil service reform, the end of military Reconstruction, and the resumption of specie payments. Candidates at their nominating convention in Cincinnati in May included Salmon Portland Chase, 64, and Charles Francis Adams, 65, and several others, but after they had all annihilated one another, amateurish journalists and scheming politicians secured the nomination of the New York Tribune editor and publisher, the petulant and dogmatic Horace Greeley, 61, pictured here.

[ William Tecumseh Sherman ]

Greeley won the support of civil service reformer Carl Schurz, from malcontent Republicans who had not been able to share in the spoils from the war and from the postwar politics, and--most surprising of all--from Democrats, whom Greeley had long denounced as idiots, saloon keepers, horse thieves, slave shippers, and traitors. But Greeley had pleaded for a clasping of hands "across the bloody chasm," and, of course, the Liberal Republican platform included withdrawal of garrisons from the South. Harper's Weekly cartoonist German immigrant Thomas Nast, 32, depicted Greeley and the Democrats trying to "swallow" each other. General William Tecumseh Sherman, 52, pictured right, wrote from Paris to his brother:
I feel amazed to see the turn things have taken. Grant who never was a Republican is your candidate; and Greeley who never was a Democrat, but quite the reverse, is the Democratic candidate.(7) Quoted in ibid., p. 516.(Close)

Regular Republicans blasted Greeley as a communist, an atheist, a free-lover, a vegetarian, a "brown-bread eater." Greeley did indeed have a reputation as somewhat of a crackpot--basically because of his advocacy at various times of unpopular causes: socialism, temperance, spiritism, and (oh my!) women's rights. The Stalwarts also denounced Greeley for having been a cosigner 4 years earlier for the bail bond of Confederate President Jefferson Davis--surely firm evidence of treason, as the following slogan implied:

Grant beat Davis--Greeley bailed him.
Greeley was heard to comment that he might be running for the penitentiary rather than for the presidency.

[ Victoria Claflin Woodhull ] Spiritualist Victoria Claflin Woodhull, 34, pictured here--a beautiful and eloquent divorcée, a tireless feminist propagandist, a wealthy protogée of the piratical-minded, foghorn-voiced New York railroad baron Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, 78, who had mentored her Wall Street investments--announced that she too was running for President and demanded that women be given the right to vote. Woodhull and her sister, "magnetic healer" Tennessee Celeste Claflin, 26, were publishing Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, which defended abortion, advocated free love, and recommended the licensing and medical inspection of prostitutes. (Their periodical also shocked "respectable" society by exposing the long-standing adulterous affair that famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher, 61, was having with Elizabeth Tilton.) Unfortunately, with the public temperament of Victorian America, Woodhull won few votes.

[ Susan Bromwell Anthony ] Susan Bromwell Anthony, 52, pictured here, from the 3-year-old National Woman Suffrage Association, and several other women's rights advocates were arrested in Rochester, NY, for attempting to vote in the November election.

Republicans and Democrats differed very little on issues, but the race between them was fiercely competitive nonetheless. Each party was tightly organized. On Election Day, hordes of party faithful tramped behind marching bands on the way to the polls. The parties were able to turn out huge numbers of voters--nearly 80% of those eligible. Most of them voted a straight party line, too.

The majority chose the old soldier whose very name stood for patriotism over the journalist who had been wrong as often as he had been right. Grant carried all but six states; he won reelection with 56 percent of the popular vote (3,596,745 to 2,843,446), and with 286 electoral votes to Greeley's 66. Wilson was elected Vice President.

(Within a month of losing the election, Greeley lost his wife, his job (the Tribune's owner, Whitelaw Reid, fired him), and his mind--and then he died.)

The 43rd Congress was also elected, to begin serving during the coming year.

Finally, in December, following the election, the lame-duck 42nd Congress voted to appoint a committee to investigate the Crédit Mobilier company, as though they could have been trusted to investigate the matter fairly. Under the incoming 43rd Congress, however, the investigation would actually confirm some of the worst charges.

Here is how a national magazine that year described train service:

From Chicago to Omaha your train will carry a dining car.… You sit at little tables which comfortably accommodate four persons; you order your breakfast, dinner, or supper from a bill of fare which contains a surprising number of dishes; you eat from snow-white linen… admirably cooked food, and pay a modest price.(8) Quoted in Davidson, James West, and Stoff, Michael B., The American Nation, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, 1995, p. 537. (Close)
The description made no mention of the corrupt and ruthless corporate brigandage that controlled the railroad industry.

Railroad robber baron Jay Gould, 36, had been working in New York City with robber baron financier James "Diamond Jim" Fisk, 38, and State Senator William Marcy "Boss" Tweed, 49 (the Tammany leader, who possessed the loyalty of important immigrant groups, and who since the previous year had been under indictment for fraud in New York City for defrauding the city of at least $30 million [$446 million in 2006 dollars], for profiting from tax favors, and for buying votes), in the so-called "Erie Ring," to enlarge his Erie Railroad after looting its treasury by gobbling up stock in fledgling railroads in the Northeast. In January, business rival Edward S. Stokes (also a rival for the favors of Fisk's mistress, the actress Josie Mansfield) shot Fisk to death. The resulting scandal drew attention to all the corruption that had been flourishing under the administration of President Grant.

The Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road, under the control of the ever-expanding Pennsylvania Railroad, opened between Baltimore and Washington, but with a required transfer via horse car in Baltimore to the other lines heading north from the city.

The burly, ruthless Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, 78, 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.

After a two-decades-long competitive struggle, the New York and New Haven Railroad merged with the Hartford and New Haven Railroad to form the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, with 188 miles of track, all controlled by Vanderbilt.

Excavation began on lowering the tracks of the New York Central Railroad into a giant ditch down Fourth Avenue (Park Avenue) in New York City.

Vanderbilt University was founded in Nashville, TN, with a grant from Commodore Vanderbilt.

As with the 3-year-old Union Pacific and Central Pacific 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 15 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(9):

From Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, 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 [$47.10 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 ($1.1 million) 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--was becoming farmland, and the high-plain prairies of Dakota and Montana Territories was becoming cattle ranges; the white pines of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota was being 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 was making 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, much of it far more clever and subtle than the fleecing now being uncovered by investigations into the Crédit Mobilier scandal. Railroad stock promoters were 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 were forced to charge extortionate rates and to wage ruthless competitive wars.

Meanwhile, railroad barons recruited lobbyists, anointed their own "creatures" into high political office, and bribed 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.

Industrial expansion was now assuming mammoth proportions. 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.

Liquid capital had become abundant. John Pierpont Morgan, 35, of the year-old banking house Drexel, Morgan & Co., with offices in both New York City and Philadelphia, was becoming known as the "banker's banker." Already he was deeply involved in financing railroads, raising large sums in Europe. Rather than merely handing over the funds, however, he persuaded railroads to reorganize in order to achieve greater efficiencies toward the vision of an integrated transportation system.

The 13-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.(10) 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 2-year-old Standard Oil Company of Ohio, now the Standard Oil Trust, directed by abstemious, parsimonious John Davison Rockefeller, 32, was refining 10,000 barrels of kerosene per day and was the largest operation of its kind in the world. Through the Trust Rockefeller had perfected a technique for allying with competitors to monopolize the petroleum market and controlling bothersome rivals; 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. Rockefeller ruthlessly wielded vast power. Weak competitors not part of the trust were plowed under. Rockefeller's unwritten motto was

Let us prey.
In addition to the rebates it received from the railroads, the Trust received drawbacks--fixed rates that the railroads paid for every barrel of oil they carried for a Standard Oil competitor--and competitors paid five times the freight rates enjoyed by Standard Oil.

Congress abolished the federal income tax that had been imposed during the Civil War.

Congress enacted a consumer protection law, prohibiting using the mail for fraudulent purposes. Post Office Chief Special Agent P. A. Woodward began prosecuting

professional cheats [who were] working the most wholesale and barefaced operations, mostly through the mails, without fear of punishment.(11) 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, pp. 548-49. (Close)

Responding to lobbying efforts of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, headed by portly New York moralist and defender of sexual purity Anthony Comstock, 28, Congress passed the Comstock Law in November, making it a criminal offense to import, mail, or transport in interstate commerce

any article of medicine for the prevention of conception or for causing abortion.(12) Quoted in ibid., p. 550. (Close)
Comstock also crusaded against Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin for publishing their exposé of the affair of Reverend Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Tilton. He had the sisters imprisoned under laws forbidding the use of the postal service to distribute "obscene material." (The sisters were later found "not guilty.")

A ski club was founded at Berlin, NH.

The Boston Daily Globe began publication, with 8 pages, twice that of any of the other 10 daily papers in Boston, most selling for 4 cents a copy (63 cents a copy in 2006 dollars), with a combined circulation of less than 170,000.

Boston now radiated out from City Hall to a distance of 2.5 miles, some 25 percent further than the extent 2 decades earlier.

A fire in Boston, ignited by an explosion in a four-story warehouse stocked with hoop skirts, raged for 3 days and destroyed more than 800 buildings in the richest part of the city, including granite and brick warehouses filled with merchandise. Property damage was estimated at $75 million ($1.2 billion in 2006 dollars).

George Harrison Mifflin, 27, became a partner in the 8-year-old Hurd & Houghton Publishing Company in Boston, for which he had been working during the previous 5 years. With partner Henry Oscar Houghton, 49, they changed the name of the firm to Houghton, Mifflin Co.

At the World Peace Jubilee in Boston, composer Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, 43, conducted an orchestra of 1,000 performers, 40 soloists, and a chorus of 10,000 men and women, with cannon roaring, church bells pealing, and 50 firemen beating out the anvil chorus of Il Trovatore on real anvils.

Architect Henry Hobson Richardson, 34, designed Trinity Church in Boston in the Romanesque style.

