The Pot is Not Yet on the Boil~January 1859~1st to 14th

The Pot is Not Yet on the Boil

January 1– Saturday– Worcester, Massachusetts– A gas leak in a two story engine-house on Pleasant Street causes a massive explosion, completely destroying the building and badly damaging adjacent buildings, including a school-house. However no deaths or injuries are reported.

January 1– Saturday– Kansas City, Missouri–Moritz Pinner (1828– 1911), a Jewish immigrant from Prussia who came to the United States in 1851, begins printing The Kansas Post, an abolitionist paper. Slave owners threaten to use force to close the paper.

January 1– Saturday– Paris, France– In a speech delivered to the assembled foreign ambassadors at the Tuileries Palace, Emperor Napoleon III strongly indicates that all is not well between France and Austria over events in Italy. In a personal aside to the Austrian minister he says loud enough to be heard by all, “I regret that our relations with your government are not so good as they were; but I request you to tell the Emperor that my personal feelings for him have not changed.” The speech excites rumors of war across Europe for weeks to come.


Erastus Beadle

Erastus Beadle

January 2– Sunday– New York City– Erastus Flavel Beadle (1821– 1894), publishes one of his first ten-cent offerings, a book on etiquette. Beadle’s Dime Book of Practical Etiquette runs to 72 pages and is his contribution to the current enthusiasm for instruction on the best behavior in polite society. [His company, Beadle & Adams, has been publishing several magazines, song books, joke books and letter-writing guides. Beginning next year he will start his famous dime novels which will become extremely popular during the Civil War and continue thereafter, so much so that when he retires in 1889, he will have a substantial fortune. An 1859 dime would equal $2.85 in today’s money, using the Consumer Price Index. However, the income value would equal a purchase today of an item at $36.00.]

January 3– Monday– New York City– “First of all, God watch over and defend my three through this coming year as hitherto. . . . At John Sherwood’s I had a pleasant talk with his handsome and buxom sister-in-law, Miss Charlotte Wilson, and at Mrs William B Astor’s with her very intelligent granddaughter, Miss Ward.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

 January 3– Monday– Montreal, Canada– A fire, apparently originating in the heating system, almost completely destroys Saint James Cathedral, the recently built Roman Catholic church on St. Dennis Street.

January 4– Tuesday– New York City– A snowstorm which began yesterday afternoon and continued overnight leaves fourteen inches of snow in the city. Similar amounts fell in much of New England. Railroad traffic throughout the region is paralyzed.

January 4– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “The annual renting of the pews in Plymouth Church, (the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher’s congregation), Brooklyn, took place last evening, and drew a full house. The premium for the first choice was $160. The entire sum realized for the rents of the pews for one year was $24,642.50, being over $8000 more than the sum paid for the same seats for the year 1858. Many were unable to obtain pews. The sale closed at about 11 o’clock P.M., every seat being let.” ~ New York Times. [The $24,642.50 would equal $702,000 in today’s money, based on the Consumer Price Index. The social prestige of that amount would be like a church today bringing in $8.86 million, based upon the per capita Gross Domestic Product. Founded in 1847 with Beecher as its first pastor, the church at the time [1859] seats 2800, which means that it cost each person an average of $8.80 in period dollars or $251 in today’s dollars to have a place to sit on Sunday.]

January 4– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Vice-President John Breckinridge leads the Senate in procession to its new hall in the recently added north wing of the Capitol Building. [The United States Senate had met since 1810 in the Old Senate Chamber on the second floor of the north section of the U.S. Capitol. The Senate has met in this “new” chamber ever since 1859. Breckinridge, age 38, a Kentuckian, who will run for president in 1860, will become a general in the Confederate army and after the Civil War will practice law and make money in a railroad. He will die on May 17, 1875.]

January 4– Tuesday– Vienna, Austria– In response to Emperor Napoleon III’s speech in Paris on New Year’s Day, Emperor Franz-Joseph summons the French ambassador and tells him that he has the profoundest personal esteem for the French Emperor, “notwithstanding the dissidence occasioned by political necessities.” This only adds to rumors of possible war.

January 5– Wednesday– Lowell, Massachusetts– “South Carolina boldly takes disunion ground on very slight sentences . . . . The latest outbreak of disunion sentiment was in a debate in the Legislature of South Carolina on the question of aiding to build a monument to the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, in Independence Square in Philadelphia. All the thirteen original States except South Carolina have contributed toward this truly national work. . . . . The bill to contribute was postponed indefinitely.” ~ Lowell Citizen & News.

