Curtain Rises on 1860

The year begins on a Sunday. Around the world, leaders include Tsar Alexander II of Russia, age 41, ruling since 1855 when he ascended the throne upon the death of his father; Emperor Franz Joseph I of the Austrian Empire, age 29, ruling since 1848; Emperor Napoleon III of France, age 51, ruling as emperor since December of 1852; Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia, age 42, ruling since 1855; Emperor Xianfeng of China, age 52, reigning since 1850; Emperor Komei of Japan, age 28, reigning since 1846; Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, age 34, reigning since 1831; Sultan Abdulmecid I of the Ottoman Empire, age 32, ruling since 1839; Sultan Ahmad bin Atiku of the Sokoto Caliphate of West Africa, ruling since 1859; Sultan Sayyid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid of Zanzibar, age 26, ruling since 1856; King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, age 60, ruling since1840; King Leopold I of Belgium, age 69, ruling since 1831; King Frederick VII of Denmark, age 51, ruling since 1848;Queen Victoria of Great Britain, age 39, reigning since 1837; her current Prime Minister is Lord Palmerston, age 75, back in office since 1859; Queen Isabella II of Spain, age 29, reigning since 1833; King Otto of Greece, age 44, reigning since 1832; King Kwahu Dua I of the Ashanti Empire of West Africa, age 63, reigning since 1834; King William III of the Netherlands, age 42, ruling since 1849; President Stephen Allen Benson of Liberia, age 43, in office since 1856; President James Buchanan of the United States, age 68, member of the Democratic Party and in office since 1857.


Queen Victoria with her husband & family


Religious leaders include Pope Pius IX of the Roman Catholic Church, age 67, ruling since 1846; John Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Church, age 79, in office since 1848; Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, age 57, in office since 1844; Pope Cyril IV of the Coptic Orthodox Church, age 44, in office since 1854; Cyril VII, Patriarch of Constantinople, age 84, in office since 1855. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow of the Russian Orthodox Church, age 77, in office since 1821; Thomas Brownell, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, age 80, in office since 1852.

Last year Austria and France fought a short war which will affect the Italian struggle for unification in the coming year. Prussia continues to work at the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership. The Prussian War Minister, Albert von Roon, has reformed and improved the Prussian army. Karl Marx, in exile in London, continues to write and make efforts to unite workers in a socialist movement. Charles Darwin’s book on evolution, published last year, stirs increasing reaction in both Britain and in the United States.

According to the official census taken this year, the population of the United States is 31,443,321 persons, an increase of 35.4% since the 1850 census. Slaves make up 12.6% of the population, totaling 3,953,761 persons. The ten largest cities are New York (813,669); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (565,529); Brooklyn, New York (266,661); Baltimore, Maryland (212,418); Boston, Massachusetts (177,840); New Orleans, Louisiana (168,675); Cincinnati, Ohio (161,044); St Louis, Missouri (160,773); Chicago, Illinois (112,172); and Buffalo, New York (81,129).


Southern slave auction


The United States exports $400,000,000 of goods and materials while importing $362,000,000 worth, thus creating a surplus $38,000,000. Of U S exports, 42.2% go to the United Kingdom, 9.8% to France, 5.8% to Canada, 3.8% to Germany and 3.0% to Cuba. Of imports, 38.1% come from the United Kingdom, 11.9% from France, 8.8% from Cuba, 6.6% from Canada, and 5.8% from Brazil.

Railroads operate over 30,626 miles of track. During 1859, a rich silver deposit known as the Comstock Lode was discovered in Nevada Territory. Oil was successfully drilled from the ground in western Pennsylvania by Edwin Drake, setting off America’s first oil boom.

There are 28,498 post offices which sell 216,370,000 stamps and generate $8,518,000 in revenues but expend $19,170,000.

The government issues 4,589 patents.

Federal revenues total $56,065,000 but expenditures reach $63,131,000, creating a deficit of $7,066,000. The gross national debt reaches $64,844,000.

The United States armed forces on active duty include 27,958 in the Army, 9,942 in the Navy, and 1,801 in the Marine Corps.

Southern states are inflamed at the failed attempt to start a slave insurrection made by the radical abolitionist John Brown last fall. Many in the South want unlimited expansion of slavery and reopening of the African slave trade. There is talk of separation from the federal union. Some believe that the economic power of cotton make the entire country depend upon the South. Kansas remains in turmoil, a little civil war continuing between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions.


John Brown


Georgia has forbidden slave owners to manumit slaves as part of the owner’s last will and testament. The state has also made efforts to curtail the liberties of free black persons.

African Americans and white radical abolitionists remain angry and upset by the Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case. Last year the Supreme Court again antagonized anti-slavery people by upholding the constitutionality of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and overturning an 1854 Wisconsin State Supreme Court which had held the same Act unconstitutional.

In the Democratic Party, the leading contender for the nomination for president is Senator Stephen A Douglas from Illinois. Other potential candidates include James Guthrie from Kentucky, former Secretary of the Treasury; Senator Robert Hunter from Virginia; Senator Joseph Lane from Oregon; Senator Andrew Johnson from Tennessee; and Daniel S Dickinson, former senator from New York.

The new Republican Party has grown significantly since the 1856 election. Contenders in the party include Senator William H Seward of New York, Senator Simon Cameron from Pennsylvania; Governor Salmon P Chase of Ohio; Edward Bates, former congressman from Missouri; and Abraham Lincoln, successful lawyer from Illinois.


Lincoln in 1860


Others desirous enough of the job to consider running on a third party ticket or popular enough with the public that some people would like to see them run for the presidency include John McLean from Ohio; William A Graham of North Carolina; John Crittendon from Kentucky; Sam Houston of Texas; Edward Everett from Massachusetts; and John Bell from Tennessee.

The first regular session of the 36th Congress has been meeting since December 5, 1859. In the Senate, Democrats have 38 seats, Republicans have 23 seats and others have 2 seats. Republicans have 113 seats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats have 84 and others have 38 seats. As the year begins no Speaker of the House has yet been selected and bitter debate continues.

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