Thursday, January 31, 2008



1883. The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act passed by Congress provides for competitive examinations for positions in the federal government and establishes a Civil Service Commission to end the abuses that culminated in the asassination of President Garfield two years ago.

1883. The Brooklyn Bridge that opens to pedestrians May 24 links America's two largest cities.

1883. U.S. railroads adopt standard time with four separate time zones. Eastern, Central, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific. Pacific Standard Time is 3 hours behind Eastern Standard Time.

1883. The Orient Express that leaves for Constantinople October 4 from Paris is Europe's first transcontinental train.

1883. The first fully automatic machine gun is invented by American-born English engineer Hiram Stevens Maxim.

1883. Life Magazine begins publication in New York.

1883. Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra erupts August 27 in the greatest volcanic explosion since the eruption of Santorini in 1470 B.C. The explosion creates a wave that wipes out 163 Indonesian villages, taking more than 36,000 lives.

1883. The most lavish party yet held in America is staged March 26 at the $2 million Gothic mansion of railroad magnate William K. Vanderbilt, 34. The New York World estimates that his wife has spent $155,730 for costumes, $11,000 for flowers, $4,000 for hired carraiges, $4,000 for hairdressers, and $65,270 for catering, champagne, music, etc. to make the $250,000 fancy-dress ball a success.

1883. The U.S. has her peak year of immigration from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and China.

The Story of an African Farm. Olive Schreiner. South African. 1883. Novel. Boer farm in South Africa in late 19th-century. Three childhood playmates. One grows into a beauty who destroys the life of the others as well as her own.

Life on the Mississippi. Mark Twain. American. 1883. Autobiography. Apprenticeship as a river pilot. Return to the River in 1882 with conditions changed. Heroic steamboat era.

Treasure Island. Robert Louis Stevenson. British. 1883. Novel. Crew prevents a mutiny, finds a treasure with the help of Ben Gunn, a marooned sailor.

"Pinocchio." Carlo Lorenzini Collodi. Italian. 1883. Story. Escapades serve to teach the puppet-come-to-life and his readers right from wrong.

Thus Spake Zarathustra. Friedrich Nietzsche. German. 1883/92. Philosophy. Persian philosopher used as mouthpiece for author; doctrine of Ubermensch. Each should achieve individual goals which will add up to a universal goal/achievement.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


1882. The world powers sign a Hague convention agreeing to a 3-mile limit for territorial waters.

1882. Parliament passes the Married Women's Property Act following efforts by women's rights champion Richard Pankhurst, whose widow Emmeline will campaign for women's suffrage after his death in 1898.

1882. A wave of strikes for higher wages in the United States is touched off by higher prices that have resulted from last year's poor crops.

1882. Electricity illuminates parts of London beginning January 12. Electricity illuminates parts of New York City beginning September 4.

1882. An internal combustion engine powered by gasoline is invented by German engineer Gottlieb Daimler.

1882. "The public be damned," says U.S. railroad magnate William H. Vanderbilt to a Chicago Daily News reporter who has asked, "Don't you run it for the public benefit?" "I am working for my stockholders. If the public want the train, why don't they pay for it?"

1882. Rober Koch discovers the tuberculosis bacillus and establishes that the disease is communicable.

1882.Viennese physician Josef Breuer discovers the value of hypnosis in treating a girl suffering from severe hysteria, pioneering psychoanalysis.

1882. Jesse James dies April 3 at age 34 of a gunshot wound in the back of the head. James has befriended his cousin and fellow outlaw Robert Ford, who has shot him to get a reward.

1882. The Hatfield-McCoy feud that has simmered for years in the southern Appalachians of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky boils over, beginning a bloodbath that will continue for years.

1882. Only 2% of New York homes have water connections and while tenements have some rudimentary plumbing facilities nearly every private house has a backyard privy.

"The Lady or the Tiger." Frank R. Stockton. American. 1882. Story. Youth falls for king's daughter. Condemned. Must open one of two doors. Behind one is a tiger. Behind the other is a lovely lady to be given him in marriage. The Princess knows which is which. She signals Which door does he open? We'll never know.

