Saturday, December 22, 2007


1872. Radical Republicans renominate President Grant despite the corruption of his administration. Grant wins reelection.

1872. Susan B. Anthony is arrested at Rochester, NY, for trying to vote in the election, November 5.

1872. The brig Mary Celeste clears New York harbor in mid-November for Genoa with 10 men who will never be seen again. The ship will be discovered December 4 sailing on a starboard tack with cargo and stores intact but without a soul aboard, a "ghost" ship whose mystery will never be solved.

1872. Louis Pasteur publishes a classic paper on fermentation showing that it is caused by microorganisms.

1872. An Australian telegraph line opens November 23 to connect Adelaide with Port Darwin and is soon extended to link Australia with Java, India and Europe.

1872. Sarah Bernhardt begins a 10-year career with the Comedie-Francaise at Paris. "The Divine Sarah" will gain world renown and continue acting even after having a leg amputated in 1914.

1872. Motion picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge takes a sequence of photographs showing a horse running. Central Pacific Railroad president Leland Stanford has asked him to prove photographically that all four feet of a running horse are off the ground at the same time at some point in the animal's stride.

1872. The Jesse James gang robs its first passenger train.

1872. Yellowstone National Park is created by act of Congress setting aside a 2-million-acre tract of wilderness on the fast-developing frontier in Wyoming Territory.

Through the Looking Glass. Lewis Carroll. British. 1872. Children's story (?) Sequel to Wonderland; world behind the mirror, everything reversed. Alice is a white pawn in a chess game; eventually she becomes queen and wakes up. The Jabberwocky is in this supposed children's tale.

Martin Fiero. Jose Hernandez. Argentine. 1872. Narrative poem. Argentine national classic; Gaucho literature; illiterate gauchos vs. Buenos Aires edcuated.

The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music. Friedrich Nietzsche. German. 1872. Nonfiction. Attacks conception that Greek culture was perfectly static, blissful. Apollonian vs. Dionysiac. Apollonian = individuation, rationality, form, structure. Dionysiac = "will," directly opposed to the Apollonian. Enthusiasm, ecstasy; man gives up individuality and submerges himself in a greater whole.

Erewhon. Samuel Butler. British. 1872. Satiric Novel. Utopian. Satirizes English attitudes toward religion, science, crime, etc.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


1871. A united German Empire inaugurates the Second Reich that will continue until November of 1918. The First Reich began in 955 by some accounts and was ended by Napoleon in 1806. Prussia's Wilhelm I is emperor and the first chancellor is Count von Bismarck, who has joined the four German kingdoms of Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony and Wurttemberg.

1871. Parliament legalizes British labor unions.

1871. A race riot at Los Angeles leaves more than a dozen Chinese dead and many injured.

1871. Mormon leader Brigham Young, now 70, is arrested at Salt Lake City in Utah Territory on charges of polygamy.

1871. The Indian Appropriation Act passed by Congress makes Indians wards of the federal government.

1871. Gen. George Crook tracks down Apache chief Cochise and forces him to surrender.

1871. New York Herald correspondent Henry M. Stanley finds David Livingstone in late October at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika. "Dr. Livingstone, I presume," says Stanley.

1871. Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex by Charles Darwin concludes that man evolved from ape-like or monkey-like ancestors, probably 26 to 54 million years ago in Africa.

1871. Barnum's Circus opens at Brooklyn, NY.

1871. The National Rifle Association is founded by some Union Army officers to encourage marksmanship and gun safety.

1871. The Chicago fire rages from October 8 to 9, destroys 3.5 square miles of the city, killing perhaps 250. The fire has allegedly been started by a cow kicking over a kerosene lantern in Dekoven Street.

1871. Sparks from the Chicago fire start forest fires that destroy more than a million acres of Michigan and Wisconsin timberland.

The Possessed. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1871. Novel. Depicts revolutionary movement in Russia; career of Nikolay Stavrogin, nobleman. Genuine spiritual nihilism vs. affected nihilism of revolutionaries. Russian upper classes lack organic ties with Russian people; adhere to Western political ideas. Aristocracy must return to people's orthodox faith; must lead people to their destiny, a new world of universal love and brotherhood contained in orthodoxy.

"El Matadero" ("the Slaughterhouse"). Esteban Echeverria. Argentine. 1871. Story. Buenos Aires slaughterhouse; denounces the brutality of the dictatorship of Juan Manuel de Rosas.

"Democratic Vistas." Walt Whitman. American. 1871. Essay. Sees decline in vigor and moral consciousness in post-Civil War America.

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. George Eliot. British. 1871/72. Novel. Idealistic woman, disillusioned by marriage to a scholar, makes an effort to contribute to medical reform; gives up her inheritance to marry the man she really loves.

Les Rougon-Macquart. Emile Zola. French. 1871/93. Novels. Twenty novels. National and social history of a family during the Second Empire. Characters depicted with brutal realism. Sordid lives. Dramatizes the desperate need for social change.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


1870. The first black U.S. legislators take their seats at Washington, D.C., in the Senate and House.

1870. Ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution forbids denial of the right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

1870. The first through railway cars from the Pacific Coast reach New York City, July 24.

1870. DNA is discovered by chemistry students Friederich Miescher at Tubingen but is not yet suspected of being the basic genetic material involved in conveying heritable characteristics.

1870.The Vatican Council votes that the pope is infallible when he defines doctrines of faith or morals ex cathedra (from his throne).

1870. Only two Americans in 100 of 17 years and older are high school graduates, a figure that will rise to 76% by 1970.

1870. The donkey symbol that will identify the Democratic party in the U.S. appears in Harper's Weekly where cartoonist Thomas Nast caricatures "Boss" Tweed and his cronies in New York. Nast will create the elephant symbol for the Republican party in 1874.

1870. Some 4 million buffalo roam the American plains south of the Platte River. They will be virtually wiped out in the next 4 years.

1870. Cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail from San Antonio, Tex., to Abilene, Kan., begin on a huge scale.

The Story of a Bad Boy. Thomas Bailey Aldrich. American. 1870. Novel. Semi-autobiographical; not bad, just human; youth in New Hampshire. Early years in New Orleans. Forerunner to Tom Sawyer.

"Plain Language from Truthful James." Bret Harte. American. 1870. Poetry. Chinese card shark gets the better of "Truthful" and Bill Nye.

"Miriam." John Greenleaf Whittier. American. 1870. Poetry. Christian maiden and her Muslim lord.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Charles Dickens. British. 1870. Novel. Forced to marry Rosa Bud, Edwin Drood and she agree that they can never love each other and break off the engagement. He disappears. She is pursued by someone she is terrified of. A stranger appears and frustrates the pursuer's efforts. Dickens didn't finish. Was Edwin Drood the stranger? We'll never know.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Jules Verne. French. 1870. Romance. Predicts the invention of deep-sea submarines. Megalomaniacal Captain Nemo.

The Eternal Husband. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1870. Novel. Psychological study of relations between a cuckolded husband and his wife's ex-lover.

"Sister Helen." Dante Gabriel Rossetti. British. 1870. Poetry. Young woman destroys false lover by melting waxen image of him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


1869. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads join up May 10 at Promontory Point near Ogden in Utah Territory. Travel time between New York and San Francisco falls to just 8 days, down from a minimum of 3 months (and often two or three times that long).

