Friday, August 31, 2007

1798 to 1799

1798. "Right," "Center," and "Left" political designations have their origins as France's Council of 500 meets. The assembly hall is semicircular, and the representatives soon develop the habit of seating themselves, with the most revolutionary on the left, the most conservative on the right.

1798. Napoleon Bonaparte occupies Rome.

1798. Bonaparte takes Malta, lands in Egypt and captures Alexandria.

1798. Admiral Horatio Nelson defeats Bonaparte's fleet.

1798. The Alien Acts approved by Congress empower President Adams to order any alien from the country and imprison any alien in time of war. Thomas Jefferson opposes the legislation and drafts Kentucky Resolutions that declare acts of Congress "void and of no force" when Congress "assumes undelegated powers."

1798. Georgia forbids further importation of slaves.

1798. Eli Whitney pioneers the "American system" of mass production with jigs--metal patterns that guide machine tools to make exact replicas of any part--that will doom the handicraft methods of cottage industry. He devises a method for producing firearms from interchangeable parts.

1798. Practical Education by English writer Maria Edgeworth and her father is based on recorded conversations of children with their elders to illustrate a child's chain of reasoning.

1798. The Sedition Act passed by Congress suppresses editorial criticism of the U.S. president and the administration. Thomas Jefferson opposes the measure.

1798. Papermaking gains impetus with the invention of a machine that makes it possible to produce paper from wood pulp in continuous rolls.

"Simon Lee." William Wordsworth. British. 1798. Poetry. Helps an old huntsman dig up the root of a tree and learns of the huntsman's life.

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." ST Coleridge. British. 1798. Poetry. Supernatural punishment of a seaman who shot an albatross, a good omen.

Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth and Coleridge. British. 1798/1800/1802. Poetry. First important publication of the romantic period in English. Preface by Wordsworth in the second edition in 1800: Poetry should be drawn from everyday life and speech. Manifesto of English romanticism. Coleridge: "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Wordsworth: country scenes, people, and written in plain language and style: "Tintern Abbey."

Wallenstein. Friedrich Schiller. German. 1798/99. Three Plays. Intrigued by his power, Wallenstein begins to entertain the idea of deserting the emperor to establish his own political power. Never actually intends to commit treason. Letters are seized and given to the emperor. He flees but is murdered by his own generals.

1799. Gas lighting is pioneered by French chemist Philippe Legon who develops methods for producing inflammable gas from wood.

1799. A stone is discovered at Rosetta whose polished surface has been chiseled with Greek characters, with hieroglyphs and with characters that will later be called demotic. Army Corps of Engineers Captain Boucard believes that the three inscriptions may say the same thing and may be the key to understanding the Egyptian language of antiquity.

1799. English chemist Humphry Davy produces nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") and suggests that the gas may have use as an anesthetic in surgery.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

1795 to 1797

1795. The French Convention, threatened by a royalist revolt, calls upon Napoleon Bonaparte to protect it, and he drives the Paris mob from the streets. The French Convention names Napoleon Bonaparte commander of the army.

Wilhelm Meister. Goethe. German. 1795. Novel. Original and classic example of the Bildungsroman. Progress from naive, excitable youth to responsible manhood. Gradually develops modest, objective view of himself.

The Monk. Matthew Gregory Lewis. British. 1795. Gothic Novel. Monk seduced by demon in disguise. Destroyed by the devil in a desert waste.

On Naive and Sentimental Poetry. Friedrich Schiller. German. 1795/96. Essay. Naive poet = realist. Sentimental poet = idealist.

1796. French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte invade Italy and defeat the Austrians.

1796. Washington, in his Farewell Address, warns against permanent alliances with foreign powers.

1796. John Adams of Massachusetts is elected to succeed Washington as president after a bitter contest with Thomas Jefferson.

1796. A Public Land Act passed by Congress authorizes the sale of U.S. Government lands in minimum lots of 640 acres each at $2 per acre with payments to be made under a credit system.

1796. English physician Edward Jenner pioneers the use of vaccination against smallpox.

Farewell Address (from the presidency). George Washington. American. 1796. Speech. Never delivered. Reasons for not seeking a third term. Warned against the dangers of the party system. Avoid permanent foreign alliances. Temporary alliances in extraordinary circumstances.

Jacques le fatalist. Denis Diderot. French. 1796. Novel. Digressions. Stories within stories. Novel as medium for depicting reality. Determinism vs. fatalism.

"The Hasty Pudding." Joel Barlow. American. 1796. Poetry. Mock epic. Describes making and eating New England mush.

1797. The Battle of Rivoli gives Gen. Bonaparte his first decisive victory.

1797. Mantua falls to Bonaparte.

1797. Bonaparte crosses the Alps to challenge the archduke Charles at Vienna.

Hermann and Dorothea. Goethe. German. 1797. Idyllic. Honesty and simplicity of the love between two main characters as a balance to the unrest of the times.

"Kubla Khan." ST Coleridge. British. 1797. Poetry. Unfinished. Interrupted by a visitor. Precursor of symbolism and surrealism.

Hyperion or the Hermit in Greece. Freiedrich Holderlin. German. 1797/99. Epistolary Novel. Set in modern Greece. Expresses the longing for the human, artistic perfection of ancient Greece.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

1793 to 1794

1793. Samuel Slater introduces child labor at the first U.S. cotton mill.

1793. An epidemic of yellow fever kills 4,044 at Philadelphia in the worst health disaster ever to befall an American city.

1793. France abolishes worship of God November 10. A cult of reason is founded by Commune of Paris leaders.

1793. The semaphore developed by French engineer Claude Chappe and his brother is a visual telegraph system.

An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. William Godwin. British. 1793. Nonfiction. All government is an obstacle to the development of mankind. Abolish all social, political institutions. Abolish government, law, wealth, marriage. Total confidence in the perfectability of man. Influenced the romantics.

1794. Robespierre crushes his rivals at Paris, has Danton guillotined and ends the cult of reason. He establishes himself as high priest of a new Reign of Terror that reaches its height in June and July.