The 20-year-old ornate Victorian Château-sur-Mer in Newport, RI, of William S. Wetmore was augmented by a French ballroom designed by Richard Morris Hunt.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, chartered 2 years before, opened on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Lyman G. Bloomingdale, 31, with his brothers Joseph Bloomingdale and Gustave Bloomingdale, opened the Great East Side Store (later Bloomingdale's) at 938 Third Avenue in New York City.

Staten Island, NY, photographer Thomas Adams, introduced Black Jack licorice-flavored chewing gum, produced from his large stock of chicle he had purchased from former Mexican President Antonio de Santa Anna (now 77) and a flavor of licorice. The gum directly competed with State of Maine Pure Spruce, which had been on the market for the preceding 20 years.

Albany, NY, printer John Wesley Hyatt, 35, and Rockford, IL, inventor Isaiah Smith Hyatt began production on the product they had patented 3 years earlier (even though it had been patented already 17 years earlier by Alexander Parkes), which they had named celluloid and which could be a substitute for ivory, horn, amber, tortoise-shell in the manufacture of billiard balls, piano keys, men's collars, buttons, dental plates, combs, and other items.

The Grand Union Hotel opened in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Entrepreneur Cyrus Jones, 20, opened a small store in Scranton, PA, that would become the Grand Union Tea Company, selling tea, coffee, spices, baking powder, and flavoring extracts. Jones also peddled his products door to door. His bookkeeper brother Frank, an experienced grocer, joined the enterprise after a few months and helped the sales total $12,000 [$188,000 in 2006 dollars] for the year.

Charles Taze Russell, 20, a Presbyterian layman evangelist from Pittsburgh, published The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return, announcing that Jesus Christ would return in the fall of 1874 without the awareness of mankind; Russell then founded the International Bible Students' Association (later to be known as Jehovah's Witnesses).

E. I. du Pont de Nemours, whose Delaware company had supplied the Union armies with 4 million pounds of explosives during the Civil War and had thereby made exorbitant profits, organized the Gunpowder Trade Association to control the prices of blasting and hunting powder in a market glutted with war surplus powder. The Association undersold competitors who would not join and forced them to yield or to go out of business.

Benjamin Franklin Goodrich, 30, who had been making rubber for the preceding 3 years, founded the B. F. Goodrich Company in Akron, OH.

The University of Toledo was founded in Ohio.

Showman Phineas Taylor Barnum, 62, took his year-old circus, advertised as "The Greatest Show on Earth," on the road, traveling by rail using 65 railcars.

The 4-year-old Rand McNally Company of Chicago printers William Rand and Andrew McNally, 35, heretofore publishing only railway tickets, timetables, and such print jobs, this year published the Railway Guide, its first map.

The 5-year-old Chicago meatpacking firm Armour and Company of "beef baron" Philip Danforth Armour, 40, and John Plankinton installed the world's first chill room in a new plant at Union Stock Yards, abandoning salt curing and instead using natural ice to maintain operations all year round. Armour's brother Simeon opened a slaughterhouse in Kansas City, MO, that could process a thousand head of cattle in a single 10-hour day.

The Chicago Board of Trade moved into a building of its own at LaSalle and Washington.

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 5 years earlier by Oliver H. Kelley, now 46, 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.

The Grangers organized cooperative ventures to purchase farm implements, machinery. feed, seed, clothing, and other necessities. Some local Granges adopted the 28-year-old English Rochedale plan--advocating the cooperative reinvestment of part of retail profit into social and cultural projects targeted to adequately inform and educate consumers--involving voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy and independence, education and training, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for the community.

Aaron Montgomery Ward, 29, whose savings had nearly been consumed by the preceding year's Chicago fire, managed to scrape together $1,600 and went into business with George R. Thorne, who put up $800 ($25,120 and $12,560, respectively, in 2006 dollars). They set up shop in a 12-by-14-foot loft over a livery stable at 825 North Clark Street in Chicago, calling their business "The Original Grange Supply House" (soon to be called Montgomery Ward & Company), and preparing a one-sheet "catalogue" to appeal by mail order to farmers with bargain offerings that could be shipped by mail. On the list were 50 dry-goods items, all priced at $1 or less, with savings of 40 percent. Ward offered a 10 days' grace on orders from Grange officials or that had been countersigned with the Grange seal.

One third of all grain elevators and warehouses in Iowa were Granger owned or controlled.

A bumper U.S. corn crop led to the start of a stock feeder cattle industry in the Midwest.

In a race between Chicago and Council Bluffs, IA, the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad, using its eight-wheel super steam locomotive it had purchased 3 years earlier (it had a boiler encased in German silver, with solid silver headlights, handles, whistles, and pumps), defeated the Chicago and North Western Railroad, covering the distance in only 27 hours with a 19-year-old engineer in the cab and with flagmen at every crossing to keep livestock from blocking the railbed. As a result of the victory, the Chicago & Rock Island won a government contract for all mail west of Chicago.