1869. The Suez Canal opens to traffic, linking the Mediterranean with the Gulf of Suez at the head of the Red Sea.

1869. The Harvard Medical School rejects a demand by President Charles W. Eliot that students be given written examinations. "A majority of the students cannot write well enough," says the dean, but Eliot will elevate standards at the medical school.

1869. The Cardiff Giant is "discovered" at Cardiff, NY, where the huge stone figure of a man has been buried secretly by a group of promoters who claim the figure is a petrified man from biblical times, citing Genesis 6:4 ("There were giants in the earth in those days").

1869. Gypsy moths are brought to Medford, Mass., by French naturalist Leopold Trouvelot who hopes to start a New England silk industry. The moths escape and their larvae will defoliate American woodlands as the moth population explodes in the next 20 years.

1869. Daily weather bulletins are inaugurated by U.S. astronomer Abbe Cleveland, the first U.S. Weather Bureau meteorologist.

1869. A National Prohibition party is founded in September.

Lorna Doone. R.D. Blackmore. British. 1869. Historical Novel. A Romance of Exmoor. 17th century. Hero kidnapped by the Doones, an outlaw clan. Saved by Lorna. Searches for her, marries her, but only because he learns she is the kidnapped daughter of Scottish nobleman. Novel postpones the problem of crossing class lines.

Culture and Anarchy. Matthew Arnold. British. 1869. Essays. Arguments for the role of literary culture in the spiritual life of England.

The Sentimental Education. Gustave Flaubert. French. 1869. Novel. Life among French dilettantes, intellectuals, and revolutionaries at the time of Louis Philippe, 1848.

The Innocents Abroad or, The New Pilgrim's Progress. Mark Twain. American. 1869. Travel. Looks at hallowed European landmarks from a fresh, humorous point of view, without reverence for the past.

"The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Bret Harte. American. 1869. Story. Outcasts sacrifice themselves in a blizzard so that a young eloping couple may live.

"The Ballad of the Dead Ladies." Dante Gabriel Rossetti. British. 1869. Poetry. Translation of a poem by medieval poet Francois Villon.

The Parliamentary (Palliser) Novels. Anthony Trollope. British. 1869/80. Novels. Novels about political life in England.

Monday, December 17, 2007


1868. President Johnson dismisses Secretary of War Stanton, a violation of a law forbidding removal of certain officials without the Senate's consent. Johnson is impeached, but is exonerated by one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

1868. The Republican party rejects President Johnson and nominates Ulysses S. Grant for the presidency.

1868. Ratification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is proclaimed: "...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...."

1868. U.S. military authorities force Navajo chiefs to sign a treaty agreeing to live on reservations and cease opposition to whites.

1868. Congress enacts an Eight-Hour Law for U.S. government laborers but in private industry most laborers work 10 to 12 hours per day.

1868. Americans observe Memorial Day for the first time May 30. The holiday commemorates the Union dead of the Civil War.

The Ring and the Book. Robert Browning. British. 1868. Poetry. Based on an Italian murder case; dramatic monologues by 12 characters, each from a different point of view. Title: gold ring is shaped by use of an alloy. Story in an old book (gold) is shaped by the poet's imagination and interpretation.

The Idiot. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1868. Novel. Fate of a saintly prince in the world; he is an "idiot," who cannot return women's love and inadvertently destroys lives.

The Moonstone. Wilkie Collins. British. 1868. Novel. First detective story in English fiction. Who stole the moonstone that once adorned a Hindu idol?

"The Luck of Roaring Camp." Bret Harte. American. 1868. Story. Gold-rush miners' false toughness. Miners adopt child of a prostitute. Flood. Kentuck dies holding the infant in his arms.

Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Louisa May Alcott. American. 1868/69. Story. Heroine is Jo March, tomboyish, literary, who retires to the attic when "genius burns." Pretty older sister Meg marries young tutor, John Brooke; gentle, music-loving Beth dies young; fashionable, artistic Amy marries Laurie, high-spirited friend of Jo, who will not marry him. Jo marries a kindly old German professor.

Earthly Paradise. William Morris. British. 1868/70. Poetry. Norse sailors flee the Black Death. Tell 24 tales: medieval sagas, classic myths; in between each tale, a lyric poem celebrating the changing landscape.

Friday, December 14, 2007


1867. The British North America Act unites Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Dominion of Canada with its capital at Ottawa.

1867. Alaska is ceded to the U.S. by the Russian czar Aleksandr II. Critics ridicule "Seward's Icebox."

1867. The first U.S. elevated railway begins operation at New York on a single track.

1867. Howard University for Negroes is founded by white Congregationalists outside Washington, D.C. The founders propose to admit students of all ages, male or female, married or single, informed or ignorant.

1867. Milwaukee printer Christopher Sholes invents the first practical "writing machine." He will call his machine a "typewriter."

1867. A paperback edition of Goethe's Faust in Leipzig pioneers paperback book publishing.

1867. Baseball's curve ball pitch is invented by Brooklyn, NY, pitcher, William Arthur Cummings.

1867. Marquis of Queensberry rules for boxing are formulated by English athlete John Chambers.

1867. More than half of all U.S. working people are employed on farms.

Peer Gynt. Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian. 1867. Poetic Drama. Boastful, capricious, irresponsible Peer has no personality, no true self. Saved by someone in whose mind he existed as a real personality.

"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed." Walt Whitman. American. 1867. Poetry. With the return of lilacs in the spring, the poet mourns the death of Abraham Lincoln. Death is the "great strong deliveress."

Smoke. Ivan Turgenev. Russian. 1867. Novel. Love triangle with the message that Russia needs to turn West for civilization.

"Dover Beach." Matthew Arnold. British. 1867. Poetry. Pessimism regarding the future of the modern world; urges personal fidelity as a substitute for ebbing faith.

Maria. Jorge Isaacs. Colombia. 1867. Novel. Romantic idyll; ill-starred love affair; life in Colombia's Cauca Valley.

Das Kapital. Karl Marx. German. 1867/94. Nonfiction. Systematic, critical study of capitalist economy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


1866. Congress passes a Civil Rights Act over President Johnson's veto to secure for former slaves all the rights of citizenship intended by the 13th Amendment.

1866. A cholera epidemic takes 120,000 lives in Prussia and 110,000 in Austria. Cholera kills some 50,000 Americans. New York, which has 2,000 fatalities, creates the first U.S. municipal board of health.

1866. A new Atlantic cable between Britain and the U.S. is completed July 27 by Cyrus W. Field.

Rosmersholm. Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian. 1866. Play. Lover convinces his invalid wife to sacrifice herself for him by committing suicide. He insists that they both demonstrate love for each other by committing suicide together.

Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War. Herman Melville. American. 1866. Poetry. 72 poems. Elegiac, not vengeful. Deplores human suffering. Does not celebrate the martial spirit.

Felix Holt the Radical. George Eliot. British. 1866. Novel. Ardent young man of strong social convictions lives among lower classes; accused of murder. Set against man who acts like a radical, but isn't. Esther must choose between them.

Letters from My Windmill. Alphonse Daudet. French. 1866. Novel. Depicts country life in Provence with skill and sympathy.

Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1866. Novel. Rationalizes murder. Conscience works on him. Lacks qualities of amoral superman. Detective waits for the confession he knows is coming. Astute psychological observation and analysis by Dostoevsky.

"A Dream of Gerontius." John Henry Newman. British. 1866. Poetry. Gerontius makes his last journey to God, carried by his guardian angel through the world of good and evil spirits.

