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Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  1. 1850

    Songs of America

    Stephen Foster composes 'The Voice of Bygone Days', 'Molly, Do You Love Me?', and 'Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!'

    'Go Down Moses,' a spiritual sung by the Tuskegee Institute Singers, 1914.

    Harriet Tubman reported using this song to identify herself to slaves that might want to escape and flee north with her by singing it in a neighboring field to where the slaves were working.

    'The Farmer's Curst Wife,' an Irish version of this ballad, sung by Asa Davis of Vermont, one of three performers at a lecture and concert entitled 'New England Balladry,' presented by Helen Hartness Flanders at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on February 27, 1948.

    'Aa kjore vatten, aa kjore ve' (Hauling water and hauling wood), sung in Norwegian by Alf Nilsson. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Carmel, California on February 18, 1939.


    Ralph Waldo Emerson's Representative Men is published

    Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is published

    Neo-Gothic architecture in vogue

    In the News

    Zachary Taylor dies and Millard Fillmore succeeds him as thirteenth President of the U.S.

    Compromise of 1850 attempted to resolve disputes over slavery and territory gained by the U.S. as a result of the Mexican War. Began as single omnibus bill introduced by Henry Clay, but passed as individual bills under leadership of Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois

    The Fugitive Slave Act toughens the earlier Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 to place responsibility of capturing escaped slaves on authorities in free states to which slaves had fled.

    Several years of famine in Ireland caused by potato blight send a wave of immigrants to the U.S., peaking in 1850.

    As Great Britain permits Norwegian ships access to Canadian ports, Norwegian settlers immigrate to Quebec on ships that then carry lumber back to Norway. Many of these pioneers later settle in the western U.S.

    "Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway" [sheet music]
    Nathaniel Hawthorne
  2. 1851

    Songs of America

    Stephen Foster sets to music Charles G. Eastman's 'Sweetly She Sleeps' as well as "Old Folks at Home", also known as "Way Down Upon the Swanee River," the latter eventually becomes the state song of Florida.

    'Whaling Song,' sung by James Gibbs, Nantucket, Massachusetts, August 23, 1934. The singer was born in 1850 and reports that he learned this song as a child. He worked on whaling ships in his youth. Recorded by Miles L. Hanley and Robert L. Stone.


    Herman Melville's Moby Dick is published during a period when the U.S. whaling industry is at its peak.

    New York Times begins publication

    In the News

    First American YMCA opens in Boston

    Fire at the Library of Congress burns 30,000 books; library still housed in the U.S. Capitol

    Swanee River
  3. 1852


    Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is published in book format

    In the News

    Young America Movement in the Democratic Party

  4. 1853

    Songs of America

    Stephen Foster composes "My Old Kentucky Home"


    William Wells Brown's Clotel is published in London, the first novel published by an African-American

    In the News

    Franklin Pierce is inaugurated as fourteenth President of the U.S.

    Otis introduces the safety elevator

    "My Old Kentucky Home" [sheet music]
  5. 1854

    Songs of America

    Stephen Foster composes "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair"

    "Few Days," by George Morris (1854), is a song of the isolationist Know Nothing Party.

    "Thoughts for Americans," by J. M. Russell (1856) is a song for those opposed to the Know Nothing movement.


    Henry David Thoreau's Walden is published

    Charles Dickens Hard Times is published

    Boston Public Library and New York's Astor Library open

    In the News

    Republican Party founded in Wisconsin

    Kansas-Nebraska Act splits Nebraska Territory into two new territories, and allows residents to decide the issue of slavery by "popular sovereignty"

    Matthew Perry's treaty with Japan opens trade

    American Party formed in New York, better known by nickname of Know-Nothing Party

    Crimean War (1854-1856)

    The Ashmun Institute, the first college founded solely for African-Americans, is chartered

  6. 1855

    In the News

    Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass is published

    Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper first published

  7. 1856

    Songs of America

    "The Handcart Song," a song of the Mormon pioneers sung by L. M. Hilton. Recorded by Austin Fife in Ogden, Utah, 1952.

    In the News

    The Handcart Migration of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints set for the Salt Lake Valley, in what is now Utah.

