1850s Essay

This essay has a total of 2541 words and 18 pages.


In 1850, Scandinavian gold miners in California formed the first ski clubs in the

United States. On June 2nd, a series of fires destroyed several million dollars worth of

property in San Francisco. In 1851, Cornelius Vanderbilt established a steam ship route

from New York to California. In 1852, Congress established the Oregon territory. A

year later, a San Francisco club introduced the Irish sport of hurling into the United

States. That same year a yellow fever epidemic killed 5,000 people in New Orleans. In

1854, the Kansas Nebraska Act opened the Kansas and Nebraska territories to popular

sovereignty on the issue of slavery. In 1855, violence erupted over the expansion of

slavery in “Bleeding Kansas.” In 1856, Mormon leaders furnished handcarts to

immigrants who intended to cross the plains. On May 24, John Brown and his son killed

5 proslavery men at Pottamatomie Creek in Kansas. In 1857, U.S. troops were sent to

Utah to put down a Mormon rebellion. An expedition led by Albert Sidney Johnston and

guided by James Bridger explored the Yellowstone river valley. In 1858, John

Butterfield opened an overland stage route. On May 2nd, marathon horse riding became

the craze in California. John Powers rode 150 miles on a racetrack in 6 hours, 43

minutes, and 31 seconds; he used 25 mustangs and won $5,000. On May 11th,

Minnesota entered the United States as the 32nd state. In 1859, mining operations

increased in Nevada and Colorado. That same year painter Albert Bierstadt traveled

through the Rocky Mountains. On February 14th, Oregon entered the Union as the 33rd

state. During the 1850’s the Western movement was still strong. During the trip women

didn’t want to wear their traditional dresses so they wore their bloomers instead. In the

late 1850’s, dogfights were growing in the south, in New Orleans and Kentucky.

(Chronicle of America; American Eras; Encarta Encyclopedia; Encyclopedia.com)

In 1850, the gunfighter Benjamin F. Thompson established a reputation for

himself by participating in at least 14 shootouts over the next three decades. California

passed the Foreign Miners Tax. As a result of the population explosion after the Gold

Rush, a wave of violence hit California. In one fifteen-month span in Los Angeles 44

homicides occurred. As a part of the Compromise of 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive

Slave Act in September. On July 23, 1851, members of the Sioux nation signed the

Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, ceding to the U.S. government much of their land in Iowa

and Minnesota. In 1853, the U.S. and Mexico negotiated the Gadsden Purchase, whereby

the former received 29,644 square miles of territory (the southernmost areas of present-

day Arizona and New Mexico) for $15 million. The purchase established the final

boundaries of the continental U.S. and provided the needed land for a railroad route. The

U.S. Senate approved the purchase in June 1854. In People v. Hall, the California

Supreme Court held that no Chinese witnesses would be allowed to give testimony

against a white man. In Clarke County, Missouri, David McKee organized the Anti-

Horse Thief Association. In 1855, California counted 370 homicides in the first eight

months of the year. In 1856, the Committee of Vigilance held sway in San Francisco.

Led by the wealthy and powerful William Tell Coleman, its objective was to attack Irish

Catholics, Chinese, and Mexican Americans as well as “punishing criminals.” The

Apache killed the U.S. Indian agent Henry Dodge. Because of the efforts of Dodge,

Navajo-U.S. relations had been fairly peaceful for the last six-year. In 1857, the decision

of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case in effect ruled that slaves were property and

could not be considered citizens under the Constitution. In 1858, Kansas repealed its

antimiscegenation law. (Chronicle of America; American Eras)

In 1853, John Sweet became principal of Rincon Grammar School in San

Francisco. The Ohio legislature established free public education. Congregationalists

found the Pacific University in Oregon. In 1855, the Illinois legislature established free

public education. Michigan State University was found in East Lansing. The Jesuits

found Santa Clara College in California and that same year Auburn University was found

in Alabama. In 1857, Illinois State Normal University was established in Normal,

Illinois. The Ohio Reform School for boys was found. Margarethe Meyer Schurz

opened the first private kindergarten in Watertown, Wisconsin. The Children’s Aid

Society sent city boys to Western states. The Minnesota constitution established free

Public education. In 1858, Episcopalians found the University of the South in Tennessee.

Also, Iowa State University was found in Ames and Catholics found St. Ignatius College

in San Francisco. (Chronicle of America; American Eras)

In 1850, opera debuted in San Francisco with an aria from Verdi’s Ernani.

David G. Robinson published “Seeing the Elephant.” Josiah Gregg, explorer and author

of “Commerce of the Prairies,” died. James Wilkins created intense excitement when he

exhibited his “Moving Mirror of the Overland Trail” in Peoria, Illinois. Frederic Church

painted “Twilight, Short Arbiter Twixt Day and Night,” an epic landscape that suggested

the grandeur of the American West. In 1851, Dame Shirley (Louise Amelia Knapp Smith

Clappe) began publishing “The Shirley Letters,” vivid accounts of life amongst the

miners. Mayne Reid published the novel “The Scalp Hunters.” Stephen Foster

composed “Old Folks at Home.” Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, ethnographer and geologist,

published the first volume of his “History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes

of the United States.” Schoolcraft’s work became a resource for writers such as Henry

Wadsworth Longfellow. George Caleb Bingham depicted Daniel Boone as a Moses-like

figurative in “The Emigration of Daniel Boone into Kentucky.” With the “Country

Election” Bingham begins his “Election” series, the paintings depicted the democratic

process in the West. James Fenimore Cooper, author of the Leatherstocking novels, died

in his home in Cooperstown, New York, the basis for the fictional settlement in

Cooper’s “The Pioneers.” George Copway briefly published a newspaper devoted to

Native Americans, “Copway’s American Indian.” John James Audubon, naturalist,

painter, and author of “Birds of America,” died. In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe

published “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” San Francisco’s “Golden Era,” a literary journal,

begins publication. In 1853, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet published his novel, “Flush

Times.” Old Block (Alonzo Delano) collected his “Pacific News” articles, which were

humorous sketches about life in Gold Rush San Francisco. For the first time San

Francisco had its own resident opera company, “The Pacific Musical Troupe.” Asher B.

Durand painted “Progress (The Advance of Civilization),” commissioned by railroad

baron Charles Gould. In 1854, Margaret Jewell Bailey published “The Grains,” and

John Rollin Ridge published a ninety-page novel, “The Life and Adventures of Joaquin

Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit.” Ridge was a Cherokee Indian from Arkansas

who went West during the Gold Rush. Finding little gold, he became a California

journalist and the first Native American novelists. Henry David Thoreau published

“Walden, Or Life in the Woods,” a work that would end up having an enormous impact

on the way American Writers viewed nature. In 1855, Augusta J. Evans published the

novel “Inez, A Tale of The Alamo.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published the poem

“Song of Hiawatha.” Walt Whitman anonymously published a collection of poems titled

“Leaves of Grass.” John Phoenix (George Horatio Derby), one of the first Far Western

humorists, published a collection of his sketches, “Phoenixiana.” Maria Ward published

“Female Life Among the Mormons.” In 1857, Alonzo Delano presented his play, “A

Live Woman in the Mines,” one of the earliest dramas written in the West. (Chronicle of

America; American Eras; Encarta Encyclopedia)
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