An Iceland Fisherman. Pierre Loti. French. 1866. Novel. Loneliness, bitter struggle between fishermen and the sea off the shores of Iceland.

Snow-Bound. John Greenleaf Whittier. American. 1866. Poem. A winter idyll. Memory of being snowed in on his father's Massachusetts farm.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


1865. The American Civil War ends. President Lincoln is assassinated and a 12-year era of Reconstruction begins in the South with state legislatures run by "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags."

1865. Gen. Lee surrenders to Gen. Grant, April 9, at Appomattox Courthouse, Va. and the war is over.

1865. The Union has lost 360,222 men (110,000 in battle), the Confederacy 258,000 (94,000 in battle) with at least 471,427 wounded on both sides.

1865. President Lincoln is assassinated April 14 while attending a performance at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., and is succeeded by his vice-president Andrew Johnson.

1865. The Ku Klux Klan organized at Pulaski, Tenn., is a secret social club of young men who hope to recapture the comradeship and excitement of the war. Their curious uniform is soon discovered to terrorize superstitious blacks. A majority of Southern whites will join in the next few years as the KKK tries to return local and state government to white, Democratic party control.

1865. The commandant of the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Ga., is convicted of "murder, in violation of the laws and customs of war" and hanged November 10 in Washington.

1865. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits slavery or any other denial of liberty "without due process of law."

1865. The Salvation Army has its beginnings in a London mission founded by itinerant English religious revivalist William Booth.

1865. Austrian botanist Gregor Mendel elucidates natural laws of heredity.

1865. Reuters News Service conveys news of President Lincoln's assassination to Europe a week ahead of the competition.

1865. The first U.S. train robbery occurs May 5.

Atalanta in Calydon. Algernon Charles Swinburne. British. 1865. Play. Based on the Greek legend of Atalanta and the Calydonian boar hunt. She is a swift runner who will marry only someone swifter than she. She is delayed when her suitor drops golden apples which she stops to pick up. Hymn to Artemis.

"O Captain! My Captain!" Walt Whitman. American. 1865. Poetry. Commemorates the death of Abraham Lincoln.

"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." Mark Twain. American. 1865. Story. Dose of quail shot keeps Smiley's frog, Dan'l Webster, from outjumping the stranger's frog.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll. British. 1865. Story. Everything happens with fantastic illogicality. White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, Mock Turtle, the Mad Hatter, etc.

"Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates." Mary Mapes Dodge. American. 1865. Story. Hero is Dutch boy. Interesting picture of life in Holland. Children's story.

"Commemoration Ode." James Russell Lowell. American. 1865. Poetry. In honor of the Harvard students who had died in the Civil War. Added lines in honor of Lincoln.

Rhoda Fleming. George Meredith. British. 1865. Novel. Sister defends guilty sister, but then insists on her marriage on learning of her lost innocence.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


1864. Ulysses S. Grant is given command of all Union armies.

1864. The Battle of Atlanta ends in victory for General Sherman.

1864. The second Battle of Atlanta ends in another defeat for Gen. Hood. 1864. Gen. Sherman leads his army on a "march to the sea" beginning November 16 and proceeds to cut a mile-wide swath through Georgia.

1864. Union forces use the hand-cranked Gatling gun to help defeat Gen. Hood at the Battle of Nashville.

1864. The Geneva Conventions signed by representatives of 26 nations pledge all parties to humanitarian rules respecting prisoners of war, wounded and sick military personnel, civilians in war zones and Red Cross neutrality.

1864. Cheyennes go on the warpath, supported by Arapahoe, Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa braves. U.S. troops massacre many of them in November at Sand Creek in Colorado Territory.

1864. New York photographer Mathew B. Brady travels through the war-torn South with a wagonful of equipment to record scenes of the conflict.

1864. A cyclone destroys most of Calcutta, October 1, killing an estimated 70,000.

1864. European immigrants pour into the U.S. to take up free land under the 1862 Homestead Act.

Notes from the Underground. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1864. Story. Complex psychological portrait of the narrator; polemic against positivist philosophy, rationality of man and the possibility of social betterment through material progress. Narrator embodies the irrationality he insists is the essence of man. Starting point of Dostoevsky's literary maturity.

Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. British. 1864. Novel. Will receive an inheritance if he marries a woman he has never met. Under an assumed name, he falls in love with and marries her.

Enoch Arden. Alfred Lord Tennyson. British. 1864. Poetry. Seaman wrecked on a desert island returns home to find his wife married to another. Dies of a broken heart.

Prospice. Robert Browning. British. 1864. Poetry. Written after his wife's death. Optimistic and courageous attitude toward death.

War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy. Russian. 1864/69. Novel. Accurate portrait of the entire Russian nation. Covers the years 1805-1820, centering on the invasion of Russia by Napoleon in 1812. 500 characters. Every social level. Main characters progress from youthful uncertainty to more mature understanding of life. Natasha = instinctual approach to life. Prince Andrey Bolkonsky and Pierre Bezukhov = different approaches to life. Pierre finds peace in living via wisdom of a peasant, Keratayev. Life should be experienced emotionally and accepted naturally. Intellect twists life into artificial forms. Prince Andrey: search for meaning of life through intellect = calm acceptance of death. Historical, social, personal themes. Alternate chapters" personal lives and battles.

Monday, December 10, 2007


1863. The Battle of Chickamauga in northern Georgia ends in empty victory for Confederate troops.

1863. President Lincoln dedicates a national cemetery at Gettysburg, November 19.

1863. The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect January 1, freeing nearly 4 million U.S. slaves, but not those in Union-held areas.

1863. The Nez Perce in the Northwest are forced to sign a treaty agreeing to vacate lands coveted by the whites.

1863. President Lincoln signs a bill guaranteeing builders of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads $16,000 for every mile of track laid on the plains, $32,000 per mile for tracks laid through intermountain stretches, and $48,000 for track laid through the mountains.

1863. The world's first underground railway system opens in London.

1863. A scarlet fever epidemic in England takes more than 30,000 lives.

1863. The fundamental principles of the International Red Cross movement to aid wounded soldiers and other victims of war are established at Geneva.

1863. President Lincoln proclaims the first national Thanksgiving Day, October 3, and sets aside the last Thursday of November to commemorate the feast given by the Pilgrims in 1621.

Romola. George Eliot. British. 1863. Novel. After marriage to a hedonistic man, Romola, a Florentine woman, comes under the influence of Savonarola and finds peace.

Tales of a Wayside Inn. Henry W. Longfellow. American. 1863. Poetry. Structure modeled on the Canterbury Tales and the Decameron. Tales reflect Longfellow's interest in the Middle Ages.

The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby. Charles Kingsley. British. 1863. Fantasy. Adventures of a chimney sweep who falls into a river and is transformed into a miniature merman.

"Boston Hymn." Ralph Waldo Emerson. American. 1863. Poetry. Celebrates freedom, denouncing kings and aristocrats. Fervent.

"Barbara Frietchie." John Greenleaf Whittier. American. 1863. Poetry. Fictional encounter between Barbara Frietchie, 96, and Stonewall Jackson. Displayed the Union flag. He orders that she not be harmed.

Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln. American. 1863. Freed the slaves in the South, but not in the border states nor in territory under U.S. military occupation.

Gettysburg Address. Abraham Lincoln. 1863. Speech. November 19. Dedication of a national cemetery. Moving, eloquent statement of the American creed.

