Christ's Lutheran Church in 1873

[ Christ's Church on the Sawkill ]

Pastor William Sharts, 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 ] By April the debt was paid on the parsonage, purchased the year before and pictured here (to enlarge the picture and see other views, just click it), and the deed was presented to the trustees. The deed for the church itself was also held by the trustees.

Through the efforts of councilman Fradenburg, the congregation purchased from the Reformed Dutch Church of West Hurley a new bell (to replace the unusable cast-iron bell that had cracked several years before), weighing 400 pounds. The cost was $80 ($1,256 in 2006 dollars) (it was said to be worth $130 [$2,041]). This "new" bell was actually quite old (it had been cast in 1816) and had hung for several years in the steeple of the First Reformed Dutch Church in Kingston. 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)
It had none of the improvements of these times and was rung the same as a fire bell. It was in use as long as we occupied the old church.
The old bell was sold for $8 ($126 in 2006 dollars).

Pastor Sharts noted that Sunday School was very small ("sometimes none") and that the Bible School was not well attended:

Great indifference manifest in the cong[regation].(2) From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], p. 54. (Close)
In addition to the detailed and meticulous minutes that Pastor Sharts entered in the pastoral record book, he also maintained a separate record of all the texts he based each sermon on, where he preached, what the weather and road conditions were, and--as you can see--an idea of the attendance.

A Fourth of July revival festival was held in the pine grove at the church. Revivals were frowned on by the conservative New York Ministerium, but they were embraced by the newer Hartwick Synod (of which our church was a member). The festival was a success, raising $126 ($1,978 in 2006 dollars). Former Pastor Thomas Lape, 72, was guest speaker and was paid $4 ($62.80).

The congregation voted to pay the sexton, Morgan Lasher, $12 per year ($188.40 per year in 2006 dollars) for the work that he had been doing gratis.

The congregation also sent $5 ($78.50 in 2006 dollars) to support Professor Titus at Hartwick Seminary.

Pastor Sharts and Eugene Nash attended a Synod Conference in West Camp, the pastor serving as secretary. (The Conference was a small group of churches in the area. The Hartwick Synod included several Conferences.)

The pastor noted that he had for some time past been holding evening services every other week at the Herrick School House, and that this had evidently become a permanent appointment.

In July Pastor Sharts called a meeting of the council after church, because they were in arrears in paying his salary of $350 per year ($5,495 per year in 2006 dollars); apparently they owed him $69.25 ($1,087.23), nearly 20 percent. In August, the council decided to use the "envelope system" for collecting the pastor's salary.

Also, the congregation was invited to a "bee" to draw coal for the pastor. It was typical of the congregation to provide fuel for heating a parsonage, but this congregation had never before owned a parsonage and so needed prompting.

The annual fair organized by the ladies in the congregation continued to provide a large portion of the annual funds for the church.

Former Pastor William I. Cutter served at the Pine Grove Church, the satellite of Christ's Lutheran.

The Woodstock Region in 1873

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(3):

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, pp. 268-69, citing Snyder, Byron, recollections in the Woodstock Weekly, 1924. (Close)
Molasses… was bought by the hogshead. There were generally three of these big hogsheads barrels holding sixty-three gallons or more. One of Porto Rico, one of black strap and one of real New Orleans. The best New Orleans molasses you can get now [1924] bears only a faint resemblance to the delicious, golden sugary nectar once known as extra fancy N. O.… pure maple sugar was worth from eight to twelve cents a pound [$1.25 to $1.88 a pound in 2006 dollars].

Oysters were plentiful and cheap, everybody ate them. Clams cost from thirty to forty cents a hundred [$4.71 to $6.28 a hundred in 2006 dollars]. After the opening of the shad season everybody lived on fish. You could buy a big roe shad, the very biggest full of eggs, for twenty-five cents [$3.93].… Herring were so cheap and plentiful that the farmers would go to the Hudson river and when the nets were drawn buy a wagon load for two dollars [$31.40].… they would drop a fish in each hill of corn.… Sturgeon meat… was sold by the chunk. As big a chunk as you wanted for ten cents [$1.57].

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

Woodstock's 2-year-old Overlook Mountain House was struggling along, trying to compete with the 50-year-old Catskill Mountain House near Kaaterskill Clove. The management had long been waiting for the promised visit by President Grant. Finally, in July, the President left his summer White House at Long Branch, NJ, and traveled to Kingston, where he was met by his old Army buddy, General George H. Sharpe, local Republican boss president of the New York, Kingston & Syracuse Railroad (the N.Y.,K.&S.), and recently appointed by Grant to be surveyor of customs of the Port of New York. The two of them, accompanied by the President's secretary, General Babcock, and a couple of cabinet officials, took a special train to the West Hurley station and then by stagecoach through Woodstock and up the mountain. Brass bands and cheering crowds greeted them all along the way. The hotel itself was draped with flowers and greenery. During his single night's stay, Grant, never very fond of music, stoically endured band after band, chorus after chorus, and soloist after soloist, finally revealing his boredom as the hundred voices of the Hutchinson Family chorus sang "America." The President's enemies wrote scandalous newspaper stories of how much whiskey he had drunk.

During the rest of the hotel's season, there were shooting and croquet matches, shadow pantomimes, dances, and other entertainments. The resident pianist, Professor A. Lee Van Buren of Kingston, composer of the Overlook Hotel Waltz, played excellent parlor piano, and gave music lessons. 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.