1794. The Law of 22 Prairial allows juries to convict without hearing evidence or argument. As many as 354 per month go to the guillotine, and opposition to Robespierre mounts.

1794. The conspiracy of July 27 topples Robespierre from power. He is sent to the guillotine with 18 others. More than 80 of Robespierre's sympathizers go to the guillotine July 29, but public opinion forces Robespierre's successors to end the Reign of Terror.

1794. The Whiskey Rebellion by U.S. frontier farmers brings the first show of force by the new U.S. government. Federal militiamen put down the rebellion without bloodshed.

1794. The Battle of Fallen Timbers ends the Indian menace to American settlers in the Ohio-Kentucky region.

1794. Insurance Company of North America, chartered at Philadelphia, is the first U.S. commercial firm to offer life insurance policies.

1794. The Lancaster Road opens to link the Pennsylvania Dutch country and Lancaster with Philadelphia and the Delaware River. Financial success to the stockholders will inspire similar toll projects.

1794. The founder of nutritional science and of modern chemistry, Antoine Lavoisier, goes to the guillotine.

The Adventures of Caleb Williams, or Things as They Are. William Godwin. British. 1794. Novel. Aristocrat for whom Caleb works is guilty of murder. Tries to keep Caleb from revealing his secret. When Caleb tells, he feels guilt at causing his master's ruin. Suspense. Anticipated the detective novel. Comment on the positions of privileged and lower classes.

Reineke Fuchs. Goethe. German. 1794. Epic Poem. Retells the story of Reynard the Fox. The value of the amoral man to society. Superior resourcefulness is a balance to the stultification of unchallenged morality.

Wha Hae Scots. Robert Burns. British. 1794. Poetry. Celebrates the victory of Robert Bruce over Edward II at Bannockburn.

The Mysteries of Udolpho. Ann Radcliffe. British. 1794. Gothic Novel. Heroine, raised by foolish aunt, becomes involved with an evil adventurer; escapes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

1791 to 1793

Julie ou la Nouvelle Heloise. Jean Jacques Rousseau. French. 1791. Novel. Epistolary. Former lover (male) comes to live with a wife and her husband at the invitation of the husband. Lover leaves because the situation is impossible but is recalled on her deathbed. He promises to care for her children. Intent is to attack hypocritical social morality.

The Rights of Man. Thomas Paine. American. 1791/92. Nonfiction. Defends French Revolution against attacks by Edmund Burke. Civil government exists only through contract with the majority to safeguard individual rights. Revolution OK if "natural rights" are interfered with.

Charlotte Temple. Susannah Haswell Rowson. American. 1791/94. Novel. Heroine is lured from her English home, deserted in New York by a British officer who later repents.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. American. 1791/98. Autobiography. Covers Franklin's many interests: philosophy, politics, religion, literature, practical affairs.

1792. A Parisian mob storms the Tulieres Palace. The Paris commune takes power under Danton.

1792. The French National Convention meets September 21, abolishes the monarchy decrees perpetual banishment for French emigres, and declares September 22 the first day of the Year One for the new French Republic.

1792. The French National Convention issues a proclamation November 19 offering assistance to peoples of all nations who want to overthrow their governments.

1792. Vindication of the Rights of Women is published by English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

1792. Denmark abandons the slave trade and becomes the first nation to do so.

1792. Eli Whitney's cotton gin will increase U.S. cotton planting, producing an increased demand for slave labor.

Modern Chivalry. Hugh Henry Breckenridge. American. 1792. Satiric Novel. American Don Quixote. Unflattering picture of manners in the early republic. The evil of men seeking office for which they are not qualified.

"La Marsellaise." Claude DeLisle. French. 1792. Hymn. Hymn of the French Revolution. Made use of by other composers.

1793. Louis XVI goes to the guillotine January 21.

1793. The French Republic declares war February 1 against Britain, Holland and Spain.

1793. France begins a levy of all men capable of bearing arms as the Allies drive republican troops back on all fronts.

1793. The Reign of Terror gathers force at Paris. Marie Antoinette goes to the guillotine October 16. Some 15,000 are guillotined in 3 months at Nantes.

1793. Napoleon Bonaparte, 24, gains prominence for the first time as the French take Toulon from the British in December.

1793. The Fugitive Slave Act, voted by Congress at Philadelphia February 12, makes it illegal for anyone to help a slave escape to freedom or give a runaway slave refuge.

Monday, August 27, 2007

1789 to 1791

Book of Thel. William Blake. British. 1789. Poetry. Blake's first mystical writing. Theme is death, redemption and eternity. Free verse. Prophetic book.

Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. William Blake. British. 1789/94. Omnipresence of divine love and sympathy vs. the power of evil. Innocence vs. experience. Dualistic thinking is characteristic of Blake.

1790. Philadelphia becomes the capital of the United States in august, but Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton has selected a new national capital site on the banks of the Potomac near the Maryland town of George Town, thus resolving a dispute between North and South.

1790. The Indian Nonintercourse Act passed by Congress forbids taking of lands from Indian tribes without Congressional approval, but Maine, Massachusetts and other states will continue to take Indian lands without such approval.

1790. Congress establishes a patent office to protect inventors.

1790. The population of the U.S. reaches 3,929,000; 95% of it is rural; population density is four to five people per square mile.

Reflections on the French Revolution. Edmund Burke. British. 1790. Nonfiction. Urges reform rather than rebellion to correct social and political abuses. Thought the Glorious and American Revolutions were OK because people were asserting their rights. Saw the French Revolution as breaking the framework of tradition altogether.

Critique of Judgment. Immanuel Kant. German. 1790. Nonfiction. Aesthetic philosophy. Believed that the representation of a thing in art demonstrated partial understanding of the "thing in itself."

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. William Blake. British. 1790. Prose. Attacks eighteenth-century Protestantism for reducing moral complexities to oversimplified formulas. Denies matter as reality, affirms eternal damnation and asserts the right of authority. Doctrine of Contraries: Need "contraries" for progress.