The Cossacks. Leo Tolstoy. Russian. 1863. Novel. Tired of live in civilized society, hero attempts to find happiness among wild, free Cossacks of the Caucasus.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

1862 to 1863

1862. England's Lancashire textile mills shut down as they run out of southern lint from which they have been cut off by the Civil War.

1862. Union Army raiders led by Capt. James J. Andrews steal the Confederate locomotive the General, April 1, and race the Western and Atlantic wood burner north in an effort to cut the rail lines and thus isolate Gen. Beauregard's army at Chattanooga. Confederate soldiers give chase in the locomotive the Texas and catch the raiders.

1862. "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" appears in the February Atlantic Monthly with lyrics by Julia Ward Howe.

1862. "Taps" is composed early in July by Army of the Potomac chief of staff Gen. Daniel Butterfield who writes the notes for the bugle call at Harrison's Landing in Virginia. Butterfield has written the bugle call to be played at lights out and at funerals.

1862. British crops fail and hunger is widespread, especially since thousands of mill hands have been thrown out of work by a cotton famine.

1862. Nearly 470,000 settlers will apply for homesteads in the next 18 years under terms of the Homestead Act. Roughly one-third of these will actually receive land.

Les Miserables. Victor Hugo. French. 1862. Novel. Peasant steals loaf of bread, escapes from prison, becomes respected citizen fearful of being caught. Battle of Waterloo and flight through the Paris sewers are famous scenes.

Modern Love. George Meredith. British. 1862. Poetry. 50 poems. 16 lines each. Thoughts of married couple who perceive that their love is dying.

"Battle Hymn of the Republic." Julia Ward Howe. American. 1862. Song. New words for popular Union Army song, "John Brown's Body."

Fathers and Sons. Ivan Turgenev. Russian. 1862. Novel. Portrays conflicts between older aristocratic generation, new democratic intelligentsia. Russia in the 1860s.

Salambo. Gustave Flaubert. French. 1862. Novel. Set in Carthage. Traveled to Tunisia before writing. Precise, accurate documentation.

1863. President Lincoln relieves Gen. Burnside of command, January 25, and puts Gen. Hooker in charge of the Army of the Potomac.

1863. Union forces suffer defeat at Chancellorsville, Va.

1863. President Lincoln replaces Gen. Hooker, June 28, with Gen. George Gordon Mead who triumphs a few days later at Gettysburg.

1863. Vicksburg, Miss., falls to Gen. Grant, July 4.

1863. Union troops are beaten at Chickamauga, Ga., before rallying to drive the Confederates from Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge and win the Battle of Chattanooga in Tennessee.

1863. Conscription for the Union Army begins July 11 under legislation passed March 3, giving exemption to any man who pays $300 to hire a substitute.

1863. Draft riots break out in Northern cities with the worst occurring at New York. Blacks throughout the city are attacked and killed.

1863. Quantrill's Raiders burn Lawrence, Kan. Quantrill, mustered into the Confederate army, includes among his men Jesse and Frank James and "Cole" Younger.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

1851 to 1862

The Insulted and Injured. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1861. Novel. Purifying function of suffering. Dostoevsky's first full-length novel. Melodramatic. Verbal duels with cynical prince.

"Maryland, My Maryland." James Ryder Randall. American. 1861. Song. Sung to "O Tannenbaum." A favorite battle song of Confederate soldiers.

The Cloister and the Hearth. Charles Reade. British. 1861. Historical Novel. Uses historical characters. Erasmus as a child. The tragically thwarted love of his parents.

The House of the Dead. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1861/62. Nonfiction. Life in Siberian prison. Based on Dostoevsky's personal experience.

1862. The Union gains its first major success in February as Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland fall to U.S. forces under Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

1862. The first naval battle between ironclad ships occurs March 8. The Confederate ironclad frigate Merrimac is forced to withdraw March 9 after an engagement with the Union's ironclad Monitor, built with a revolving gun turret.

1862. The Battle of Shiloh, April 6 and 7, on the Tennessee River ends after mass slaughter, with both sides claiming victory.

1862. The Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), August 30, ends in defeat for the Union.

1862. The Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) in Maryland, September 17, is indecisive.

1862. President Lincoln relieves Gen. McClellan of his command in November and places the Army of the Potomac under Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Gen. Lee hands Burnside a bad defeat, December 13, at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

1862. London has decided not to recognize the Confederacy on which Britain depends for cotton. The British are dependent on the North for grain exports.

1862. "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union," writes President Lincoln, August 22, in a letter to Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, "and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could do it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and by leaving others alone, I would also do that."

1862. An Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln, September 22, declares that "persons held as slaves" within areas "in rebellion against the United States" will be free on and after January 1, 1863.

1862. Apaches led by Cochise hold Apache Pass with 500 warriors against 3,000 California volunteers until forced out by artillery fire. Cochise leads his followers deep into the Dragoon Mountains from which he continues raids that will terrorize white settlers until 1871.

1862. The Homestead Act voted by Congress declares that any U.S. citizen may have 160 acres of Western lands absolutely free (except for $10 registration fee) provided he make certain improvements and live on the tract for 5 years.

1862. English African explorer John Speke confirms that Lake Victoria is the source of the Nile, the world's longest river.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


1861. A United Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed March 17.

1861. Czar Aleksandr II completes the emancipation of the Russian serfs begun in 1858.

1861. Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin returns to Europe after escaping imprisonment in Eastern Siberia. Bakunin will be the leading European anarchist until his death in 1876.

1861. Apache chief Cochise appears at an army post in Arizona Territory to deny charges that he kidnapped a white child. Taken prisoner, he escapes and takes hostages to be exchanged for other Apaches held by the U.S. Army. The exchange does not take place, the hostages are killed on both sides, and Cochise joins with his father-in-law Mangas Coloradas in raids that threaten to drive the Anglos from Arizona.

1861. Congress levies the first U.S. income tax August 5 to raise funds needed for the Union Army and Navy.

1861. The Gatling gun invented by U.S. engineer Richard Gatling can fire hundreds of rounds per minute.

1861. A Western Union telegraph line opens between New York and San Francisco, one of whose hills will hereafter be called Telegraph Hill. The wire has been strung across the continent despite opposition from hostile tribes and Confederate sympathizers who have tried to prevent it, and it brings an end to the money-losing Pony Express started last year.

1861. Most Russian peasants can do no more than grow enough for their own families' needs with a small surplus in good years to sell for tax money.

Silas Marner, or The Weaver of Raveloe. George Eliot. British. 1861. Novel. Remedial influences of pure, natural human relations. Lonely, embittered, accused of theft of which his friend was guilty. Lost girl he had loved. Friendless miser, robbed of his gold, finds yellow-haired baby girl. Love for Eppie brings him back to normal, wholesome life. Given a chance to live with a wealthy relative, Eppie chooses to stay with Silas.

Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny. Oliver Wendell Holmes. American. 1861. Novel. While carrying her, Elsie's mother is bitten by a snake; the child develops serpent characteristics. Strange and repellent, her nature prevents love. Dies while trying to humanize herself. With Elsie, Holmes attacks the Calvinist belief that humanity is held responsible for an inherited flaw.

East Lynne. Mrs. Henry Wood. British. 1861. Novel. Lady runs off with another man. She returns, disguised, to care for her children. She becomes reconciled with her husband.

