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.

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