CHAPTER XXVII. STATE OF THE COUNTRY FROM 1840 TO 1860
On the ocean, steamship service between the Old World and the New was so improved that steamships passed from Liverpool to New York in less than twelve days.
Better means of transportation were of benefit, not merely to the traveler and the merchant, but to the people generally. Letters could be carried faster and more cheaply, so the rate of postage on a single letter was reduced (1851) from five or ten cents to three cents,  and before 1860 express service covered every important line of transportation.
THE ATLANTIC CABLE. - The success of the telegraph on land suggested a bold attempt to lay wires across the bed of the ocean, and in 1854 Cyrus W. Field of New York was asked to aid in the laying of a cable from St. Johns to Cape Ray, Newfoundland. But Field went further and formed a company to join Newfoundland and Ireland by cable, and after two failures succeeded (1858). During three weeks all went well and some four hundred messages were sent; then the cable ceased to work, and eight years passed before another was laid. Since then many telegraph cables have been laid across the Atlantic; but it was not till 1903 that the first was laid across the Pacific.
FOREIGN RELATIONS. - We have seen how during this period our country was expanded by the annexation of Texas (1845) and by two cessions of territory from Mexico (1848 and 1853). But this was not enough to satisfy the South, and attempts were made to buy Cuba. Polk (1848) offered Spain $100,000,000 for it. Filibusters tried to capture it (in 1851), and Pierce (1853) urged its annexation. With this end in view our ministers to Great Britain, France, and Spain met at Ostend in Belgium in 1854 and issued what was called the Ostend Manifesto. This set forth that Cuba must be annexed to protect slavery, and if Spain would not sell for a fair price, "then by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain if we possess the power." Buchanan also (1858) urged the purchase of Cuba; but in vain.
CHINA AND JAPAN. - More pleasing to recall are our relations with China and Japan. Our flag was first seen in China in 1784, when the trading vessel Empress of China reached Canton. Washington (1790) appointed a consul to reside in that city, the only one in China, then open to foreign trade; but no minister from the United States was sent to China till Caleb Gushing went in 1844. By him our first treaty was negotiated with China, under which five ports were opened to American trade and two very important concessions secured: (1) American citizens charged with any criminal act were to be tried and punished only by the American consul. (2) All privileges which China might give to any other nation were likewise to be given to the United States.
At that time Japan was a "hermit nation." In 1853, however, Commodore M. C. Perry went to that country with a fleet, and sent to the emperor a message expressing the wish of the United States to enter into trade relations with Japan. Then he sailed away; but returned in 1854 and made a treaty (the first entered into by Japan) which resulted in opening that country to the United States. Other nations followed, and Japan was thus opened to trade with the civilized world.
1. Between 1840 and 1860 the population increased from 17,000,000 to 31,000,000.
2. During this period millions of immigrants had come.
3. As population continued to move westward new states and territories were formed.
4. In one of these new territories, Utah, were the Mormons who had been driven from Illinois.
5. The rise of a new state on the Pacific coast revived the old demand for a railroad across the plains, and surveys were ordered.
6. East of the Mississippi thousands of miles of railroads were built, and the East, the West, and the far South were connected.
7. This period is marked by many great inventions and discoveries, including the telegraph, the sewing machine, and the reaper.
8. It was in this period that trade relations were begun with China and Japan.
 All the large cities were so poorly governed, however, that they were often the scenes of serious riots, political, labor, race, and even religious.
 An unfriendly picture of the United States in 1842 is Dickens's American Notes, a book well worth reading.
 Several non-Mormon officials were sent to Utah, but they were not allowed to exercise any authority, and were driven out. The Mormons formed the state of Deseret and applied for admission into the Union. Congress paid no attention to the appeal, and (1857) Buchanan appointed a new governor and sent troops to Utah to uphold the Federal authority. Young forbade them to enter the territory, and dispatched an armed force that captured some of their supplies. In the spring of 1858 the President offered pardon "to all who will submit themselves to the just authority of the Federal Government," and Young and his followers did so.
 An interesting account of the buffalo is given in A. C. Laut's The Story of the Trapper, pp. 65-80. Herds of a hundred thousand were common. As many as a million buffalo robes were sent east each year in the thirties and forties.