Torquato Tasso. Goethe. German. 1790. Play. Incompatibility of the poet's inner nature with life in the external world.

1791. Louis XVI flees with his family, but he is arrested and returned to Paris with Marie Antoinette and his children.

1791. The Bill of Rights becomes U.S. law December 15, as Virginia ratifies the first 10 amendments to the Constitution drawn up in 1787.

"Tam O'Shanter." Robert Burns. British. 1791. Narrative poetry. Surprises witches and warlocks as they frolic. They chase him but cannot go farther than half way across a stream. He makes it past halfway, but the horse's tail doesn't.

The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. James Boswell. British. 1791. Biography. Boswell's aim was completeness. No detail was too small. Features the brilliance and wit of Johnson's conversation. Boswell was able to transform profusion of detail into a perceptive lifelike portrait. Hawkins is a better source for Johnson's youth. Thrale is better for the intimate domestic life.

Justine. Marquis deSade. French. 1791. Novel. Celebrates a sexually persecuted heroine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

1788 to 1789

1788. The Parliament of Paris presents Louis XVI with a list of grievances as the country suffers its worst economic chaos of the century.

1788. Australia's Botany Bay becomes an English penal colony.

1788. New York physicians go into hiding for 3 days in April as a mob riots in protest against grave robbers. The state will pass a law next year enabling physicians to obtain cadavers without robbing graves.

1788. The Times of London begins publication.

Critique of Practical Reason. Immanuel Kant. German. 1788. Philosophy. Constructed philosophy of ethics based on practical reason or free will of man. Moral law is unconditional, universal, and is called the categorical imperative. "Act only on a maxim whereby you can at the same time will it to become a universal law."

Egmont. Goethe. German. 1788. Play. Uptight, straightforward hero unable to survive subtle political machinations.


1789. The French Revolution begins.

1789. Members of the third estate (Nobles were the first estate; clergy were the second estate; peasants, serfs, yeomen and the early bourgeoisie were the third estate.) attack the Bastille prison at Paris, July 12. It falls July 14. Only 7 prisoners are inside. The revolutionists overthrow the regime of Louis XVI.

1789. France's nobility begins to emigrate as peasants rise against their feudal lords.

1789. A Paris mob riots and a revolutionary band, mostly women, marches to Versailles. Gen. Lafayette rescues the royal family and moves it to Paris.

1789. George Washington takes office at New York to begin the first of two terms as first president of the United States.

1789.The Declaration of the Rights of Man adopted by the French assembly declares that man has "natural and imprescribable rights. These rights are liberty, property, personal security and resistance to oppression...."

1789. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation by English barrister Jeremy Bentham expounds the basic ethical doctrine of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number" as the chief object of all conduct and legislation.

1789. The first known American advertisement for tobacco appears with a picture of an Indian smoking a long clay pipe while leaning against a hogshead marked "Best Virginia."

1789. Sailors aboard H.M.S. Bounty bound for the West Indies with breadfruit plants mutiny April 28 in protest against being deprived of water that is being lavished on the plants.

1789. Nine out of ten Americans are engaged in farming and food production.


The Power of Sympathy. Sarah Wentworth Morton. American. 1789. Novel. First U.S. novel. Letters. Hero discovers he can't marry his socially inferior lover. She is his half-sister. The shock of this discovery kills her. He commits suicide.

Declaration of the Rights of Man. Anonymous. French. 1789. Nonfiction. Document setting forth the principles of the French Revolution. Modeled on the American Declaration of Independence.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

1786 to 1787

1786. Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts aims to thwart further farm foreclosures in the continuing U.S. economic depression.

1786. Rhode Island farmers burn their grain, dump their milk, and lave their apples to rot in the orchards in a farm strike directed against Providence and Newport merchants who have refused to accept the paper money that has depreciated to the point of being virtually worthless. The strike has little effect, since 90% of Americans raise their own food.

1786. The first U.S. golf club is founded at Charleston, S.C., by local clergyman Henry Purcell.

1786. Bridgewater, Mass., inventor Ezekiel Reed patents a nail-making machine, but nails remain so costly that houses are put together in large part with wooden pegs.

Vathek, An Arabian Tale. William Beckford. British. 1786. Gothic Novel. Caliph sells his soul to the Devil to gain the throne of the Sultan. Finds that it is a place of torture and he is doomed to remain in it forever.

The Anarchiad. Hartford Wits. American. 1786. Satiric Poetry. Attack on French philosophy, paper money, Shays' Rebellion and the attitude of Europeans toward Americans.

"The Cotter's Saturday Night." Robert Burns. British/Scottish. 1786. Poetry. Famous for the description of Scottish peasant life and for the story of Jenny.

"The Holy Fair." Robert Burns. British/Scottish. 1786. Poetry. Ridicules the Holy Fair at Mauchline. Three "sisters," Fun, Superstition, and Hypocrisy, view scenes of immorality.

1787. A Constitutional Convention that has been meeting at Philadelphia draws up a Constitution for the new United States of America.

1787. Thomas Paine travels to Europe where he will remain for the next 15 years agitating for revolution.

1787. Britain begins clearing her prisons which are overcrowded and transporting them to Australia.

1787. The Constitutional Convention adopts a "three-fifths rule" as a compromise to settle differences between Northern and Southern states over the counting of slaves for purposes of representation and taxation. Slaves are to be counted as three-fifths of a free man for both purposes.

Don Carlos. Friedrich Schiller. German. 1787. Play. Don Carlos, implicated in a plot against the king, rejects freedom to accept death by the Inquisition.

The Federalist. Hamilton, Madison and Jay. American. 1787/88. Essays. These essays urge New York voters to approve the U.S. Constitution. Great studies in the practical application of theory.

Constitution of the United States of America. U.S. Congress. American. 1787/89. Nonfiction. Establishes a republican form of government. Separates the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. 26 amendments.

Monday, August 20, 2007

1783 to 1786

1783. The phrase "not worth a Continental" is heard as inflation reduces the value of paper currency issued by the Continental Congress to finance the Revolution.

