(1841 - End)

Chronology On The History Of Slavery, 1841 To The End


A court at Washington, D.C., rules March 9 that Cinque and his fellow mutineers aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad last year are not guilty and orders their release. Madrid protests. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

The 1839 case involved about 50 Africans who, against international law, had been captured and shipped to Havana, Cuba, where they seized the schooner Amistad, which was taking them to a plantation. Two crewmen were killed in the fight, and the rest of the crew were put ashore. Then the Africans ordered the owners to sail the ship back to Africa. However, the Amistad was seized by a U.S. brig off the Atlantic coast, and the Africans were imprisoned in Connecticut. The Connecticut court referred the case to the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in 1841. Adams argued that the United States should treat as free any persons escaping from illegal bondage. He denounced the administration of President Martin Van Buren for favoring the return of the captives to the Spanish planters who claimed ownership of them. The court decided for the Africans and, with money raised by abolitionists, 32 of them were returned to their homeland of Sierra Leone. The others had died at sea or while awaiting trial. ("Adams, John Quincy," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.)


The Second Bank of the United States crashes. By this time it is simply a private bank and no longer a national institution. When it ran into difficulties during the 1837 crisis it was still the largest bank in the world, but it finally crashes in 1841. p 484 (A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1830 – 1849, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5. http://www.ex.ac.uk/~RDavies/arian/amser/chrono11.html)

John Tyler, Whig becomes President. No VP


William H. Harrison, Whig becomes President. VP John Tyler

Journal Article traces the controversy stemming from the reply of Julia Gardiner Tyler, wife of former President John Tyler, to the 1852 address of an English duchess which called on American women to support gradual abolition, immediate ending of the breakup of slave families, and improvement of slave education. Mrs. Tyler claimed that British social conditions were worse than those of American slaves, and attacked the British "Affectionate and Christian Address . . . " mainly as unwarranted interference in US domestic affairs. She defended southern womanhood and questioned the motivation of British appealers. 63 notes. (Pugh, Evelyn L. WOMEN AND SLAVERY: JULIA GARDINER TYLER AND THE DUCHESS OF SUTHERLAND. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1980 88 (2): 186-202.)


Slave revolt on slave trader 'Creole' which was en route from Hampton, Va., to New Orleans, La., Nov 7. Slaves overpowered crew and sailed vessel to Bahamas where they were granted asylum and freedom. (Major Revolts and Escapes, Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower, http://www.afroam.org/history/slavery/revolts.html)


Maryland passed a law requiring a penalty of ten to twenty years imprisonment for any free black having any materials relating to abolition in his possession. In 1858, Samuel Green, a minister from Dorchester County, was sentenced to a ten year prison term for possessing a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Green was also suspected of having actively participated in the Underground Railroad. (Roland C. McConnell, Editor, Three Hundred and Fifty years: A Chronology of the Afro-American in Maryland, 1634-1984, 1985)


Supreme Court rules in Prigg v. Pennsylvania that state officials are not required to assist in the return of fugitive slaves. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service, http://www.cr.nps.gov/htdocs1/boaf/urrtim~1.htm)

The owner of a fugitive slave may recover him under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, the Supreme Court rules March 1 in Prigg v. Pennsylvania. The court overturns an 1826 Pennsylvania law that made kidnapping a slave a felony, saying an owner cannot be stopped from recovering a slave, but it says also that state authorities are under no obligation to help the slaveowner. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

In 1848, William Craft (d. 1900) and Ellen Craft (d. 1890), slaves on a Georgia plantation, escaped to Philadelphia and later moved to Boston where they remained until Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Their owners then demanded extradition of the Crafts to Georgia. Despite aid from antislavery groups, extradition appeared inevitable, forcing the Crafts to flee to Great Britain where they remained until the American Civil War ended. In England, the Crafts played prominent roles in helping British abolitionist groups oppose slavery. Based on archival, newspaper, and secondary sources; 54 notes. (Blackett, R. J. M. Title: FUGITIVE SLAVES IN BRITAIN: THE ODYSSEY OF WILLIAM AND ELLEN CRAFT. Journal of American Studies [Great Britain] 1978 12(1): 41-62. Also see the National Park Service Biographies of the Crafts at http://www.cr.nps.gov/htdocs1/boaf/craft~1.htm Taken from: The African Meeting House in Boston: A Sourcebook, by William S. Parsons & Margaret A. Drew)