The N.Y.,K.&S. Railroad now stretched from Kingston, up through the Esopus Valley, over the Pine Hill, and into Delaware County as far as Stamford, with its objective as Syracuse. After only 3 years since its first passenger train made it from Kingston to the West Hurley station, the railroad was converting the towns along its route into summer resorts. According to the Kingston Daily Freeman,

It is astonishing to see the number of city people who are spending the summer along the line of the N.Y., K. & S. R.R., not only is Delaware County flooded, Pine Hill and Shandaken are filled to overflowing, but even lower down in the town of Olive, boarders are spending their vacations. Shokan has a large number of these folks, most of them are young ladies in moderate circumstances who came into the country to spend their short vacations climbing the mountains, picking berries, and drinking fresh milk. Their board bills are very much less than if they remained in the city.(4) 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, pp. 466-67, citing the Kingston Daily Freeman, August 12, 1873. (Close)
Many of the boarders were German-speaking immigrants--Protestants, Catholics, and Jews--who liked to sing jolly songs rather than Puritanical hymns. They made more noise and dressed more gaily than those with sober English habits.

The N.Y.,K.&S. Railroad was, unfortunately, in considerable trouble, because Roxbury native and robber baron Jay Gould, 37, had been working in New York City with William Marcy "Boss" Tweed, 50, to enlarge his Erie Railroad by gobbling up stock in fledgling railroads in the Northeast. Local citizens along the route, who had invested well over a million dollars ($15.7 million in 2006 dollars) into the venture were worried about what the "railroad pirates" Gould and Tweed might be up to, that they might be trying to ruin the "people's railroad." It was apparent that the N.Y.,K.&S. management, including its president, General Sharpe, was not dealing openly with the investors. The Kingston Argus stated that

this railroad as a robbing machine has no equal.(5) Much of the wording and all of the quotations concerning the railroad are from ibid., p. 465, citing the Kingston Daily Freeman, September 27, 1872, and November 29, 1873; the Kingston Argus, January 21, 1874. (Close)
Wild rumors had been circulating throughout the Catskills; citizens were concerned that soon thugs hired by Gould and Tweed would be doing whatever was needed to destroy the line, as their thugs had done 4 years earlier in the struggle with transportation magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt for control of the Erie. By the fall, workers on the N.Y.,K.&S. were leaving because their wages had not been paid. The trains and roadbeds were deteriorating, and the railroad stock was sinking even lower, until, in the words of the Kingston Daily Freeman,
it was not worth a copper.
As the entire country sank into a financial depression resulting from the Panic of 1873, Director Isaac W. Longyear was having money trouble. He vanished from the board, and the station named Longyear's changed its name to Mount Pleasant. Railroads all over were ailing. When freight shipments fell off, the Hudson River line laid off 400 workers. The 40-year-old Sullivan County tannery Palen and Company, heavily invested in the New York, Oswego & Midland Railway, went bankrupt, and then that railroad line was headed for collapse as well. Regional historian Alf Evers has described what happened next:
Near the end of November, Tweed was sentenced to imprisonment for twelve years. As the onetime boss moped in his cell a few days later, a court-appointed [receiver, Elisha M. Brigham,] tried to take possession of the offices of the N.Y..K.&S. The manager refused to admit him. [Brigham] returned with a band of fifteen or twenty armed men. Manager Litchfield and his aides met them boldly--they were armed with bits of heavy railroad gear and one of them flourished a pistol. After a few blows were exchanged and a few men injured, [Brigham] took possession. It was all in true Jay Gould style.(6) Quoted directly from ibid., p. 466, citing the Kingston Daily Freeman, November 29, 1873; as Evers pointed out: "For a different version of the brawl see the biographical sketch of Elisha M. Brigham, the receiver, in Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, New York, Chicago, 1896, p. 39." (Close)

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.

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

The United States in 1873

[ Ulysses S. Grant ]

Ulysses S. Grant, 51 (Republican), was President. The newly elected 43rd Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $15.70 in 2006 for most consumable products.

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

Larvae of the gypsy moth (Porthetria dispar) continued to spread from Medford, MA, where French naturalist Leopold Trouvelot had brought the insect from Europe 4 years earlier with hopes to start a silk industry in New England. The moth population was exploding and defoliating American woodlands.

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.(7) 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.

Further evidence of corruption in the Grant administration continued to emerge. The 43rd Congress investigated the scandal of the 6-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. Now it was determined that some $47 million of contracts had given Crédit Mobilier a profit of $21 million and had left Union Pacific and other investors near bankruptcy. Thirteen Congressional members were investigated, and Massachusetts Congressman Oakes Ames, 68, and New York Congressman James Brooks, 62, were censured for bribe taking. A number of other political figures had their careers theoretically damaged, including, of course, outgoing Vice President Schuyler Colfax, but also Ohio Congressman James Abram Garfield, 41, New Hampshire Senator James Wills Patterson, 49, and Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson, the newly elected Vice President. There were no prosecutions, however. (Does any of this sound familiar?)

The country is fast becoming filled with gigantic corporations wielding and controlling immense aggregations of money and thereby commanding great influence and power. It is notorious in many state legislatures that these influences are often controlling.(8) 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. 551. (Close)

And here was former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Edward Ryan:

There is looming up a new and dark pawer.... The enterprises in the country are aggravating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marching, not for economical conquests only, but for political power.(9) Quoted in Nichols, John, "The Spirit of Wisconsin: How Scott Walker's Unionbusting Spurred a Popular Uprising," The Nation, March 21,2011, p. 15. (Close)

State Senator William Marcy "Boss" Tweed, 50, the Tammany leader, who possessed the loyalty of important immigrant groups, and who had been indicted 2 years earlier for fraud in New York City--having defrauded the city of at least $200 million ($2.9 billion in 2006 dollars), having profited from tax favors, and having bought votes--was convicted for his larceny and forgery and sentenced to 12 years in prison. His henchmen fled to Europe to escape incarceration.

The Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road, under the control of the ever-expanding Pennsylvania Railroad, which had the previous year opened between Baltimore and Washington (but with a required transfer via horse car in Baltimore to the other lines heading north from the city), was now able to use the newly completed Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel through Baltimore. The Pennsylvania Railroad initiated the misleadingly named "Pennsylvania Air Line" service via the Northern Central Railway and Columbia--54.5 miles longer than the old route via the Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (PW&B) but avoiding a transfer in Baltimore. (In July the Union Railroad opened, eliminating this transfer, so the Pennsylvania contracted with the Union Railroad and the PW&B.) New York-Washington trains began using that route the next day, ending the "Pennsylvania Air Line."

The 22-year-old Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad now extended to Chicago on its own rails.

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad, founded 4 years earlier by Bank of California officers William Ralston, William Sharon, and Darius Ogden Mills, produced $100,000 per month ($1.57 million per month in 2006 dollars) in dividends for its three founders when the Great Bonanza vein opened, thereby increasing lucrative freight.

As with the 4-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 14 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(10):

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.

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.

They would also feel it necessary to wage ruthless competitive wars, such as the battle between the rapacious robber baron Jay Gould, 37, and ruthless transportation magnate Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, 79. Vanderbilt had by this time extended his Hudson River Railroad, New York Central Railroad, and Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad to Chicago and wanted to gain control of the Erie Railroad, which Gould controlled. Gould "watered down" the Erie's stock, which Vanderbilt bought in large amounts, incurring losses of more than $7 million ($110 million in 2006 dollars). Vanderbilt would later comment on this loss:

Never kick a skunk.
Vanderbilt had been very accustomed to getting what he wanted--even when he had to disregard the law. Here is another comment of his:
What do I care about law? Hain't I got the power?
Nonetheless, it seems that he had met his match in Gould.

New York wagonmaker Webster Wagner, 56, who had contracted 6 years earlier to use the sleeping cars of George Mortimer Pullman, 42, with their folding upper berths and hinged seats, on the New York Central Railroad of Commodore Vanderbilt, began to use the Pullman-designed equipment on Vanderbilt's Lake Shore and Michigan Southern line, Pullman sued.

Railroad barons gradually eschewed the crude bloodletting of cutthroat competition, however, and began to cooperate with one another, entering into defensive alliances to protect their gigantic profits with little concern for the paying public. They formed "pools," agreements to divide the business in a given region and then share the profits. They might also grant kickbacks and rebates to large shippers. They made up the difference on discounts by gouging customers on noncompeting lines, frequently resulting in larger freight charges for shorter hauls.

Minnesota Congressman Ignatius Donnelly complained that it cost as much to ship wheat from Minnesota to Milwaukee as to ship the same wheat from Milwaukee to Liverpool, because of the gouging of railroad barons, who had made deals with elevator companies, commission agents, and others to control both shipping and marketing rates and who had forced farmers to sell to the nearest elevator company, agent, or railroad at rates favorable to the buyer. Grain was often downgraded as No, 2 because it had been alleged to be wet, frozen, or weedy, and then it would be sold as No. 1 grade to millers.

A farmers' convention in Springfield, IL, attacked monopolies, calling them

detrimental to the public prosperity, corrupt in their management, and dangerous to republican institutions.(11) Quoted in Trager, op. cit., p. 553. (Close)
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 6 years earlier by Oliver H. Kelley, now 47, continued to grow in popularity among the farmers of the Midwest. It had now reached its peak membership of 750,000. 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.

In frustration over the ineffectiveness of the Grange to redress the wrongs faced by the farmer, Congressman Donnelly compared the organization to a gun that would not shoot.

The Northwest Farmer's Convention in Chicago urged federal regulation of transportation rates, government-built and government-owned railroads, an end to corporation subsidies and of tariff protection for industry, a revision of the credit system, and the encouragement of decentralized manufacturing. Bankers, industrialists, and railroad barons scoffed at these demands as "un-American."

Meanwhile, these 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.

Henry Clay Frick, 24, who had 3 years earlier persuaded Irish immigrant banker Thomas Mellon, 60, of Pittsburgh, to invest in the construction and operation of coke ovens in the Connellsville area of Pittsburgh, now took advantage of the financial panic to acquire 80 percent of the coal and coke land around Connellsville, thereby controlling the best coke for steelmaking in the Pittsburgh steel mills.

Bethlehem Steel Company began operation in Pittsburgh, PA. Iron ore shipments from mines near Marquette, MI, to Pittsburgh amounted to more than a million tons per year.

The 14-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. During this year, nearly 10 million barrels of petroleum were produced, and already the kerosene derivative (approximately 6.5 million barrels) 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.(12) 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 Standard Oil Company of Ohio, now the Standard Oil Trust, directed by abstemious, parsimonious John Davison Rockefeller, 33, was refining tens of thousands barrels of crude per day and was the largest operation of its kind in the world. Through the Trust the merciless Rockefeller, operating "just to the windward of the law," 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.
His local agents received the following hard-boiled order:
Sell all the oil that is sold in your district.
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.