    Sack of Lawrence, Kansas by proslavery forces; "Bleeding Kansas" begins

    Caning of Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts by Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina, after Brooks felt that Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" speech had insulted Brooks' relative Senator Andrew Butler

    Republican Party runs John C. Frémont as its first presidential candidate

    Western Union telegraph company formed

    The first presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints
  8. 1857

    Songs of America

    George F. Root (1820-1895) composes The Haymakers, an American secular cantata. The music and libretto were written by Root, who had worked his father's farm as a boy. Root's authentic depiction of farm life led to the initial success of the work.


    Opening of Philadelphia's Academy of Music – the oldest grand opera house in the United States still used for its original purpose

    Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal is published

    Harper's Weekly first published

    In the News

    James Buchanan is inaugurated fifteenth President of the U.S.

    Dred Scott decision by Supreme Court, ruling that African Americans are not citizens of the United States, and that the slave Dred Scott did not become free when his master took him north of the Missouri Compromise line.

    Financial "Panic of 1857"

    Pullman Company makes first railroad sleeping cars

    American Academy of Music
  9. 1858


    Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux win competition to design Central Park in New York City

    In the News

    Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina declares 'Cotton is King'

    Lincoln-Douglas debates during U.S. Senate in Illinois

    Debates over Lecompton Constitution and status of slavery in Kansas

    Senator William H. Seward of New York introduces the phrase 'irrepressible conflict' into the debate over slavery

  10. 1859

    Songs of America

    Daniel Decatur Emmett composes 'Dixie,' possibly with the help of the Snowden Family, a popular African-American musical group. It is published the following year under the title 'I Wish I was in Dixie's Land' by Firth, Pond and Co. in New York.

    "Glory Hallelujah! or the The John Brown Song"

    Harrison Millard composes his first hit song, "Viva La America"


    Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King is published

    Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species is published

    In the News

    Abolitionist John Brown stages raid on Harpers Ferry, (then) Virginia to free slaves; he is hanged

    Oregon becomes 33rd state

    Oil discovered near Titusville, Pennsylvania

    Comstock Lode of Silver discovered in Nevada

    "Dixie War Song" [sheet music]
  11. 1860

    Songs of America

    Lowell Mason's The Sabbath Hymn and Tune Book is published


    Jacob Burckhardt's The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy is published

    Frederic Edwin Church paints Twilight in the Wilderness

    Dime novels first published

    In the News

    Pony Express begins service between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California

    South Carolina secedes from the United States following Abraham Lincoln's election as president in November

    Garibaldi proclaims unified Italy

    The overland pony express
  12. 1861

    Songs of America

    George F. Root composes the popular song The Vacant Chair.

    Henry Clay Work's collection Songs is published. It includes 'Beautiful Rose,' 'Brave Boys Are They,' 'Lost on the Lady Elgin,' 'Nellie Lost and Found,' 'Our Captain's Last Words,' and 'Little Hallie.'

    The song 'Aura Lee' is written by W. W. Fosdick and George R. Poulton; the melody will become the tune of Elvis Presley's 'Love Me Tender.'

    'La Chinaca,' sung in Spanish by Manuela Longoria. Recorded by John Avery Lomax, April 24, 1939, Brownsville, Texas. A Confederate Civil War Song.

    'Jesus Leads Me All the Way,' a spiritual sung with stamping and clapping by Reverend Goodwin and the Zion Methodist Church congregation. Because slaves were forbidden to use drums, a singing style with stomping and clapping developed on the southern coast in Gullah communities. When accompanied by a shuffling movement of singers in a circle while others beat time, this is called a ring shout. Recorded by Henrietta Yurchenco on John's Island, South Carolina, March 29, 1970.


    Former slave Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is published

    Charles Dickens's Great Expectations is published

    In the News

    Confederate States of America established in Montgomery, Alabama

    Abraham Lincoln inaugurated as sixteenth President of the U.S.

    Confederate troops bombard the Union held Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina on April 12, 1861, which the begins the Civil War.

    Runaway slaves first termed "contraband of war"

    U.S. Sanitary Commission formed to supplement government efforts for the care of Union soldiers

    Battle of First Bull Run at Manassas, Virginia

    First national income tax instituted

    Union forces arrive on the Georgia Sea Islands, where the Gullah-speaking slaves have been abandoned by plantation owners. Many will join the Union Army.

