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Flashcards in 1840's Deck (56)
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Charles Wilkes

An American explorer who led a global circumnavigation from 1838 to 1842, exploring Antarctica and claiming "Wilkes's Island" for the United States. His behavior led to two convictions by court-martial, one stemming from the massacre of almost 80 Fijians on Malolo in 1840.


United States presidential election, 1840

The Whigs were united for the first time under the popular William Henry Harrison and they defeated Democrat Van Buren following the Panic of 1837. The election was marked by the highest voter turn-out up to that point, with large rallies held by both parties. The Whig message of increased centralization and control over the economy struck a cord with a depressed public. Harrison was packaged to the people as a humble, backwoods, war hero, running against the decadent van Buren.


Great Natchez Tornado

A devastating 1840 tornado which struck the Louisiana-Texas border (which was then an independent nation) and weakened relations between Texas and the U.S.


United States v. The Amistad

(1841) A Supreme Court case which found that the Africans who seized control of the slave ship the Amistad had done so legally, as their kidnapping itself was illegal.


William Henry Harrison's death

1) It was caused by pneumonia.
2) Sparked a constitutional crisis, in which John Tyler insisted he was the U.S. President, beginning a new custom.
3) John Tyler abandoned the Whig agenda, alienating himself from the party.


Bill to Re-Establish the Second Bank of the United States

In 1841, Pres. John Tyler vetoed a bill re-establishing the Bank. The Whig party, which had supported the bill, reacted violently, burning Tyler in effigy and hurling stones and shooting at the White House. The reaction prompted increased security measures in the District of Columbia, but the Bank was never re-established.


Commonwealth v. Hunt

(1842) A Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that the common-law doctrine of criminal conspiracy did not apply to labour unions, effectively legalizing the labor movement.


Armed Occupation Act

(1842) A law signed by President Tyler to encourage armed population of Florida.


Webster-Ashburton Treaty

A treaty which resolved the Aroostook War and established the boundary between the United States and Canada. Granted the U.S. navigation rights on the St. John River, provided for extradition, and established a joint naval system for suppressing the slave trade off the African coast.


Aroostook War

(1838-39) An international incident involving the boundary between Canada and Maine. When the Maine Legislature and the British Royal Army had both occupied land in Maine, Pres. van Buren negotiated a temporary ceasefire, which kept the peace until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.


Dorr Rebellion

(1841-42) An armed insurrection in Rhode Island against the state's undemocratic representation system, which overrepresented rural towns and residents over urban residents. The Charter government compromised in 1843.


Minstrel show

An indigenous American theatrical form that was founded on the comic enactment of racial stereotypes. The tradition reached its zenith between 1850 and 1870. Although the form gradually disappeared from professional theatres and became purely a vehicle for amateurs, its influence endured—in vaudeville, radio, and television as well as in the motion-picture and world-music industries of the 20th and 21st centuries.


Oregon Trail

One of the two main emigrant routes to the American West in the 19th century, the other being the Santa Fe Trail. Flourished from the 1840s into the 1860s. Crossed varied and difficult terrain including Indian Territory. In the 1810s and 20s the west was dismissed as the Great American Desert. In the 1840s the myth was dispelled by explorer John C. Frémont, and Western immigration picked up. Most traveled in a wagon company with friends. Most also walked alongside their wagons despite popular belief. Roughly 4-10% of supposed settlers died. Most Indians were helpful and friendly, tensions only worsened in the 1850s as native hostilities grew. The Transcontinental railroad killed the Trail in 1869.


B'nai B'rith

A Jewish organization founded in New York City in 1843, it's mission continues to be to promote human rights and combat anti-semitism.


The Great Disappointment

Thousands of Millerites, some of whom had given away all of their possessions, waited expectantly for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in 1844.


USS Princeton disaster of 1844

One of the guns on the USS Princeton exploded during an exhibition killing twenty people, included Secretary of State Abel Upshur, Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer, and then-President John Tyler's father-in-law David Gardiner.


Treaty of Wanghia

An unequal treaty signed between Pres. Tyler and Qing China, in which the U.S. declared the opium trade illegal, but otherwise gave U.S. markets the right to use China as they wish.


Quorum of the Twelve

The governing bodies of the Church of Latter Day Saints.


United States presidential election, 1844

Pres. John Tyler had alienated the Whigs and Democrats and was denied the nominations of both parties, however, his treatment of Texas indicated expansionism would be the issue of the election. The Whigs nominated anti-expansionist Henry Clay. Martin Van Buren, anti-business, was assumed to have the Democratic nomination, however, his opposition to the annex of Texas cost him the support of Jacksonians and the nomination went to dark horse James K. Polk. Polk believed slavery was a state's rights issue, while Clay's supporters attempted to portray his beliefs differently in the South and North, and Clay reneged on his anti-expansionism during the campaign. With an energetic campaign style, Polk won the race.


The Raven

Edgar Allen Poe's 1846 poem which propelled him to the national spotlight.


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

An influential 1845 memoir considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature fuelling the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States.


Great Fire of Pittsburgh

An 1845 fire which destroyed Pittsburgh.



"Walden; or, Life in the Woods," 1854 essays by Henry David Thoreau which established transcendentalism. The book was a record of Thoreau’s experiment in simple living on Walden Pond in Massachusetts. Walden is viewed as a philosophical treatise on labour, leisure, self-reliance, and individualism.


Manifest Destiny

Phrase coined by John O’Sullivan in 1845, served as a rallying cry and rationale for the foreign policy of the Polk Administration. Disputes over slavery ended Manifest Destiny in 1853, with the Gadsden Purchase.