Former Confederate Raider Jesse Woodson James, 24, organized a gang that included his brother Frank and Thomas Coleman "Cole" Younger, 28, and learned that the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad's eastbound train from Council Bluffs, IA, would be carrying $75,000 ($1.2 million in 2006 dollars) in gold. The gang parted the rails in front of the oncoming train just west of Adair on the main line between Council Bluffs and Des Moines. Engineer John Rafferty was unable to stop the train in time and was killed when his locomotive was derailed. The gold was actually on a later train, so the gang got away with only $3,000 ($47,000) from the express messenger and another $3,000 from the passengers.

General store part owner John A. Kimberley, New York City greenhorn Charles B. Clark, and two other entrepreneurs started the Kimberley and Clark, Inc., paper mill on the Menominee Indian Reservation near Neenah, WI.

The year-old Minneapolis firm C. A. Pillsbury & Company, directed by Charles Alfred Pillsbury, 30, introduced Pillsbury's Best XXXX Flour.

Elisha Gray, 37, founded Western Electric Company--with Anson Stager as president and Enos Melancthon Barton, 29, as salesman--to sell telegraphic equipment and to pursue experiments on an electric telephone device.

The 10-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 ($157.00 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 ($19.63 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, more than 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.

Mennonite farmers in the Crimea, after learning that Russian Tsar Aleksandr II, 53, planned to cancel the special rights they had been granted 89 years earlier--exemption from military service, freedom of worship, the right to have their own schools and speak their own German language--sent Therpenije miller's son Bernard Warkentin, Jr., 23, and three other well-to-do young men from the Molotschna (Milk River) district on a scouting expedition to the U.S. Warkentin established a base in Summerfield, IL, where some Mennonite families had settled earlier, and attended McKendree College there to improve his English. He traveled with his companions from Pennsylvania to Wyoming, from Texas through the Dakotas and into Manitoba, and wrote home to encourage his countrymen to emigrate.

Buffalo hunters on the plains south of the Platte River, brought there by the expanding railroads and the growing market back east for hides (buffalo robes were considered very fashionable, and, selling at a price of less than a dollar each [less than $16 each in 2006 dollars], the demand for them was insatiable) and meat (sometimes just for tongues and a few other choice cuts), killed millions of buffalo--sometimes at the rate of 100 animals per hour. There was also a brisk, faddish demand for mounted buffalo heads. (Of course, there was another important motive: to ruin the way of life of the Plains Indians, and in doing so, the hunters were ignoring the terms of the Medicine Lodge Treaty.) Many of the "hunters" considered themselves "sportsmen," and as they leaned out of the lurching railroad trains, they blazed away at the animals with repeating rifles. Most of the buffalo carcasses, and certainly the parts not deemed worthy to market, were left to rot in the sun, to be picked by the vultures. Continuing from the preceding year, the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia engaged in a gigantic hunt in the company of William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody, 26, the Seventh U.S. Cavalry under General Philip Henry Sheridan, 41, and several hundred Indians.

Dodge City, KS, had grown in just a year from a sod house on the Santa Fe Trail just west of Fort Dodge. It now had a general store, three dance halls, and six saloons. Now the Santa Fe Railroad reached the village, and buffalo hunters began shipping hundreds of thousands of buffalo hide, buffalo tongues, and buffalo hindquarters to market on that railroad.

Replacing the buffalo 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. They were 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.

Cattle drives on the 700-mile-long Chisholm Trail from San Antonio, TX, to Abilene or Ellsworth, KS (two "cow towns" on the Kansas Pacific Railway, where cattle could be transported to Kansas City or Chicago to supply beef baron Armour), continued on a large scale, hundreds of thousands of Texas long-horned steers (with horn spreads reaching 8 feet) driven north on the "Long Drive," moving at an average 12 miles per day through open (unfenced), unsettled country that provided abundant grass and water for the animals. (Driving their bawling cattle en route through Indian Territory [present-day Oklahoma], the white, black, and Mexican cowboys were ignoring the terms of the 5-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.")

Historian John Garraty has described what it was like in the "cow towns"(13):

From Garraty, op. cit., pp. 494-95.(Close)
"Cow towns" [such as Abilene and Ellsworth] were… riotous and… venal.… "I have seen many fast towns," one tough westerner declared, "but Abilene beat them all." A local merchant characterized that town as a "seething, roaring, flaming hell"; its saloons bearing names like Alamo, Applejack, Longhorn, and Old Fruit, were packed during the season with crowds of rambunctious, gun-toting pleasure seekers. Gambling houses and brothels abounded. When Ellsworth, Kansas, had a population of only a thousand, it had 75 resident professional gamblers. At dance halls like Rowdy Joe's, the customers were expected to buy drinks for themselves and their partners after each dance. Little wonder that [Chicago livestock dealer and Abilene Mayor Joseph Geating] McCoy [later wrote]:
Few more wild, reckless scenes of abandoned debauchery can be seen on the civilized earth than a dance hall in full blast in one of these frontier towns.