    First transcontinental telegraph message transmitted

    International diplomatic crisis arises over the Trent Affair after Union Captain Charles Wilkes intercepts two Confederate diplomats traveling on a British ship

    George McClellan named general-in-chief of the Union Army; holds position until 1862

    George Frederick Root
  13. 1862

    Songs of America

    'Starving to Death on a Government Claim,' sung by folklorist Vance Randolph. Randolph, who was born in Pittsburg, Kansas, sings a version of the song set in Kansas. Other versions are set in other western states. Recorded by Vance Randolph in 1941.

    Union anthems include 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' by Julia Ward Howe (set to the tune of "John Brown's Body") and Stephen Foster's 'Was My Brother in the Battle?' and 'That's What's the Matter.'

    German-born pianist Theodore La Hache (1822-1869) composes "The Volunteer's Farewell"

    George F. Root composes numerous songs depicting the Civil War experience, including 'The Battle Cry of Freedom' and 'Just Before the Battle, Mother."

    'The Battle of Antietam Creek,' ballad sung by Warde Ford of Wisconsin. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Central Valley, California on December 26, 1938. The WPA California Folk Music Project Collection: AFC 1940/001: AFS 4213 A.

    'The Last Fierce Charge' [Alternate title: 'The Battle of Fredericksburg'], ballad sung by Warde Ford. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Boomtown, California on September 4, 1939.

    'The Cumberland's Crew,' ballad sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye. Recorded by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in Akron, Ohio, November 3, 1937.

    'The Iron Merrimac,' a ballad sung by Judge Learned Hand of Essex County, New York. Recorded by Arthur Semmig and John Langenegger at the Library of Congress, October 3, 1942.

    'Diamond Jo,' sung by Charlie Butler. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, State Penitentiary, Camp #1; Stockade Hall, Parchman, Sunflower County, Mississippi, May 24, 1939.


    Walt Whitman goes to the Civil War front in search of his brother George, reported to have been wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia

    Matthew Brady creates exhibit of Civil War battlefield photography in New York

    In the News

    The Union Navy ironclad USS Monitor engaged the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia (a ship formerly named the USS Merrimack, and commonly called by its original name) in the world's first battle between two ironclad steam ships at the Battle of Hampton Roads near Newport News, Virginia on March 9.

    Battle of Shiloh (or Pittsburgh Landing) is fought in southwestern Tennessee, April 6-7.

    Slavery is abolished in the District of Columbia

    Peninsula Campaign in Virginia

    Robert E. Lee takes command of the Army of Northern Virginia

    The U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act of 1862, which gave up to 160 acres of public land to applicants who agreed to make improvements and live on the property for five years.

    Pacific Railway Act authorized Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads to complete the first transcontinental railroad

    Morrill Land Grant College Act

    The Second Battle of Bull Run is fought in Virginia, August 28-30.

    U.S.- Dakota War in Minnesota (August-December)

    September 17, the Battle of Antietam, also called the Battle of Sharpsburg, is the bloodiest single-day battle in U.S. history.

    Abraham Lincoln issues preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22

    Union forces are defeated at Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 11-15, 1862.

    Richard Gatling patents the Gatling Gun

    Joseph 'Diamond Jo' Reynolds builds his first steamboat, the Lansing and begins his shipping career on the upper Mississippi. By the 1870s he establishes a successful fleet of steamboats, including the Diamond Jo, named for himself.

    The Second Battle of Bull Run is fought in Virginia, August 28-30.

    Bismarck appointed Premier of Prussia

    Battle of Antietam
    Walt Whitman
  14. 1863

    Songs of America

    John Hill Hewitt (1801-1890), son of composer James Hewitt, composes 'All Quiet along the Potomac Tonight'.

    Stephen Foster composes the comic song "My Wife is a Most Knowing Woman"

    American piano virtuoso Louis Moreau Gottschalk composes the lullaby 'Slumber on Baby Dear.'

    Bandleader Patrick S. Gilmore (1829-1892) composes "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." It first appeared as part of "The Soldier's Return March."

    Professional singer and Union Army soldier Walter Kittredge composes "Tenting on the Old Campground"

    'Kingdom Coming,' spoken, sung, and played on a drum by Wallace Quarterman (former slave). Zora Neale Hurston asks Quarterman what he did when he was told he was free. He describes the scene in Gullah dialect, then sings the refrain of the hymn the freed slaves sang. Recorded by Alan Lomax. Zora Neale Hurston, and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle on Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, Georgia, June 1935.


