Panic hits Wall Street. New York Sept. 20, 1873.
The Stock Exchange has closed in panic, following a trail of ruined firms. After two days of turmoil starting with the failure of the government bond agent Jay Cooke & Co. Backer of Northern Pacific Railroad construction, Wall Street was again the busiest (and unhappiest) place in town. Speculators rushed through the streets looking “pale as ghosts” trying to unload their stock at any price.
There were few buyers except for Jay Gould, who helped check the turmoil by buying when everyone else was selling.
Henry Ward Beecher accused of adultery. Brooklyn, New York, Aug. 28, 1874.
The minister of the Plymouth Church here, Henry Ward Beecher, has been upheld in a report issued by a church committee investigating charges of adultery brought against him by Timothy Tilton. Rumours of misconduct had been common since 1870, but not till June did Tilton accuse Beecher, the nation’s most popular minister, of “improper advances” towards his wife, Elizabeth. The committee found in Beecher, who faces legal proceedings, nothing to impair the confidence of Plymouth Church in his “Christian character and integrity”.
Gold prospectors enrage Sioux, who refuse to give up ground. Dakota Territory, November 1875.
Conflict between white prospectors and Sioux Indians of the Black Hills has escalated to outright war as the United States government continues to ignore the terms of the Fort Laramie treaty protecting the Indian’s land. Thousands of white prospectors and settlers have illegally infiltrated the once sacred Black Hills since gold was found there in the 1850‘s. The treaty of 1868, meant to keep all whites off these prosperous lands, has been consistently disregarded by the army forces stationed there to enforce it. To add insult to injury, on March 3., 1871, the government passed an act that disallowed any further treaties with the Sioux, and permitted only infrequent meetings to consider changing the existing ones. Expeditions to “reconnoitre” the area verified rumours of gold, and last month the Indians of the northern plains were called together by the government in a futile attempt to gain legal access to the area.
Huge exposition marks centennial of United States. Philadelphia May 10, 1976.
Thirteen giant bells swayed and chimed 100 cannons fired a salute, 800 voices swelled the air with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and 4,000 foreign and American dignitaries gave a thunderous ovation. It was a stroke past noon today, and President Grant had declared the United States Centennial Exposition open. This celebration of American know how has been long in the making. In 1871, Congress called for “an international Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and products of the Soil and Mine” to be held on the nation’s 100th anniversary. President Grant and the Emperor Don Pedro II of Brazil, the first reigning monarch to visit the United states, strode from the podium in front of the main building and proceeded directly to Machinery Hall. The crowds pressed in after them. A gasp of wonder went up at the sight of the largest steam engine ever created.
Hayes elected President. Washington March 3. 1877.
Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio was declared winner of the contested race for President today., ending months of uncertainty over who would be the next resident of the hite House. By picking up all the disputed electoral votes, Hayes barely edged out Samuel J. Tilden of New York to climax one of the most rancorous chapters in the nation’s political history.
Tilden, a Democratic Governor had led his Republican opponent in both popular and electoral votes when returns were counted last November 7. However, Tilden was one electoral vote short of the needed 185, while Hayes trailed with 165. With 20 votes most of them from Southern states in dispute, a special electoral commission was established by Congress. It was dominated by Republicans and they awarded all 20 votes to Hayes.
Vanderbilt dies, leaves $100 million. New York Jan 4, 1877
Cornelius Vanderbilt, who rose from poor agrarian roots to amass a fortune in shipping and railroads, has finally lost a fight - for his life. Irascible as ever at 83, he berated the journalists hovering outside his home. “I am not dying” he bellowed. “Even if I was dying I should have vigour enough to knock this abuse down your lying throats and give the undertaker a job.”
Vanderbilt, who quit school at age 11, ran the first ferry service from Manhattan to Staten Island at 15. In the 1830‘s a owner of a steamship company, he cut fares with such vigour his competitors paid him to leave the Hudson Valley.
Yellow Fever takes 14,000 lives in South. New Orleans, Nov. 1878
The epidemic of the dreaded disease called “Yellow Jack” appears to be abating, but it has taken more than 14,000 lives in the South since it first struck in ‘New Orleans back in May. This has been a time of death and horror for stricken communities in the Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast area. Here in New Orleans, yellow fever raged all through September and October, with a total of 27,000 cases and 4046 deaths reported. There was also epidemics in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. In New Orleans wagons patrolled the streets on a daily basis to collect bodies. There was no time for funerals. As one physician in Memphis commented “Death was triumphant”.
Jetties, levees and showboats bring new life to the Mississippi. New Orleans 1879.
James B. Eades has had his revenge. Many called the St. Louis engineer insane when he suggested deepening the channel at the mouth of the Mississippi by building jetties, or artificial walls leading into the Gulf of Mexico. The river, he said would scour the channel to remove mudbars. The jetties were built, and today the channel at South Pass is 30 feet deep, enough for the largest ships to get through . No longer will the pass be blocked by ships stuck on mudbars. Now, the port’s future is assured. The Corps of Engineer also plans to strengthen the levee system.
Immigrants push population to 50 million. Washington 1880
Stimulated by a flood of immigrants, America’s population grew by more than 11.5 million in the past decade to a total of 50 million, the 1880 census shows. And the nation, which up until now has been predominantly rural and populated with Northern and Western Europeans , is becoming increasingly heterogeneous and urban.
New York, landing place for most European immigrants is the first state to top 5 million, with Pennsylvania close behind with 4.2 million residents.