The Council of the District of Columbia passed an Act to created an auxiliary night police patrol the streets of the city and in part to enforce the 10pm "colored curfew." At 10: PM, all "colored" people out without a pass were liable to arrest, fine and flogging. The floggings were administered sometimes at the guard post and sometimes at the whipping-post of the jail, on the northeast corner of Judiciary Square. "In place of the baton, each officer carried a stick surmounted by an iron spear-head, intended originally to pry open doors in case of fire or when in pursuit of thieves...some of the officers became so proficient as to make it a formidable weapon either when used as a club or thrown as a javelin. (Richard Sylvester, District of Columbia Police, Policemen's Fund, Washington, DC 1894 page 29)


The law that now exists in the District of Columbia, relative to fugitive slaves, compels a Negro under arrest to prove that he was born free. (The Sun (Baltimore)) Jan 9-15, 1844, reprinted January 9th 1994)


Mexico-. President Tyler deployed U.S. forces to protect Texas against Mexico, pending Senate approval of a treaty of annexation. (Later rejected.) He defended his action against a Senate resolution of inquiry. (Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798 -1993 by Ellen C. Collier, Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy, Congressional Research Service -Oct 7, 1993, http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/foabroad.htm)


The gag rule was revoked when Northern Democrats, breaking ranks with their Southern counterparts, voted against the rule.
Gag rule overturned, after an alliance of Northern and Southern Democrats at last began to fissure. But it would take a civil war before the questions raised by Adams were finally answered. Yet, in those debates of the 1830s, tectonic plates had shifted. Adams had shaken the "immense, rooted institution" of slavery as no one had before. The effort to silence Adams and his handful of allies had only intensified popular concern over the moral and political cost of protecting slavery. (Bordewich, Fergus M., Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress; book review of book by William Lee Miller, Smithsonian December, 1996)


James Knox Polk, Democrat becomes President. VP George M. Dallas.

In a cost cutting measure Sarah Polk wife of the President replaced White House servants with slaves and rearranged the White House Basement into slave quarters. (William Seale, "The President's House: a History," White House Historical Association with the Cooperation of the National Geographic Society and Harry N Abrams, 1986, vol. 1, pages 256 see Commissioner's letters sent, May-Oct 184, passim: see also Polk's financial records in Polk papers LC not draft of July 20, 1846, to for January 9, 1847, Feb 2, 1847 and Jan 1, N.D. for purchase of slaves.)

Her primary economic measure had been tried by previous southern Presidents, a substantial reduction of the numbers in the salaried staff and their replacement with slaves. About ten hired servants were let go, and their positions were taken by a combination of slaves from the Polk's home place in Tennessee and several more slaves purchased from relatives and friends during the first three years of Polk's Presidency. (The President's House: a History by William Seale, White House Historical Association with the Cooperation of the National Geographic Society and Harry N Abrams, 1986, vol. 1, page 257)


The Methodist Episcopal Church in America splits into northern and southern conferences after Georgia bishop James O. Andrews resists an order that he give up his slaves or quit his bishopric. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)


The slow economic development of the city of Washington in the early years, coupled by the political disincentives of having no vote for representation in the Congress or the presidential election, spurred discussion of retrocession among the residents almost immediately. In 1846, the residents of Alexandria City successfully won their fight for retrocession into Virginia, thus leaving the District its current size. Residents in the Virginia portion also feared the impending abolition of the slave trade in the federal city as Alexandria was a slave port (Harris, Congress and the Governance of the Nation's Capital: The Conflict of Federal and Local Interests, p. 4). (District of Columbia Home Rule Charter Review in collaboration with the Federal City Council http://www.georgetown.edu/grad/gppp/Community/Publications/history.htm)