    Édouard Manet paints Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe

    Albert Bierstadt begins to paint the American West

    In the News

    Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in areas still in rebellion; opens military service to African Americans.

    Union draft enacted; New York City will see draft riots in July

    54th Massachusetts Infantry organized in Boston

    First Medal of Honor awarded

    Union defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville; death of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson

    West Virginia becomes 35th state

    Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania

    Vicksburg, Mississippi falls to Union forces

    Quantrill's raid in Kansas

    Battle of Chickamauga

    Lincoln gives Gettysburg Address at dedication of cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

    Lincoln proclaims the last Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day

    Zora Neale Hurston
    Emancipation Proclamation
  15. 1864

    Songs of America

    George F. Root's Union song 'Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!' is published.

    Hymnodist, Robert Lowry writes "Shall We Gather at the River", which has been famously adapted by many American song composers including Aaron Copland and Charles Ives.


    Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth is published

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Enoch Arden" is published

    Francis O'Neill emigrates from Ireland to Illinois by working as a cabin boy on an English merchant ship. He later becomes Chief of Police in Chicago and an important collector of traditional instrumental music from other immigrants who came to the U.S. during the years of the Great Potato Famine. 'Scotch Mary' performed on ullieann pipes by Patrick James Touhey. Recorded by Francis O'Neill, Chicago, c.a. 1904. Dunn Family Collection: AFC 2005/001: 1A.

    In the News

    The notorious Confederate Andersonville prison opens in Georgia

    Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president

    Ulysses S. Grant appointed lieutenant general and given overall command of the Union army

    Overland Campaign and siege of Petersburg in Virginia

    Confederate General Jubal Early threatens Washington, D.C.; President Lincoln comes under fire when visiting Fort Stevens

    William Tecumseh Sherman's Atlanta Campaign in Georgia

    Wade-Davis Bill for reconstruction

    U.S. Rear Admiral David Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay, Alabama

    Union General Philip Sheridan's campaign of destruction in the Shenandoah Valley

    Atlanta falls to Union forces

    Sherman's "march to the sea" takes place in Georgia, reaches Savannah by Christmas

    Sherman's march to the sea [sheet music]
  16. 1865

    Songs of America

    Henry Clay Work's Civil War anthem 'Marching Through Georgia' is published.

    The anonymous hymns 'Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen' and 'Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?' are published in African American hymnals.

    'Booth Killed Lincoln,' sung by folksong collector Bascom Lamar Lunsford of North Carolina. Recorded by Duncan Emrich at the Library of Congress, March, 1949.

    The spiritual 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' is collected in a hymnal by John W. Work.

    'Ef I Git up in de Mornin',' mule driving song sung by Robert Wilson. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, Cummins State Farm, Camp #9, near Arkansas City, Desha County, Arkansas.


    Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

    Richard Wagner premieres his operatic masterwork Tristan und Isolde

    Mark Twain publishes 'The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County'

    Walt Whitman publishes Drum-Taps

    General William Booth founds Salvation Army – part of the second wave of revivalist Great Awakening – (link to "General William Booth song")

    In the News

    General Sherman's Special Field Orders, No. 15 January 16, 1865, confiscated land in the south east to be given in forty acre parcels to former slaves. Mules from the army were also given to some of the settlers, giving rise to the phrase 'Forty acres and a mule.'

    Freedmen's Bureau formed

    General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysees S. Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, essentially ending the Civil War.

    Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre. He is succeeded by Andrew Johnson

    Reconstruction begins

    13th Amendment abolishes slavery

    Ku Klux Klan is formed by six ex-Confederate soldiers

    Illustration from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  17. 1866

    Songs of America

    Theodore La Hache writes "The Conquered Banner." The song was written in tribute to the flag of the Confederate States of America.


    Leo Tolstoy publishes War and Peace

    In the News

    Alfred Nobel invents dynamite

    The Seven Weeks War is fought between Prussia and Austria

    Civil Rights Act passed

    Andrew Johnson's 'swing around the circle' tour

    Leo Tolstoy
  18. 1867

    Songs of America

    Joseph Philbrick Webster writes the popular gospel song In the Sweet By and By.

    Horatio Richmond Palmer's hymn collection The Song Queen is published and sells over 200,000 copies.

