Kingwood College Library
American Cultural History
19th Century - 1860 - 1869
Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson | Population: 31,443,321 people in the U.S. | | Statehood: Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada, Nebraska | 18 free states, 15 slave states |
About the 19th Century Decades Pages
In 1800 everyday life had changed little since the year 1000. By 1900 the Industrial Revolution had transformed the world's economy. To see the whole picture, we encourage users to browse all the way through these decades. Then visit the suggested links for more information. As librarians, we must point out that the best way to immerse oneself in a topic is to use both Internet and the library. ENJOY!
There were 448,970 free blacks and 3,953,760 slaves during the decade of the American Civil War | Dorothea Dix was appointed superintendent of women nurses for the Union Army | A conscription act allowed for the first American draft. Prices were rising. | Shaves were 6 cents, haircuts 12 cents, shampoos 25 cents. Mink muffs were advertised at $10 in the New York Times | Baseball convention respresenting 91 ball clubs, held in New York | Union yards of Chicago opened | First woman college president, Vassar College. | Maria Mitchell became the first woman professor of Astronomy | Gold was discovered in Wyoming | Congress enacted anti-polygamy legislation (the Morrill Act) to stop polygamy in the territories that had been established by the Mormans | A Sioux uprising led by Chief Little Crow began, caused by tardy payment of cash promised by the government | Thanksgiving Day became a holiday | Ku Klux Klan had its beginning. | IRS upped income tax to 5% for incomes under $10,000 and 10% for those over.
Landscape painting (Hudson River School) continued as the most popular of artforms in America. Artists, like Jasper Cropsey, Albert Bierstadt, and others were inspired by the beauty of America. American realism (very popular later in the century) began during this time with paintings depicting the Civil War and industrial scenes.Civil war artists, like Winslow Homer (Prisoners from the Front paintings), George Innes, and Lily Martin Spencer, painted touching scenes depicting the people affected by war. 'Caricatures' by Currier and Ives and others satirized the war and politics. A caricature of Uncle Sam with chin whiskers appeared in Harper's Weekly. American narrative painting told stories that help us to 'see' the events of the past. American folk art and naive painting continued with Edward Hicks and Erastus Salisbury Field at the head. Impressionism in American painting was represented by George Inness's Delaware Water Gap. The Japanese influence on U.S. art was best depicted by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who painted The White Girl and Whistler's Mother . The American Water Color Society was founded by Samuel Colman and James D. Smillie. Artful advertising was emerging.The war created a large demand for statues of leading figures. John Quincy Adams Ward completed Indian Hunter for New York's Central Park. Thomas Ball completed Washington (equestrian statue) for Boston Public Gardens. Hiram Powers completed serveral important statues, including Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Andrew Jackson.
MIT offered the first course in architecture. | Yale opened the first Dept of Fine Arts in the U.S. | Advertisements during the decade | Check out 19th Century American Art for artist names and genres.
Like art, literature defines the times. Poets of this period devoted themselves to slavery and events of the Civil War. Henry Timrod was considered the poet laureate of the Confederacy. A novel, The Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession, by Wm. G. Brownlow, denounced the South and sold 100,000 copies. The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale, was published.
Here is an excerpt from the poem A Sabbath Scene about a slave by John Greenleaf Whittier:
Like a scared fawn before the hounds,
Right up the aisle she glided,
While close behind her, whip in hand,
A lank-haired hunter strided.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier, A Sabbath Scene~
Poets Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson continued writing. Political satire was popular, Petroleum Vesuvious Nasby (David Ross Locke) leading the way. American humor in literature depicted shred comments on current events, primarily by Charles Farrar Browne (Artemus Ward) and Washington Harris Browne.