Alexandria given back to Virginia. DC had been called "the very seat and center of the slave trade." (John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. From Slavery to Freedom, 1947, 1997 pages 114-115 in LC reference.) See also William T. Laprade, "The Domestic Slave-Trade in the District of Columbia," Journal of Negro History, XI (January, 1926 pp 17-34)

Smithsonian Institution research institution founded by the bequest of the English scientist James Smithson. Although it was held by John C. Calhoun and other members of Congress that the federal government had no power to accept such a gift, it was finally secured, largely through the efforts of John Quincy Adams, and in 1846 the institution was established by congressional act at Washington, D.C. (Encyclopedia Britannica On-Line)
The Cornerstone of the Smithsonian Institution was laid in 1847 by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons, Benjamin B. French in the presence of President James K Polk. (Ray Baker Harris, The Laying of cornerstones, Supreme Council 33, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Washington DC, 1961)

Scholars generally agree that the Industrial Revolution occurred in the United States beginning at about the middle of the 19th century.


Irish immigration increases due to the potato famine.

1846/04/24 – 1848/05/30

War against Mexico adds territory to the United States (Dates given by US Navy & Marine Casualty WEB page http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq56-1.htm)

On May 13,1846, the United States recognized the existence of a state of war with Mexico. After the annexation of Texas in 1845, the United States and Mexico failed to resolve a boundary dispute and President Polk said that it was necessary to deploy forces in Mexico to meet a threatened invasion. (Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798 -1993 by Ellen C. Collier, Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy, Congressional Research Service -Oct 7, 1993, http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/foabroad.htm)


Escaped slave Frederick Douglas, 30, begins publication at Rochester, N.Y., of an abolitionist newspaper, the North Star. The Massachusetts Antislavery Society published Douglas's’ autobiography 2 years ago and he has earned enough from lecture fees in Britain, Ireland, and the United States to buy his freedom. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

About 1000 slaves per year escaped to the North during the pre-Civil War decades, most from the upper South. This represented only a small percentage of those who attempted to escape, however, since for every slave who made it to freedom, several more tried. Other fugitives remained within the South, heading for cities or swamps, or hiding out near their plantations for days or weeks before either returning voluntarily or being tracked down and captured. ("Slavery in the United States," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.)


Steam powers a U.S. cotton mill for the first time at Salem, Mass., where the Maumkoag Steam Cotton Mill begins production. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)


Liberia declares independence from American Colonization Society. (D.T.'s Chronology of History 1840-1849! http://members.xoom.com//davidtan/07cr1840.htm)


Gold Rush in California. The discovery of gold in California leads in the following decade to a massive increase in the production of gold coins by the mint with the result that in practice the US moves away from bimetallism towards a gold standard. p 481 (A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1830 – 1849, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5. http://www.ex.ac.uk/~RDavies/arian/amser/chrono11.html)


Work begun on the Washington Monument, DC Obelisk honoring the first U.S. president. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996 from MS Bookshelf)


Mexican War ends, expanding U.S. slave territory into Texas.


Daniel Drayton attempted to smuggle 76 slaves on the ship Pearl out of Washington to Freedom in the North. The slaves belonged to "41 of the most prominent families in Washington and Georgetown and were valued at $100,000." The Pearl got as far as Chesapeake but ran into headwinds. "A steamer was chartered by owners and friends armed to the teeth with guns pistols and bowie knives for the pursuit. The steamer took Drayton's vessel into tow, and brought them back to Washington. A mob had assembled on 4thstreet and rushed the group when they reached Pennsylvania avenue shouting Lynch them, Lynch them. (George Rothwell Brown, Capital Silhouettes, Washington Post March 10, 1924)

According to Josephine Pacheco, professor emeritus of history at George Mason University, former first lady Dolley Madison owned one slave heading for the Pearl. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison claimed that another worked in President James K. Polks's White House. (Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl,, Washington Post, Horizon August 12, 1998.)