Francis Amasa Walker, 32, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, reported his "progress" in implementing the government's paternalistic policy toward the Indians--placing them on new reservations, setting up schools, issuing rations to Indians who had no more game(14):

Quoted in Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Oxford History of the American People, New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 751. (Close)
Every year's advance of our frontier takes in a territory as large as some of the kingdoms of Europe. We are richer by hundreds of millions, the Indian is poorer by a large part of the little that he has. This growth is bringing imperial greatness to the nation; to the Indian it brings wretchedness, destitution, beggary.

General George Crook was busy leading columns to subdue Apaches in Arizona Territory. At the end of December, one of Crook's columns approached an Apache stronghold established in a cave etched out of a sheer cliff bordering the Salt River. Captain John G. Bourke led a unit engaged in the assault and recalled his experience 19 years after the event(15):

"Eyewitness to History through the Eyes of Those Who Lived It" (Ibis Communications, Inc., copyright 1997-2007, at, citing Bourke, John G., "General Crook in Indian Country," Century Magazine (1891); and Brown, Dee, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (1991); accessed 11 January 2007. (Close)
We moved onward again for three or four hours until we reached a small grassy glade, where we discovered fifteen Pima ponies, which must have been driven up the mountain by Apache raiders that very night; the sweat was hardly crusted on their flanks, their hoofs were banged against the rocks, and their knees were full of the thorns of the cholla cactus, against which they had been driven in the dark. There was no moon, but the glint of stars gave enough light to show that we were in a country filled with huge rocks and adapted most admirably for defense. There in front, almost within touch of the hand, that line of blackness blacker than all the other blackness about us was the canyon of the Salt River. We looked at it well, since it might be our grave in an hour, for we were now within rifle shot of our quarry.

Nantaje [an Apache scout] now asked that a dozen picked men be sent forward with him, to climb down the face of the precipice and get into place in front of the cave in order to open the attack; immediately behind them should come fifty more, who should make no delay in their advance; a strong detachment should hold the edge of the precipice to prevent any of the hostiles from getting above them and killing our people with their rifles. The rest of our force could come down more at leisure, if the movement of the first two detachments secured the key of the field; if not, they could cover the retreat of the survivors up the face of the escarpment.

Lieutenant William J. Ross, of the 21st Infantry, was assigned to lead the first detachment, which contained the best shots from among the soldiers, packers, and scouts. The second detachment came under my own orders. Our pioneer party slipped down the face of the precipice without accident, following a trail from which an incautious step would have caused them to be dashed to pieces; after a couple of hundred yards this brought them face to face with the cave, and not two hundred feet from it. In front of the cave was the party of raiders, just returned from their successful trip of killing and robbing in the settlements near Florence, on the Gila River. They were dancing to keep themselves warm and to express their joy over their safe return. Half a dozen or more of the squaws had arisen from their slumbers and were bending over a fire and hurriedly preparing refreshments for their valorous kinsmen. The fitful gleam of the glowing flame gave a Macbethian tinge to the weird scene and brought into bold relief the grim outlines of the cliffs between whose steep walls, hundreds of feet below, growled the rushing current of the swift Salado.

The Indians, men and women, were in high good humor, and why should they not be? Sheltered in the bosom of these grim precipices only the eagle, the hawk, the turkey buzzard, or the mountain sheep could venture to intrude upon them. But hark! What is that noise? Can it be the breeze of morning which sounds 'Click, click'? You will know in one second more, poor, deluded, red-skinned wretches, when the 'Bang! Boom!' of rifles and carbines, reverberating like the roar of cannon from peak to peak, shall lay six of your number dead in the dust.

The cold, gray dawn of that chill December morning was sending its first rays above the horizon and looking down upon one of the worst bands of Apaches in Arizona, caught like wolves in a trap. They rejected with scorn our summons to surrender, and defiantly shrieked that not one of our party should escape from that canyon. We heard their death song chanted, and then out of the cave and over the great pile of rock which protected the entrance like a parapet swarmed the warriors. But we outnumbered them three to one, and poured in lead by the bucketful. The bullets, striking the roof and mouth of the cave, glanced among the savages in the rear of the parapet and wounded some of the women and children, whose wails filled the air.

During the heaviest part of the firing a little boy, not more than four years old, absolutely naked, ran out at the side of the parapet and stood dumfounded between the two fires. Nantaje, without a moment's pause, rushed forward, grasped the trembling infant by the arm, and escaped unhurt with him inside our lines. A bullet, probably deflected from the rocks, had struck the boy on the top of the head and plowed round to the back of the neck, leaving a welt an eighth of an inch thick, but not injuring him seriously. Our men suspended their firing to cheer Nantaje and welcome the new arrival: such is the inconsistency of human nature.