America is still moving west, the census shows. California’s population rose by nearly 50% in the decade to 864,000. Oregon nearly doubled to 175,000 and the population of the state of Washington more than tripled to 75,000.
Ads catch America’s fancy. Philadelphia 1880
Since the Civil War, the volume of national expenditure on advertising has been growing by leaps and bounds. Five years ago Francis Ayer, a former schoolteacher, and his father, founded N.W. Ayer & Son, signed the first “open contract” , with a firm of rose growers.
Garfield wins presidency; margin is 9,464. Washington Nov 2, 1880.
James A Garfield of Ohio has been elected President, winning a good majority of electoral votes but his Democratic opponent, Winfield S. Hancock of Pennsylvania by a mere 9,464 popular votes. The road to the White House was not an easy one for Garfield. He won the nomination on the 36th ballot at the June convention of the Republicans in Chicago.
60 Miles of elevated track cross New York. 1881.
In 1874, with New York streets a tangled mass of horse-drawn wagons and harried pedestrians, a newspaper heralded the elevated railway as the solution to “overcrowding which has imposed many social, moral and political evils upon the city.” At the time a lone 5 mile stretch of elevated track, built by Charles Harvey, ferried passengers along 9th Avenue. The trip from Battery to Harlem now takes 42 minutes, a fact sure to spur even faster city development.
Garfield Succumbs; Arthur succeeds him. Washington Sept. 20, 1881.
Less than a day after the death of President Garfield, Chester A. Arthur of New York became President in the early hours of this morning. The new President took his oath of office at 2.05 a.m. In his New York city home at 123 Lexington Avenue and will lead the nation a sit mourns the death of its leader.
The assassin Guiteau, who was seized at the time of the shooting is in custody and will be tried for murder later this year. The new President, a 51 year-old lawyer was elected as Vice President on the Garfield ticket last year
Earps wins a bloody gunfight at O.K. Corral. Tombstone, Arizona, Oct. 26, 1881.
After years of hard feelings between the Clanton Brothers and the famous Earp Brothers of Tombstone, things came to a showdown today on the corner of Fourth and Allen Streets a the O.K.Corral. Deputy Marshal Wyatt Earp and his brothers Virgil and Morgan, accompanied by the town ‘dentist’ “Doc” Holliday, gunned down their old nemeses in broad daylight. Just before Wyatt blazed away, he told the Clantons “you S.O.B.‘S you’ve been looking for a fight and now you can have it.” As they began to draw their guns, the two Clantons and their two cronies fell dead from the fire of the Earp’s pistols and Holliday’s shotgun.
Geological survey made of Grand Canyon. Washington 1881.
Science is gaining a foothold in one of natures most inscrutable wonders. Clarence E. Dutton, back from the first big geological survey of Grand Canyon, says its endless chasms were chiselled by water over 1,000 years. The Colorado (Spanish -reddish) River, Dutton days, initially wound lazily to the ocean. When the land began to elevate, the river gained momentum, slicing downwards as quickly as its banks rose. Its first white visitors, a Spanish party led by Don Lopez de Cardenas in 1540, never made it to the bottom. Missionaries returned in 1776 and named it Bucareli Pass after the viceroy of New Spain.
Frank James gives up without a fuss. Jefferson City, Missouri Oct. 5, 1882.
With little drama and absolutely no fanfare, Frank James, the viscous outlaw and popular folk hero, walked in and surrendered to Governor Crittenden today. Upon entering the office of the governor, James turned over his Remington .44 revolver and commented “I want to hand you that which no living man except myself has touched since 1861, and I am your prisoner”. Just 6 months since his brothers death, the James gang is defunct.
Vanderbilts throw nation’s costliest party. New York, March 26, 1883
Mrs Alva Vanderbilt won sweet revenge tonight by throwing the worlds most expensive party for the same high society that has snubbed her. The costume ball cost $75,000 for food and entertainment. Rumour has it that Mrs. Caroline Astor begged Mrs. Vanderbilt to allow her unmarried daughter Carrie to attend, even though neither Mrs. Astor nor her daughter has ever before set foot in the Vanderbilt residence. The Vanderbilt home at 660 Fifth Avenue, is almost brand new. Its architect is Richard M. Hunt , who was the designer of the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.
Northern Pacific finishes 2nd line to coast. Gold Creek, Montana, Sept. 8, 1883.
“I have no golden spike, but an iron one” said Northern Pacific president Henry Villiard top a huge crowd of dignitaries, workers and onlookers here today as they celebrated completion of the vast new railroad to the Pacific North West. After 19 years of battling unforgiving terrain and near-ruinous financial upheavals , it seemed fitting that the final spike would be the same one used so long ago in Minnesota. First Villiard and then former President Grant hammered the spike, as crowds cheered and cannons boomed from St. Paul to Portland Oregon, across 1,222 miles of the new transcontinental line.
On the Northern Pacific, the round trip from the Mississippi to the Columbia River, which had taken Lewis and Clark 2 ½ years, will take nine days.
Millions hail Brooklyn Bridge opening. New York May 25, 1883.
When John A. Roebling proposed a bridge to unite Brooklyn and New York in 1867, he boldly envisioned it as “the great engineering work of this continent and of the age.” Today, the German-born engineer’s awesome steel-cable span, hailed as the “eighth Wonder of the World” opened amid wildly enthusiastic celebrations, as millions waved their flags and cheered from streets, rooftops and river boats, as dignitaries from President Arthur on down inaugurated the East River masterpiece under a brilliant, cloudless sky. Above the road is an elevated promenade on which, “people of leisure enjoy the view”.
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