"The public was infuriated and tended to blame Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, the editor of the antislavery newspaper, the National Era, for conceiving and planning the whole affair. A crowd formed before the office of Bailey's newspaper and pelted the building with stones until they were dispersed by the police (National Era, April 27, 1848; The Liberator, April 28 1848 cited in Dorothy Sproles Provine, The Free Negro In the District of Columbia 1800-1860, Thesis Louisiana State University Department of History, 1959, 1963)

First published in 1855 by Bela. Drayton, born in Cumberland County, NJ, plied a vessel between Delaware Bay and Virginia's eastern shore, coming into frequent contact with the African-American slaves in the Chesapeake region. Soon, he was helping slaves escape North aboard his schooner "Pearl," until he was seized on the Potomac, imprisoned. (Drayton, Daniel. PERSONAL MEMOIR OF DANIEL DRAYTON, FOR FOUR YEARS AND FOUR MONTHS A PRISONER (FOR CHARITY'S SAKE) IN WASHINGTON JAIL. NY'. Negro Universities Press. - 1969 122pp .including a narrative of the voyage and capture of the schooner Pearl.) (For the Role of Paul Jennings in the Pearl escape, see (G. Franklin Edwards and Michael R. Winston, Commentary: The Washington of Paul Jennings—White House Slave, Free Man, and Conspirator for Freedom. White House Historical Association. http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha/news_reminiscence.asp)

For a description of the conditions of slave just outside Washington, DC see slave narrative at http://vi.uh.edu/pages/mintz/13.htm


Free-Soil party, U.S. political party born in 1847–48 to oppose the extension of slavery into territories newly gained from Mexico. In 1848 the Free-Soil party ran Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams for president and vice president; by polling 300,000 votes it gave New York State to the Whigs and thus made Zachary Taylor president. After the Compromise of 1850 seemed to settle the slavery-extension issue, the group known as the Barnburners left the Free-Soilers to return to the Democratic party, but radicals kept the Free-Soil party alive until 1854, when the new Republican party absorbed it. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)<\P>

A third party took part in the election of 1848. Called the Free-Soil Party, it included Democrats and Whigs who disagreed with their parties, and abolitionists, who wanted an immediate end to slavery. The Free-Soil Party nominated former president Martin Van Buren of New York for president and Massachusetts legislator Charles Francis Adams for vice president. (Fillmore, Millard, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.)

Zachary Taylor, Whig becomes President. VP Millard Fillmore. Taylor brought house slaves from Louisiana to work at the White House. There were approximately 15, including children; one was the body servant who had accompanies General Taylor to Mexico. (The President's House: a History by William Seale , White House Historical Association with the Cooperation of the National Geographic Society and Harry N Abrams, 1986, vol. 1, page 282)


Abraham Lincoln as Representative, unsuccessfully proposed a bill for the "compensated emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia. (Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl, Washington Post, Horizon August 12, 1998.)


Maryland slave Harriet Tubman, 29, escapes to the North and begins a career as "conductor" on the Underground Railway that started in 1838. Tubman will make 19 trips back to the South to free upward of 300 slaves including her aged parents whom she will bring North in 1857. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)


The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal begun in 1828 finally reaches Cumberland, Md., which the B&O Railroad reached in 1842. The $22 million 184.5-mile canal with its 74 lift locks is obsolete, plans to continue it 180 miles westward to Pittsburgh are abandoned, but it will be used until 1924. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)


Compromise of 1850 attempts to settle slavery issue. As part of the Compromise, a new Fugitive Slave Act is added to enforce the 1793 law and allows slaveholders to retrieve slaves in northern states and free territories. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service, http://www.cr.nps.gov/htdocs1/boaf/urrtim~1.htm)

Congress enacted the famous Compromise of 1850. A provision of the Compromise relating to slavery included the outlawing of the slave trade in Washington, D.C. but the retention of slavery itself. (Alton Hornsby, JR,. Chronology of African American History, Gale Research 1991, in LC reference)