1783. The $5 million William Penn estate in Pennsylvania is broken up, as are other large estates held by former Loyalists (Tories).

1783. The Montgolfier brothers give the first public demonstration of an ascension balloon June 5 at Annonay, France.

1783. Webster's Spelling Book by Yale graduate Noah Webster, 25, is published. Webster standardizes American orthography and helps make pronunciation more uniform.

The Village. George Crabbe. British. 1783. Poetry. Realistic response to the artificialities of the pastoral convention, exemplified by Goldsmith's Deserted Village, a sentimentalized picture of rural life. Hardships, evils, sordidness and misery of country-dwellers of the day.

1784. The British transport all Acadians who have remained in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick since the expulsion order of 1755 to Maine and Louisiana.

1784. Serfdom is abolished in Denmark.

1784. French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier pioneers quantitative chemistry.

1784. Experiments on Air by English chemist-physicist Henry Cavendish shows that water results from the union of hydrogen and oxygen.

1784. U.S. Minister to France Benjamin Franklin invents bifocal spectacles.

1784. Shaker leader Mother Ann Lee dies at Watervliet, NY. Shakerism will continue in America, setting an example with inventive orderly methods of building, toolmaking, and furniture making, animal husbandry, cooking and production of woodenware, yarns, textiles and botanical herbs.

1784. Benjamin Franklin exhorts the French to set their clocks ahead 1 hour in the summer and back 1 hour in the fall to take advantage of daylight.

1784. The Shakers will innovate the practice of retailing garden seeds in small, labeled paper packets.

1784. The Acadians will establish Cajun cookery in Louisiana, combining their Canadian recipes with those of the native "injuns."

Love and Intrigue. Friedrich Schiller. German. 1784. Play. Love across social barriers. Musician's daughter and an aristocrat whose father unwittingly causes their deaths.

1785. Congress establishes the dollar as the official currency of the new United States, employing a decimal system devised by Thomas Jefferson.

1785. Steam powers textile machinery for the first time.

The Task. William Cowper. British. 1785. Poetry. Purpose: Leave London and live life of rural ease and pleasure, piety and virtue. Topics: Nature, rural life, animals; simple, hard-working people, social reform. Inspiriting and healing qualities of nature: forerunner to Wordsworth. "God made the country and man made the town."

1786. Russia's Catharine the Great issues a ukase establishing a Pale of Settlement within which Jews may live.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

1779 to 1783

Iphigenia in Tauris. Goethe. German. 1779. Play. From Euripides' play. In place of "deus ex machina," resolution results from "pure humanity."

The Lives of the Poets. Samuel Johnson. British. 1779/81. Essays. Interested in establishing causal relationship between the artist's life and art. 52 English poets.

1780. American forces suffer disastrous defeat Aug. 16 at Camden, South Carolina.

1780. British spy Major John Andre caught with papers revealing a plot by Benedict Arnold.

1780. Washington defeated at Germantown. Retires to winter quarters at Valley Forge.

1780. Gordon anti-Catholic riots disrupt London.

1781. The Battle of the Cowpens in North Carolina ends in victory for the Continental army.

1781. Benedict Arnold helps British forces plunder and burn New London, Connecticut, Sept. 6.

1781. The American Revolution ends October 19. General Cornwallis surrenders with 7,000 troops at Yorktown.

1781. "Blue Laws" get their name at New Haven, Connecticut, where a new town ordinance printed on blue paper prohibits work on Sunday and requires all shops to be closed on "the Lord's day."

Critique of Pure Reason. Immanuel Kant. German. 1781. Nonfiction. Although reason can understand a thing as object, reason cannot understand the "thing itself."

1782. English prison reformer John Howard visits London's Newgate Prison and finds inmates who have been locked up for 7 years awaiting trial.

1782. Austria abolishes serfdom throughout her dominions.

1782. The Virginia legislature authorizes freedom of slaves as the "peculiar institution" begins to die out in some parts of the South.

1782. James Watt patents a double-acting rotary steam engine.

Letters from an American Farmer. Michel Crevecoeur. American. 1782. Nonfiction. Farm life on the American frontier. Idealized, yet unpleasant facts of the social life and customs in the Colonies. He saw America as a refuge for persecuted and oppressed peoples of the world.

Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress. Fanny Burney. British. 1782. Novel. In order to keep her fortune, Cecilia, an heiress, must marry a man who is willing to adopt her name.

"John Gilpin." William Cowper. British. 1782. Poetry/Ballad. Preferring to ride on a horse rather than in a chaise, John is taken for a long ride by the horse.

1783. The Treaty of Paris, September 3, recognizes the independence of the 13 colonies.

1783. Congress meets, November 26, at Annapolis, Maryland, the first U.S. peacetime capital.

1783. George Washington resigns as Commander-in-chief of the Continental army, December 23.

1783. Maryland forbids further importation of slaves.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

1777 to 1779

1777. Battle of Princeton, Jan. 3, gives Gen. Washington a victory.

1777. Benedict Arnold defeats the British Apr. 27 at Ridgefield, Connecticut.

1777. Battle of Bennington, Aug. 16, ends in victory for the Americans.

1777. The British defeat Gen. Washington, Sept. 22, at the Battle of Brandywine.

1777. First Battle of Saratoga, Sept. 19, inflicts heavy losses on British, but they hold their ground.

1777. The British defeat Anthony Wayne at Paoli, PA, Sept. 20.

1777. Gen. Howe occupies Philadelphia, Sept. 26, and defeats Washington at Germantown, Oct. 6.

1777. Second Battle of Saratoga, Oct. 7, is decisive victory over Gen. Burgoyne, who quits the war.

1777. Articles of Confederation adopted by the Continental Congress at York, PA, Nov. 15.

1777. Gen. Washington gains Congressional approval to inoculate entire Continental army.

1777. Washington leads his 11,000 ragged troops into Valley Forge, Dec. 14, to spend the winter.


The School for Scandal. Richard B. Sheridan. British. 1777. Play. Ladies meet to create and spread gossip; complicated plot in which relationships--couples' and relatives'--are tested and eventually reunited or rejected.


