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.

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