By this year, Rockefeller controlled between 30% and 40% of the nation's oil refining capacity, and his share was growing rapidly.

Panic of 1873

In spite of new silver discoveries in Nevada, the U.S. Treasury had stubbornly and unrealistically been 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. Now the newly elected 43rd Congress passed the Fourth Coinage Act in February, formally dropped the coinage in silver dollars. The law established the Bureau of the Mint as part of the Treasury, placing all mint and assay office activities under the control of the new bureau, making gold the sole U.S. monetary standard, and eliminating all silver currency--stopping the coinage of 412.5-grain silver dollars and authorizing only trade dollars for export. (The act inadvertently made trade dollars legal tender in amounts up to $5.) Advocates of silver called the act the "Crime of '73."

Meanwhile, overeager promoters had cleared more grain fields, built more factories, sunk more mines, and laid more railroad track than the markets could bear. For their part, bankers had made too many shaky loans to finance all that unfounded speculation.

European investors, reacting to a financial panic that had begun in Vienna in May, withdrew capital from the United States, much of it in railroad building. The 12-year-old Wall Street banking house Jay Cooke & Company (of Civil War-financier Jay Cooke, 52), which had been the financial agent for the 3-year-old Northern Pacific Railway, failed on Thursday, September 18. The next day, Black Friday, prices plummeted on the New York Stock Exchange, which had to close for 10 days. The Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, which had made several unsecured loans, went under, too; black depositors who had deposited more than $7 million ($110 million in 2006 dollars) in the company lost all their savings.

By the end of the year, some 5,000 business firms had failed, millions of working Americans were obliged to depend on soup kitchens and other charities, and tens of thousands came close to starvation. An army of New York City unemployed battled with police in a chaotic riot.

Debtor farmers of the agrarian West and South advocated an inflated currency to wipe out farm debts. These "cheap-money supporters" reasoned that more money meant cheaper money, which would mean rising prices and debts that were easier to pay off, and, insisting that a shortage of money was the cause of the hard times, they organized the Greenback Party in Indianapolis, IN. They advocated issuing greenbacks until as much money was in circulation as in the boom times of 1865, thereby creating prosperity. They also demanded control of the corporations, honesty in government, conservation of natural resources, and other widescale reforms.

Of course, creditors, the "hard-money supporters," advocated the exact opposite policy. They did not want the money they had lent repaid in depreciated dollars.

Industrialists, almost all of them identified with the Republican Party and enjoying the tariffs that that party had secured, paused in their building of new factories (waiting for the economic slump to end). 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. (And with the Panic of 1873, many of them were indeed unemployed.) 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.

Workers had been struggling to organize themselves into unions. The 7-year-old 600,000-member National Labor Union, had attracted the skilled, the unskilled, and farmers, but it had excluded Chinese and had made only nominal efforts to include women and blacks. Dealt a severe blow by the depression, the union feebly continued to lobby Congress to promote workers' interests, including arbitration of labor disputes and pleading for an 8-hour workday (if any hours were available for workers still to work). The adjunct Colored National Labor Union for black workers was also crippled by the depression.

Workers in the 4-year-old Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor 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--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 based on the principles of the Greenback Party. 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.

Reconstruction and reaction

The newly enfranchised Southern black men had been 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. 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. 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. These unreconstructed Southern whites were particularly incensed at the idea of former slaves holding political office.

Racist attitudes were not the exclusive baggage of white Southerners. Northerners, too--even those who had abolitionist credentials--harbored nasty racist feelings. When Maine Republican and former abolitionist James S. Pike toured South Carolina, he reported the following in his The Prostrate State(13):

Quoted in 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 Current, Richard N., and Garraty, John A., Eds., Words that Made American History Since The Civil War (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1965), pp. 57-61, taken from, accessed 1 February 2007. (Close)
Yesterday, about 4 p.m., the assembled wisdom of the State… issued forth from the State House. About three-quarters of the crowd belonged to the African race. They were of every hue, from the light octoroon to the deep black. They were such a body of men as might pour our of a market house at random in any Southern state.…
My God, look at this!
was the unbidden ejaculation of a low-country planter, clad in homespun, as he leaned over the rail inside the House, gazing excitedly upon the body in session.
This is the first time I have been here. I thought I knew what we were doing when we consented to emancipation. I knew the negro… but I never though it would come to this. Let me go.
In the place of this old aristocratic society stands the rude form of the most ignorant democracy that mankind ever saw, invested with the functions of government.… It is barbarism overwhelming civilization by physical force. It is the slave rioting in the halls of his master, and putting that master under his feet.

… The body is almost literally a Black Parliament, and it is the only one on the face of the earth which is representative of a white constituency and the professed exponent of an advanced type of modern civilization.… The Speaker is black, the Clerk is black… the chairman of the Ways and Means is black, and the chaplain is coal-black.

One of the things that first strike a casual observer in this negro assembly is the fluency of debate.… When an appropriation bill is up to raise money to catch and punish the Ku-klux, they know exactly what it means. So, too, with educational measures. The free school comes right home to them.… Sambo can talk on these topics and their endless ramifications, day in and day out.

The negro is imitative in the extreme. He can copy like a parrot or a monkey.… He believes he can do any thing, and never loses a chance to try.… He is more vivacious than the white, and, being more volatile and good-natured, he is correspondingly more irrepressible.… He answers completely to the description of a stupid speaker in Parliament, given by Lord Derby on one occasion. It was said of him that he did not know what he was going to say when he got up; he did not know what he was saying while he was speaking, and he did not know what he had said when he sat down.

