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.

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