Top of page

Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

Printable Timeline


  1. 1800

    Songs of America

    James Hewitt (1770-1827) composes 'The Wounded Hussar.'

    Hon'hewachi Song from the Blue Spot ceremony, sung by a group of Omaha men and women. Recorded by Francis La Flesche, September, 1895. The purpose of the ceremony was to honor a female relative of a society member. La Flesche wrote that this song was composed by Old Blackbird of the White Horse family, which may have been Chief Blackbird.


    Ludwig van Beethoven composes Christ on the Mount of Olives, Piano Concerto no. 3

    In the News

    Gabriel Prosser slave rebellion uncovered in Virginia

    U.S. population is 5.3 million, including 1 million Blacks, 90% of whom are slaves

    Congress convenes in Washington, the new federal capital. President Adams moves into what will become known as the White House.

    A smallpox epidemic sweeps through American Indian tribes of the plains and northwest coast. Chief Blackbird of the Omaha dies of the disease.

    Library of Congress established

    Johnny Appleseed begins distributing apple seeds and trees

    Francis La Flesche
    The White House
  2. 1801

    Songs of America

    William Little and William Smith publish their shape-note system The Easy Instructor, or a New Method of Teaching Sacred Harmony

    In the News

    Ballot count shows a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr; House of Representatives chooses Jefferson as third President

    John Marshall becomes chief justice of U.S. Supreme Court

    The Barbary or Tripolitan war, begins (ends in 1805)

  3. 1802

    In the News

    United States Military Academy established at West Point, New York

    West Point
  4. 1803

    Songs of America

    Alexander Reinagle (1756-1809) writes his chorus Masonic Ode

    The lyrics to "Jefferson and Liberty" are written (anonymously) to the tune of "Anacreon in Heaven" by John Stafford Smith


    Ludwig van Beethoven composes Eroica Symphony, Kreutzer Sonata

    In the News

    Louisiana Purchase doubles the size of the United States

    Ohio becomes 17th state, and the first in which slavery is illegal from the beginning

    Marbury v. Madison establishes role of judicial review for U.S. Supreme Court

  5. 1804

    Songs of America

    Samuel Holyoke (1762-1820) writes the sacred collection, The Christian Harmonist, designed for Baptist congregations.


    German playwright and philosopher Johann Friedrich von Schiller writes William Tell

    In the News

    Lewis and Clark begin their expedition through the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific Coast

    Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounds Alexander Hamilton in a duel

    William Tell
    Lewis and Clark
    [The Burr and Hamilton duel, 11 July, 1804, at Weehawken, N.J.]
  6. 1806

    Songs of America

    Music teacher and composer, Uri Keeler Hill (1780-1844) compiles his tune book The Sacred Minstrel.


    Noah Webster publishes Compendious Dictionary of the English Language

  7. 1807


    A series of essays titled Salamagundi marks the beginning of the Knickerbocker school of writers, who prize realism and humor, plus American subject matter.

    In the News

    Robert Fulton's North River Steamboat (better known as Clermont) begins regular steamboat service between New York City and Albany, N.Y.

    The slave trade is outlawed by England, France, Spain and Portugal

    Embargo Act curtails foreign trade; repealed 1808

  8. 1808

    Songs of America

    Thomas Moore publishes his first volume of Irish Melodies.

    In the News

    Jefferson follows Washington's precedent and does not run for a third term

    African slave trade now illegal in the U.S.

    Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826
  9. 1809

    Songs of America

    Psallonian Society is founded in Providence, R.I.


    Washington Irving's humorous Knickerbocker’s History of New York

    In the News

    James Madison inaugurated as the fourth president of the U.S.

    Illinois Territory formed from Northwest Territory

    Shawnee Chief Tecumseh begins to organize a confederacy of American Indian Tribes

    Washington Irving
  10. 1810

    Songs of America

    Benjamin Carr publishes Six Ballads from the Poem of the Lady of the Lake, op. 7 on poems of Sir Walter Scott.