Dime novels made their appearance; Erastus Beadle published these. The Beadle dime novels contained tales of the West, Indians, pioneers, and gunmen. The first, Malaeska: the Indian Wife of the White Hunter, sold over 300,000 copies. Romance novels continued drawing a large audience. Miriam Coles Harris' Rutledge, who published 130 other novels, was extremely popular. East Lynne by British author Mrs. Henry Wood, was introduced - it was a tearjerker and sold at least 1,000,000 copies in the United States. Authors wrote about the American West. An early romantic western novel set in the Rockies, John Brent, by Theodore Winthrop was published. Western writer, Bret Harte published The Outcasts of Poker Flat. Southern writers published wartime romances, idealizing the colonial past. (John Esten Cooke wrote a series of romances, including Mohun; or, The Last Days of Lee and His Paladins: Final Memoirs of a Staff Officer Serving in Virginia, From the Mss. of Colonel Surry, of Eagle's Nest.) The detective and mystery genre took firm hold on the reading public with the publication of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
American realism in literature got its start during this decade. Industrialization led some writers like Rebecca Harding Davis (Life in the Iron Mills) to realistically depicted the lives of working people. Horatio Alger published his books preaching hard work and resistance to temptation as the road to wealth and renown. His series featured Ragged Dick, then Luck and Pluck. The Ragged Dick books influenced young farming boys to leave small towns and look for work in the cities. Mark Twain wrote Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog (The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County) and became famous across the country. He also completed Innocents Abroad. Sunday sermons by Henry Ward Beecher, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn, appeared in print on Tuesdays and sold for five cents.
Montana Post | Frontier Scout (North Dakota) | San Francisco Chronicle | San Francisco Examiner | | The Atlanta Constitution | The Louisville Courier-Journal |The Catholic Times | List of early papers
The golden spike was hammered into place on May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah, and the country was linked from east to west across the continent by the Transcontinental Railroad. Now the "Iron Horse" would replace the covered wagon as the favored means of transportation for the westward movement. Native Americans on the Great Plains had been squeezed between the states on the Pacific coast and the states of the central United States. Now their lands would beckon to the still land- hungry Americans. Their way of life would only be more threatened by this new access to the Great Plains. As Arthur Freemason, an assistant engineer on the railway project, noted in his journal, "The time is coming and fast too, when in the sense it is now understood, there will be no West." The migration westward had been somewhat slowed down by the Civil War, but resumed at its close as veterans of the conflict sought to begin a new life. The new areas were without any organized government and the West soon gained its reputation as "the wild west." This new land was not suited for the traditional farm, and the settlers generally turned to cattle and sheep ranching. Being a cowboy became an occupation for many. Gold was discovered in Montana and Wyoming, and, despite the fact that some of the discoveries were on Indian land, miners poured into the area and staked their claims.
Immigration into the country slowed during the first part of the decade as the waging of the civil war made America less attractive. The immigrants already living in the United States joined the Union and Confederate Army, drawn by enlistment bonuses and steady wages. However, many looked on the Negro as a threat to their employment in the low paying jobs and did not support emancipation. New York City Draft Riots of 1863 were in protest to conscription into an army fighting a war that promised them no benefits, only hardship. On the west coast, Chinese were coming to this country in increasing numbers like all the immigrants before them seeking a better life. These immigrants were discriminated against both legally and socially. However, their labor helped complete the Transcontinental Railroad.
Civil War cast a pall over
the 1860's. This cruel conflict affected every aspect of society, including
were drawn into the events of the time through their schools as well as their
schools, supported by charitable donations and fund raisers, were established
for those whose fathers were killed in battle. Both sides in the war used
the classroom to promote patriotism and support. Alphabet books such as
The Union A B C and the corresponding Confederate
Willie's Political Alphabet forsook the
normal "A is for Apple" replacing it with such rhymes as "O is an Officer
proud of his station. P is for the President who rules this great nation."
In the North a favorite poem for recitation was "Sheridan's Ride" Before
the war most textbooks were published in the North. With the beginning
of hostilities the South sought to produce its own
texts. An arithmetic problem
in one book asked the question, "If one Confederate soldier kills 90 Yankees,
how many Yankees can ten Confederate soldiers kill?" Still,
in the South schooling
was mainly a priviledge of the wealthy. The only four states that supported
public schools were North
Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama.