January 5– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit herewith to the Senate, for its consideration with a view to ratification, a convention between the United States and the Republic of Chile, signed by the plenipotentiaries of the parties on the 10th day of November last, providing for the reference to an arbiter of the questions which have long been in controversy between the two Governments relative to a sum of money, the proceeds of the cargo of the brig Macedonia, alleged to have belonged to citizens of the United States, which was seized in the Valley of Sitaria, in Peru, by orders of an officer in the service of the Republic of Chile.” ~ Message from President Buchanan to the United States Senate.


President Buchanan

President Buchanan

January 6– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “Re-election of Senator Douglas. Mr. Douglas was re-elected yesterday as Senator from Illinois for the term of six years from March 4th, 1859. The vote in Joint Convention stood, 54 for Douglas: 46 for Lincoln. The Democracy [i.e., the Democratic Party] made as much fuss over it as though the event had been dubious and unexpected. Mr. D can now finish his wanderings, take his seat and uncork his vials of wrath.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune [This was before the U S Constitution was amended to provide for the direct election senators as is done now. The Constitution originally provided that “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.” It is a sign of Lincoln’s growing popularity and the rise of the Republican Party in the North that the vote was as close as this.]

January 6– Thursday– near Americus, Georgia– Birth of Duncan Upshaw Fletcher, first of the four children of Thomas Jefferson and Rebecca Ellen McCowen Fletcher. He will become a lawyer and politician, serving as United States senator from Florida from 1909 until his death on June 17, 1936. He will be one of the two co-authors of the legislation to create the Securities and Exchange Commission.

January 6– Thursday– Sydney, New South Wales, Australia– Birth of Samuel Alexander, son of Samuel and Eliza Sloman Alexander. He will become a philosopher, author and educator, the first Jew to become a fellow at an Oxbridge college in England. [Dies September 13, 1938.]

January 7– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I did not approve this joint resolution: First, because it was presented to me at so late a period that I had not the time necessary on the day of the adjournment of the last session for an investigation of the subject. Besides, no injury could result to the public, as the Postmaster-General already possessed the discretionary power under existing laws to increase the speed upon this as well as all other mail routes. Second. Because the Postmaster-General, at the moment in the Capitol, informed me that the contractors themselves had offered to increase the speed on this route to thirty instead of thirty-eight days at a less cost than that authorized by the joint resolution. Upon subsequent examination it has been ascertained at the Post-Office Department that their bid, which is still depending, proposes to perform this service for a sum less by $49,000 than that authorized by the resolution.” ~ Veto Message to Congress from President James Buchanan, vetoing a measure passed by Congress regarding mail delivery west of the Mississippi River.


Abraham Lincoln, Esq.

Abraham Lincoln, Esq.

January 8– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– “All dallying with [Stephen A] Douglas by Republicans, who are such at heart, is, at the very least, time, and labor lost; and all such, who so dally with him, will yet bite their lips in vexation for their own folly.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to W. H. Wells.

January 8– Saturday– Louisville, Kentucky– At its annual convention, the state Democratic Party passes their platform which endorses the Dred Scott decision, advocates the purchase of Cuba from Spain, and generally supports the policies of the Buchanan Administration, particularly regarding the admission of Kansas as a slave state.

January 8– Saturday– Yela, an island of Papua New Guinea– A rescue party arrives, looking for the 327 men, women, and children passengers– Chinese workers headed for the gold fields of Australia– from a ship which wrecked three months ago. The rescuers find only one man left alive who claims that local inhabitants of the island had methodically captured, killed and eaten all the others.

January 9– Sunday– Ripon, Wisconsin– Birth of Carrie Clinton Lane Chapman Catt, the second child of three and the only daughter born to Lucius and Maria Clinton Lane. Out-living two husbands, Mrs Catt will spend decades in the cause of woman suffrage and international peace. [Dies March 9, 1947.]


Carrie Chapman Catt

Carrie Chapman Catt

January 9– Sunday– Charleston, South Carolina– In the western part of the city a mill and warehouse catch fire and are completely destroyed, along with 80,000 bushels of rice.

January 9– Sunday– Colon, Panama– Rowdy sailors from the U.S.S. Roanoke brawl with local citizens and the police.

January 10– Monday– New York City– Temperatures of nine below zero are reported, said to be the coldest in seventy years. The sudden onset of freezing temperatures strikes the entire north-eastern United States beginning on this day.