The Compromise of 1850 stiffened existing fugitive slave laws and allowed claimants to recover fugitives by applying to federal judges and commissioners to establish ownership. The testimony of fugitives was not admitted as evidence. Anyone who interfered with the enforcement of these laws was subject to punishment. Many of the cases in this publication contain only the warrants for arrest, and others contain papers relating to proof of ownership. (Description of FEDERAL COURT RECORDS: A SELECT CATALOG OF NATIONAL ARCHIVES MICROFILM PUBLICATIONS (PART 6) National Archives, http://www.nara.gov/publications/microfilm/courts/fedcrt6.txt )

COMPROMISE OF 1850 strengthened the fugitive slave law. "All good citizens" were required to obey it on pain of heavy penalty; jury trial and the right to testify were prohibited to fugitives. The ABOLITIONISTS and new personal-liberty laws defied these provisions. Notable fugitive slave trials stirred up public opinion in both the North and South. Northern NULLIFICATION of the fugitive slave laws was cited in 1860 by South Carolina as a cause of secession. Congress repealed both laws in 1864, during the CIVIL WAR. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)


Sen. Henry Clay’s Compromise of 1850 admitted California as 31st state Sept. 9, slavery forbidden; made Utah and New Mexico territories without decision on slavery; made Fugitive Slave Law more harsh; ended District of Columbia slave trade. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996 from MS Bookshelf)

The Compromise of 1850 was worked out by Henry Clay to settle the dispute between North and South. On January 29, 1850, it was introduced to the Senate as follows:

  1. California should be admitted immediately as a free state;
  2. Utah should be separated from New Mexico, and the two territories should be allowed to decide for them selves whether they wanted slavery or not.;
  3. The land disputed between Texas and New Mexico should be assigned to New Mexico;
  4. In return, the United States should pay the debts which Texas had contracted before annexation;
  5. Slavery should not be abolished in the District of Columbia without the consent of its residents and the surrounding state of Maryland, and then only if the owners were paid for their slaves.
  6. Slave-trading (but not slavery) should be banned in the District of Columbia;
  7. A stricter fugitive slave law should be adopted. (Jordan, W. et al. (1985): The Americans. p. 310)

The Compromise resulted in heavy debates in the Senate. Especially the leader of the Conscience Whigs, William H. Seward, criticized it. He argued that there was "a higher law than the Constitution" (Jordan, W. et al. (1985): The Americans. p. 311.), and alluded to the law of God, which forbade slavery. Still the people seemed to accept the Compromise with some hesitation. President Zachory Taylor was truly against the plan and created a deadlock, but as he died, and was succeeded by Vice- President Millard Fillmore, the whole thing got a new turn. He successfully convinced the Whig party. However, the Compromise was turned down in Congress. Henry Clay withdrew from politics due to poor health and Stephen A. Douglas took over the task of dealing with the Compromise. (Andreas Sandgren, "CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA, 1861-1865" LUND, SPYKEN, 1993, http://www.student.lu.se/~svp95asa/Civwar/Civil.htm


Zachary Taylor died in office on July 9. Millard Fillmore, as a Whig took the presidential oath the following day. There was no Vice president


Myrtilla Miner founded a "school for colored girls," which the University of the District of Columbia looks back to as it's roots. (History and Mission of the University of the District of Columbia. Updated: April 29, 1998 http://www.udc.edu/www/paffairs/history.html)

Mytilla Miner, alarmed the city's white citizens by opening the Normal School for Colored Girls, a college preparatory school in a city where slavery remained legal. In 1854, Minor wrote" "Emily (Edmonson) and I lived here alone, unprotected, except by God. The rowdies occasionally stone our house in the evening. Emily and I have been seen practicing shooting with a pistol. The family (Paul and Amelia Edmonson) have come with a dog." (Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl, Washington Post, Horizon August 12, 1998.)

She selected the District "because it was the common property of the nation and because the laws of the District gave her the right to educate free colored children, and she attempted to teach none others." (Special Report of the Commissioner of Education on the Condition and Improvement of Public Schools in the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1871.)