were popular for boys. Most were private. The poorer children were
taught by their parents or in one-room school houses called field schools
because they were built in abandoned fields. These children's schooling was
sketchy at best as their labor was needed to run the farms. A few African-Americans managed
to achieve some academic education in classes conducted secretly under the guise
of trade schools for learning such skills as sewing,
cooking, and carpentry - skills of value on the plantation. As sections
of the South fell to the Union more schools were opened
for blacks. As early as 1862 the U.S. government opened a school on
St. Helena Island,
South Carolina. An African-American teacher, Charlotte Forten, taught
at this school and described her experiences in the essay, "Life
on the Sea Islands." In northern cities the schools were moving toward
a system of education more familiar to today's students. The classrooms
were divided into
grades, and there were separate schools for the different grades.
and girls were usually taught in the same room in the primary schools, but
were usually separated in the grammar schools. Even in the Northern African-Americans
generally were segregated
in their own schools which, due to inadequate funding, were often housed
in rundown buildings and taught with a scarcity of supplies.
IN THE NEWS
FLASH! April 11, 1861, 4:30A.M. Civil War began at Fort Sumter.FLASH!President signs the Homestead Act, encouraging people to settle the West. FLASH!1861. Christopher Sholes invents early typewriter. FLASH!January 1, 1863. Emancipation Proclamation frees slaves in rebelling territories. FLASH! American coins to have "In God We Trust" printed on each. FLASH!1865. Steamship Sultana explodes on the Mississippi River, killing 1700 people. FLASH! First train holdup at North Bend, Ohio. FLASH! 1865. Intercollegiate football introduced at Princeton and Rutgers. FLASH! Anti-Catholic sentiment feelings running strong. Signs tout Protestants Only or No Irish Need Apply.
Music during the Civil War was primarily about the weary, wounded or dying on the battlefield, including When This Cruel War is Over, Tenting on the Old Camp Ground and Tramp, Tramp, Tramp. The Battle Hymn of the Republic, by Julia Ward Howe, became the rallying cry of the north. Dixie, a minstrel song by Dan Emmet, a northerner, quickly became a southern favorite. Other Civil War music included the Confederate hymn, the Bonnie Blue Flag and the hungry lament, Goober Peas. You'll find several good sites with Civil War music, including:
Civil War Sounds and Music
Songs of the Union
Songs of the Confederacy
33rd Illinois Volunteer
Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, composer of When Johnny comes marching home, got his start parading his band through the streets of Boston recruiting soldiers. He created the Great National Peace Jubilee to celebrate the country's unity, bringing together a chorus of 10,000 and a thousand musicians. including Ole Bull and Carl Rosa joined the five day festival. Septimus Winner's melodies, including Der Deitcher's Dog (Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog Gone?) continued to tickle the funny bones of the American people. Other popular songs were Jesus Loves Me, Little Brown Church in the Vale, and Little Brown Jug.
Theodore Thomas, violinist and orchestra director, attempted to elevate American taste rather thancatering to it. His goal was to make good music popular. In 1865, he founded the Thomas Orchestra, offering a summer series in Central Park. Boston's Great Organ was installed in the Music Hall in 1863. Harvard hired their first full professor in music, John Knowles Paine, and conferred their first Master of Arts in music to Arthur Foote.
In 1866, Burlesque was born, with 50 scantily-clad dancing girls singing "You Naughty, Naughty Men" in the operetta, The Black Crook. A British troupe, Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes, attracted wide audiences. Audiences were primarily male but some attempt was made by producers such as Antonio Pastor to attract the whole family. Black minstrel troupes, including the Georgia Minstrels, began traveling the country. Traveling shows stimulated songs such as the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.
Music from 1866 - 1899
James L. Plimpton developed roller skates with
two pairs of wheels per skate. The Stetson hat originated in Philadelphia.
coats and trousers were were more comfortable during this decade, because
there looser fitting than previously. A girl’s
clothes continued to be similar to those her mother wore.
Food grown in home gardens was gathered and preserved using a variety of food preparation items to be eaten during the colder months of the year. Cranberries, a popular fruit, were cultivated in Wisconsin. In 1863, there was a recipe for lemonade in Godey’s.
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Contributions: Bettye Sutton, Sue Goodwin, Becky Bradley, Peggy Whitley, page updated 1/07 , BB.