Specimen Days and Collect. Walt Whitman. American. 1882. Poetry. Poet's youth, Civil War experiences and some reminiscences in old age.

Vice-Versa, or A Lesson to Fathers. F Anstey. 1882. Novel. Transformation of father into son and son into father.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


1881. Russia's Aleksandr II is assassinated, carried out by Sophia Perovskaya, who heads a band of Nihilist terrorists of a populist fringe group. The assassination precipitates a wave of repression and persecution.

1881. President Garfield is mortally wounded July 2 by a disappointed office seeker, Charles J. Guiteau, who shoots the president at a Washington, DC., railway station. He is succeeded by his vice president Chester Alan Arthur.

1881. A Century of Dishonor by U.S. author Heln Hunt Jackson records government wrongs in dealing with Indian tribes.

1881. A second "Jim Crow" law passed by the Tennessee legislature segregates black passengers on railroads and establishes a precedent that will be followed by similar laws throughout the South.

1881. Russia's new czar Aleksandr III makes Jews the scapegoats for the assassination of his father. He also persecutes Roman Catholics but vows to kill one-third of the country's Jews, drive out another third, and convert the rest, beginning a series of pogroms (massacres) that will spur emigration of millions of Jews in the next 30 years.

1881. A paper by Cuban physician Carlos Juan Finlay suggests that mosquitoes may spread yellow fever.

1881. The American Association of the Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton.

1881. Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute is founded at Tuskegee, Ala., where local blacks have invited Booker Washington to start the pioneer school for blacks.

1881. "The Story of a Great Monopoly," published in the Atlantic Monthly, is an attack on John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Co. trust by Chicago Tribune financial editor Henry Demarest Lloyd.

1881. A shootout at the O.K. Corral outside Tombstone in Arizona Territory, October 26, breaks up a gang headed by Ike Clanton. Town marshal Virgil Earp has deputized his brothers Wyatt and Morgan. They are joined by alcoholic gambler "Doc" Holliday.

1881. Construction of a model factory town for Pullman Palace Car employees begins on a 4,000-acre tract at Pulllman, Ill., outside Chicago.

1881. Drought strikes the eastern United States. New York City runs out of water and people in many cities die of heat exhaustion.

Ghosts. Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian. 1881. Play. "Dead" conventions, beliefs lead woman to be responsible for her husband's dissoluteness, and her son's insanity.

The Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. American/British. 1881. Novel. American woman inherits fortune; visiting relatives in Britain, she marries impoverished dilettante. Finds out she was set up by his mistress for the sake of her money.

The Prince and the Pauper. Mark Twain. American. 1881. Novel. Edward VI and a pauper change places days after the death of Henry VIII. Edward wanders in rags. The pauper suffers the horrors of princedom.

I, Malavoglia. Giovanni Verga. Italian. 1881. Novel. Decline and fall of a Sicilian fisher family Rebellious son. Provincial town.

The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. Anatole France. French. 1881. Novel. Kind old archaeologist kidnaps orphaned daughter of a former lover from a school which abuses her.

Tales of Hoffmann. Jacques Offenbach. German. 1881. Opera. Poet Hoffmann recalls love affairs and other adventures over wine in a Nuremberg tavern.

A Modern Instance. William Dean Howells. American. 1881. Novel. Social realism. Ethics and character in the context of marriage. Desertion and divorce.

El Gran Galeoto (Gossip). Jorge Echegaray. Spanish. 1881. Play. Suspected couple are innocent, but can't withstand the gossip. Woman's husband dies in a duel over her honor.

Friday, January 25, 2008


1880. "War is hell," says Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, now 60, in an address to a Columbus, Ohio, reunion of the Grand army of the Republic. "There is many a boy here who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations yet to come."

1880. A Boer Republic independent of Britain's Cape Colony is proclaimed December 30 by Oom Paul Kruger who begins a short-lived revolt.