Within two months the enrollment grew from 6 to 40, and, despite hostility from a portion of the community, the school prospered. Contributions from Quakers continued to arrive, and Harriet Beecher Stowe gave $1,000 of her Uncle Tom's Cabin royalties. The school was forced to move three times in its first two years, but in 1854 it settled on a three-acre lot with house and barn on the edge of the city. In 1856 the school came under the care of a board of trustees, among whom were Henry Ward Beecher and Johns Hopkins. While the school offered primary schooling and classes in domestic skills, its emphasis from the outset was on training teachers. Miner stressed hygiene and nature study in addition to rigorous academic training. By 1858 six former students were teaching in schools of their own. By that time Miner's connection with the school had been lessened by her failing health, and from 1857 Emily Howland was in charge. In 1860 the school had to be closed, and the next year Miner went to California in an attempt to regain her health. A carriage accident in 1864 ended that hope, and Miner died on December 17, 1864, shortly after her return to Washington, D.C. (Women in American History by Encyclopedia Britannica, http://women.eb.com/women/articles/Miner_Myrtilla.html)

Why are little girls familiar with Louisa May Alcott rather than Margaret Fuller, with Scarlett O'Hara and not Myrtilla Miner, with Florence Nightingale and not Fanny Wright. Why have they never heard of the Grimke Sisters, Sojourner Truth, Inez Milholland, Prudence Crandall, Ernestine Rose, Abigail Scott Duniway, Harriet Tubman, Clara Lemlich, Alice Paul, and many others in a long list of brilliant courageous people? Something smells fishy when scarcely fifty years after the vote was won, the whole WRM is largely forgotten, remembered only by a few eccentric old ladies. May I suggest the reason for this, why women's history has been hushed up just as Negro history has been hushed up, so that the black child learns, not about Nat Turner but about the triumph of Ralph Bunche, or George Washington Carver and the peanut. (THE WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN THE U.S.: A NEW VIEW by Shulamith Firestone http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/notes/)

Myrtilla Miner's Papers are available at the Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress. (http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mss/guide/women.html)


Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is published as a response to the pro-slavery argument. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service, http://www.cr.nps.gov/htdocs1/boaf/urrtim~1.htm)


Franklin Pierce Democrat becomes President. VP William R. King, 1853 and Apr 1853-Mar 1857


Dred Scott decision by U.S. Supreme Court Mar. 6 held, 6-3, that a slave did not become free when taken into a free state, Congress could not bar slavery from a territory, and blacks could not be citizens. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

Supreme Court declares in Scott v. Sandford that blacks are not U.S. citizens, and slaveholders have the right to take slaves in free areas of the county. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service, http://www.cr.nps.gov/htdocs1/boaf/urrtim~1.htm)


The Dred Scott decision announced by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, 79, March 6 enrages abolitionists and encourages slaveowners. The fugitive slave Dred Scott, now 62, brought suit in 1848 to claim freedom on the ground that he resided in free territory, but the court rules that his residence in Minnesota Territory does not make him free, that a black may not bring suit in a federal court, and in an obiter dicta by Taney, that Congress never had the authority to ban slavery in the territories, a ruling that in effect calls the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

The notoriety surrounding Dred Scott v. Sandford (US, 1857) has frequently hindered historians' efforts to understand the policy-making role of the antebellum Supreme Court. The Dred Scott case was neither exceptional nor anomalous. It was, however, the natural result of judicial doctrines and tendencies that had been developing for several years. John Marshall, though opposed to slavery in the abstract, believed that a judge's moral instincts should not influence his rulings in light of the law. Roger Taney, as Chief Justice, was determined to destroy antislavery constitutional ideas argued in cases before him. Even before the famous Dred Scott case, Supreme Court decisions involving Groves (1841), Prigg (1842), and Van Zandt (1847) consistently undermined antislavery constitutional ideas argued before the Court. The Dred Scott decision was no aberration. 89 notes. (Wiecek, William M. SLAVERY AND ABOLITION BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT, 1820-1860. Journal of American History 1978 65(1): 34-59.)