"Paul Revere's Ride." Henry W. Longfellow. American. 1861. Poetry. Midnight ride to spread the news of a British raid.

Monday, December 3, 2007

1860 to 1861

1860. The longest bare-knuckle prizefight in U.S. history is held at Berwick, Maine, where J. Fitzpatrick and James O'Neill battle for 4 hours, 20 minutes.

1860. Cigarette smoking increases in America. Richmond, Va., has more than 50 cigarette factories; North Carolina and Virginia together have more than 348.

1860. Louis Pasteur sterilizes milk by heating it to 125 degrees Centigrade at a pressure of 1.5 degrees atmospheres. Pasteur will develop methods using lower heats to "pasteurize" milk.

The Storm. Aleksandr Ostrovsky. Russian. 1860. Play. Tragedy of young wife trying to break out of stifling atmosphere of her life. Dull, merchant-class milieu; love affair; confesses; hounded; suicide.

The Mill on the Floss. George Eliot. British. 1860. Novel. Brother intrudes on his sister's life and lovers; they are both drowned in a flood on the Floss.

"The Children's Hour." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. American. 1860. Poetry. Devoted to his three daughters by first wife, Mary Potter.

On the Eve. Ivan Turgenev. Russian. 1860. Novel. Heroine finds fulfillment in fighting for social justice with her radical husband.

The Marble Faun. Nathaniel Hawthorne. American. 18650. Novel. Naively joyous male commits crime and matures into a true human. "Fortunate fall." Setting is Rome.

The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins. British. 1860. Novel. Villain puts heiress into an insane asylum in order to get her money. Mystery novel.

Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. British. 1860/61. Novel. Pip grows from boy of shallow dreams to man of depth and character.

Children of Adam. Walt Whitman. American. 1860/67. Poetry. Praises physical love and procreation. Man lost Garden through degradations of senses. The body and soul are one.

1861. Italy unites as a single kingdom while the United States disunites.

1861. Kansas enters the Union as a free state January 29 but Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina secede between January and May, following the course of South Carolina late last year.

1861. Delegates from six seceding states meet at Montgomery, Ala., and form a provisional government, the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi is named provisional president of the C.S.A.

1861. Civil War begins April 12 as Fort Sumter on an island in Charleston Harbor is bombarded by Gen. Pierre Beauregard, who has resigned as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to assume command of the Confederate Army.

1861. The Battle of Bull Run near the Manassas railway junction across the Potomac ends in a rout of Gen. Irvin McDowell's Union forces by the Confederate troops under Gen. Beauregard.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

1859 to 1860

A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. British. 1859. Novel. French Revolution. London and Paris are the two cities. Description taken from Carlyle's French Revolution. Darnay and Carton are look-alikes; the latter substitutes for the former on the guillotine. Carton also loves Lucy; completely cynical about himself.

The Ordeal of Richard Feveral. George Meredith. British. 1959. Novel. Father attempts to educate his son to be a perfect specimen of manhood. Fails tragically. Problem is his attempt to keep him away from women.

A Nest of the Greatfolk. Ivan Turgenev. Russian. 1859. Novel. Tragic love affair ended because his wife who was thought to be dead returns and he must resume his duty. Evokes the peaceful atmosphere of a provincial Russian estate.

Adam Bede. George Eliot. British. 1859. Novel. Actual author is Mary Ann Evans. Principled Adam loves pretty, superficial Hetty Sorrel who is seduced by Squire Donnithorne; she kills the baby. Adam eventually marries Dinah Morris, a young Methodist preacher.

Oblomov. Ivan Goncharov. Russian. 1859. Novel. Hero is the embodiment of physical and mental laziness.

"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking." Walt Whitman. American. 1859. Poetry. Interprets the song of a bird at seaside to mean death.

The Friend of the Family. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1859. Novel. Russian Tartuffe. Petty, talentless ex-toady rules the household by playing on guilt feelings.

Elle et lui (He and She). George sand. British. 1859. Novel. Sand's interpretation of her love affair with Alfred de Musset and its complexities.

Origin of Species. Charles Darwin. British. 1859. Nonfiction. Theory of evolution by natural selection; survival of the fittest.

A Hard Lot. Aleksey Pisemsky. Russian. 1859. Play. Tragic conflicts caused by the love affair between the estate owner and the wife of one of his serfs. Realistic.

Idylls of the King. Alfred Lord Tennyson. British. 1859/85. Poetry. Based on the Arthurian legend. Introduction of evil into hitherto unblemished Camelot through Lancelot's sin.

1860. The United States becomes less united following the election of Abraham Lincoln as president

1860. South Carolina adopts an Ordinance of Secession to protest the election.

1860. Elizabeth Cady Stanton urges women's suffrage in an address to a joint session of the New York State Legislature.

1860. John D. Rockefeller enters the oil business at age 20.

1860. The first Pony Express riders leave St. Joseph, Mo., April 3, and delivers mail to Sacramento, Cal., 10 days later.

1860. The first world heavyweight boxing championship bout, April 17, at Farnborough, Hampshire, pits U.S. champion John C. Heenan against the British champion Tom Sayers. The fight continues for 42 rounds until Sayers is unable to use his right arm. Heenan is blinded from his own blood, and the crowd breaks into the ring to stop the fight.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

1858 to 1859

1858. Anatomy of the Human Body, Descriptive and Surgical by London physician Henry Gray is published for the first time. Gray's Anatomy will be a standard text for more than a century.

1858. Queen Victoria and President Buchanan exchange messages August 16 over the first transatlantic cable.

1858. Big Ben begins chiming out the hours, half-hours and quarter-hours in the 316-foot- tall clock tower of London's Westminster Palace.

1858. New York's Central Park opens to the public in the autumn although it remains five years short of completion.

The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table. Oliver Wendell Holmes. American. 1858. Essays. Conversations that become monologues; epigrammatic; social, theological, scientific topics.

"Telling the Bees." John Greenleaf Whittier. American. 1858. Poetry. Custom of draping hives when someone is dead; lover discovers that the dead is his beloved.

A Thousand Souls. Aleksey Pisemsky. Russian. 1858. Novel. Marries woman who has 1000 serfs in order to further his career.

Our American Cousin. Tom Taylor. American. 1858. Play. Play that Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated.

"The Deacon's Masterpiece, or, The Wonderful 'One-Hoss Shay.' " Oliver Wendell Holmes. American. 1858. Poetry. Satirizing Calvinist dogma or any inflexible though highly logical system designed for permanence. The shay did not break down. It just fell apart all at once.

"The Chambered Nautilus." Oliver Wendell Holmes. American. 1858. Poetry. Sea creature that enlarges its shell as it grows is example to the human being.

"The Courtship of Miles Standish." Henry W. Longfellow. American. 1858. Poetry. Miles Standish sends John Alden to woo Priscilla for him. She prefers John. Miles gives his blessing.

1859. The Supreme Court upholds the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

1859. John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, Va., October 16, stirs passions throughout the country.

1859. Petroleum production begins at Titusville, Penna., giving the world a new source of energy and reducing demand for the whale oil, coal gas, and lard now used in lamps.

1859. Suez Canal construction begins. Ferdinand de Lesseps has financed the sea-level waterway between the Mediterranean and Red Seas chiefly by selling stock to French investors.

1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Species in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin creates a furor by flying in the face of fundamentalist religion.