Will South Carolina be Africanized? That depends. The pickaninnies die off from want of care. Some blacks are coming in from North Carolina and Virginia, but others are going off farther South. The white young men who were growing into manhood did not seem inclined to leave their homes and migrate to foreign parts.… The old slave-holders still hold their lands. The negroes were poor and unable to buy, even if the land-owners would sell. The whites seem likely to hold their own while the blacks fall off.

With muffled horse hooves, the besheeted night riders of the 8-year-old "Invisible Empire" of the white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan continued to break up black prayer meetings and invade black homes at night. 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 4 years earlier, North Carolina 3 years earlier, and Georgia 2 years earlier. South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas remained under Republican control. Radical Republicans in Congress still favored federal intervention in the former Confederate states in order to protect the basic civil rights of black Americans and their white Republican compatriots; however, the Northern Republican commitment to Reconstruction and black civil rights was waning. At the same time, Democrats were vehemently opposing federal intervention, were voting against Reconstruction legislation, and were calling for the withdrawal of federal troops from political duty in the South.

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. In this system, a planter divided his estate into small plots, establishing a black family on each one. Ostensibly, the black farmer was provided housing, agricultural implements, and other supplies in exchange for his and his family's labor. The sharecropper farmer and the planter owner divided the resulting crop, supposedly 50-50. Unfortunately, in the "crop-lien" arrangement, the sharecropper was forced to borrow against the fall harvest to pay for the spring seed. To protect his investment, the lender insisted that the sharecropper concentrate on readily marketable crops--tobacco, sugar, and especially cotton--and the result was overproduction and soil exhaustion. Small-time merchants established crossroad stores, selling goods to the sharecropper family on credit, further burdening the sharecropper with debt. 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.

Boston annexed Charlestown.

Swiss-born naturalist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, 66, established the Anderson School of Natural History on Penikese Island, MA, to concentrate on oceanography.

Bellevue Hospital in New York City opened the first school of nursing in the U.S., with instruction based on the teachings of Florence Nightingale.

The 19-year-old Astor Library in New York City, just below Astor Place on Lafayette Street, averaged 86 visitors per day, 5 percent of them women, even though none of the 80,000 volumes could be taken from the building, not a single book removed from a shelf, unless the visitor was accompanied by a library officer.

The 47-year-old Lord & Taylor department store and growing fashion emporium in New York City moved from its second location at the corner of Grand Street and Broadway to a new gas-chandalier-lighted iron-frame five-story building with mansard roof and dormer at the corner of Broadway and 20th Street.

Singer Manufacturing Company built a huge sewing machine factory in Elizabethport, NJ.

Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers Universities met to draft the first rules for football.

Charles D. Barney, 29, with help from banker Jay Cooke, opened a stockbroker office on Third Street in Philadelphia.

The Preakness had its first running at the Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore; the bay colt Survivor won.

The 3-year-old Sherwin-Williams Paint Company of Cleveland, OH, directed by Henry Alden Sherwin, 31, and Edwin Porter Williams, acquired a two-story brick cooperage shop on the Cuyahoga River and started making their own paints, producing 225 tons of paint mixer during the first year of production.

Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise, an advocate of Reform Judaism, organized the Union of Hebrew Congregations in Cincinnati.

Tobacco merchant William Liggett sold his share of the plug chewing tobacco firm J. E. Liggett & Brother, which he had started 15 years earlier with his brother John Edmund Liggett, to George S. Myers, thereby establishing the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.

The ornate seven-story Grand Pacific Hotel, costing $1.5 million ($23.6 million in 2006 dollars) by hotelman John B. Drake, opened at the corner of Clark Street and Jackson Boulevard in Chicago.

William Deering, 47, left his 8-year-old New York City textile firm Deering, Milliken & Co., and founded a harvester factory in Plano, IL. Good-quality Werner harvesters made by a Grange factory in Iowa, however, sold for half the price of a Deering or a McCormick harvester; Granges had set up factories to make their own machines to break the "machinery rings" of 22 plow manufacturers who had agreed not to sell plows to Grangers except at retail prices.

Grange members in the Plains states and in the South agreed to vote only for candidates who promised to support their cause--preventing the price of harvested corn and grain from dropping further.

Farmer Joseph Farwell Glidden, 60, and his friend Jacob Haish observed the barbed wire exhibited by Henry Rose at the De Kalb, IL, county fair. They developed a machine for producing coiled barbed wire by the mile and obtained patents for two separate styles of the product, which would come to be known as "devil's rope."

German immigrant brewer Adolphus Busch, 44, became a full-time partner of his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser, in their 8-year-old St. Louis Bavarian Brewery and changed its name to E. Anheuser and Co.'s Brewing Association.

During the economic slump, the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad faced bankrupcy.

Missouri entrepreneur Ben Holladay, 55, the "Napoleon of the Plains," who had built up over 4 years the freighting firm Russell, Majors, and Waddell (thereby controlling the Central Overland, California, and Pikes Peak Express with its government contract to haul mail overland by stagecoach between Missouri and the Pacific Coast) and had sold it 7 years earlier to begin financing a new Oregon Central Railroad project, was hurt badly by the Panic of 1873: His German bondholders began putting fierce pressure on him.

The 11-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, about a million and a half 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.