    Chopin and Schumann are born

    In the News

    Cornelius Vanderbilt begins career in transportation, starting a ferry service between Manhattan and Staten Island

    Six ballads from the poem of the Lady of the Lake
  11. 1811

    Songs of America

    "Wake Up Sleepy" or "Steamboat," sung by Henry Truvillion. A work song about loading cotton onto a steamboat on the Mississippi. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax in Newton County, Texas, May 16, 1939.

    In the News

    The New Orleans, built in Pittsburgh and designed by Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston, begins steamboat service

    William Henry Harrison is victorious over Shawnee leader Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe in Indiana

    [Henry Truvillion and wife, in the garden, near Newton, Texas]
  12. 1812

    Songs of America

    Eliakim Doolittle writes "The Hornet Stung the Peacock," a song about how the American sloop of war Hornet engaged and sunk the British brig Peacock during the War of 1812. The song is published in February 1813

    Englishman James Sanderson composes the tune of "Hail to the Chief," though the words (now never sung) are originally from Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake (1810)

    "Flag Song," a patriotic song sung by the host drum at the 1983 Omaha powwow in Macy, Nebraska. This is one of two anthems for the Omaha Nation.

    Rufus White talks about the meaning of the "Omaha Flag Song (part 1)." Recorded by Alan Jabbour and Laurel McIntire, Nebraska, July 7, 1999.

    Rufus White talks about the meaning of the "Omaha Flag Song (part 2)." Recorded by Alan Jabbour and Laurel McIntire, Nebraska, July 7, 1999.

    In the News

    War of 1812 begins between the United States and Britain

    Napoleon retreats from Moscow

    The Omaha Nation signs a treaty in which they pledge to be an ally in support of the United States Government.

    The word "gerrymander" enters political vocabulary after Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry manipulates a political map before an election; the rigged district resembles a salamander.

    War songs
  13. 1813

    Songs of America

    "Perry's Victory," a ballad sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye. Recorded by John Avery Lomax in June, 1937 in Akron, Ohio.

    In the News

    "Uncle Sam" appears for the first time in the Troy Post

    The Battle of Lake Erie was won by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, September 10, 1813. It was the biggest naval battle of the War of 1812.

    Battle of Eerie.
  14. 1814

    Songs of America

    "James Bird," a ballad sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye [alternate title "Bird's Farewell"]. Recorded by John Avery Lomax in  Akron, Ohio, June 27, 1937.

    Francis Scott Key writes his poem "The Star-Spangled Banner" to the tune of John Stafford Smith's "To Anacreon in Heaven


    Invention of the metronome by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel

    "The Eighth of January," a popular dance tune, commemorated the U.S. victory at the 1814 Battle of New Orleans. Performed by Tommy Rhoades on guitar and J.D. Allen on fiddle. Recorded by Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Visalia FSA Camp California, August 6, 1940. In 1958, James Morris (Jimmy Driftwood) composed lyrics to the old tune and recorded it as "The Battle of New Orleans."

    In the News

    The British set fire to the Capitol and the White House; they unsuccessfully try to take Fort McHenry in the Baltimore harbor

    Napoleon abdicates when British invade France, is sent to the island of Elba.

    Louis XVIII becomes King of France

    Lieutenant James Bird, who was distinguished for bravery at the Battle of Lake Erie, is executed for desertion Oct 22.

    Treaty of Ghent ends War of 1812. Signed in Belgium on Dec. 24, 1814, word of the treaty did not reach the U.S. until weeks later.

    Antiwar Federalists begin meeting at Hartford Convention

    Original manuscript of "The Star Spangled Banner"
    White House fire
    Treaty of Ghent
  15. 1815

    Songs of America

    "Backside of Albany, or, The Siege of Plattsburg," by Micah Hawkins, is the first 'black-dialect' minstrel song published in the United States.


    Handel and Haydn Society organized in Boston

    Congress authorizes the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library, to replace the books in the Library of Congress burned by the British

    First issue of the scholarly journal North American Review

    Thomas Jefferson sells personal library to the federal government after the Library Congress is burned by the British.

    In the News

    In January Andrew Jackson leads troops to victory against the British at the Battle of New Orleans in Louisiana

    "100 days of Napoleon" marks escape from Elba until the Restoration of Louis XVIII; Battle of Waterloo

  16. 1816

    Songs of America

    Ananias Davisson’s shape-note tunebook Kentucky Harmony is published.