1859. Cocaine is isolated from coca leaves brought home from Peru by Austrian explorer Karl von Scherzer, but physicians show little interest in the drug's potential for anesthesia.

Monday, November 26, 2007

1856 to 1858

John Halifax, Gentleman. Dina Maria Mulock Craik. British. 1856. Novel. Orphan, by perseverance, fortitude, establishes himself in life despite humble origin.

1857. Giuseppi Garibaldi founds the Italian National Association to work for unification of the country.

1857. The Dred Scott Decision announced by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney enrages abolitionists and encourages slave owners.

1857. A nationwide celebration marks the linking by rail of New York and St. Louis.

1857. U.S. cities have higher death rates than any other places in the world. Tuberculosis is the big killer, causing roughly 400 deaths per 100,000 population.

1857. The Atlantic Monthly begins publication at Boston under the editorship of James Russell Lowell.

1857. The world's first commercial passenger elevator is installed in the five-story New York store of E. G. Haughwort at the corner of Broadway and Broome Streets.

1857. Michigan State College of Agriculture opens to offer the first state courses in scientific and practical agriculture.

The Virginians. Wm. Makepeace Thackeray. British. 1857. Novel. Twin grandsons; boyhood in America; various experiences in England. Through American Revolution in which each fights on a different side.

The Flowers of Evil (Les fluers du mal). Charles Baudelaire. French. 1857. Poetry. Conflict of good, evil; seeks beauty or good in perverse, grotesque, morbid.

Tom Brown's School Days. Thomas Hughes. British. 1857. Novel. Life in an English public school. Shy, homesick boy develops manly, robust qualities.

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade. Herman Melville. American. 1857. Novel. Mississippi river boat. Plotless satire. Characters are different manifestations of the confidence man, without principle.

Barchester Towers. Anthony Trollope. British. 1857. Novel. Novel of clerical intrigue. Struggle between Mrs. Proudie, the Bishop's wife, and the insidious chaplain Slope.

1858. An assassination attempt on France's Napoleon III and his wife kills 10 and injures 150, but the January 14 bomb explosions leave the emperor and his wife Eugenie untouched. The French execute Italian revolutionist Felice Orsini and his accomplice.

1858. "A house divided against itself cannot stand," says former congressman Abraham Lincoln at Springfield, Ill., in accepting nomination as the Republican candidate for U.S. senator. "I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free." Lincoln will lose to Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.

1858. Russia's Aleksandr II begins emancipating the nation's serfs.

1858. London's Linnaean Society hears a paper on the survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence in nature presented by English naturalists Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

1855 to 1856

Israel Potter or, Fifty Years of Exile. Herman Melville. American. 1855. Satiric Novel. Time of the Revolutionary War. Meets Ben Franklin, John Paul Jones and Ethan Allen. His personality is a mixture of the faults and virtues of the three heroes. Archetypal American, taken prisoner by the British and exiled for 50 years. Returns home to die. Melville suggests that the only hope for America likes in the pioneering West.

The Newcomes. Wm. Makepeace Thackeray. British. 1855. Novel. Three generations. Love triangle finally resolved happily.

Little Dorrit. Charles Dickens. British. 1855/57. Novel. Father, daughters spend lives in prison for debt. Father becomes wealthy, as insufferable in wealth as he was obsequious in debt. Amy, Little Dorrit, remains unchanged by changes in circumstances. Circumlocution Office. Dickens attacks bureaucratic inefficiency and the practice of imprisonment for debt.

Chronicles of Barsetshire. Anthony Trollopw. British. 1855/57. Novels. Cathedral town. Agitations among clerical families disturb the placidity of Barchester. Mrs. Proudie, etc.

1856. The Crimean War ends as Russia yields to an Austrian ultimatum and agrees to preliminary peace terms at Vienna.

1856. U.S. voters elect Pennsylvania Democrat James Buchanan president.

1856. U.S. playwrights get their first legal copyright protection under a new law that releases a flood of dramatic productions.

1856.Boston exports more than 130,000 tons of "fine, clear" ice from Massachusetts lakes and ponds as 363 ships sail from various ports with a total of 146,000 tons of ice.

The Piazza Tales. Herman Melville. American. 1856. Stories. Artist attempts to rival the power of God; destroyed by his creation. Customer refuses to buy lightning rod: If you cannot control God, why fear him? Descriptive sketches based on 1841 voyage to the Galapagos Island.

Rudin. Ivan Turgenev. Russian. 1856. Novel. Traces the ineffectual career of the hero who impresses with brilliant, high-minded talk. However, he is unable to take decisive action. Frightened by the demands of love. When he tries to act, he loses his life. Hero represents the Russian "Superfluous Man."

"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry." Walt Whitman. American. 1856. Poetry. Feels himself to be one with all those who cross on the ferry regardless of time and space.

Madame Bovary. Gustave Flaubert. French. 1856. Novel. Life of ordinary woman. Technique of amassing precise detail is key in development of the novel. Married to good-hearted, stupid village doctor. Romantic dreams unfulfilled. Adultery, debts suicide.

Mozart auf der Reise nach Prag (Mozart on His Trip to Prague). Eduard Morike. German. 1856. Novel. Mood: essential joy in Mozart's creative energy and melancholy premonition of death.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

1854 to 1855

"The Charge of the Light Brigade." Alfred Lord Tennyson. British. 1854. Poetry. Famous death charge of the 600 at Balaclava in the Crimea on October 25, 1854. The British charged the Russian lines.

"Maud Muller." John Greenleaf Whittier. American. 1854. Narrative Poetry. Wealthy judge and a rustic beauty meet. They lament that they married someone else more "suitable."

1855. The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) is founded at London to improve the condition of working girls by providing good food and a decent place to sleep for young women living away from home.

1855. Scottish missionary David Livingston discovers the falls on the Zambezi River that will be called Victoria Falls.

1855. The Paris International Exposition that runs from May to November hails French technological and economic progress.

1855. The first U.S. kindergarten opens at Watertown, Wisconsin, where the wife of German immigrant Carl Shurz has started the school for children of other immigrants.

1855. The Elmira Female College, founded at Elmira, NY, will be the first U.S. institution to grant academic degrees to women.

1855. Pennsylvania State University is founded.

1855. Familiar Quotations by Boston publisher John Bartlett is published.

1855. The Age of Fable by Boston scholar Thomas Bulfinch will be popular for generations as Bulfinch's Mythology.

Leaves of Grass. Walt Whitman. American. 1855. Poetry. "The United States are the greatest poem." Celebrates common people; poet must incarnate spirit and geography of the U.S. Takes his title from the themes of fertility, universality, cyclical life.

Sevastopol Sketches. Leo Tolstoy. Russian. 1855. Stories. Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War; departure from the usual war descriptions. Showed war not as heroic and glorious, but dangerous, tedious, bloody horror. Used stream of consciousness technique. Internal monologue. The "hero" of his stories was "truth."

Song of Myself. Walt Whitman. American. 1855. Poetry. Encompassing all, gives everything significance; equality and beauty of all things and people. Catalogues. Poet of wickedness as well as grandeur; dissolves into the universe.

"The Barefoot Boy." John Greenleaf Whittier. American. 1855. Poetry. Joy of a country childhood.

"Fra Lippo Lippi." Robert Browning. British. 1855. Poetry. Monologue. Painter in Florence gives his autobiography, views on life and art.