1880. The word "boycott" enters the English language through an incident in Ireland's County Mayo. Tenant farmers organized by the Irish Land League refuse to harvest crops on estates managed by Charles Cummingham Boycott, a retired British army captain.

1880. Parliament passes Britain's first Employers' Liability Act, September 13, grnting compensations to workers for injuries.

1880. Half of New York's population is packed into tenements on the Lower East Side, an area that accounts for a disproportionate 70% of the city's deaths.

1880. Nearly 550,000 English and nearly 440,000 Irish immigrants enter the United States.

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Lew Wallace. American. 1880. Novel. Aristocratic Jew; false Roman friend, Messala. Galley slave; chariot race; converted to Christianity.

The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life. George W. Cable. American. 1880. Novel. New Orleans in the period of the Louisiana Purchase. Race, family feuds; struggle between the new order and the old.

Nana. Emile Zola. French. 1880. Novel. Product of a squalid environment becomes a prostitute; leads dissipated existence.

"Tar Baby." Joel Chandler Harris. American. 1880. Story. Rabbit is so incensed by Tar Baby's unresponsiveness that he hits it until he is completely stuck.

Democracy. Henry Adams. American. 1880. Novel. Social and political satire based on the corruption of the second Grant administration.

Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings. Joel Chandler Harris. American. 1880. Tales. Stories based on traditional fables on the black race. In dialect. Animals with human qualities.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


1879. Congress gives women the right to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court.

1879. The incandescent bulb that Edison demonstrates October 21 has a loop of cotton thread impregnated with lamp black and baked for hours in a carbonizing oven.

1879. Russian pathologist Ivan Pavlov shows with studies on dogs that the stomach produces gastric juices even without the introduction of food. Pavlov will proceed to develop the concept of acquired, or conditioned, reflex.

1879. F. W. Woolworth Co. has its beginnings at Watertown, NY, where store clerk Frank Winfield Woolworth persuades his employer to install a counter at which all goods are priced at 5 cents.

1879. St. Patrick's Cathedral opens in New York after 26 years of work.

1879. Buffalo hunters kill the last of the Southern bison herd at Buffalo Springs, Tex.

1879. The first milk bottles appear at Brooklyn, NY, where the Echo Farms Dairy delivers milk in glass bottles instead of measuring it into the pitchers of housewives and serving-maids from barrels carried in milk wagons.

A Doll's House. Henrik Ibsen. Norwegian. 1879. Play. Nora sheltered, petted by her father, then by her husband. Seeks to go out on her own to become a full human being.

The Egoist. George Meredith. British. 1879. Novel. Sir Willoughby has it all except humility and a sense of humor. His visiting lover wants out. Romantic mixups.

Green Henry. Gottfried Keller. German. 1879/80. Novel. Bildungsroman. Hasn't talent to be a painter. Neglects his mother. She dies and he feels guilt (Version 1). Version 2: Mother dies. Henry adjusts himself to a life of civic service as a government official.

The Brothers Karamazov. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1879/80. Novel. Story of crime. Novel of religious, ethical ideas; social document. Judicial reforms. Literal, religious, social, ethical levels buttressed by psychological probings.

A Confession. Leo Tolstoy. Russian. 1879/81. Nonfiction. Account of a spiritual crisis; discontent with his life in civilized society. Living close to nature essential.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


1878. Johns Hopkins professor Henry Rowland and Harvard professor John Trowbridge have helped Edison who looks for a lamp filament that will burn for extended periods of time in a high vacuum.

1878. A yellow fever epidemic sweeps the U.S. Gulf Coast states and Tennessee, killing an estimated 14,000.

1878. A smallpox epidemic strikes Deadwood in the Dakota Territory. Frontierswoman Martha Jan Canary works heroically in men's clothing to nurse the ill and renders service that will help make her legendary as "Calamity Jane."

1878. Bat Masterson captures the notorious outlaw Dave Rudabuagh in Dakota Territory and is appointed U.S. marshal, and he will continue as a western lawman until 1902, when he will quit to become a New York sportswriter.

1878. President Hayes invites the children of Washington to an Easter-egg roll on the White House lawn and begins an annual event.