1778. News of Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga reaches France, which recognizes American independence.

1778. Battle of Monmouth, June 28, ends in victory for Washington.

1778. Washington's troops have been drilled at Valley Forge by vonSteuben, a Prussian general.

1778. "Molly Pitcher" carries water to tired and wounded at the Battle of Monmouth.

1778. British Loyalists and their Indian allies massacre settlers in Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley.

1778. The Virginia legislature forbids further importation of slaves at the persuasion of T. Jefferson.


Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. Fanny Burney. British. 1778. Novel. Country girl goes to London; courted; misunderstandings; turns out to be of noble birth.


1779. British take Augusta, Georgia, Jan. 29.

1779. Spain declares war on Britain, June 21.

1779. Gen. John Sullivan defeats Loyalists and Iroquois allies in New York's Genesee Valley.

1779. Capt. John Paul Jones sails in the Bonhomme Richard and defeats the British Serapes.

1779. Robert Walpole and other British merchants smuggle arms and provisions to the Americans.


Nathan the Wise. Gotthold Lessing. German. 1779. Play. Jerusalem during the Crusades. Essential unity of all religions. All religions are forms of one great truth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

1775 to 1776

The Rivals. Richard B. Sheridan. British. 1775. Play. Complicated plot. Includes Mrs. Malaprop and numerous false identities.

The Barber of Seville. Beaumarchais. French. 1775. Play. Figaro, rascal of a barber, helps former master woo and win Bartholo's ward, Rosine.

On Conciliation with the American Colonies. Edmund Burke. British. 1775. Speech. Wanted to grant the colonies autonomy. Won only 58 votes.

M'Fingal. John Trumbull. American. 1775/82. Poetry/Satire. Modeled on Samuel Butler's Hudibras; ridicules extremism on both sides of the Revolution.

1776. Declaration of Independence signed July 4 at Philadelphia.

1776. Battle of Long Island, Aug. 27, ends in defeat for the patriots.

1776. Gen. Howe meets with J. Adams, B. Franklin, and E. Rutledge to negotiate end of war. Break off.

1776. Howe occupies New York City.

1776. Pennsylvania long rifles can fire accurately 200 to 400 yards; muskets effective at 80-100 yards.

1776. British capture and hang Captain Nathan Hale, 21.

1776. Polish military tactician Kosciuszko becomes Washington's adjutant.

1776. Battle of White Plains, Oct. 28, is narrow victory for Howe over Washington.

1776. Washington crosses Delaware Christmas night; Battle of Trenton turns tide of war.

1776. Delaware forbids further importation of slaves.

1776. San Francisco has its beginnings.

1776. Bushnell's "Connecticut Turtle" pioneers the use of the submarine in warfare.

1776. Smallpox decimates the Continental army in the north.

1776. The Phi Beta Kappa Society is founded, Dec. 5, at Virginia's College of William and Mary.

1776. Cattle ranches begin to flourish in the Argentine pampas.

The Wealth of Nations. Adam Smith. British. 1776. Nonfiction. Outlines a system of laissez-faire economics based on absolutely free economy.

Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson. American. 1776. Nonfiction. Public act by which the Second Continental Congress declared the 13 North American colonies free and independent of England.

Common Sense. Thomas Paine. American. 1776. Nonfiction. Urges the immediate separation from England. Influential in bringing about the Declaration of Independence.

The American Crisis. Thomas Paine. American. 1776/83. Pamphlets. Sixteen pamphlets touching on all the important issues of the Revolution. Later papers called for a strong federal union.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon. British. 1776/88. Nonfiction. Three periods, thirteen centuries. History is the record of "...crimes, follies, misfortunes of mankind."

Monday, August 13, 2007

1773 to 1775

She Stoops to Conquer, or, The Mistakes of a Night. Oliver Goldsmith. British. 1773. Play. Arranged marriage. Bashful Marlow thinks his future father-in-law is the impudent landlord of a village inn. His intended pretends to be a bar maid and a poor relative.

Gotz von Berlichingen. Goethe. German. 1773. Play. Powerful personality outmaneuvered by political adversaries; short, pithy scenes and changes in setting.

1774. France's Louis XV dies. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette reign.

1774. First Continental Congress assembles at Philadelphia. All colonies except Georgia.

1774. Congress agrees to import nothing from Great Britain and to export nothing unless grievances redressed.

1774. Connecticut and Rhode Island prohibit further importation of slaves.

1774. News of Boston Tea Party reaches London. Parliament acts to bring colonists to heel.

1774. Boston Harbor closed June 1 until East India Co. is reimbursed for tea.

1774. American colonists send supplies to Boston.

1774. Other tea parties follow in New York; York, Maine; and Annapolis, Maryland.

1774. Joseph Priestley discovers Oxygen.

1774. English religious mystic Ann Lee introduces Shakerism into America. Denounces sex and consummated marriages. Preaches celibacy.

The Sorrows of Young Werther. Goethe. German. 1774. Novel. Epistolary. Gifted, artistic temperament. Loses himself in dreams and speculation. Commits suicide.

On American Taxation. Edmund Burke. British. 1774. Speech. Urged that duty on tea imported into American colonies be repealed. It wasn't.

1775. American War of Independence's begins April 19 at Lexington and Concord.

1775. Royal Navy begins 11-month siege of Boston.

1775. Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia.

1775. Battle of Bunker Hill is victory for British, but they lose more men than the colonists.

1775. George Washington appointed commander- in- chief.

1775. American navy established. Congress authorizes construction of two swift sailing vessels.

1775. Thomas Paine comes to America from England where he has been a failure at all he's tried.

1775. American Abolition Society founded in Pennsylvania.

1775. Daniel Boone establishes Wilderness Road of 300 miles to Kentucky and Tennessee.

1775. American imports from Britain decline by 95%. English businessmen express displeasure.

1775. "Taxation No Tyranny" by Doctor Johnson is a tract against American colonies.