Again the Apaches were summoned to surrender, or, if they would not do that, to let such of their women and children as so desired pass out between the lines; and again they yelled their defiant refusal. Their end had come. The detachment left by Major Brown at the top of the precipice, to protect our retreat in case of necessity, had worked its way over to a high shelf of rock overlooking the enemy beneath, and began to tumble down great boulders which speedily crushed the greater number of the Apaches. The Indians on the San Carlos reservation still mourn periodically for the seventy-six of their relatives who yielded up the ghost that morning. Every warrior died at his post. The women and children had hidden themselves in the inner recesses of the cave, which was of no great depth, and were captured and taken to Camp McDowell. A number of them had been struck by glancing bullets or fragments of failing rock. As soon as our pack-trains could be brought up we mounted the captives on our horses and mules and started for the nearest military station, the one just named, over fifty miles away.

Chiracahua Apache Chief Cochise, 60, who had for years been leading his warriors out of his hideout in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona in guerilla raids against white settlers, made peace at last with General Oliver Otis Howard, appointed as the Indian commissioner, who agreed to establish a Chiricahua Apache reservation in Arizona separate from that of the Mescalero Apaches.

Due to the lobbying of Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, 43, Yellowstone National Park was established by an act of the 42nd Congress setting aside a 2-million-acre tract of wilderness in Wyoming Territory. Explorer Nathaniel Pitt Langford, 39, was named superintendent.

Prospectors Francis Marion Smith, 26, and William Tell Coleman, 48, discovered calcium borate deposits near Columbus, NV. The material from which borax can be derived was at first called colemanite. Smith and Coleman organized the Pacific Coast Borax Company, gaining a world monopoly on borax, useful for making glass, porcelain, enamel, as well as in tanning leather and in making soap.

Thousands of Chinese immigrants were fleeing the disintegrating Chinese Empire and coming to the United States, at an annual rate during this decade of 12,320. Most were men (the ratio was 21 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).

The University of Oregon was founded in Eugene.

An international tribunal in Geneva awarded $15.5 million ($243 million in 2006 dollars) in damages to the U.S. for depredations done by the Alabama and other Confederate cruisers that had been built in England during the Civil War. German Emperor Wilhelm I, the arbitrator in the dispute between the U.S. and the United Kingdom, awarded the San Juan Islands to the U.S.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

Thomaston, ME, inventor John F. Blondell, patented a doughnut cutter with a spring-propelled rod to push out the dough of a center tube; Luther Chicks Crowell improved on the 22-year-old flat-bottomed paper bag machine; black inventor Elijah McCoy created a special device that oiled engines automatically; Irish immigrant engineer William Robinson, 32, patented a system of automatic electric signaling for railroads; and New York manufacturer George Westinghouse, 26, made his air brakes, which he had invented 4 years earlier, automatic, permitting a locomotive engineer to set the brakes simultaneously throughout an entire train by means of a steam-driven air pump, thereby further enhancing the safety and efficiency of train operation.

Scientist Edward Weston built a dynamo that was feasible for electroplating; Vermont physician Frank Hamilton published Principles and Practice of Surgery; Virginia astronomer Henry Draper began using photography in his studies of nebulae; and motion picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, 42, designed a crude movie projector he called a "zoopraxiscope," which proved photographically for the benefit of Central Pacific Railroad president Leland Stanford that all four feet of a running horse were off the ground at some point in the animal's stride.

According to a columnist in the New York Tribune, reporting on an enthusiastic crowd who had braved a terrible blizzard to hear a lecture on light delivered by British physicist John Tyndall(16):

This and the following quote are from Garraty, op. cit., p. 548. (Close)
The people have a wonderful appetite for science just now.
Within months Americans purchased more than 100,000 copies of Tyndall's lectures. Returning to England, the physicist proclaimed that
mechanical ingenuity engages a greater number of minds in the United States than in any other nation.

Philosophy and religion in America: Specifics

Bearded and rotund Chicago preacher Dwight Lyman Moody, 35, weighing nearly 300 pounds, a former shoe salesman who adapted old-time religion to the facts of city life, could hold huge audiences spellbound. With the help of gospel singer Ira A. Sankey, Moody operated the North Side Tabernacle. During this year, Moody traveled again to England, accepting an invitation of the Arundel Square Congregational Church in London; there he converted some 400 penitents.

Political orator and agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll, 39, champion of the so-called "Golden Age of Freethought" and promoter of the evolution theories of Charles Darwin, published his The Gods, attacking conventional religious belief(17):

Quoted from Positive Atheism's Big List of Robert Green Ingersoll Quotations,, copyright 1996-2006, by Cliff Walker, accessed 8 January 2007. (Close)
We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.
Here is another quote from that book:
The doctrine that future happiness depends upon belief is monstrous. It is the infamy of infamies. The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called "faith." What man, who ever thinks, can believe that blood can appease God? And yet, our entire system of religion is based upon that belief. The Jews pacified Jehovah with the blood of animals, and according to the Christian system, the blood of Jesus softened the heart of God a little, and rendered possible the salvation of a fortunate few. It is hard to conceive how the human mind can give assent to such terrible ideas, or how any sane man can read the Bible and still believe in the doctrine of inspiration.
And another:
We are satisfied that there can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.
And still another:
The founder of a religion must be able to turn water into wine--cure with a word the blind and lame, and raise with a simple touch the dead to life. It was necessary for him to demonstrate to the satisfaction of his barbarian disciple, that he was superior to nature. In times of ignorance this was easy to do. The credulity of the savage was almost boundless. To him the marvelous was the beautiful, the mysterious was the sublime. Consequently, every religion has for its foundation a miracle--that is to say, a violation of nature--that is to say, a falsehood.