The Return of the Native. Thomas Hardy. British. 1878. Novel. Looking to escape her environment, Eustacia marries Clym Yeobright who has returned from Paris. His mother is opposed to the marriage. Eustacia has an affair with Wildeve. Clym's mother tries to reconcile with Clym but Eustacia does not answer the door. In despair, his mother dies of an adder bite on returning home. Clym learns that Eustacia is responsible. She drowns. Wildeve drowns trying to save her. Clym becomes an itinerant preacher.

Daisy Miller. Henry James. American/British. 1878. Novel. Unsophisticated, pretty girl from Schenectady traveling in Europe. Runs up against the conventions of Europeanized Americans who enforce rules of the older European community with unthinking severity.

"The Marshes of Glynn." Sidney Lanier. American. 1878. Poem. Reconciles the techniques of music and poetry. Sea marshes of Glynn County, Georgia.

The Europeans. Henry James. American/British. 1878. Novel. Visit of European artist and Baroness sister to New England relatives. Comic treatment.

Monday, January 21, 2008


1877. The "Molly Maguires" make headlines after a decade of activity in Pennsylvania mining towns by the secret Irish-American terrorist society.

1877. Wage cuts lead to a strike by railroad workers, shutting down the railroads for a week. The strike is not ended until federal troops are called in, firing on the workers, killing some, wounding many.

1877. A San Francisco mob burns down 25 Chinatown wash houses in July and anti-Chinese riots ensue for months.

1877. Gen. James Carleton orders Apaches in Arizona Territory out of the reservation at Warm Springs in November, telling them to move to San Carlos where temperatures in summer reach as 140 degrees, F., in a region with no game and with no food except the meager rations issued by Indian agents. Any man, woman or child found off the reservation is to be shot without being given a chance to surrender.

1877. German country doctor Robert Koch will confirm Louis Pasteur's suggestion that every disease produced by microorganisms is produced by a specific bacillus, such as the tuberculosis bacillus.

1877. The first university press is founded at Baltimore's John Hopkins University where the American Journal of Mathematics begins publication.

1877. The first Bell telephone is sold in May. 778 are in use by August.

1877. A hand-cranked "phonograph or speaking machine" demonstrated by Thomas Edison November 29 records sounds on grooved metal cylinders wrapped in tinfoil.

1877. Congress establishes a U.S. Entomological Commission to control grasshoppers which have been devastating western farms and range lands.

Virgin Soil. Ivan Turgenev. Russian. 1877. Novel. Concerns the revolutionary movement in Russia; a revolutionary discovers that he is not fitted to be a revolutionary leader and in despair kills himself. His wife marries again and works for a democratic Russia in a more gradual, realistic way.

"A Simple Heart." Gustave Flaubert. French. 1877. Story. Endless self-denial of Felicite's existence. Only her faith remains.

Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse. Anna Sewell. British. 1877. Novel. Imaginary autobiography of a horse. Describes ill treatment. Pleads for humane treatment of animals.

The Golden Dog. William Kirby. Canadian. 1877. Novel. Set in old French Quebec; served as model for numerous Canadian historical romances.

The American. Henry James. American/British. 1877. Novel. Simple, innocent American Christopher Newman vs. sophisticated, corrupt European aristocrats.

L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop). Emile Zola. French. 1877. Novel. Written in the argot of French streets. Study of the demoralizing effects of alcohol on the working class.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


1876. The Royal Titles Bill passed by Parliament makes Queen Victoria Empress of India.

1876. Apache leader Geronimo leads a band of his warriors into Mexico, beginning a 10-year reign of terror against white settlers in the Southwest.

1876. The Battle of Little Big Horn, June 25, ends in the massacre of a 264-man U.S. Seventh Cavalry force under Lieut. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the hands of Sioux chief Sitting Bull. The Sioux have been angered by the slaughter of buffalo in Montana Territory by the advancing whites.