"Confrontation with mob during election violence outside City Hall, Washington DC," leaves two US Marines wounded. (US Navy and Marine Casualties. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq56-1.htm)


James Buchanan Democrat becomes President. VP John C. Breckinridge On slavery he favored popular sovereignty and choice by state constitutions. He denied the right of states to secede. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)


Abolitionist John Brown with 21 men seized U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry (then Virginia) Oct. 16. U.S. Marines captured raiders, killing several. Brown was hanged for treason by Virginia Dec. 2. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

Marine assault on building occupied by abolitionist John Brown and followers, Harper's Ferry, Virginia, 18 Oct. 1859. One Marine killed and one Wounded. (US Navy & Marine Casualties http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq56-1.htm)


The US Civil War. The Confederacy finances its war effort mainly by printing money. In addition to the Confederate notes, the States, railway, insurance and other companies also issue notes. The resulting hyperinflation renders Confederate paper worthless. By comparison inflation in the North is relatively moderate as the Union government raises very substantial sums of money by taxation and borrowing. p 485-488 (A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1860 – 1879, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5. http://www.ex.ac.uk/~RDavies/arian/amser/chrono12.html)


Slavery was abolished in the District of Columbia by Congress on this day. One million dollars was appropriated to compensate owners of freed slaves, and $100,000 was set aside to pay district slaves who wished to emigrate to Haiti, Liberia or any other country outside the United States. (Jet Magazine, This Week in Black History, Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. April 21, 1997)

Slavery was abolished in Washington, DC, when $993.407 in compensation was paid to slave owners for their lost "property." (Denise Pazur, The Plain Dealer, Jan 31, 1993, page 8)

Congress abolishes slavery in the federal district (the City of Washington, Washington County, and Georgetown). This action predates both the Emancipation Proclamation and the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.(DC Homepage "Office of Public Records")

Congress emancipated the remaining 3,100 slaves owned by D.C. citizens nine months before Lincoln's emancipation proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863. : (Bob Arnebeck A Shameful Heritage, Washington Post Magazine January 18, 1889)

Lincoln was certainly not an abolitionist. He found slavery personally abhorrent, but ending it was not his first priority. He was in many ways what we would consider in modern terms a typical cautious liberal — a compromiser on serious moral issues, only moving on them when pushed by social movements. As a Congressman, he was opposed to the Mexican War (which was designed to add slave territory) but still voted to finance it. He would not speak publicly against the Fugitive Slave Act, wrote to a friend "I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down...but I bite my lips and keep quiet." He was a lawyer, with a legalistic approach to slavery: the Constitution did not give the federal government the power to interfere with slavery in the states. The District of Columbia was not a state, and he did offer a resolution, while in Congress, to abolish slavery there, but accompanied this with a fugitive slave provision that escaped slaves coming into D.C. must be returned.(Wendell Phillips, the militant Boston abolitionist, called Lincoln "that slavehound from Illinois") During the Civil War he would not do anything about slavery for fear of alienating the states fighting on the side of the North which still had slavery, said plainly that his main aim in the war was not to end slavery but to get the South back into the Union, and would do this even if it meant retaining slavery. The Whig Party which became the Republican Party which elected Lincoln represented economic interests which wanted a large country with a huge market for goods, with high tariffs to protect manufactures (which Southern states opposed). The South stood in the way of capitalist expansion. If you look at the legislation passed by Congress during the War, with the South no longer an obstacle, you see the economic interests: Railroad subsidies, high tariffs, contract labor law to bring in immigrant workers for cheap labor and to use as strikebreakers, a national bank putting the government in a partnership with banking interests. The Emancipation Proclamation was a weak document for freeing slaves, but did have great moral force. I deal with all this in my book A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. There's an excellent chapter on Lincoln in Richard Hofstadter's book THE AMERICAN POLITICAL TRADITION. (Howard Zinn, A Selection of Zinn's Posts from the ZinnZine Forum, http://www.lol.shareworld.com/zinnzinearchive.htm)