    In the News

    First independent Black church in America, African Methodist Episcopal Church, is organized in Philadelphia

    Bishops of the A.M.E. Church
  17. 1817

    Songs of America

    Conductor and composer, Anthony Philip Heinrich (1781-1861) leads one of the first known performances of a Beethoven symphony in America (Lexington, KY). He is considered by many to be America's first "professional" composer and was known in his time as the "Beethoven of America."

    In the News

    James Monroe inaugurated as fifth President of the U.S.

    Second Bank of the United States chartered, headquartered in Philadelphia

    American Colonization Society founded

    First Seminole War in Florida

  18. 1818

    In the News

    Frederick Douglass born in Maryland; then known as Frederick Bailey

    Frederick Douglass
  19. 1819

    Songs of America

    "The Hunter's Horn, a new sporting cavatina" by Englishman T. Philipps, is registered in America, "the first song in the earliest volume of copyright songs in the Library of Congress"


    Beethoven: Hammerklavier Sonata

    In the News

    Alabama becomes the 22nd state

    The U.S. pays Spain five million dollars for the Florida territory

    Panic of 1819, financial downturn

    Sonate für das Hammerklavier
  20. 1820

    Songs of America

    'Hail to the Chief,' words by Sir Walter Scott and music by James Sanderson, is published in New York City by E. Riley [ca. 1820]. The song was published earlier in London. The words are from Scott's narrative poem The Lady of the Lake, published in 1810. The composer was a self-taught English violinist and the conductor of the Surrey Theatre, London, who wrote many songs for local theatrical productions during the 1790s and the early years of the nineteenth century.


    At the age of 13, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has his first poem published: "The Battle of Lovewell's Pond."

    In the News

    Missouri Compromise, in which Missouri entered the U.S. as a slave state, Maine as a free state, and sets the 36° 30' line as the dividing line between slave and free states in the former Louisiana Purchase land

    Continent of Antarctica discovered

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882
  21. 1821

    Songs of America

    "Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos," sung by Rev. Moses "Clear Rock" Platt. A work song recorded at Hotel Blazilmar, Taylor, Williamson County, Texas by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, May 10, 1939.

    In the News

    Stephen F. Austin initiates the settlement of a colony on the Brazos River in Texas. In the 1820s, he is credited with first growing sugar cane in Texas.

    Mexico gains independence from Spain

    Emma Willard founds the Troy Female Seminary, a women's school in New York that will later become first women's college.

    Liberia founded in West Africa as a colony for former African-American slaves and other immigrants.

  22. 1822

    In the News

    Denmark Vesey slave rebellion in South Carolina thwarted by informer

  23. 1823

    Songs of America

    Anthony Philip Heinrich writes The Sylviad, or Minstrelsy of Nature in the Wilds of North America


    Beethoven composes his Ninth Symphony

    Schubert composes Die Schöne Müllerin

    James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers is published

    "Home Sweet Home" debuts in London

    "A Visit from St. Nicholas" appeared anonymously in the Troy Sentinel; will be better known as "The Night Before Christmas"

    In the News

    Monroe Doctrine issued in President Monroe's annual message to Congress, declaring the Americas closed to colonization and foreign intervention

    The Monroe Doctrine
  24. 1824

    In the News

    Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced American System promoting ideas including internal improvements and protective tariffs for American products

    The Marquis de Lafayette arrives for a year-long American tour

    Marquis de Lafayette
  25. 1825

    Songs of America

    The completion of the Erie Canal, in October, will lead to many songs, including "Low Bridge" and "The E-Ri-E Canal."

    "Take a Trip on the Canal" and "Let's Pump Out Lake Erie," composed and sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye. Two humorous songs about life on the Ohio and Erie Canal. Many more verses of "Take a Trip on the Canal" are available in the collection. Recorded by Ivan Walton in Akron, Ohio, September 22, 1938.

    "The Old Skipper," sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye. Recorded by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in Akron, Ohio, November 3, 1937.

    "Jesucristo me acompañe" (May Jesus Christ Accompany Me), sung in Spanish by Esequiel Arellano. A song from a passion play. Recorded by Juan B. Rael in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, July 30, 1940.