No one, in the world's whole history, ever attempted to substantiate a truth by a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of a miracle. Nothing but falsehood ever attested itself by signs and wonders. No miracle ever was performed, and no sane man ever thought he had performed one, and until one is performed, there can be no evidence of the existence of any power superior to, and independent of, nature.

The book, called the Bible, is filled with passages equally horrible, unjust and atrocious. This is the book to be read in schools in order to make our children loving, kind and gentle! This is the book they wish to be recognized in our Constitution as the source of all authority and justice!
As long as every question is answered by the word "God," scientific inquiry is simply impossible.

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

Former San Francisco News Letter editor Andrew Gwinnett Bierce, 30, published The Friend's Delight and Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California; and Southern poet Paul Hamilton Hayne published Legends and Lyrics. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 66, deplored the brassy Gilded Age:
Ah, woe is me!
I hoped to see my country rise to heights
Of happiness and freedom yet unreached
By other nations, but the climbing wave
Pauses, lets go its hold, and slides again
Back to the common level, with a hoarse
Death-rattle in its throat. I am too old
To hope for better days.

Painter George Catlin, famous for his portraits of Indians, died in Jersey City, NJ, at the age of 76.

Harlan E. Halsey was making a fortune dashing off hundreds of dime novels each year, read by goggle-eyed youths behind the broad covers of serious but boring books.

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 1872

The 9-year-old worldwide cholera epidemic continued.

Scots immigrant Robert Simpson opened his Simpson's department store on Yonge Street in Toronto.

Cuban rebellion

Hostilities continued.

Four weeks after sailing from New York City en route to Genoa, Italy, the brigantine Mary Celeste was found sailing on a starboard tack, abandoned in the middle of the Atlantic; all 10 crewmen who had been aboard at embarkation were missing, but the cargo and stores were intact.

The British Parliament passed the Ballot Act, providing for secret voting.

Parliament passed the strict Adulteration of Food, Drink and Drugs Act, amending the milder act of 12 years earlier, punishing the sale of adulterated drugs and outlawing the sale any mixture containing ingredients added merely to increase weight or bulk--such as chicory in coffee--without acknowledging the additives.

In an effort to curb excessive drunkenness, Liberals in Parliament were able to get the Licensing Act passed, establishing strict limits on the number and kinds of places where alcoholic beverages could be sold and the hours that such places could be opened. Riots occurred in some places in response to the act, and many publicans and brewers joined the Conservative (Tory) Party.

C. P. Scott became editor of the Manchester Guardian.

The 9-year-old department store of London merchant William Whiteley in Bayswater, selling dry goods (drapery and haberdashery), jewelry, and oriental novelties, now installed an in-store restaurant.

British annual consumption of sugar reached 47 pounds per capita, up 400 percent from a century before.

The 2,306-ton wooden corvette HMS Challenger, with coal-burining steam engines to augment her sails and provide greater maneuverability, embarked on a 4-year voyage of 69,000 nautical miles to collect specimens and extend human knowledge of animal and plant life in the sea.

England and Scotland contended in the first International Association football (soccer) game.

Porcelain rollers were installed in a new flour mill built in Glasgow, Scotland.

Russian anarchist Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin, 58, living in exile, who 4 years earlier had founded the Alliance internationale de la démocratie sociale, was now expelled from the First International meeting of socialists in The Hague.

The forces of King Amadeus I of Spain, 27, routed the Carlist insurgents under the pretender to the throne, Don Carlos (cousin to Amadeus, claiming a "superior" right to the throne through the male line), in the Battle of Oroquista. Don Carlos took refuge in the Pyrenees.

[ Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck ] German First Chancellor Count Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, 57, pictured here, was instrumental in securing in Berlin the Three Emperors' League, an alliance of Prussia, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Its purpose was to soothe the enmity between Austria-Hungary and Russia and to isolate France.

As part of Bismarck's year-old Kulturkampf effort to control the Roman Catholic Church, Jesuits were expelled from Germany. German theologian David Friedrich Strauss, 64, published Der alte und der neue Glaube ("The Old Faith and the New"), professing an abandonment of spiritual philosophy for the materialism of modern science.

Construction began on the St. Gotthard tunnel through the Alps, an effort that would take 9 years to complete.

Italian patriot and nationalist Giuseppi Mazzini died at the age of 67.