1876. The U.S. Centennial Exposition opens at Philadelphia's Fairmount Park May 10.

1876. A train wreck, December 29, kills 83 at Ashtabula, Ohio, as a 13-year-old bridge on Cornelius Vanderbilt's Lake Shore and Michigan Southern gives way during a storm off Lake Erie and 10 cars plunge into a Creek 150 feet below, bursting into flames. The road's president fired a subordinate engineer in 1863 when he protested construction of the Howe truss bridge built by the road's chief engineer.

1876. "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you," says Alexander Graham Bell, March 10, in the first complete sentence to be transmitted by voice over wire.

1876. Western Union president William Orton turns down an offer to acquire the Bell telephone for $100,000, calling it a toy, a "scientific curiosity" that permits users to speak or listen, but not both at once.

1876. "A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library" by Amherst College librarian Melvil Dewey originates the Dewey Decimal System.

1876. A player piano demonstrated at St. Louis by Scots-American inventor John McTammany produces music mechanically from perforated paper rolls.

1876. Northfield, Minn., citizens foil an attempt on a bank, September 7, by Frank and Jesse James and the Younger brothers. Two of the gang are killed in a hail of bullets, four are captured, including Cole Younger and his brothers. The James brothers escape.

"1601," subtitled: "Conversation As It Was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors" Mark Twain. American. 1876. Sketch. Twain freely uses Anglo-Saxon vocabulary.

Roderick Hudson. Henry James. American/British. 1876. Novel. American sculptor studies in Rome and becomes discouraged and disillusioned.

Clarel: A Poem and a Pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Herman Melville. American. 1876. Poetry. Asks if civilization can survive after science has caused a loss of faith. Characters interact on a pilgrimage from Jerusalem to Gethsemane, the Dead Sea, and Bethlehem. Faith vs. doubt.

The Dolliver Romance. Nathaniel Hawthorne. American. 1876. Novel. Unfinished. Dr. Dolliver prepares elixir of life so that he might live to care for his granddaughter; selfish Dabney overdoses, dies.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain. American. 1876. Novel. Tom and Huck witness a murder, flee, return home to hear their own eulogies.

"The Afternoon of a Faun." Sephane Mallarme. French. 1876. Poetry. Wandering thoughts of a faun on a drowsy summer afternoon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


1875. President Grant opens Oregon Territory occupied under an 1855 treaty by the Nez Perce to white settlement.

1875. Congress passes a Civil Rights Act March 1, guaranteeing blacks equal rights in public places and banning their exclusion from jury duty.

1875. The practice of osteopathy is founded by Kirksville, Mo., physician Andrew Taylor Still, who lost three of his children to spinal meningitis in 1864. He has convinced himself that all diseases are caused by abnormalities in or near bodily joints.

1875. Kalamazoo, Mich., inventor George F. Green patents an electric dental drill.

1875. Alexander Graham Bell pioneers the electric telephone that will revolutionize communication.

1875. The first American-made Christmas cards appear at Boston.

1875. The Kentucky Derby has its first running at Louisville's new Churchill Downs.

1875. U.S. cigarette production reaches 50 million but will increase rapidly after 1882 when a cigarette manufacturing machine comes into commercial use.

1875. President Grant vetoes a bill that would protect the bison from extinction.

The Passionate Pilgrim and Other Stories. Henry James. American/British. 1875. Stories. Title story: American lover of England dies before he can claim a rich estate. Other stories about Americans' adventures in England.

"The Wreck of the Deutschland." Gerard Manley Hopkins. British. 1875. Poetry. Death of five nuns drowned off the Welsh coast while seeking refuge in the U.S. from religious persecution in Germany. Problem of suffering, the decline of religion, man's relationship with God and the nuns' happiness in dying in God's hands.

The Raw Youth. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1875. Novel. Youth tries to find something solid in the chaos of the times; decides on wealth. His true father is a product of the acceptance of Western ideas; he is also a rival for his son's love interest. Disillusioned, the son accepts his nominal father's quest for the love of all of God's creation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


1874. Massachusetts enacts the first effective 10-hour-day-law for women, May 8.

1874. New York gets its first electric streetcar but the system invented by Stephen Dudley Field is hazardous and presents no immediate threat to the horsecar.