    'Old Chisholm Trail,' sung by Frank Goodwin. A cowboy song about the trail used to drive cattle from Texas to Kansas. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, Galeanaz Tourist Camp, Falfurrias, Brooks County, Texas, April 30, 1939.

    'La Vaquilla Colorada,' (The Red Heifer) sung in Spanish by Francisco Leal, guitar and Agapito Salinas, guitar, May 2, 1939. A song about cowboy life. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, Kingsville, Kleberg County, Texas, May 2, 1939.

    'Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham,' sung by Deacon Sam Jackson and the choir of Oak Grove Missionary Church, Peach County, Georgia. Spiritual recorded by John Wesley Work, III, 1941.


    Walt Whitman's fourth edition of Leaves of Grass is published

    Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt is published

    Henry Robyn's A Thorough Description of the Braille System for Reading and Writing Music is published

    The first collection of African American songs is published: Slave Songs of the United States, New York: A. Simpson and Co., 1867, compiled by William Francis Allen, Charles Pickford Ware, and Lucy McKim Garrison comprised of spirituals collected in southern states. The full text is available in the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill presentation The Church in the Southern Black Community, winner of The Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition.

    In the News

    In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas, encouraging ranchers in Texas to drive cattle along a route marked earlier by trader Jesse Chisholm. This became known as "the Chisholm Trail."

    On August 1, 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000. It will be nicknamed "Seward's Folly"

    Congressional Reconstruction Acts institute military rule over former Confederate states not yet readmitted to the union

    The Grange organized to promote the interests of farmers

    A cowboy
  19. 1868

    Songs of America

    Composer and organist Dudley Buck publishes his first song "Where are the Swallow Fled?" (Text by Adelaide Proctor).

    Charles E. Pratt and W. H. Lingard write the popular song "Walking Down Broadway" about the vibrancy of New York life in the mid-19th-century.

    'Riding on the Elevated Railroad,' sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye. This song was composed by Sam Devere and published in 1885. Recorded by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax, November 3, 1937 in Akron, Ohio.

    'Tom Dooley,' a ballad about the execution of Tom Dula, sung by Frank Proffitt, Sr. Recorded by Frank Warner in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, 1940.


    Johannes Brahms composes Ein deutsches Requiem: op. 45

    Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is published

    Horatio Alger's first Ragged Dick novel is published

    In the News

    Andrew Johnson is impeached by the House of Representatives but not convicted at trial

    14th Amendment ratified: defines citizenship

    Eight-hour day instituted for government employees

    The first elevated railway is built in New York City, the West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway.

    Tom Dula is convicted and hanged for the murder of Laura Foster in Statesville, North Carolina in 1868. The trial receives national attention.

    Dudley Buck
    Elevated rail road
  20. 1869

    Songs of America

    Henry Clay Work (1832-1884) composes "Crossing the Grand Sierras" and "No Letters from Home".

    Joseph Winner (1837-1918) composes the popular song "Little Brown Jug". Originally a drinking song, an instrumental arrangement became a hit for the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1939.

    'Echo Canyon,' sung by L.M. Hilton. Recorded by Austin Fife in Ogden, Utah, 1946. According to the singer, this song was sung by workers on the Union Pacific Railroad as it was being built to complete the Transcontinental Railroad.

    'The Avondale Mine Disaster,' sung by John J. Quinn. Recorded by George Korson in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.


    Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace is published

    John Frederick Kensett, of the "Hudson River School", paints Lake George

    In the News

    Knights of Labor founded in Philadelphia; would become one of the most diverse trade unions of the 19th century with regard to membership

    Ulysses S. Grant inaugurated as eighteenth President of the U.S.

    A massive fire at the Avondale Colliery in Plymouth, Pennsylvania causes the deaths of over 100 workers, including five boys under 18. An inquest blames the disaster on unsafe conditions. This leads to changes in the state laws concerning mining practices. September 6, 1869

    A 'golden Spike' ceremony is held May 10th at the completion of the first U.S. Transcontinental Railroad, on Promontory Summit, Utah Territory.

