“The Scarlet Letter”
(1850) A controversial American novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a transcendentalist watershed. Set in 17th century Puritan Boston, the author explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.
Compromise of 1850
Passed after Taylor’s death it included the following provisions: 1)Texas gave up it’s claims to New Mexico, and the United States inherited its debt. 2) California was admitted as a free state. 3) A strong Fugitive Slave Law was passed in the North. 4) New Mexico and Utah were given popular sovereignty to decide if they were a slave or free state. 4) New Mexico and Utah were given popular sovereignty to decide if they were a slave or free state.
An 1850 treaty between the United States and Britain dealing with the creation of a Nicaragua Canal.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
A controversial part of the Compromise of 1850, it demanded that all slaves must be returned to their owners.
A conductor of the Underground Railroad and armed scout and spy for the North during the Civil War. In 2016, the U.S. treasury department announced she would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
United States presidential election, 1852
Democrat Franklin Pierce defeated Whig Winfield Scott in an electoral landslide. Chief issue was the Compromise of 1850, both candidates swore to adhere to it, though the Democrats were more united, in their support. Both candidates were accused of being abolitionist. Voter turnout was markedly low this election, showing how divided the North and South had become.
Bridge Gulch Massacre
1852- More than 150 Wintu people were killed by a Californian local militia force. Genocidal acts were common during this time, state law prevented non-whites from testifying against whites.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
An 1852 anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beatrice Stowe which stoked abolitionist flames. Uncle Tom is a long-suffering black slave. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century. The book and the plays it inspired helped popularize a number of stereotypes about black people. These include the affectionate, dark-skinned “mammy”; the “pickaninny” stereotype of black children; and the “Uncle Tom.”
Norwalk rail accident
(1853) First major U.S. railroad bridge disaster.
(1853) A diplomatic episode between the U.S. and the Austrian empire, involving the rights of naturalized citizens abroad.
An infamous Mexican bandit who robbed from American settlers during the California Gold Rush.
An American adventurist who lead several expeditions into Latin America and seized control of Nicaragua for a year (1856-57).
Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1853
A meeting assembled in order to discuss inequalities in the representation system. All their daring changes were defeated in narrow votes, due to the supposed radicalism of appointing judges to serve for 10 years instead of for life.
Erie Gauge War
A 1853 conflict between the citizens of Erie, Pennsylvania and two railroad companies.
Cincinnati riot of 1853
An anti-Catholic riot triggered by the arrival of Cardinal Gaetano Bedini.
Land purchased under President Pierce from Mexico in 1853, mostly for the purpose of railroad expansion.
1853 California. Another example of anti-Native violence, 450 Tolowa indians were killed while praying.
(1854) Created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and gave popular sovereignty to those states to decide if they would be free or slave, nullifying the Missouri Compromise, sparking Bleeding Kansas. The initial purpose of the Kansas–Nebraska Act was to open up many thousands of new farms and make feasible a Midwestern Transcontinental Railroad.
A war fought between Apaches and the U.S. military in New Mexico, from 1849-1855, began with a widely publicized murder of a wagon of settlers referred to as the White Massacre. The Americans were more prejudiced and aggressive to the Natives than the Spanish were, spurring the war. The Utes fought with the Apaches, spending much time evading the military rather than battling.
Convention of Kanagawa
Signed by Matthew C. Perry and the Tokugawa Shogunate under threat of force in 1854, it effectively meant the end of Japan’s 220-year-old policy of national seclusion (sakoku), by opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American vessels.
An 1854 document explaining why America should purchase Cuba from Spain under threat of war, and make it a slave state, after negative publicity in Europe and the North, the Pierce administration abandoned the idea.
(1854-1861) An event which came about as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a civil war was fought within Kansas during Pierce’s administration over whether or not it would be a slave state. Pro-slavery forces said every settler had the right to bring his own property, including slaves, into the territory. Anti-slavery “free soil” forces said the rich slaveholders would buy up all the good farmland and work it with black slaves, leaving little or no opportunity for non-slaveholders.
Cincinnati riots of 1855
Extremely violent clashes between Germans and “nativists” over the contested election of a Know-Nothing mayor.
1855- 22 Irish-Catholics were killed by Protestants over a contested Democratic win over a “Know-Nothing” candidate in Kentucky.