Friday, August 10, 2007

1767 to 1773

Minna von Barnhelm. Gotthold Lessing. German. 1767. Play. When a soldier refuses to marry because of a question of honor, Minna schemes and wins him.

1768. Treaties confirm cession of Cherokee and Iroquois territories to British Crown.

A Sentimental Journey. Laurence Sterne. British. 1768. Narrative. Attacks sentimentalism in his tour of France and Italy. Caricature of moralizing.

The Good Natur'd Man. Oliver Goldsmith. British. 1768. Play. Uncle tries to show extravagant Honeywood that his friends will abandon him if he loses his wealth.

1769. Father Junipero Serra founds Mission of San Diego.

1769. Virginia's House of Burgesses rejects Parliament's right to tax British colonists.

1769. Blackstone's Commentaries: Better that ten guilty escape than that one innocent suffer.

1769. Great Famine of Bengal kills 10 million Indians. Worst famine in history.

1770. Boston Massacre.

1770. Britain's American colonies have estimated population of 2.2 million.

The Deserted Village. Oliver Goldsmith. British. 1770. Poetry. Rural depopulation in the latter 1700s because of luxury, foreign trade, enclosure, and the growth of London.

1771. Speeches made in Britain's House of Commons ordered to be published.

1771. The Encyclopedia Britannica and the French Encyclopedie attempt to compile what is known.

The Man of Feeling. Henry Mackenzie. British. 1771. Novel. Episodic adventures of the bashful, sensitive, kind-hearted, sentimental hero.

The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker. Tobias Smollett. British. 1771. Epistolary Novel. Letters written by different characters with highly individual style, caricaturing themselves. Tour of England, Scotland. Correspondents express varied reactions to the same events, for example, the hot wells at Bath.

1772. Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren organize Committee of Correspondence.

Emilia Galotti. Gotthold Lessing. German. 1772. Play. Middle-class woman unwittingly arouses the passion of a prince who has her bridegroom murdered. To save her honor, her father stabs her to death.

1773. Virginia House of Burgesses appoints Committee of Correspondence. Keep colonies in touch.

1773. Boston Tea Party, December 16.

1773. Tea left to rot on docks of Charleston, New York and Philadelphia sends ships back to England.

1773. Jesuits dissolved.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

1763 to 1767

1763. Treaty recognizes Mississippi River as boundary between British and Louisiana, ceded to Spain.

1763. Chief Pontiac tries to drive the British and whites back across the Alleghenies.

1764. Boston lawyer James Otis denounces "taxation without representation."

1764. Boston merchants begin policy of nonimportation, boycott of British goods.

1764. British pay higher taxes than any other Europeans. Want colonies to do their share.

1764. London begins practice of numbering houses.

The Castle of Otranto. Horace Walpole. British. 1764. Gothic Novel. Villain is Manfred. Supernatural events. Isabella flees with Theodore, a peasant. Ghost destroys the castle.

1765. Quartering Act orders colonists to provide barracks, supplies to British troops.

1765. Stamp Act first direct taxes on American colonists.

1765. Patrick Henry against the Stamp Act: "If this be treason, make the most of it."

1765. Stamp Act Congress at New York: Resolution to import no goods that require payment of duty.

1765. Scotsman James Watt invents steam engine.

1765. First American medical school opens in Philadelphia.

Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. Thomas Percy. British. 1765. Poetry Collection. Collection of ballads, sonnets, historical songs, and romances. One of the earliest histories of literature. 15th through 18th centuries.

The Prince of Parthia. Thomas Godfrey. American. 1765. Play. First play by an American. Villainous prince murders his father and keeps the elder brother from the throne.

"Goody Two-Shoes." Oliver Goldsmith. British. 1765. Tale. Nursery tale written for publisher John Newbery. Poor girl delights in a new pair of shoes.

1766. Parliament repeals Stamp Act. Reaffirms right to make laws and bind colonies in all respects.

1766. Treaty of Oswego ends Pontiac's 3-year rebellion.

"Laocoon, or On the Limits of Painting and Poetry." Gotthold Lessing. German. 1766. Essay. Criticism of art and literature differs. Art exists in space with all parts perceived simultaneously. Work of literature exists in time with parts perceived one after another. The statue of Laocoon was one of his main examples. (Laocoon was a Trojan priest who offended Athene and was killed by sea snakes.)

The Vicar of Wakefield. Oliver Goldsmith. British. 1766. Novel. Vicar withstands a variety of misfortunes with fortitude.

Confessions (of Jean Jacques Rousseau). French. 1766/70. Autobiography. 12 volumes. Reveals details of his erratic, rebellious life. Began the fashion in the literature of confessions.

1767. Mason and Dixon Line between Pennsylvania and Maryland is completed.

1767. North Carolina woodsman Daniel Boone reaches "Kentucky."

1767. Townshend Revenue Act imposes duties on tea, glass, etc.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

1755 to 1763

Dictionary of the English Language. Samuel Johnson. British. 1755. Dictionary. Standard dictionary until Noah Webster's. Refused Lord Chesterfield's belated offer of patronage.

1756. Seven Years' War begins in Europe. Prussia vs. France, Russia and Sweden. The French and Indian War in America was an offshoot of the European war.

1757. Battle of Plassey establishes British sovereignty in India. Robert Clive.

1757. Potato planting increases because of famine accompanying Seven Years' War.

1759. French Canada falls to the British. The Battle of Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City. Wolfe vs. Montcalm.

History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. Samuel Johnson. British. 1759. Romance. Escapes from Paradise to learn that the intellectual lives of the real world do not provide happiness. Like Voltaire's Candide, an attack on the optimism of the time.

Candide, ou L'Optimism. Voltaire. French. 1759. Novel. Satirized Leibnitz's "All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." Pangloss, Cunegonde, Lisbon earthquake, the Inquisition, El Dorado. Ends with, "We must cultivate our garden."