    Thomas Cole's work launches the Hudson River School of landscape painting

    Following Mexican independence, priests and missionaries of the Catholic Church withdraw from western Spanish provinces of what will become the southwestern U.S. in 1848, leaving rural people to develop their own worship, stemming from ancient traditions.

    In the News

    John Quincy Adams inaugurated as sixth President of the U.S. after disputed election against Andrew Jackson decided by the House of Representatives. Jackson supporters will claim a "corrupt bargain" was made between Adams and Henry Clay.

    The Erie Canal is opened to shipping.

    Robert Dale Owen founded utopian New Harmony settlement in Indiana

  26. 1826

    Songs of America

    'Araby's Daughter' words by Thomas Moore and music by George Kiallmark is published by James L. Hewitt in Boston [ca. 1826.]. The words are derived from "The Fire-Worshippers," the third of the four tales that comprise Moore's Lalla Rookh, published in London, 1817. The music was adapted later to Samuel Woodworth's poem "The Old Oaken Bucket."


    James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans is published

    In the News

    Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both die on July 4; the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence

    The Last of the Mohicans
  27. 1827

    Songs of America

    American minstrel performer George Washington Dixon popularizes his song "Long Tail Blue", the first song of the black dandy


    Schubert composes his song cycle Winterreise

    In the News

    Baltimore and Ohio Railroad chartered

    Long tail blue
  28. 1828

    Songs of America

    Opera singer Charles E. Horn (1786-1849) composes his Ode to Washington


    Noah Webster's monumental American Dictionary of the English Language is published

    John James Audubon's first volume of Birds in America is published

    In the News

    "Tariff of Abominations" passed by Congress; opposed by Southerners who felt that tariff benefitted Northern manufacturers

    Cherokee in northern Georgia publish Cherokee Phoenix newspaper

    Summer red bird. Tanager
  29. 1829

    Songs of America

    The hymn tune "New Britain" is published in the shape-note tunebook Columbian Harmony; the melody becomes paired with the text of "Amazing Grace"

    "Amazing Grace," a hymn sung by Jesse Allison, Vera Hall, and Dock Reed. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax in Livingston, Sumter County, Alabama May 26, 1939.

    American minstrel performer George Washington Dixon popularizes his song "Coal Black Rose," the first blackface comic lovesong

    In the News

    Andrew Jackson is inaugurated in March as seventh President of the U.S.

    Tremont Hotel, the first modern hotel in the U.S., opens in Boston

    Louis Braille publishes first book using the Braille System for the blind

    Crowd at White House during inaugural celebration for Andrew Jackson
    Braille Reading Room
  30. 1830

    Songs of America

    "Half-Breed Song," performed at the 1983 Omaha pow-wow. Recorded by Carl Fleischhauer, in Macy, Nebraska, August 13, 1983. According to Rufus White, this was composed by Louis Saunsoci. AFC 1986/038: 0446.


    Godey's Lady's Book begins publication

    In the News

    Mormon Church officially established

    Webster's reply to Hayne delivered in Congress

    Jackson signs Indian Removal Act, forcing American Indian tribes in the eastern U.S. tpo move West of the Mississippi River

    The Nemaha Half-Breed Reservation is established in Nebraska for people with Indian and European heritage. During this era, "half-breed tracts" are set aside in several states in order to assimilate descendants of mixed backgrounds into American society. This reservation participated in the Underground Railroad.

    Wester's reply to Hayne
  31. 1831

    Songs of America

    "Home in the Rock," a spiritual sung by Vera Hall, May 27, 1939. The singer says that she learned it from her mother. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax in Livingston, Sumter County, Alabama, May 27, 1939.


    Vincenzo Bellini composes Norma

    Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris is published

    After Nat Turner's rebellion there is a more widespread effort to convert slaves to Christianity, but with white ministers. Slaves continue to develop their own religious expressions as "bush" or "camp" meetings in secret.