    Suez Canal opens in Egypt, uniting the Miditerranean and Red Seas

    East shakes hands with West at laying last rail
    Steamship in Suez Canal
  21. 1870

    Songs of America

    Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876) composes "Hold the Fort"

    Henry Clay Work composes the song "Georgie Sails Away Tomorrow"

    'John Henry,' work song sung by Arthur Bell. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, Cummins State Farm, Camp #5, near Varner, Lincoln County, Arkansas, May 20, 1939.

    'Buffalo Dance Song,' Hethu'shka Society concert. Neptune Plaza, Library of Congress, Washington DC, August 22, 1985.

    'Commentary on a Hethu'shka Song,' Rufus White compares the sound of the drum and of the dancer's feet to the sound of the Buffalo. Omaha song recorded by Alan Jabbour and Laurel McIntire , Macy, Nebraska, July 7, 1999.


    Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is published

    In the News

    John D. Rockefeller formed Standard Oil Company of Ohio

    Women first granted the right to vote in Utah Territory

    15th Amendment ratified; prohibits denial of vote based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"

    First Black member of Congress: Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels of Mississippi

    The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, reformed from the Covington and Ohio Railway in 1869, begins to use steam-powered drills as well as human labor to blast rock and create tunnels through mountains in Virginia and West Virginia in about 1870. This was part of an ambitious project to create rail lines moving coal from the mountains in the east as well as to create extension lines to the south and to the western frontier.

    A market for American bison (buffalo) skins in the 19th century encourages a slaughter of the animals. There is also a U.S. policy to destroy the bison in order to starve the plains tribes into submission. This nearly results in the extinction of the bison.

    "Redemption" begins in several southern states as Reconstruction governments replaced by Democratic administrations

    Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) begins

  22. 1871

    Songs of America

    Henry Clay Work composes songs 'Joy in Heaven! or The Returning Wanderer's Welcome' and 'Take Them Away! They'll Drive Me Crazy.'

    'Old Lang Syne,' sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, recorded by John Wesley Work, III, 1940. Sociologist and folk music collector Lewis Wade Jones is one of the singers.

    'Já Estas Com os Copos' (You're Already Drunk, Don't Drink Any More), sung by Olivete Maria, with Mário Bulhões on guitar. Recorded by Barbara Fertig in Lowell, Massachusetts, November 14, 1987. This is an example of fado, a genre of dance song with roots in Afro-Brazilian music. Fado traveled from Brazil to Portugal, where it became popular in the 1830s. From there it came to the U.S. with immigrants in the mid-1800s.


    Giuseppe Verdi composes his opera Aida

    Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man is published

    The Fisk Jubilee Singers, an a capella African American men's and women's singing group, and the Fisk Jubilee Quartet, a men's group, are organized at Fisk University, Tennessee, in 1871. These groups are the first to introduce African American spirituals to a wider audience.

    Portuguese immigrants, who came to Massachusetts with the whaling industry in the 1850s, find work in the growing textile industry as whaling declines in the 1870s.

    In the News

    Great Chicago Fire burns over 200 acres of Chicago, Illinois

    New York politician Boss Tweed's corruption is exposed by The New York Times

    The Paris Commune,  pro-worker government, briefly governs Paris, France

    Fisk Jubilee Singers
    The great fire at Chicago
  23. 1872

    Songs of America

    Henry Clay Work composes writes "Traveling Homeward," sung to the same music as his popular hit "Marching through Georgia"


    Ivan Turgenev's play A Month in the Country

    George Eliot's Middlemarch is published

    Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass is published

    In the News

    President Ulysses S. Grant is re-elected

    Congress passes the Amnesty Act to pardon most former Confederates

    Yellowstone designated a public park

    Credit Mobilier scandal broke; will damage the reputation of several politicians thought to have accepted bribes to influence railroad construction contracts.

    Henry C. Work: author of "Marching Thro' Georgia."
  24. 1873

    Songs of America

    'Home on the Range,' sung by James Richardson (read the article on 'Home on the Range'). Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax at the State Penitentiary, Raiford, Florida on June 2-5, 1939.


    Jules Verne's  Around the World in Eighty Days is published

    Arthur Rimbaud's Une Saison en Enfer is published

    Dr. Brewster M. Higley of Kansas writes a poem, "My Home in the West" and publishes it in the Smith County Pioneer the following year. Daniel E. Kelly is thought to have set it to music and it enters oral tradition as a standard of the American West. As "Home on the Range," it becomes the Kansas state song in 1947.