Tristram Shandy. Laurence Sterne. British. 1759/67. Novel. Chaotic account of Tristram's life from conception to the present. Influenced by Locke's association of ideas. Never gets beyond the second or third year of his life. Sandwiched in are "opinions," long-winded reflections on everything. Sterne has written a hodge-podge, instead of a history. Describes events whose chain of causation is cosmic, but significance is petty. Primary importance: content of consciousness at a given moment. Typographical eccentricities include one-sentence chapters, blank pages and unfinished sentences.

1760. Britain's George II dies. Succeeded by George III.

1760. American colonies have estimated population of 1.5 million.

1761. London physician John Hill makes first association between tobacco and cancer.

The Social Contract. Jean Jacques Rousseau. French. 1762. Nonfiction. Treatise on the origins and organization of government and the rights of citizens. No man has any natural authority over another. Individual is the basic political unit. The individual surrenders his rights to the state. Is equal to all others. Distrusts democracy. Aristocracy is acceptable. Monarchy is best. Minorities must submit to the will of the majority.

Emile, ou l'Education. Jean Jacques Rousseau. French. 1762. Romance. A child is not an adult and should not be treated as such until ready. Character formation: learn by experience, observation. Physical exercise and mastery of trades and hard work. Education of Sophie (women): Please men, be charming, modest, virtuous, and submissive.

The Citizen of the World. Oliver Goldsmith. British. 1762. Novel. Colloquial prose. Chinese philosopher visits England and reports on it to his friends in the East.

"Rameau's Nephew." Denis Diderot. French. 1762. Sketch. Satiric character sketch of a lazy, hare-brained, sensual, utterly candid social parasite.

1763. Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years' War.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

1749 to 1755

Tom Jones. Henry Fielding. British. 1749. Novel. Squire returns to find baby in his bed. Thinks it is his servant's child. Raises him. Squire's sister Bridget married Blifil, has a son, and then Blifil dies. Blifil Jr. always gets Tom in trouble. Tom, lusty, impudent, but benevolent. Sent packing. but then all is revealed. Squire's sister Bridget is his mother. Blifil's duplicity is exposed, etc.

1750. Iron Act passed by Parliament. Colonies can produce raw iron; can't make products. Mercantilism: Colonies limited to supplying raw materials and are market for mother country's manufactured goods.

The Dream of the Red Chamber. Ts'ao Hseuh-ch'in. Chinese. 1750? Autobiographical novel. Decline in the fortunes of the large, aristocratic Chia family. Psychological insight; depth and subtlety.

The Rambler. Samuel Johnson. British. 1750/52. Essays. Deal with morals and literature. Thought to be dull in comparison to The Spectator.

1751. B. Franklin discovers the electrical nature of lightning by flying a kite in a thunderstorm.

The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. Tobias Smollett. British. 1751. Novel. Dissipated rascal, almost a villain, gets second fortune and a second chance.

Amelia. Henry Fielding. British. 1751. Novel. Long suffering, wronged wife of Captain Booth who is unfaithful to her, in debt and in prison. She forgives.

Methodical Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Trades. Encyclopedistes. French. 1751/80. Encyclopedia. Spirit of inquiry. Combats superstition, the supernatural, religious authority, intolerance, persecution, the unequal distribution of wealth, fiscal privileges and abuses of justice. Latest scientific discoveries, reforms in government, education and commerce. Articles on the mechanical trades. Unsuccessfully suppressed. Cross references ridiculed contradictions accepted in theological discussion circles.

1752. Public outside street lighting begins in Philadelphia. Boston and New York: lamp in every 7th house.

Micromegas. Voltaire. French. 1752. Tale. Satire on the philosophies of Descartes, Leibnitz and Malabranche. The insignificance of mankind in the universe.

1753. Conestoga wagon introduced by Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in town of Conestoga.

1754. French erect Fort Duquesne at head of Ohio River. Hope to keep British east of Appalachians.

1754. Albany Convention: Iroquois and English defense against French agreed on.

1755. Acadians who will not swear allegiance to George II sent to Georgia and South Carolina.

1755. Lisbon earthquake the worst in Europe since Lisbon quake of 1531.

Monday, August 6, 2007

1741 to 1748

1741. Sir Robert Walpole uses phrase "balance of power" to describe foreign policy.

1742. Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first prime minister, resigns after creating cabinet and party systems.

1742. Franklin stove invented by B. Franklin. Heats room more efficiently than open fireplace.

1742. Centigrade (Celsius) scale of temperature devised by Swedish Anders Celsius.

Joseph Andrews. Henry Fielding. British. 1742. Novel. Parodies Richardson's Pamela. Lady Booby, Fanny Goodwill, Parson Adams. Reversals and discoveries.

Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality. Edward Young. British. 1742/46. Poetry. Theological reflections late at night on life, death, immortality. Vision of judgment Day and eternity thereafter; magnificence of the starry heavens. Nature revolves; man advances. Both are eternal. Nature a circle, man a line.

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Thomas Gray. British. 1742/50. Poetry. Rural life. Tragic dignity inherent in man. Pastoral idealization. Meditation on death.

The Life of Jonathan Wild the Great. Henry Fielding. British. 1743. Novel. Famous highwayman. Satire on tyranny and political innocence. Wild is an ironic representation of Robert Walpole.

1746. Princeton University has its beginnings in New Jersey.

Clarissa Harlowe. Samuel Richardson British. 1747/48. Novel. Epistolary (told in letters). Longest novel in the English language, about 1 million words. Clarissa refuses to marry Solmes. She flees to Lovelace who drugs and rapes her. She refuses his offer of marriage and dies of shame and grief. Subtle, penetrating psychological treatment of character.

1748. American colonists cross the Allegheny Divide and move into western lands.

1748. University of Pennsylvania has its beginnings, suggested by B. Franklin.

Zadig, ou la Destinee. Voltaire. French. 1748. Novel. Difficult to be happy in a world where everything goes wrong in spite of our efforts to do right. Whenever he thinks he achieves contentment, security, love, something happens to rob him of them. Angel reveals there is no good without evil, or evil without good. All is trial or punishment. Draws inferences from close observation.