Hiawatha. Henry W. Longfellow. American. 1855. Narrative Poetry. Ojibway Indian reared by grandmother. Deeds in revenging mother against father, West Wind. Parodied mercilessly.

"Rabbi Ben Ezra." Robert Browning. British. 1855. Poetry. Poem on old age; one of the most distinguished Jewish literati in the Middle Ages.

Monday, November 19, 2007

1853 to 1854

"Sohrab and Rustum." Matthew Arnold. British. 1853. Poetry. Father and son meet in individual combat, unaware of their relationship.

"Bartleby the Scrivener." Herman Melville. American. 1853. Story. Lawyer hires Bartleby to copy, proofread legal documents. He eventually refuses to make any effort to work or to leave. "I should prefer not to."

"Cranford." Elizabeth Gaskell. British. 1853. Story. Peaceful little English village with mainly ladies who practice elegant economy and quaint social decorum.

"The Scholar-Gypsy." Matthew Arnold. British. 1853. Poetry. Scholar wanders off from Oxford to learn the gypsy traditions.

Tanglewood Tales. Nathaniel Hawthorne. American. 1853. Myths. Six Greek myths. Themes: revenge, effects of time, strange transformations.

1854. The Crimean War that begins March 28 will continue until 1856. British and French fleets have entered the Black Sea. Russia has broken off relations with both nations.

1854. The Battle of Balaclava, October 25, ends in victory for the allies and includes a cavalry charge of Britain's Light Brigade, led by the infamous Commander James Thomas Burdenell. Russian artillery cuts down 503 of his 700 men.

1854. A Boston mob attacks a federal courthouse, May 26, in a vain attempt to rescue the fugitive slave Anthony Burns.

1854. The Kansas-Nebraska Act signed into law by President Pierce opens to white settlement western lands that have been reserved by sacred treaty for the Indians.

1854. "An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities," by self-taught English mathematician George Boole, advances the first workable system substituting symbols for all words used in formal logic.

1854. A Vatican ruling that makes the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin an article faith implies papal infallibility in all matters.

Walden, or, Life in the Woods. Henry D. Thoreau. American. 1854. Nonfiction. The "mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Lived at the pond from 1845 until 1847. His aim was to "front only the essential facts of life." He wanted to emancipate himself from slavery to material possessions. He described his observations and habits at Walden Pond; he watched the seasons unfold. He urges that life be simplified so that its meaning may become clear.

"Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There." Timothy Shay Arthur. American. 1854. Story. Melodramatic temperance tale. "Father, dear father, come home with me now." Little Mary's song at the saloon door.

Woodcraft, or The Sword and the Distaff. William Gilmore Simms. American. 1854. Novel. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, during 1782. Withdrawal of British troops is the chief historical even. Captain Porty rescues the slaves from the scheming British officers. It was the author's answer to Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Friday, November 16, 2007

1852 to 1853

"Days." Ralph Waldo Emerson. American. 1852. Poetry. "He is only rich who owns the day."

A Sportsman's Sketches. Ivan Turgenev. Russian. 1852. Stories. Life on typical great feudal estates in Russia; fictional narrator rambles through the countryside. Sympathetic to peasants; explicit condemnation of landowners. Serfdom abolished ten years after publication.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, or, Life Among the Lowly. Harriet Beecher Stowe. American. 1852. Novel. Trials, suffering, and human dignity of Uncle Tom; setting is Kentucky and Louisiana. Admiration for best Southern gentility; villain is a Vermonter.

Bleak House. Charles Dickens. British. 1852. Novel. Attacks the delays and archaic absurdities of the courts. Litigation uses up all the money.

Camille. Alexandre Dumas, fils. French. 1852. Play. Beautiful courtesan scorns wealthy protector and escapes with her penniless lover. Gives him up at the request of his family. Tragic reunion of lover and the dying Camille.

The Blithedale Romance. Nathaniel Hawthorne. American. 1852. Novel. Coldly inquisitive narrator, in revealing others, reveals himself.

Pierre, or the Ambiguities. Herman Melville. American. 1852. Novel. In the pursuit of truth, author causes the deaths of his mother, fiancee and sister.

The History of Henry Esmond, Esquire. Wm. Makepeace Thackeray. British. 1852. Historical Novel. Tangled plot. Henry Esmond thinks he is illegitimate; actually he is the lawful heir to the Esmond estate.

Childhood, Boyhood and Youth. Leo Tolstoy. Russian. 1852/54/57. Autobiography. Trilogy. Descriptions of life on provincial estate; among best depictions of nature in Russian literature.

1853. Congress appropriates $150,000 for a survey of the most practicable transcontinental U.S. railroad routes.

1853. The first manned heavier-than-air flying machine soars 500 yards across a valley carrying the terrified coachman of English engineer Sir George Cayley, 80, in a large glider.

1853. The United States Review predicts that "within half a century machinery will perform all work. The only tasks of the human race will be to make love, study and be happy."

1853. Fewer than half of Americans are engaged in agriculture, down from 83% in 1820.

1853. Potato chips are invented at Saratoga Springs, NY, where chef George Crum of Moon's Lake House gives a mocking response to a patron who has complained that his French fries are too thick. He shaves some potatoes paper thin and sends them out to the customers--who are delighted, order more and the rest is history.

Villette. Charlotte Bronte. British. 1853. Novel. English girl teachers at a girls' boarding school; secret love for a doctor. Recognizes true destiny with embittered headmaster, to whom she becomes engaged.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

1850 to 1852


The Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne. American. 1850. Novel. Theme: All men are guilty of secret sin; invasion of another''s soul is the unpardonable sin.

1851. France's Third Republic ends after 3 years in a December coup d'etat engineered by President Louis Napoleon Bonaparte.

1851. A mob of Boston blacks defies last year's Fugitive Slave Act and rescues the fugitive Shadrach from jail February 15.

1851. Men and women are treated equally and all classes of work are viewed as equally honorable in the Oneida Community which has 300 converts living in communal buildings mad of timber from the community's farms.

1851. The London Great Exhibition that opens May 1 is the world's first world's fair and in 141 days attracts more than 6 million admissions. It is intended to show British industrial achievement and prosperity.

1851. The New York Times begins publication September 18.

1851. Reuters News Service is started by German entrepreneur Paul Julius Reuter.

1851. Fire damages the Library of Congress in the Capitol at Washington December 24, destroying two-thirds of the collection acquired from Thomas Jefferson in 1814.

1851. Ireland suffers widespread blindness as a result of the malnutrition experienced in the potato famine that began n 1846.

1851. The first U.S. state prohibition law is voted in Maine.


Moby-Dick, or The Whale. Herman Melville. American. 1851. Novel. The whale hunted by Ahab at the cost of his own dehumanization and sacrifice of his crew. Does the whale equal knowledge of reality? Symbolic study of god and evil? Too complex for one definition?

The House of the Seven Gables. Nathaniel Hawthorne. American. 1851. Novel. Curse affects generations of family. Weight of past guilt. Unpardonable sin: violate another's soul.

Lavengro: The Scholar, Gypsy, Priest. George Borrow.l British. 1851. Novel. Philologist wanders with a family of gypsies.


1852. U.S. Democrats nominate "dark horse" Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire for president and he wins the election by defeating Whig candidate Winfield Scott of Mexican War fame.

1852. The first Boston street railway begins operations with a single horsecar.

1852. Massachusetts adopts the first effective compulsory school-attendance law.

1852. Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases is published by English-physician-scholar Peter Mark Roget.