Maryland slaves emancipated by State Constitution of 1864. (Maryland Historical Chronology http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/chron.html)


Robert E. Lee surrendered 27,800 Confederate troops to Grant at Appomattox Court House, VA, Apr. 9. J. E. Johnston surrendered 31,200 to Sherman at Durham Station, NC, Apr. 18. Last rebel troops surrendered May 26. President Lincoln was shot Apr. 14 by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater, Washington; died the following morning. Booth was reported dead Apr. 26. Four co-conspirators were hanged July 7. Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, was ratified Dec. 6. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

1865 Amendment XIII. Slavery abolished. (Proposed by Congress Jan. 31, 1865; ratified Dec. 6, 1865. The amendment, when first proposed by a resolution in Congress, was passed by the Senate, 38 to 6, on Apr. 8, 1864, but was defeated in the House, 95 to 66 on June 15, 1864. On reconsideration by the House, on Jan. 31, 1865, the resolution passed, 119 to 56. It was approved by President Lincoln on Feb. 1, 1865, although the Supreme Court had decided in 1798 that the President has nothing to do with the proposing of amendments to the Constitution, or their adoption.)

  1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
  2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

Andrew Johnson, Democratic/National Union Party becomes President


Home rule ended in the District of Columbia. (1890 DC Census Index)


President signs National Zoological Park into law.(Marion P. McCrane, Zoologist to Eda B. Frost July, 28, 1967, SIA, RU 365, NZP OPA 1805-1988 Box 35 Folder 9) Design by Frederick Law Olmstead

Olmsted or Olmstead, Frederick Law, 1822–1903, American landscape architect and writer; b. Hartford, Conn. In the 1850s he attained fame for his travel books, which describe slaveholding society in the South. When Central Park, N.Y.C., was projected (1856), he and Calvert Vaux prepared the plan that was accepted, and he supervised its execution. This was the first of many parks he designed; others are in Brooklyn (Prospect Park), Chicago, Montreal, Buffalo, and Boston. He laid out the grounds for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago (now Jackson Park). (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)


Georgetown becomes part of the City of Washington. (1890 DC Census Index)


Writing (on the history of slavery) in the first half of the twentieth century was that blacks were inferior to whites, that races should be separated, and that therefore slavery was not so bad after all. This perspective is best typified by Ulrich B. Phillips's American Negro Slavery (1918), a classic work which dominated the interpretation of southern history for the next thirty years. Phillips depicted a plantation system in which slaves were generally contented with their lot and unlikely to resist. Those rare occasions in which resistance did occur were more likely the result of slaves having lazy or criminal characters rather than any legitimate complaint about their conditions. Indeed, Phillips saw slavery as a system which was economically unprofitable but socially desirable--a civilizing institution necessitated by the racial inferiority of African Americans. (Theresa Anne Murphy, SCHOLARSHP ON SOUTHERN FARMS AND PLANTATIONS 1996 American Studies Department of George Washington University, for the National Park Service Web Page on Slavery http://www.cr.nps.gov/crweb1/history/slave.htm)
Journal article analyzes writings that provided important American perceptions of Africa from colonial times through the early 20th century when American impressions of Africa derived substantially from commentators such as Theodore Roosevelt, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and Charles Francis Adams, Jr. Generally American portrayals of Africa have been characterized by distortions and frequently have served uniquely American purposes such as justifying slavery and sanctioning racial segregation. Since 1900, many American writers on Africa equated the events of European colonization in Eastern and Southeastern Africa with the processes that Americans popularly presumed were inherent in the taming of American frontiers. Based on American writings about Africa and on secondary sources; 43 notes. (McCarthy, Michael. AFRICA AND THE AMERICAN WEST. Journal of American Studies [Great Britain] 1977 11(2): 187-201.)

End of Slavery Chronology


1619 - 17891790 - 17991800 - 18291830 - 1840

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