Congress attempted to address the problem by passing the Timber Culture Act, permitting individuals to claim an additional 160 acres if they agreed to plant a quarter of it in trees within 10 years. This law was helpful to farmers in Kansas, Nebraska, and Dakota Territory, but raising seedling trees on the plains was difficult; fewer than 25% of those who took land under this law ever obtained final title.

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.

In response to glowing reports from their scout Bernard Warkentin, Jr., 24, many German-speaking Crimean Mennonite farmers were determined to immigrate to the Midwest to escape Russian government efforts to curtail their liberties--in particular, their exemption from military service. At the same time, the Santa Fe Railroad had been granted 3 million acres of land along its right of way and needed farmers who would occupy the land and produce crops that would generate freight revenue. Santa Fe official Carl R. Schmidt went to Russia and brought back a delegation of Mennonites to see possible sites for settlement in Kansas. Schmidt obtained passage of a law in the Kansas State Legislature giving exemption from military service to those who opposed war on religious grounds, and he offered free passage to Kansas plus free transport of furniture. Many of the Mennonites determined to settle in Kansas (although most ended up going to Manitoba in Canada, because of its even more liberal laws regarding military service).

With foreign investment capital pouring into the U.S. cattle ranching industry, retired London silk merchant George Grant brought four Aberdeen Angus bulls from Scotland to his farm in Victoria, KS.

The Pawnees of central Nebraska were consistent allies of the U.S. in its battles with the Sioux. In one battle, Sioux warriors massacred more than a hundred Pawnee men, women, and children. The survivors sought refuge in a tiny reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

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.) The Santa Fe Railroad in the 2-year-old dance-hall-rich and saloon-rich village of Dodge City, KS, enabled hunters to ship hundreds of thousands of buffalo hides, buffalo tongues, and buffalo hindquarters to market. 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.

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" Philip Danforth Armour, 40), 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 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.")

Historian John Garraty has described what it was like in the "cow towns" (or "buffalo towns"?)(14):

From Garraty, op. cit., pp. 494-95.(Close)
"Cow towns" like Abilene, Ellsworth, and Dodge City 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.

Here were the conditions of stagecoach travel(15):

Quoted in McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians, Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993, pp. 68-69, citing Demas Barnes, The Far Western Frontier, p. 8. (Close)
The conditions of one man's running stages to make money, while another seeks to ride in them for pleasure, are not in harmony to produce comfort. Coaches will be overloaded, it will rain, the dust will drive, baggage will be left to the storm, passengers will get sick, a gentleman of gallantry will hold the baby, children will cry, nature demands sleep, passengers will get angry, the drivers will swear, the sensitive will shrink, rations will give out, potatoes become worth a gold dollar each, and not to be had at that, the water brackish, the whiskey abominable, and the dirt almost unendurable. I have just finished six days and nights of this thing; and I am free to say, until I forget a great many things now very visible to me, I shall not undertake it again. Stop over nights? No you wouldn't. To sleep on the sand floor of a one-story sod or adobe hut, without a chance to wash, with miserable food, uncongenial companionship, loss of seat in a coach until one comes empty, etc., won't work. A through-ticket and fifteen inches of seat, with a fat man on one side, a poor widow on the other, a baby in your lap, a bandbox over your head, and three or four persons immediately in front, leaning against your knees, makes the picture, as well as your sleeping place, for the trip.

German immigrant brewer Adolph Herman Joseph Coors, 26, and Jacob Schueler founded the Golden Brewery in Golden, Colorado Territory, and began producing Coor's Beer.

Mining engineers John William Mackay, 42, James Graham Fair, 41, James C. Flood, and William T. O'Brien discovered in February the 50-foot-thick Great Bonanza vein in the Panamint Mountains of Nevada, a vein of the Comstock Lode, discovered 14 years earlier, which by 1873 had yielded $120 million in silver and $80 million in gold ($1.9 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively, in 2006 dollars). The Great Bonanza was the biggest strike since then, yielding $150 million ($2.35 billion). A new silver rush began, in spite of the demonitization of silver in the February Fourth Coinage Act.

Historian John Garraty has summarized the miners' point of view(16):

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.

The future of Virginia City, NV, at the peak of its prosperity, seemed boundless. It had 25 saloons and huge, ornate, tasteless houses where successful operators swilled champagne as though it were water and dined on fine china.

Millionaire miner John Percival Jones became a U.S. Senator from Nevada.

The 16-year-old tuition-free University of California (which had been holding classes for only the preceding 4 years) moved from Oakland to the newly settled town of Berkeley.

San Francisco, with its United States Mint, its cobblestone streets, and its tall redwood houses, had a population of 188,000.

Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss, 43, had been continuing his operations at his 23-year-old San Francisco pants factory on California Street, manufacturing his denim "blue jeans," now with copper rivets. Now he and Jacob Davis received a patent for the jeans.

English immigrant engineer Andrew Smith Hallidie, 37, persuaded the city fathers of San Francisco to install the "endless-wire rope way" he had patented 2 years earlier in order to cope with the hilly streets that were difficult for the city's eight horse-drawn lines. The world's first cable streetcar went into service in August on Clay Street hill, and the innovation was copied on other lines within the city as well as in Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, and Omaha.

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).

Ralph's Grocery Company was founded in Los Angeles, CA, a dusty village of fewer than 10,000 people.

Free delivery of mail was provided for all cities of 20,000 or more. The first penny postcards were issued.

American football clubs adopted uniform rules.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

The 7-year-old Nestlé firm of Swiss chemist businessman Henri Nestlé, 57, introduced its Infant Milk Food (infant formula) into the United States.