January 10– Monday– Washington, D.C.–Following President Buchanan’s suggestion in his State of the Union message several weeks ago, Senator John Slidell, Democrat of Louisiana, introduces a bill in the Senate to appropriate $30,000,000 as a down payment on a purchase of the island Cuba from Spain. [Despite Republican opposition from Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and others, who see the proposal as a bold Southern attempt to increase the slave power, the bill will be passed by the Foreign Relations Committee next month but will die when Congress adjourns without taking further action.]

January 10– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– “Presidential Aspirants. A correspondent of the Southern Monitor says the following figures will be the ages of the persons named in the year 1860: Crittenden will be 77, McLean 76, Rives 71, Bell 72, Com. Stewart 82, Seward 70, Choate 69, Cushing 68, Hunter 67, Hammond 70, Breckinridge [38?], Bigler 69, Dix 67, Dickinson 70, Cass [81?], A. V. Brown 70, Wise 51, Slidell 71, Douglas 49.” ~ Charleston Mercury [No mention is made of the lawyer in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who will be 51 in 1860.]January 11– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– “A Washington letter writer says: Notwithstanding all the preparations to receive Senator Douglas, less than two hundred persons, and those mostly Irishmen, honored his arrival at home. He made a short speech from his doorsteps, the substance of which was his customary slang about sectionalism and fanaticism.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

January 11– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “In reply to the resolution of the Senate passed on the 16th ultimo, requesting me to communicate, if in my opinion not incompatible with the public interest, any information in my possession in relation to the landing of the bark Wanderer on the coast of Georgia with a cargo of slaves, I herewith communicate the report made to me by the Attorney-General, to whom the resolution was referred. From that report it will appear that the offense referred to in the resolution has been committed and that effective measures have been taken to see the laws faithfully executed. I concur with the Attorney-General in the opinion that it would be incompatible with the public interest at this time to communicate the correspondence with the officers of the Government at Savannah or the instructions which they have received. In the meantime every practicable effort has been made, and will be continued, to discover all the guilty parties and to bring them to justice.” ~ Message from President Buchanan to the Senate.

 January 11– Tuesday– Osawatomie, Kansas– “I have but a moment in which to tell you that I am in middling health ; but have not been able to tell you as yet where to write me. This I hope will be different soon. I suppose you get Kansas news generally through the papers. May God ever bless you all!” ~ Letter from John Brown to his wife and children.


John Brown

John Brown

January 11– Tuesday– Kedleston, England– Birth of George Nathaniel Curzon, eldest son and second of the 11 children of Alfred and Blanche Senhouse Curzon. He will become a prominent Conservative statesman and serve as Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. [Dies March 20, 1925.]


January 12– Wednesday– London, England– Charles Beslay, a 64 year old French engineer, receives a patent for “coating or covering iron or steel with tin, zinc or lead or alloys of those metals by electrical deposit.”

January 13– Thursday– New Haven, Connecticut– The Republicans of the state meet in their party’s one day convention. August Brandagee of New London presides. The meeting nominates Governor William Alfred Buckingham for another term and reaffirms its support for the principles of the party in both state and national matters. [Buckingham, age54,will go on to serve as Connecticut’s governor during the Civil War, rallying over 54,000 volunteers from the state to the Federal armed forces and will be reelected seven consecutive times. He is active in the Congregational church as well as the temperance cause and is a benefactor of the Yale Divinity School.]

January 13– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times reports that in the area near Louisville, Kentucky, a planter had fathered a daughter by his favorite slave woman. As the slave was dying the man swore never to sell the girl. However, as the girl grew into a beautiful young woman and the man felt a need for money, he determined to sell his daughter. A young white lawyer loved the young woman and learning of her father’s plan, took her away to the safety of Toronto, Canada, much to the consternation of the father and the man who had agreed to buy the woman.

January 14– Friday– New York City– “We see that the Police Commissioners have rewarded some two hundred tried and faithful political adherents with places in the force. Now that they have increased the number of men to the highest limit, perhaps they will endeavor to improve the Department, by keeping all the officers and men to the strict line of their duties, and simplifying the circumlocutory manner of doing business at the central office. With all the faults of the old force, it was much more efficient than the Metropolitan, and that with one-third less numerical force, and a proportionate reduction in expense. If we leave out some of the tremendous efforts of the brilliant detectives, we never should know we had a police out of the hotels and theatres, until our tax bills come in.” ~ New York Herald.

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