1852. The safety elevator invented at Yonkers, NY, by master mechanic Elisha Graves Otis will lead to development of high-rise buildings.

1852. Napoleon III gives Paris the Bois de Boulogne as a public park and begins his reign with a huge program of public works.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


1850. An "Omnibus Bill" introduced by Sen. Henry Clay contains compromise resolutions designed to reduce the growing polarity between North and South. John Calhoun attacks the Clay compromise in his "Speech on the Slavery Question," but Daniel Webster supports Clay in his speech "For the Union and Constitution."

1850. President Taylor dies at age 65 after 16 months in office. His vice president Millard Fillmore moves into the White House.

1850. The first national women's rights convention opens at Worcester, Mass., largely through efforts by reformer Lucy Stone who has graduated three years ago from Oberlin College and will organize annual conventions each year for years to come.

1850. A new Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress strengthens the 1793 act. A deputy U.S. marshal at New York arrests New York freedman James Hamlet as a fugitive from Baltimore in the first recorded action under the new act, but the arrest arouses so much public indignation that Hamlet is redeemed and freed.

1850. Congress abolishes flogging in the U.S. Navy.

1850. Britain enters a "Golden Age" of prosperity as she embraces free trade principles that remove tariffs on foodstuffs.

1850. Only half the children born in the U.S. until now have reached the age of 5. The percentage will increase dramatically.

1850. Fire damages San Francisco May 4, June 14 and September 17.

1850. Millard Fillmore installs the first White House cooking stove,but his cooks quit in protest, preferring to use the fireplace.

1850. The World's population reaches 1.24 billion by some estimates.

Representative Men. Ralph Waldo Emerson. American. 1850. Biography. Shakespeare (poet); Plato (philosopher); Swedenborg (mystic); Goethe (writer); Napoleon (man of the world); Montaigne (skeptic). "Uses" of great men. Modeled on Carlyle, but Emerson believed great men are representative of the time, not apart from it.

White Jacket, or The World in a Man-o-War. Herman Melville. American. 1850. Novel. Realistic account of life aboard a u.S. Navy man-of-war. Brutal and inhumane practices of the ship's officers. The white jacket almost drowns the hero, but he discards it and rises to the surface.

A Month in the Country. Ivan Turgenev. Russia. 1850. Play. Bored wife and her ward fall for tutor who is sent away; wife lapses into ennui.

Sonnets from the Portuguese. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. British. 1850. Poetry. Expresses poet's love for her husband. Title refers to a 16th-century Portuguese poet.

The Prelude. William Wordsworth. British. 1850. Poetry. Growth of a poet's mind--traces life from childhood.

"The Blessed Damosel." Dante Gabriel Rossetti. British. 1850. Poetry. Longing of lover in heaven for her lover on earth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


1849. Maryland slave Harriet Tubman, 29, escapes to the North and begins a career as "conductor" on the Underground Railway that started in 1838. Tubman will make 19 trips back to the South to free upward of 300 slaves, including her aged parents whom she will bring to the North in 1857.

1849. News of last year's gold discovery at Sutter's Mill brings a rush of 7,000 "Forty-Niners" to California, whose population will jump in the next 7 years from 15,000 to nearly 300,000 as the gold fields yield $450 million in precious metal.

1849. Some 50,000 Forty-Niners pass through St. Joseph, Mo., a town of 3,000 whose location at the northern and western terminus of the Mississippi and Missouri River Steamboat Transport makes it a supply center for people preparing to walk the 2,000 miles to California.

1849. The first U.S. woman M.D. graduates at the head of her class at Geneva Medical College in Syracuse, NY, after having been ostracized by other students. Elizabeth Blackwell will play an important role in U.S. medicine.

1849. A safety pin is patented by New York sewing machine inventor Walter Hunt, who sells the patent rights for $400 in order to raise money to discharge a small debt.

1849. French physicist Armand H.L. Fizeau establishes the speed of light at approximately 186,300 miles per second.

1849. Moscow's Kremlin Palace is completed after 11 years of construction.

1849. A U.S. Department of the Interior that will eventually serve as custodian for the nation's natural resources is created March 5 by act of Congress.

1849. Thousands of U.S. farmers buy $100 McCormick reapers after being deserted by workers gone to California.

"Civil Disobedience." Henry Thoreau. American. 1849. Essay. "Government is best which governs least." True to oneself, one may then be true to government.

Shirley. Charlotte Bronte. British. 1849. Novel. At end of Napoleonic Wars; depressed wool industry; workers vs. hero, the mill owner.

Mardi and a Voyage Thither. Herman Melville. American. 1849. Novel. Complex. From narrative of adventure to allegory of mind. Symbolic quest for absolute truth. Events are more important on symbolic than realistic level.

"The Building of the Ship." Henry W. Longfellow. American. 1849. Poetry/Ode. Ship is the symbol for life and for the Union. Interweaves details with those of approaching marriage of the builder's daughter.

"Annabel Lee." Edgar Allan Poe. American. 1849. Poetry. Subject is Poe's favorite: death of a beautiful woman.

David Copperfield. Charles dickens. British. 1849/50. Novel. Autobiographical. Devastating expose of inhuman treatment of children in 19th-century England.

Monday, November 12, 2007


1848. London appoints John Simon its first medical officer of health and he creates a public health service that will be a model for those of other nations. Simon establishes the science of epidemiology by showing how environmental conditions can influence the spread and severity of disease.

1848. A telegraph line opens between New York and Chicago.

1848. Mormon farmers begin plowing the shores of Great Salt Lake and introduce irrigation to U.S. agriculture.

1848. San Francisco loses three-fourths of its population in 4 months as men hurry to strike it rich in the gold fields.

"The House of Life." Dante Gabriel Rossetti. British. 1848. Sonnet. Autobiographical. Title refers to house of human life in astrology.

Vanity Fair, A Novel Without a Hero. Wm. Makepeace Thackeray. British. 1848. Novel. Becky Sharp: clever, scheming, determined to get on in the world.

Dombey and Son. Charles Dickens. British. 1848. Novel. Father bitter on death of son; rejects loving daughter; after business failure, they are reconciled.

Mary Barton. Elizabeth Gaskell. British. 1848. Novel. Inhumanities suffered by impoverished weavers of Manchester.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anne Bronte. British. 1848. Novel. Marriage destroyed by a dissipated husband.

"Eureka." Edgar Allan Poe. American. 1848. Essay. Material, spiritual unity of the universe. Non-Euclidean geometry? Surprisingly contemporary.

The Communist Manifesto. Marx/Engels. German. 1848. Nonfiction. Pamphlet. Analyzes history as class conflict, envisions classless society without personal property.

The Bigelow Papers. James Russell Lowell. American. 1848. Poetry and Prose. Poems in dialect; prose in standard English. Satirizes politicians, editors and the wealthy. Yankee dialect.

Fables for Critics. James Russell Lowell. American. 1848. Poetry/Satire. Witty profiles of leading writers: Emerson, Longfellow, Hawthorne, Poe, Cooper, Whittier, Holmes and himself.

Memoires d'outre-tombe (Memories from Beyond the Tomb). Francois Rene de Chateaubriand. French. 1848/50. Autobiography. Personal reminiscences by Chateaubriand.

The History of Pendennis. Wm. Makepeace Thackeray. British. 1848/50. Novel. Spoiled boy has affairs, matures, writes novel and marries true love.