Balloonist inventor Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe, 40, discovered a process for manufacturing water gas; physicist Henry Augustus Rowland, 24, a professor at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, discovered the magnetic effect of electric convection and investigated alternating currents; and Rochester, NY, lawyer George Baldwin Selden, 27, experimented with internal combustion engines while trying to develop a lightweight engine that could propel a road vehicle more efficiently than the "road vehicles" then used on some farm jobs.

Philosophy and religion in America: Specifics

Bearded and rotund Chicago preacher Dwight Lyman Moody, 36, 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. Moody and Sankey were invited once more to England to convert penitents.

Political orator and agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll, 40, champion of the so-called "Golden Age of Freethought" and promoter of the evolution theories of Charles Darwin, published his Individuality, 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)
It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded upon the Bible, and that all who look upon the book as false or foolish are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government made by the people and for the people. It is the only nation with which the gods have had nothing to do. And yet there are some judges dishonest and cowardly enough to solemnly decide that this is a Christian country, and that our free institutions are based upon the infamous laws of Jehovah.
Here is another quote from that book:
Every pulpit is a pillory, in which stands a hired culprit, defending the justice of his own imprisonment.
And still another:
Honest investigation is utterly impossible within the pale of any church, for the reason, that if you think the church is right you will not investigate, and if you think it wrong, the church will investigate you.

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

Painter Thomas Eakins, 29, unveiled Oarsmen on the Schuylkill; Boston author and editor Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 36, published Marjorie Daw and Other People; and author and humorist Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), 36, collaborated with Hartford Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner to publish The Gilded Age, exposing corruption in U.S. business and politics since the Civil War.

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. New York author Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge, 42, began publishing St. Nicholas Magazine for children.

The song "Silver Threads Among the Gold" by Hart Pease Danks, 39, and Eban E. Rexford, 25, was released and became popular. Also released and immediately popular was "Home on the Range" by Kansas homesteader Bruce (Brewster) Higley, in the December issue of Smith County Pioneer under the title "Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam," with the tune by Kansas guitarist Daniel E. Kelly. Other 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 1873

The 10-year-old worldwide cholera epidemic continued.

Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence joined the 6-year-old Dominion of Canada as a distinct province.

A Canadian "order-in-council" established the Northwest Mounted Police, or "Mounties," to stop the illegal trading in liquor and arms with the Indians of the Northwest Territories.

No sooner had the Canadian Pacific Railway been chartered than word got out that promoters had contributed $350,000 in campaign funds for the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Sir John Macdonald, the first person to hold that post. What was leaked was a telegram from him: "Must have another $10,000." Macdonald was forced to resign. The shocked Parliament cut off government subsidies to the railroad project, as the dour Alexander Mackenzie took over the government.

The British White Star 420-foot steam liner SS Atlantic was wrecked off Halifax, Nova Scotia; 502 out of 931 passengers perished.

Peru and Bolivia concluded a secret treaty of alliance.

Cuban rebellion

Hostilities continued.

Spanish officials in Cuba seized the American schooner Virginia on suspicion of carrying men and arms to Cuban revolutionaries. They executed 53 members of the crew, including some Americans.

The British Parliament passed the Judicature Act, consolidating all superior courts into a single supreme court of judicature.

The Carl Rosa Opera Company was founded in England.

London photographer John Burgess tried to sell gelatin emulsions to permit any photographer

to prepare dry plates equal in sensitiveness to the best wet plates by simply pouring on the glass an emulsion and allowing it to dry.(18) Quoted in Trager, op. cit., pp. 552-53. (Close)
The product was not a commercial success.

Construction began on the Severn Tunnel in England, an effort that would take 13 years to complete.

American preacher Dwight Lyman Moody, 36, with his helper Ira A. Sankey were invited to England once again to convert hundreds of penitents in York, Sunderland, and Newcastle. They were then invited to Scotland, converting hundreds there.

Former Emperor Napoleon III, in exile in Chiselhurst, England, died at the age of 65.

German troops evacuated France, beginning in January and finishing by September.

The 2-year-old regime of French President Louis Adolphe Thiers, 75, was condemned by the monarchist majority in Parlement. Thiers resigned in May, and the monarchists promptly elected, nearly unanimously, Marshal Marie Edmé Patrice Maurice de MacMahon, 65, as President for a 7-year term.

The Paris Council of Hygiene ruled that margarine could not be sold as butter.

A new process for extracting a solid essence from flower roots was developed in Grasse, France, revolutionizing the manufacturing of perfume.

[ Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck ] As part of his 2-year-old Kulturkampf effort to control the Roman Catholic Church, German First Chancellor Count Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, 58, pictured here, put the Prussian clergy under state control.

Germany adopted the mark as its unit of currency.

Vienna hosted a World Exhibition.

Electricity drove machinery for the first time in history, in Vienna.

A financial panic struck Vienna in May, and soon spread to other European money centers.

The cities of Buda and Pest united to form Budapest, the capital of Hungary.

A radical majority in the Spanish Cortes (legislative body), which was elected the year before, proclaimed a Spanish Republic. King Amadeus I, 28, regarded as a "foreigner," abdicated the same day. Foreign Minister Emilio Castelar y Ripoli, 40, became Prime Minister and began efforts to organize a centralized republic against determined Carlist resistance. The pretender to the throne, Don Carlos, continued the insurgency from his refuge in the Pyrenees.

Swedish engineer Alfred Bernhard Nobel, 40, and his brother Ludwig Nobel invested capital to build an oil refinery to increase production on the oilfields at Baku on the Caspian Sea.