Crawford Long

An American doctor who was the first to anaesthetize patients in 1842.


The Annexation of Texas

1) Texas became an independent nation in 1833 after fighting a revolutionary war with Mexico.
2) Texans voted twice for American annexation, and were rejected by Jackson and Van Buren.
3) The British didn't want the Americans to annex Texas, which turned the tide of opinion in America towards annexation.
4) In 1846, Texas became a U.S. state, sparking war with Mexico.


Brigham Young

American religious leader, second president of the Mormon church following the murder of Joseph Smith, and colonizer who significantly influenced the development of the American West.


Wilmot Proviso

Congressional proposal in 1846 to prohibit the extension of slavery into the territories, a basic plank upon which the Republican Party was subsequently built.


Battle of Palo Alto

(1846) The first major battle of the Mexican-American war, it established the name of future president Zachary Taylor, who defeated the Mexican forces at Rio Grande.


Bear Flag Revolt

(June-July 1846) American settlers in California declare independence and establish the California Republic, with John C. Fremont as head of state.


Oregon Treaty

Signed in 1846, Oregon is divided along the 49th parallel ending joint UK-US occupation.


Elias Howe

American inventor of the practical sewing machine in 1846.


Samuel Colt

American firearms inventor, manufacturer, and entrepreneur who popularized the revolver.


Treaty of Cahuenga

The 1847 treaty which ended fighting in California during the Mexican-American.war.


John C. Frémont

The man who seized control of California from the Bear Flag Republic during the Mexican-American War in 1846. First nominee of the Republican Party in 1856.


Donner Party

1846-47, A California wagon train which became snow trapped and had to resort to cannibalism to survive.


Battle of Buena Vista

(1847) Zachary Taylor's successful battle against the much larger Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War.


Winfield Scott

A general who became a national figure during the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. Unsuccessful Whig nominee for president in 1852.


Whitman massacre

An 1847 incident in which Native Americans slaughtered a group of missionaries, sparking the Cayuse War.


Cayuse War

(1847-55) A war between the United States government and the Cayuse people of Oregon, allegedly in response to the Whitman Massacre, the Cayuse's numbers were greatly reduced, they were put into reservations, and the government began using treaties to resolve disputes in the Pacific Northwest as opposed to warfare.


California Gold Rush

(1848-55) After gold was discovered in Sutter's Mill, a mass migration was began to California. It resulted in eventual statehood for California, attacks on Native Americans, and railroad development. They were called "forty-niners"


Revolutions of 1848

A year of numerous political upheavals in over 50 countries in Europe and Latin America, it resulted in an influx of immigration.


Phineas Gage

An American railroad man who survived an improbable 1848 brain injury and fueled interest in neurology and psychology.


United States presidential election, 1848

Incumbent James K. Polk had promised to serve for one term. The Whigs chose to nominate the incredibly popular general Zachary Taylor as their nominee. The Democrats nominated Lewis Cass and the Free Soilers nominated Martin Van Buren, who garnered 10% of the vote. Taylor was a slave owner, and the Whigs made no references to slavery in their platform, neither did the Democrats, although Cass believed in popular sovereignty.



A Protestant sect founded by Mother Ann Lee which emphasized simplicity, celibacy, gender equality, and work. Shaker communities flourished in the mid-19th century and contributed a distinctive style of architecture, furniture, dance, and craft to American culture. They were the first to sell and package seeds, and were once the largest seller of medicinal herbs in the U.S.. The communities declined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to the religion's insistence on celibacy. Shakers (shaking Quakers) regarded Mother Ann as the female aspect of God's duality and the second coming of Christ.


Mother Ann Lee

The groundbreaking leader of the Shakers, a group formed during the Second Great Awakening. She preached to the public and led a church at a time when women did neither.


Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

1848 treaty ending the Mexican-American War, granting America all land above the Rio Grande. Spurred slavery sectionalism in America, and political radicalism in Mexico.


Seneca Falls Convention

An influential 1848 women's rights convention during which the Declaration of Sentiments was written. The demand for female suffrage was ridiculed and caused the woman's movement to lose ground with moderates.


Declaration of Sentiments

A controversial document signed at the Seneca Falls Convention which called for rights for women.


Lucretia Mott

A gifted American orator and respected Quaker who planned the Seneca Falls Convention with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Her house was an Underground Railroad outpost.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton

A feminist figure who planned the Seneca Falls Convention with Lucretia Mott, but whose views were more liberal than hers. She signed the Declaration of Sentiments. From 1850 to 1900 her and Susan B. Anthony led the women's movement, Stanton the gifted writer and orator, Anthony the tactician and planner. She fought to expand divorce laws, and was embittered by the 15th Amendment.



A movement began after the Seneca Falls Convention based around a new style of dress called bloomers which were similar to pants. They were embraced by feminists, but bashed by conservatives who believed women wearing pants was an usurpation of male authority.


Howell Cobb

A Democrat politician elected Speaker of the House in 1848, was the first to call for secession after the election of Lincoln.


Elizabeth Blackwell

The first American woman to practice medicine in 1849, ranked first in her class. Helped train nurses for the Civil War.


Inauguration of Zachary Taylor

1849- Taylor refuses to be sworn in on the Sabbath and the Acting President technically becomes the President pro Tempore David Rice Atchison for one day.


Sauvé's Crevasse

An 1849 Mississippi River failure that flooded much of New Orleans for two weeks.