    In the News

    William Lloyd Garrison founds the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator

    Nat Turner leads a rebellion of slaves in Southampton County, Virginia; he is executed

    Secretary of War John Eaton, resigns as a result of cabinet crisis triggered by social snub of his wife, Peggy O'Neal Eaton, by other cabinet wives.

    Norma, op. 463, no. 13 / Bellini [notated music]
  32. 1832

    Songs of America

    The America (My Country 'Tis of Thee) with words by Samuel Francis Smith set to the tune "God Save the King" is published in Lowell Mason's collection The Choir, or, Union Collection of Church Music.

    In the News

    The Oregon Trail emerges as primary route for settlers of the West

    Jackson vetoes rechartering of Bank of the United States, leading to a "bank war"

    Nullification Crisis with South Carolina over implementation of the 'Tariff of Abominations'

    Black Hawk War with Indians in northern Illinois

    Black Hawk War
  33. 1833

    Songs of America

    English poet and lyricist Thomas H. Bayley composes "Long, long ago," which is published in Philadelphia in 1844 and becomes one of the most popular songs in 19th-century America


    New York Sun, the first penny newspaper, begins publication

    In the News

    American Anti-Slavery Society is founded in Philadelphia

    Oberlin College in Ohio is the first to admit women alongside men, and the first to admit Blacks

    Great Britain abolishes slavery in her colonies

    Jackson orders removal of government funds from the Bank of the United States to "pet banks"

  34. 1834

    Songs of America

    Minstrel singer George Washington Dixon's tune "Zip Coon" becomes popular, and in 1861, Dan Bryant writes lyrics of "Turkey in the Straw" to that tune


    The Stuttgart Congress of Physicists decides on 440 Hz as the tone "A" in treble clef

    Southern Literary Messenger begins publication in Richmond, Virginia

    In the News

    Whig Party formed in opposition to Andrew Jackson

    Cyrus McCormick patents his mechanical reaper for harvesting grain

    Historian George Bancroft's History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent is published

    Zip coon
  35. 1835

    Songs of America

    'Amazing Grace' is published with the hymn tune 'New Britain' in William Walker's shape-note tunebook Southern Harmony

    [Song about the departure of Seminole Indians from Florida for Oklahoma], sung by Katie Smith and Courtney Roberts. The recording quality is extremely poor, though the melody can be heard. Additional Seminole recordings are available from this collection. Recorded in Florida in 1940 by Corita Doggett Corse and Robert Cornwall.


    Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America is published

    In the News

    Under the Indian Removal Act (1830) and the Treaty of Payne's Landing, the U.S. Government orders the Seminole Indians removed from Florida to western territories in 1835. The Seminole fight back in the Second Seminole War (1835-43), and though many remain, many are relocated in Oklahoma.

    Radical wing of Democratic Party gain nickname "locofocos" after using this type of match to illuminate a meeting

    The Southern harmony
  36. 1836


    Ralph Waldo Emerson's first essay, Nature, an early landmark of American Transcendentalism, is published

    William Holmes McGuffey's First and Second Readers are published. His series of graded primers were the most widely used textbooks in American schools, selling an estimated 120 million copies between 1836 and 1960.

    In the News

    Battle of the Alamo, in which Anglo-Texan and Tejano defenders were decimated by Mexican troops under General Santa Anna

    Texas achieves independence from Mexico; Sam Houston becomes first President

    The Arkansas territory becomes a state, June 15, 1836.

    House of Representatives institutes a "gag rule" forbidding the introduction of anti-slavery petitions

    Jackson issues the Specie Circular; government lands must be purchased with gold or silver, not paper money.

    Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1870), is born
  37. 1837

    Songs of America

    Henry Russell composes "Woodman, Spare that Tree," which sets the text of George Pope Morris and is considered by many to be the first environmental protest song in American history


    Charles Dickens publishes Oliver Twist

    First daguerreotype

    In the News

    Martin Van Buren inaugurated as eighth President of the U.S.