Sultan Barghash Sayyid of Zanzibar, under pressure from the British government, closed its slave markets and prohibited the export of slaves.

The University of Cape Town was founded in South Africa, and the University of South Africa was founded in Pretoria.

Bengal suffered a huge famine when its rice crops failed.

King Rama V of Siam (Somdeth Phra Paraminda Maha Chulalongkorn), 20, assumed actual power from the regency of the preceding 5 years and proceeded to abolish the feudal system and slavery.

The coffee rust (Hamileia vastatrix), which had appeared in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 4 years earlier, was spreading throughout the Orient, wiping out coffee plantations and causing coffee prices to soar.

Piracy effectively ended the U.S. pepper trade with Sumatra.

British naval commander Sir Fairfax Moresby, 87, founded Port Moresby on the Pacific island of New Guinea. The government of the United Kingdom refused to support Moresby unless the colonial governments in Australia agreed to assume responsibility. When some of those governments demurred, London disavowed Moresby's action.

The First Bank of Japan was founded.

The Victoria government in Melbourne, Australia, passed a factory act to protect female and juvenile millhands and to maintain safe and sanitary working conditions.

Poultry, fish, and meat that had been frozen for 6 months were eaten at a public banquet in Australia. (The diners survived the banquet for a normal longevity.)

Belgian missionary Father Joseph Damien de Veuster, 33, went to the government hospital for lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai and devoted the rest of his life to caring for lepers. (He contracted the disease and died of it 16 years later.)

Austrian explorers Payer and Weyprecht discovered Franz Josef Land in the Arctic Ocean.

World science and technology

Without realizing the significance of what he was doing, German chemistry student Othmar Zeidler prepared dichloridiphenyl-tricholorethane (DDT) in Strasbourg by reacting chloral hydrate and chloronenzene in the presence of sulfuric acid.

German photochemist Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, 39, advanced photography by discovering that adding certain dyes to photographic emulsions would increase their sensitivity.

Scots chemist James Dewar, 31, invented the "Dewar vessel," a prototype thermos bottle; Swedish engineer Carl Linde introduced the first successful compression system using liquid ammonia; and Scots physicist James Clerk Maxwell, 42, published the foundational Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, describing the properties of the electromagnetic field and providing equations that entailed the electromagnetic theory of light.

Dutch chemist Johannes Diederik van der Waals published On the Community of the Liquid and Gaseous State; Scots naturalist Charles W. Thomson published The Depths of the Sea; Canadian physician William Osler discovered blood platelets; English physician William Budd published Typhoid Fever: Its Nature, Mode of Spreading, and Prevention, proving the contagious nature of the disease; Italian physician Camillo Golgi introduced staining as a method to study nerve tissue; French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, 48, published Leçons sur les maladies du système nerveaux; and German physiologist and psychologist Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt, 41, published Physiological Psychology.

German mathematician Georg Cantor established set theory.

German chemist Jusus von Liebig died at the age of 70.

World philosophy and religion

English philosopher Herbert Spencer, 53, published The Study of Sociology; and English philosopher John Stuart Mill, 67, published his Autobiography and then died (presumably covering everything in the book).

Arts and culture in the British Isles

English Oxford classicist Walter (Horatio) Pater, 34, published Studies in the History of the Renaissance; novelist Anthony Trollope, 58, published The Eustace Diamonds; and novelist-architect Thomas Hardy, 33, published Far From the Madding Crowd. Painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer died in London at the age of 71, and author Edward Bulwer-Lytton died at the age of 70.

World arts and culture

German composer Johannes Brahms, 40, produced Variations on a Theme by Haydn in Vienna; French composer Charles Camille Saint-Saëns, 37, produced Concerto No. 1 in A minor for Violincello and Orchestra at the Paris Conservatoire; French composer Clément Philibert Léo Delibes, 37, produced the opera Le Roi l'a Dit at the Opéra-Comique in Paris; and Russian composer Petr Ilich Tchaikovsky, 32, produced The Tempest in Moscow.

Russian composer Nikolai Andreievich Rimski-Korsakov, 29, produced the opera Ivan the Terrible (The Maid of Pskov) at the Maryinski Theater in St. Petersburg; Bohemian composer Antonín Dvorák produced the cantata Hymnus; and Austrian composer Anton Bruckner, 49, produced Symphony No. 2 in C minor and Symphony No. 3 in D minor ("Wagner Symphony").

American organist Clarence Eddy gave a recital at the Vienna Exposition.

French historian and critic Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, 45, published Les Origines de la France contemporaine; German author Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse, 43, published Kinder der Welt; French science fiction writer Jules Verne, 45, published Le tour du monde en quatre-vingt jours ("Around the World in Eighty Days"); French poet Tristan (Édouard Joachim) Corbière, 28, published Les Amours jaunes; and French poet Jean Nicholas Arthur Rimbaud, 19, published the prose-poetry mixture Une Saison en enfer ("A Season in Hell") and was shot in the wrist by his lover poet Paul Marie Verlaine, 29 (who was sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment for the crime). Italian author Alessandro Manzoni died at the age of 88.

French landscape painter Jean-Babtiste-Camille Corot, 77, unveiled Souvenir d'Italie; French painter Paul Cézanne, 34, unveiled The Straw Hat; French Impressionist artist Édouard Manet, 41, unveiled Le bon Bock; and French Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 32, completed Monet Painting in His Garden.


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

See also the general sources.