Italian entrepreneur Giovanni Battista Pirelli opened a shop in Milan that would grow to become Pirelli and Co., with large rubber plantations in Java and factories in many countries.

King Charles IV of Sweden died in Malmo at the age of 46 and was succeeded by his brother, Oscar II, 43.

Turks planned to reorganize the Ottoman Empire, but Balkan nationalities and Russia frustrated the plans.

German Egyptologist Georg Moritz Ebers, 35, discovered a papyrus at Thebes, known thereafter as the "Ebers papyrus," the oldest known compendium of ancient Egyptian medical writing. Included in the document was a formula for a tampon medicated to prevent conception.

Ismail Pasha of Egypt, 42, extended his rule into Sudan.

The strongman of Tigre ascended to the throne of Ethiopia and ruled as the King of Kings Johannes IV.

T. F. Burgers was elected President of the Transvaal Republic in South Africa.

British Museum assistant George Smith, 32, deciphered a cuneiform tablet bearing the Gilgamesh legend of 3000 B.C., with an Assyrian account of a great flood corresponding to the account in Genesis.

The coffee rust (Hamileia vastatrix), which had appeared in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 3 years earlier, was spreading throughout the Orient, wiping out coffee plantations and causing coffee prices to soar.

Japan instituted compulsory military service.

Buddhist priests in Japan were permitted to take wives and to eat meat. Emperor Meiji Mutsihito, 20, started a fad for beef eating among his more affluent countrymen. Most Japanese, however, could not bear the smell of people who had eaten animal fats. Also, very few Japanese could afford meat anyway.

The Oriental Bank of England financed an 18-mile railroad between Tokyo and Yokohama, built under the supervision of 16 English engineers, and the opening ceremonies were held at the Shimbashi and Yokohama terminals.

A telegraph line connecting Adelaide with Port Darwin in Australia was opened.

World science and technology

English gunsmith John Farquharson patented the single-shot Farquharson Rifle with a falling-block action that would be produced in Bristol by George Gibbs and copied widely by various other European firms; and Belgian electrician Zenobe Theophile Gramme, 46, perfected an industrial dynamo employing a ring winding of the same type invented independently 12 years earlier by Italian physicist Antonio Pacinotti.

French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, 50, published a classic paper describing the role of microorganisms in fermentation.

German botanist and microscopist Ferdinand Julius Cohn, 44, published the bacteriology foundational Researches on Bacteria; German-Austrian surgeon Christian Albert Theodor Billroth, 43, made the world's first resection of the esophagus; and German mathematician Georg Cantor defined irrational numbers in terms of rational numbers.

British scientist William Thomson (later to be named Baron Kelvin of Largs), 48, invented a machine by which ships could take accurate soundings while at sea.

World philosophy and religion

German philosopher Ludwig Feurerbach died at the age of 68.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

American ex-pat painter-etcher James Abbot McNeill Whistler, 38, unveiled The Artist's Mother (Mrs. George Washington Whistler or Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 3); English artist and novelist Samuel Butler, 37, anonymously published the satire Erewhon, or Over the Range, about a country devoid of machinery and poking fun at vegetarianism through one character's "The Rights of Vegetables," which advocated the dining only on cabbages that had died of natural causes; novelist-architect Thomas Hardy, 32, published Under the Greenwood Tree; and novelist Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), 40, published the fantasy Through the Looking Glass.

World arts and culture

Austrian dramatist Franz Grillparzer died at the age of 81, and French author Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier died at the age of 61.

Russian novelist and dramatist Ivan Turgenev, 54, published A Month in the Country; Italian actress Eleanore Duse, 13, made her debut appearing as Juliet in Shakespeare's play performed in Verona; French actress Sarah Bernhardt (née Rosine Bernard), 28, began a 10-year career with the Comédie-Française in Paris and was acclaimed for her portrayal of Cordelia in Shakespeare's King Lear; and French dramatist Alphonse Daudet, 32, published Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon and produced L'Arlesienne ("The Woman of Arles") at the Vaudeville Théâtre in Paris.

French composer Alexandre Charles Lecocq, 40, produced La Fille de Mme. Angot in Brussels; French composer Georges (Alexander César Leopold) Bizet, 34, produced incedental music to Daudet's L'Arlesienne as well as the opera Djamileh at the Opéra-Comique in Paris; French composer Charles Camille Saint-Saëns, 36, produced the opera La Princess Jaune at the Opéra-Comique; and Austrian composer Anton Bruckner, 48, produced Mass in F minor at Vienna.

French artist Gustave Doré, 40, painted London scenes; French painter Hilaire German Edgar Degas, 38, unveiled Le Foyer de la Danse; French Impressionist artist Claude Oscar Monet, 32, exhibited Impression: Sunrise; Swiss symobolist painter Arnold Böcklin, 45, unveiled Battle of the Centaurs; and German Impressionist painter Max Liebermann exhibited Women Plucking Geese.


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