CHAPTER XXVII. STATE OF THE COUNTRY FROM 1840 TO 1860

POPULATION. - In the twenty years which had elapsed since 1840 the population of our country had risen to over 31,000,000. In New York alone there were, in 1860, about as many people as lived in the whole United States in 1789.

Not a little of this increase of population was due to the stream of immigrants which had been pouring into the country. From a few thousand in 1820, the number who came each year rose gradually to about 100,000 in the year 1842, and then went down again. But famine in Ireland and hard times in Germany started another great wave of immigration, which rose higher and higher till (1854) more than 400,000 people arrived in one year. Then once more the wave subsided, and in 1861 less than 90,000 came.

NEW STATES AND TERRITORIES. - Though population was still moving westward, few of our countrymen, before the gold craze of 1849, had crossed the Missouri. Those who did, went generally to Oregon, which was organized as a territory in 1848 and admitted into the Union as a state in 1859. By that time California (1850) and Minnesota (1858) had also been admitted, so that the Union in 1860 consisted of thirty-three states and five territories. Eighteen states were free, and fifteen slave-holding. The five territories were New Mexico, Utah, Washington (1853), Kansas, and Nebraska (small map, p. 394).

CITY LIFE. - About one sixth of the population in 1860 lived in cities, of which there were about 140 of 8000 or more people each. Most of them were ugly, dirty, badly built, and poorly governed. The older ones, however, were much improved. The street pump had given way to water works; gas and plumbing were in general use; many cities had uniformed police; [1] but the work of fighting fires was done by volunteer fire departments. Street cars (drawn by horses) now ran in all the chief cities, omnibuses were in general use, and in New York city the great Central Park, the first of its kind in the country, had been laid out. Illustrated magazines, and weekly papers, Sunday newspapers, and trade journals had been established, and in some cities graded schools had been introduced. [2]

SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES. - In the country the district school for boys and girls was gradually being improved. The larger cities of the North now had high schools as well as common schools, and in a few instances separate high schools for girls. Between 1840 and 1860 eighty-two sectarian and twenty non-sectarian colleges were founded, and the Naval Academy at Annapolis was opened. Not even the largest college in 1860 had 800 students, and in but one (University of Iowa, 1856) were women admitted to all departments.

LITERATURE. - Public libraries were now to be found not only in the great cities, but in most of the large towns, and in such libraries were collections of poetry, essays, novels, and histories written by American authors. Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell, Poe, Bryant, and Whittier among poets; Hawthorne, Irving, Cooper, Simms, and Poe among writers of fiction; Emerson and Lowell among essayists, were read and admired abroad as well as at home. Prescott, who had lately (1859) died, had left behind him histories of Spain in the Old World and in the New; Parkman was just beginning his story of the French in America; Motley had published his Rise of the Dutch Republic, and part of his History of the United Netherlands; Hildreth had completed one History of the United States, and Bancroft was still at work on another.

Near these men of the first rank stood many writers popular in their day. The novels of Kennedy, and the poetry of Drake, Halleck, and Willis are not yet forgotten.

OCCUPATIONS. - In the Eastern states the people were engaged chiefly in fishing, commerce, and manufacturing; in the Middle states in farming, commerce, manufacturing, and mining. To the great coal and iron mines of Pennsylvania were (1859) added the oil fields. That petroleum existed in that state had long been known; but it was not till Drake drilled a well near Titusville (in northwestern Pennsylvania) and struck oil that enough was obtained to make it marketable. Down the Ohio there was a great trade in bituminous coal, and the union of the coal, iron, and oil trades was already making Pittsburg a great city. In the South little change had taken place. Cotton, tobacco, sugar, and the products of the pine forests were still the chief sources of wealth; mills and factories hardly existed. The West had not only its immense farms, but also the iron mines of upper Michigan, the lead mines of the upper Mississippi and in Missouri, the copper mines of the Lake Superior country, and the lumber industry of Michigan and Wisconsin. Through the lakes passed a great commerce. California was the great gold-mining state; but gold and silver had just been discovered near Pikes Peak, and in what is now Nevada.

THE MORMONS. - Utah territory in 1860 contained forty thousand white people, nearly all Mormons. These people, as we have seen, when driven from Missouri, built the city called Nauvoo in Illinois. Their leaders now introduced the practice of polygamy, and in various ways opposed the state authorities. In 1844 they came to blows with the state; the leaders were arrested, and while in jail Joseph Smith and his brother were murdered by a mob. Brigham Young then became head of the church, and in the winter of 1846 the Mormons, driven from Nauvoo, crossed the Mississippi and began a long march westward over the plains to Great Salt Lake, then in Mexico. There they settled down, and when the war with Mexico ended, they were again in the United States. When Utah was made a territory in 1850, Brigham Young was appointed its first governor. [3]