The Spirit of Laws. Charles Montesquieu. French. 1748. Nonfiction. Principles and historical origins of law; man-made laws supported by natural, universal laws. Need positive laws to govern society; justice the supreme political virtue. Admires the English constitution for separation of powers. Roman vs. Germanic origins of French law. First example of comparative study of social institutions. Eminently readable. Advocated separation of Church and state. Influenced the U.S. Constitution.

Castle of Indolence. James Thomson. British. 1748. Poetry. Situated in the land of Drowsiness. Every sense steeped in enervating delight. Robs of free will and energy. The Knight of Arts and Industry breaks the spell cast by the Wizard of Indolence.

The Adventures of Roderick Random. Tobias Smollett. British. 1748. Novel. From prosperity to destitution. Ultimately, he has revenge on the relatives who scorned him.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

1728 to 1740

The Beggar's Opera. John Gay. British. 1728. Play. Barbs aimed at the Italian opera, Walpole, marriage, ladies, gentlemen, lawyers, trade and sentimental tragedy.

The Dunciad. Alexander Pope. British. 1728/43. Poetry. Attacks the critics of his works. Cibber--king of the Dunces, the emperor of Dullness, which reigns supreme.

1729. Natchez Indians in Louisiana colony attack settlers, massacring 200+ and taking hundreds prisoner.

1729. Methodism has its beginnings at Oxford U. Named for Charles Wesley's methodical study habits.

"A Modest Proposal." Jonathan Swift. British. 1729. Satire. Mocking suggestion that the Irish poor rear children to be killed and sold for eating.

1731. First circulating library in North America founded by B. Franklin.

Manon Lescaut. Abbe Prevost. French. 1731. Novel. Brilliant scholar destroys himself for a tart.

An Essay on Man. Alexander Pope. British. 1733/34. Poetry. Four epistles: man's relation to the universe, to himself, to society and to happiness. Deism. Optimistic. Leibnitz. Coherent scheme of the universe. Neoclassical faith in reason. Respect for tradition and authority. "Whatever is, is right." "Vindicate the ways of God to man."

Chrononhotonthologos. Henry Carey. British. 1734. Play. "The Most Tragical Tragedy That Was Ever Tragedized by Any Company of Tragedians." Frank criticism of the theater of his day. Title = the name of the King of Queerumania, a pompous main character, a bombast who delivers inflated addresses.

1735. Trustees of Georgia Colony prohibit slavery and importation of rum.

1735. John Peter Zenger gains landmark victory for freedom of the press. Acquitted of libel against New York governor because his reports of rigged election were true.

Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. Alexander Pope. British. 1735. Poetry/Satire. Dialogue. Pope judges his own work. Pitilessly attacks contemporaries, especially Joseph Addison.

Dissertation upon Parties. Henry St. John (Viscount Bolingbroke). British. 1735. Pamphlet. Rejects the divine right of kings. The king should be free from factionalism; should preserve civil liberties and a balanced government.

1736. Britain repeals statutes against witchcraft.

1736. Philadelphia police force created by B. Franklin. First city-paid constabulary.

1738. Slave rebellion in South Carolina crushed.

1740. In Connecticut, first house-to-house peddlers.

1740. Moravians at Bethlehem, PA, introduce Saint Nicholas. For New England Puritans, Christmas is a working day.

1740. Post roads link Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Charleston, Virginia.

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. Samuel Richardson. British. 1740/42. Novel. Epistolary (in the form of letters) novel. First modern English novel. Persuades seducer to marry her.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

1717 to 1727

1717. Great emigration to Pennsylvania among German Dunkers, Mennonites and Moravians.

1718. San Antonio founded in Texas. Call chapel the Alamo, meaning cottonwood.

1718. French chemist Geoffroy shows how various chemicals react to each other.

1718. England's Lady Mary Wortley Montagu pioneers acceptance of inoculation against smallpox.

1718. Pirate Edward Teach, Blackbeard, is killed. Says no one will find his buried treasure.

Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe. British. 1719/20. Novel. Shipwrecked. Leads solitary existence for 24 years. He and Friday battle cannibals. Qualities: courage, patience, ingenuity and industry. Based stories on adventures of Alexander Selkirk. Allegory of his own life?

1720. 50,000 die of plague in Marseilles, Europe's last major epidemic of Black Death.

1720. Nursery rhyme "Little Jack Horner" based on pie for Henry VIII.

1721. London smallpox epidemic takes heavy toll. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu has daughter inoculated.

1721. Broccoli introduced into England.

Moll Flanders. Daniel Defoe. British. 1722. Novel. Full title summarizes her life; one of the earliest social novels in England. The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Who Was Born at Newgate, and During a Life of Continued Variety for Threescore Year, Besides her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Time a Wife (Whereof Once to Her Own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent.

A Journal of the Plague Year. Daniel Defoe. British. 1722. Nonfiction (?) Account of an epidemic of bubonic plague in England during the summer and fall of 1665. Remarkably convincing.

La Henriade. Voltaire. French. 1723. Epic Poem. Struggle of Henry IV of Navarre to gain the throne. Condemns civil strife and religious fanaticism.

1724. Rhode Island establishes property ownership qualification for voters.

1724. Black slaves outnumber whites 2-1 in South Carolina colony.

Gulliver's Travels. Jonathan Swift. British. 1726. Satire. Bitter denunciation of mankind. Man's corruption of his highest attribute, reason. Form of journal. Ship's physician. Lilliput (pigmies), Brobdingnag (giants), Laputa (wise men), Houyhnhmland (horses). Satirizes man's abuse of human reason, reflected in political, social and academic institutions.

The Seasons. James Thomson. British. 1726/30. Poetry. Belief in progress. Fascination with the idea of a golden age. Ordered universe is symbolized by the seasons.

The New England Primer. Anonymous. American. 1727. Textbook. Textbook to teach New England children the alphabet. Verses, illustrations, rules for behavior, hymns and prayers. "Now I lay me down to sleep."