    In the News

    The cable car is introduced in San Francisco, California

    Financial panic precipitated by collapse of financial house Jay Cooke and Company

    San Francisco cable car
  25. 1874

    Songs of America

    Philip P. Bliss compiles the collection Gospel Songs for Gospel Meetings

    Chester Allen and Theodore Seward's The Vineyard of Song: Designed for Singing Schools, Institutes, Conventions, Day Schools and Academies is published

    David Braham and Ned Harrigan compose the popular songs "Patrick's Day Parade" and "The Skidmore Guard."

    'Blue Monday,' sung by coal miner Michael F. Barry. The line in the refrain, 'I'll wear the White Ribbon,' refers to the white ribbon of sobriety, the emblem of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Recorded by George Korson, in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, 1940.


    Richard Wagner completes his Ring Cycle

    First exhibition of Impressionism in Paris

    Paul Verlaine's Romances sans Paroles is published

    Ambrose Bierce's Cobwebs from an Empty Skull is published

    Mark Twain and Charles D. Warner's The Gilded Age, the title of which eventually becomes synonymous with late 19th century America is published

    In the News

    Joseph Glidden's deisgn for barbed wire patented; will change life on the Great Plains by fencing in grazing areas and livestock

    Benjamin Disraeli becomes Prime Minister of England

    The Republican elephant first appears in a political cartoon by Thomas Nast in Harper's Weekly

    Chautauqua movement begins in New York, promoting education through programs by lecturers, entertainers, and religious figures, among others

    Women's Christian Temperance Union organized

    Greenback Party established to promote the expansion of paper currency

    Phillip Paul Bliss
  26. 1875

    Songs of America

    'Heimforin til Islands, 1930' (A trip home to Iceland, 1930), sung by Otto Bardarson of Seattle, Washington. The lyrics were composed by the singer. Cowell documented Icelandic immigrants who came to the US via Canada during the late 1800s and their descendants. She notes that Bardarson is of 'Icelandic extraction,' suggesting that he was born in North America. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Carmel, California, January 17, 1939.

    In the News

    A wave of Icelandic immigrants go to Canada and the U.S. to escape harsh weather conditions and an erupting volcano. Some immigrants to Canada later move to the North Midwestern and Pacfic Northwestern U.S.

    Whiskey Ring Scandal comes to light; conspiracy to divert tax revenue implicates a number of political figures, including President Grant's personal secretary Orville Babcock

    First Kentucky Derby run

  27. 1876

    Songs of America

    John Knowles Paine (1839-1906) composes Centennial Hymn, op. 27 , one of three works commissioned for the opening ceremonies of Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exposition, the first world's fair to be held in the United States.

    'Custer's Last Charge,' a ballad sung by Warde Ford, of Wisconsin. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Central Valley, California on December 26, 1938.


    Richard Wagner's Bayreuth Festival opens

    Stéphane Mallarmé's L'Après-midi d'un Faune is published

    Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is published

    Frederick Law Olmsted completes work on New York's Central Park

    At the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, an African American dance called the 'prize walk' or 'cake walk' was performed, with an enormous cake given to the winning couple. This popularized the dance, with subsequent performances at minstrel shows.

    British cornetist Jules Levy records "Yankee Doodle" at a demonstration of the phonograph in New York City. It is thought to be the first musical recording.

    In the News

    Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone

    U.S. Centennial celebrations

    Tilden-Hayes election disputed over election returns from Oregon, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Democratic candidate Tilden won the popular vote but was one vote shy of the minimum electoral college votes needed to win.

    Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer is defeated and killed by a confederation of Cheyenne and Sioux tribes at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana.

    General Custer's death struggle. The battle of the Little Big Horn
  28. 1877

    Songs of America

    Samuel Warren (1841-1915) composes "I Love My Love," setting music to a text by Scottish poet Charles Mackay

    'Sam Bass,' sung by E.A. Briggs, 1939. A ballad about a famous bank robber. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax near Medina, Bandera County, Texas, May 5, 1939.


    Henry James's The American is published

    Thomas Alva Edison, working in his lab, succeeds in recording the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" from a strip of tinfoil wrapped around a spinning cylinder. He patents the first phonograph.