    Queen Victoria crowned queen in Great Britain

    Financial Panic of 1837 begins

    Abolitionist editor Elijah Lovejoy murdered by a mob in Illinois

    John Deere begins farm machinery company

    Horace Mann becomes secretary of Massachusetts Board of Education; his ideas of public education adopted in other states

    Oliver Twist
  38. 1838

    In the News

    Government-sponsored Wilkes expedition leaves to explore the Pacific Ocean

    "Trail of Tears," the removal of Cherokee to west of the Mississippi River begins

  39. 1839

    In the News

    The U.S. and Canada come close to war in 1839 in a dispute over lumbering by Canadians in lands claimed by Maine. The "Aroostook War" is settled peacefully, and the border between New Brunswick and Maine is permanently established in 1842.

    Aroostook War
  40. 1840

    In the News

    Liberty Party formed by abolitionists

    William Henry Harrison run by Whig Party on a "log cabin and hard cider" campaign, with running mate John Tyler ("Tippecanoe and Tyler too")

    Harrison and Tyler campaign emblem
  41. 1841

    Songs of America

    Richard Storrs Willis is the first American to study music in Germany; in the next decades this will become a frequent path for American composers. Willis will return to the United States in 1847 and become an important music critic


    Ralph Waldo Emerson's first series of essays is published

    Richard Henry Dana publishes Two Years Before the Mast

    In the News

    First Whig president William Henry Harrison catches cold at his inauguration as ninth President of the U.S. and dies a month later; John Tyler succeeds him as the tenth president

    John Quincy Adams argues before the Supreme Court for the Amistad slave mutineers and they are freed

    Anthem of liberty / Richard Storrs Willis [notated music]
  42. 1842

    In the News

    P.T. Barnum opens museum in New York City

  43. 1843

    In the News

    B'nai B'rith organized in New York City

  44. 1844

    Songs of America

    Stephen Foster (1826-1864) composes his first song: 'Open Thy Lattice, Love,' setting to musing a poem by George Pope Morris

    Benjamin Franklin White's (1800-1879) The Sacred Harp is published (PDF at MSU)

    "Stolen Souls from Africa," performed by Mike Seeger at the Library of Congress, March 16, 2007. This is a version of "The Song of the Coffle Gang," from oral tradition.

    Marion Dix Sullivan's song "The Blue Juniata" is published. It becomes the first commercial hit in America written by a woman.

    "Jubilee," sung by the Sacred Harp Singers (an African American Sacred Harp group, possibly from Dothan, Tennessee). Recorded by John Wesley Work, III, September 1938.


    Photographer Mathew Brady opens his portrait studio in New York

    Alexander Dumas, pére's Three Musketeers is published

    The Sacred Harp is first published, providing "shaped notes" to facilitate hymn and psalm singing for people who cannot read music

    The Liberty Minstrel, by George W. Clark is published by Leavitt and Alden in New York. The volume of Abolitionist songs includes "The Song of the Coffle Gang," which is not only reprinted several times but enters oral tradition. The melody is by Clark. Though the publication attributes the words of the song to the slaves forced to march chained together, it seems more likely that they were written by an abolitionist.

    In the News

    Samuel F. B. Morse sends the first telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?" from Washington, DC to Baltimore

    The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is founded in London

    Democrat James K. Polk elected eleventh president on openly expansionist platform

    Stephen Foster
  45. 1845

    Songs of America

    Stephen Foster hears Negro singing and minstrel shows in Cincinnati.

    "Samson," by Sylvester "Deacon" Johnson. An example of an African American spiritual that uses a biblical story to express anger about bondage. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, New Zion Baptist Church, Knight Post Office, Vernon Parish, Louisiana, May 17, 1939.


    Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and Other Poems is published

    William Henry Fry’s opera Leonora is the first grand opera by an American composer.

    George F. Bristow composes Symphony no. 1 in E flat Major, op. 3

    Author Henry David Thoreau moves to a cabin at Walden Pond near Concorrd, Massachusetts to live for two years.