The constitution written by Free-Staters in 1855 which would’ve made Kansas a free state, it was supported by Pierce.
The Kansas constitution which allowed slavery, written in 1857, and supported by Pres. Buchanon.
A nativist political party, active during the mid 1850s, which arose in response to an influx of migrants and promised to “purify” American politics by limiting or ending the influence of Irish Catholics and other immigrants, thus reflecting nativist and anti-Catholic sentiment. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, whom they saw as hostile to Republican values and as being controlled by the Pope. Nominated former president Millard Fillmore as its first presidential candidate in 1856.
The abolitionist leader during Bleeding Kansas in 1856. Raided Harper’s Ferry in 1859 to exacerbate sectional tensions, believed war and insurrection was the only way to end slavery.
Sacking of Lawrence
Pro-slavery activists destroyed the anti-slavery town of Lawrence in 1856 during Bleeding Kansas.
San Francisco Committee of Vigilance
A popular ad hoc organization formed in 1851 which lynched gangsters and corrupt politicians.
1856- Pre-slavery Rep. Preston Brooks caned abolitionist Sen. Charles Sumner, reflecting the divisive slavery issue going on at the time.
Mormon handcart pioneers
Participants in the mass Mormon migration to Salt Lake City.
1856 Democratic National Convention
The Democrats denied renomination to Franklin Pierce, over the Bleeding Kansas controversy, and gave it instead to James Buchanan.
Great Train Wreck of 1856
A deadly train collision which lead to an increase in train regulation.
1856 Last Island hurricane
A deadly Louisiana hurricane which hurt the New Orleans tourism industry.
United States presidential election, 1856
James Buchanan won for the Democrats, defeating Republican John C. Frémont and Know Nothing Millard Fillmore. The Kansas-Nebraska Act outraged anti-slavery advocates, costing the Democrats in the 1854 midterms. The Know-Nothings adopted a more moderate platform that downplayed the party’s opposition to immigration and advocated a rapprochement between the two sides of the slavery issue. The Republicans maintained a vehement antislavery stance, a position that garnered them the votes of most northern states. The Democrats, however, citing the possible dissolution of the Union should antislavery sentiments prevail, managed to win several key northern states.
The first female detective in the United States, she served as a Union spy.
Dred Scott v. Sandford
A landmark 1857 case which said that African-Americans could not be United States citizens.
Inventor of the elevator.
Fought during the presidency of Buchanan (1857-58), it was an embarrassing diplomatic struggle that eventually lead to Utah statehood.
Mountain Meadows massacre
(1857) A militia of Mormons, wrapped in hysteria, brutally slaughtered 100-120 settlers including men, women, and children.
Panic of 1857
A financial panic under Buchanan caused by international economic decline, it was officially ended by the Civil War.
SS Central America
30,000 pounds of gold was lost when this ship sunk in a hurricane, contributing to the Panic of 1857.
Pike’s Peak Gold Rush
A gold rush (1858-1861) which lead to the creation of the territory of Colorado.
A series of 1858 debates about slavery between Republican senate candidate Abraham Lincoln and Democrat candidate Stephen Douglas. Lincoln would ultimately lose the election.
Remington Model 1858
A revolver which saw use in the American West and by the Union during the Civil War.
Philip Barton Key II
A politician who was murdered in 1859 after sleeping with the wife of politician Daniel Sickles, the ensuing trial was a media frenzy as Sickles was declared not guilty.
One of the most successful courtesans of antebellum New York City, she was a beloved public figure.
An 1859 confrontation under Buchanan revolving around the shooting of a pig, it lead to border hostilities in the San Juan Islands between the U.S. and Great Britain.
The Comstock Lode
A lode of silver ore which sparked a Silver Rush in 1859 to present-day Nevada, and caused a mass migration to the area. Lead to technological advances and the economic stability of Nevada and San Francisco. Caused the greatest excitement since the California Gold Rush of 1849.
Pennsylvania oil rush
First oil boom in the United States, began in 1859, ended by the mid-1870s.
Raid on Harpers Ferry
Bleeding Kansas leader John Brown lead a crew to rob Harpers Ferry armory to begin an armed slave rebellion. He failed and was hanged, but believed to be a spark to the Civil War.