Thomas Eakins - Scenes from Modern Life HOME
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  • Supreme Court, in Dred Scott decision, rules that a slave is not a citizen

  • The Great Mutiny begins in India. India placed under crown rule as a result.
  • 1857
  • Birth control comes to the fore with H.C. Wright's popular The Unwelcomed Child; or the Crime of an Undesigned and Undesired Maternity. It indicates a growing frankness about sexual matters in American society.

  • St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City, is begun; it is completed in 1879

  • Philadelphia's first horsecar appears

  • The first cable message is sent across the Atlantic Ocean from Queen Victoria of England to President James Buchanan
  • 1858
  • The Comstock Lode, the richest known U.S. silver deposit, is discovered in western Nevada. It is the first major U.S. silver strike.

  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is established at Cambridge, MA

  • Electric home lighting is successfully demonstration by Prof. Moses G. Farmer in the parlor of his home at Salem, MA. This device produced the best artificial light then known but is much more expensive than gaslight.

  • George M. Pullman's first sleeping car makes its first run

  • Work begins on the Suez Canal
  • 1859
  • The masterwork of Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, is published in the U.S. on the eve of the Civil War

  • Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States in a Republican victory over the divided Democrats. Hannibal Hamlin is elected Vice President.

  • As a consequence of Lincoln's election, South Carolina secedes from the Union, the first state to do so

  • The first relay of the Pony Express mail service leaves St. Joseph, MO, and arrives in Sacramento, CA, on Apr. 13. The cost of mailing a letter is first $5 a half-ounce, later reduced to $1. The Pony Express is discontinued in Oct. 1861, when the transcontinental telegraph begins service.
  • 1860
  • The Civil War begins in the early morning hours of Apr. 12

  • President Lincoln receives the first transcontinental telegraph message

  • Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee secede from the Union

  • Kansas is admitted to the Union, the 34th state. It enters as a free state.

  • The Confederate States of America is formed at Montgomery, AL. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi is elected President. Richmond, VA, is made capital.

  • Congress adopts an income tax law as a war finance measure

  • Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address

  • Serfs are emancipated in Russia
  • 1861
  • John D. Rockefeller, 23 years old, invests $4000 in an oil refining business

  • A transcontinental railroad becomes a certainty when President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill incorporating the Union Pacific Company

  • Battle of Shiloh, Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), Battle of Antietam

  • In Paris, the Salon des Refusˇs introduces impressionism
  • 1862
  • West Virginia is admitted to the Union, the 35th state

  • At the Battle of Gettysburg, Gen. Lee makes a desperate bid to smash through Union forces and approach Washington, D.C. Lee's assaults bring heavy losses to both sides

  • The National Academy of Sciences is founded in Washington, D.C.

  • The stereoscope continues to be improved by U.S. inventors. Samuel D. Goodale secures a patent for a stereoscopic apparatus to show scenes in motion.

  • Thanksgiving Day is proclaimed a national holiday by President Lincoln, to be observed on the last Thursday in November. In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moves Thanksgiving Day one week back to stimulate Christmas shopping.
  • 1863
  • "In God We Trust" appears for the first time, on the 1864 two-cent piece

  • The Saratoga, NY, race track is built

  • Abraham Lincoln reelected President of the United States

  • Immigration to the U.S. is spurred by passage of a federal contract labor act, which guarantees 12-month wage contracts for immigrant workers

  • The number of dollars in circulation in the U.S. doubles as the federal government inflates currency to pay for the Civil War

  • President Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. He dies the following morning. Vice President Andrew Johnson completes Lincoln's term.

  • Adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery, ratified by Congress
  • 1864
  • General Lee surrenders to General Grant at Appomattox, the Civil War ends

  • Joseph Lister begins antiseptic surgery
  • 1865
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