1874. The U.S. public high school system wins support from the Supreme Court which rules against a citizen of Kalamazoo, Mich., who had brought suit to prevent collection of additional taxes. The court upholds the city's right to establish a high school and to levy new taxes to support the school.

1874. The Chautauqua movement in U.S. education has its beginnings that will develop into a traveling tent show of lecturers that will bring culture to small-town America.

1874. The Remington typewriter introduced by F. Remington and Sons Fire arms Co. begins a revolution in written communication.

1874. French "impressionists" rejected by the Salon hold their first exhibition at Paris in an "independent" show of canvases which include a harbor scene entitled, "Impression: Sunrise" by Claude Monet. Others of the group include Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Gerthe Morison, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and American emigre painter Mary Cassatt.

1874. New York's Madison Square Garden opens in April under the name Barnum's Hippodrome.

1874. The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) is founded at Cleveland where 135 women meet November 18 at the Second Presbyterian Church and dedicate themselves to ending the traffic in liquor.

"Merlin." Ralph Waldo Emerson. American. 1874. Poetry. Analyzes methods of the poet. Wait for inspiration, don't merely devise form.

Far from the Madding Crowd. Thomas Hardy. British. 1874. Novel. Bathsheba's relationship to three suitors; two die tragically; she marries the steadiest of the three.

"The City of the Dreadful Night." James Thomson. British. 1874. Poetry. Imaginary city of misery and horror created out of the author's own sense of despair.

Daniel Deronda. George Eliot. British. 1874/76. Novel. High-spirited Gwen marries mean-spirited and tyrannical Grandcourt to avoid poverty. He drowns because she hesitates in throwing him a rope. Feels guilty. Daniel Deronda, a man with high ideals, offers her advice. She develops finer qualities. Deronda, however, marries another.

Monday, January 14, 2008


1873. "The country is fast becoming filled with gigantic corporations wielding and controlling immense aggregations of money and thereby commanding great influence and power," reports a Congressional investigating committee.

1873. European investors withdraw capital from the United States, the Wall Street banking house Jay Cooke & Co. fails September 18, Black Friday on the stock exchange sends prices tumbling September 19, the exchange closes for 10 days, and by year's end some 5,000 business firms have failed, millions of working Americans are obliged to depend on soup kitchens and other charities, and tens of thousands come close to starvation.

1873. San Francisco's cable streetcar, the world's first, goes into service August 1.

1873. Father Damien goes to the government hospital for lepers on the Hawaiian island of Molokai to care for victims of the disease that will be called Hansen's disease.

1873. DDT is prepared by German chemistry student Othmar Zeidler at Strasbourg, but he has no idea of the significance of his discovery.

1873. U.S. railroads are making deals with elevator companies, commission agents, and others to control both shipping and marketing rates and forcing farmers to sell to the nearest elevator company, agent, or railroad at rates favorable to the buyer. Grain is often downgraded as No. 2 because it is said to be wet, frozen, or weedy, and is then sold as No. 1 grade to millers, say the farmers.

1873. A farmers' convention at Springfield, Ill., attacks monopolies, calling them "detrimental to the public prosperity, corrupt in their management, and dangerous to republican institutions."

A Diary of a Writer. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian. 1873. Variety. Article, sketches published in the form of a journal. Concerned with political and social questions.

Around the World in Eighty Days. Jules Verne. French. 1873. Romance. Fogg wins bet, having circled the world in only 80 days, an incredible feat for its day.

A Pair of Blue Eyes. Thomas Hardy. British. 1873. Novel. Girl changes mind about eloping. Meets another man. However, former affair destroys her life.

A Chance Acquaintance. William Dean Howells. American. 1873. Novel. Kitty falls for a Boston snob; realizes he is a snob and breaks the engagement.

Anna Karenina. Leo Tolstoy. Russian. 1873/76. Novel. Adulterous affair ending in suicide contrasted with a happy marriage between Levin and Kitty on the farm.