    Frederick Douglass's autobiography, Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, is published

    In the News

    Republic of Texas votes to join U.S. and becomes 28th state

    Great Famine, which lasts through 1852, spurs immigration from Ireland

    First use of the term 'Manifest Destiny' to describe belief in America's fate to spread its borders and cultural influence throughout North America

    Act of Congress sets the Tuesday after the first Monday in November as national presidential Election Day

    Naval Academy opens in Annapolis, Maryland

    Walden Pond
  46. 1846

    In the News

    Mexican War (1846-1848) begins between the United States and Mexico

    California declares independence; briefly the Bear Flag Republic

    Wilmot Proviso introduced in Congress to forbid introduction of slavery in territory secured from Mexico; never becomes a law

    Smithsonian Institution chartered

    Elias Howe patents the sewing machine

    Bear Flag
    Smithsonian Institution
  47. 1847

    Songs of America

    Stephen Foster has his first big hit with "Oh! Susanna!"

    The first publication in America of a song by German composer Franz Schubert.

    'The Handcart Song,' a song of the Mormon pioneers, sung by L.M. Hilton, of Ogden, Utah. Recorded by Austin Fife in 1946.


    Anthony Philip Heinrich composes his symphonic work The Ornithological Combat of Kings, or The Condor of the Andes and the Eagle of the Cordilleras

    In the News

    Pre-paid postage stamps introduced

    Stamped envelope
  48. 1848

    Songs of America

    "Clementine," a traditional song sung by John McCready. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Groveland, California, 1939.

    "Iruten har nuzu" [I am making wool], sung in Euskara (Basque language) by Mrs. Francisco Etcheverry. A work song for spinning wool thread. Basque music from the Spanish Navarre.

    Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Fresno, California Basque sheep herder in Idaho on September 11, 1940.

    Amuma Says No: Traditional and Contemporary Basque Music from Idaho, performed at the Library of Congress, July 14, 2010. [webcast]

    "Atotonilco," a song performed in Spanish by Olive Flores (lead singer), Frank Cunha, and Joachim Flores. The performers are Hispanic Californians. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Oakland, California on April 12, 1939.

    "Ket hold foldje" (Two acres of land), sung in Hungarian language by Mary Gaidos. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Oakland, California on January 3, 1940.

    "Caminito" [The little road], sung in Spanish and played on guitar by Julio Gomez. Gomez is a Hispanic Californian. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Carmel, California on February 18, 1939.

    "The Texas Ranger," sung by E. A. Briggs. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax near Medina, Bandera County, Texas, May 5, 1939.


    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Communist Manifesto is published

    In the News

    Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California.

    A wave of immigrants from Hungary arrive in the U.S. as they flee from retribution by Austrian authorities after the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

    Basques migrate to the western U.S. in a wave that peaks in 1860. Traditional sheep herders, they sometimes came in conflict with cattle ranchers competing for the same grazing lands.

    The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed. Western lands of what are now California, New Mexico, and Nevada are annexed to the U.S. following the Mexican War. Mexican nationals living in those territories are promised that they will become citizens "at the proper time."

    Texas's frontier police, the Texas Rangers, are largely disbanded after the Mexican War. The Rangers are then recommissioned following the Civil War.

    Cornerstone of Washington Monument laid in Washington, D.C. on July 4

    Declaration of Sentiments for Women's Rights produced by convention at Seneca Falls, New York

    Free Soil Party organized

    Basque sheep herder in Idaho
    Discoverer of gold, at Sutter's Mill
  49. 1849

    Songs of America

    "The Days of Forty-Nine," sung by Leon Ponce. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Groveland, California, 1939.

    Stephen Foster composes "Nelly Was a Lady," "Nelly Bly," "Summer Longings," and "My Brudder Gum."

    "Sweet Betsy from Pike," by John A. Stone, dates from the era of the '49s Gold Rush. It is performed on guitar by Zelmer Ward.

    "Bound for the Promised Land," sung by Sylvester "Deacon" Johnson and the New Zion Baptist Church Congregation, Vernon Parish, Louisiana, May 17, 1939. This is a different version of the spiritual than that Sarah Bradford reports Harriet Tubman sang for her. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, May 17, 1939.


    Henry David Thoreau writes his essay Civil Disobedience

    Elizabeth Blackwell is the first woman in American to receive a medical degree

    Amelia Bloomer begins publication of The Lily

    In the News

    Zachary Taylor inaugurated as twelfth President of the U.S.

    California Gold Rush begins

    Harriet Tubman escapes slavery in Maryland and walks north to Philadelphia. She returns to rescue members of her family.

    The First Woman Physician