    In the News

    Rutherford B. Hayes inaugurated as nineteenth president after special electorial commission decided contested election in his favor

    Compromise of 1877 formally ends Reconstruction and remaining federal troops are removed from South

    In September, Sam Bass recruits a group of men and holds up a Union Pacific passenger train in Big Springs, Nebraska for $61,300 plus four gold watches, beginning his career as a famous outlaw.

    Great Railroad Strike by railroad workers protesting wage cuts; strike shut down significant railroad traffic and saw violence between strikers and troops sent to end strike

    [Thomas Edison with phonograph]
  29. 1878

    In the News

    Thomas A. Edison receives patent for phonograph

    American Bar Association formed

    Latham Sholes patents QWERTY keyboard typewriter

  30. 1879

    Songs of America

    'The Keeley Cure,' sung by Sam Bell. A humorous take on a popular cure for alcoholism. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Tuolumne County, California on August 1, 1939.

    In the News

    Dr. Leslie Keely establishes an institute in Dwight, Illinois for the treatment of alcoholism. This is an early effort to treat alcoholism as a disease. His popular 'cure' includes injections containing 'bichlorides of gold,' among other questionable ingredients.

    African-American Exodusters begin migration to Kansas

  31. 1880

    Songs of America

    French-born choral conductor and composer Frédéric Louis Ritter (1834-1891) publishes the first setting of a Walt Whitman poem: "Dirge for Two Veterans," a recitation with piano of "The Last Sunbeam."

    'Song of Approach from the Wa'wan,' sung by Francis La Flesche, Sr. (Minxa'ska or White Swan). An Omaha song of fellowship. Recorded by Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, January 18, 1896. Call number AFS 20,324: 7d.

    'Ughniyah li al-Atfal,' a Lebanese lullaby sung in Arabic by Nicholas Debs. Recorded by Robert Cook in Florida, March 10, 1940.


    Auguste Rodin creates a small plaster cast of the sculpture that would be known as The Thinker

    Scholar and son of an Omaha chief, Francis La Flesche collaborates with anthropologist Alice Cunningham Fletcher to document Omaha culture.

    In the News

    U.S. population tops 50,000,000, including 6,000,000 foreign-born

    Wabash, Indiana becomes first city lit by electricity

    A wave of Lebanese Christians immigrates to the eastern U.S. from Ottoman Syria.

    Thomas A. Edison patents incandescent light bulb

    Alice Cunningham Fletcher
  32. 1881

    Songs of America

    'Charles Giteau,' sung by folksong collector Bascom Lamar Lunsford of North Carolina. Recorded by Duncan Emrich, March 1949 in Washington, D.C.

    'Mr. Garfield,' sung and played on the banjo by folksong collector Bascom Lamar Lunsford of North Carolina. Recorded by Duncan Emrich, March 1949 in Washington, D.C.

    Edward MacDowell composes Five Songs, op. 11

    In the News

    Four months after his inauguration as twentieth president, on July 2 President James Garfield is shot in Washington, D.C. by Charles J. Guiteau. Garfield dies on September 19 of conditions related to his injuries. He is succeeded by Chester A. Arthur as twenty-first president

    Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross

    Booker T. Washington founds the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to promote trade education for African-Americans

    Clara Barton
  33. 1882

    Songs of America

    Church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Maderna composes the hymn 'Maderna,' the tune will become 'America, the Beautiful.'

    'Jesse James,' a ballad sung by E.A. Briggs. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax near Medina, Bandera County, Texas, May 5, 1939.

    'Lloyd Bateman,' sung by Mrs. Mary Sullivan. The concluding verse is on a separate recording. An example of an Americanized British ballad. Child ballad #53, 'Young Beichan' or 'Lord Bateman' has become 'Lloyd Bateman,' who comes from 'the coast of Georgia.' Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Shafter FSA Camp, August 4, 1940.

    'Drum Song of Fengyang,' singers unknown. In this traditional Chinese song, a wife complains about her husband and the husband complains about his wife. Recorded in San Francisco, California, by Rulan Chao Pian and Margaret Speaks in August, 1943.


    The first part of Harvard professor Francis James Child's ballad collection, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, completed in 1898, is published. This compilation, which originally came out as ten individual books, or 'parts,' comprising five separate 'volumes,' came to be known as the 'Child ballads,' and was essential to the work of folklorists and ethnomusicologists collecting and studying British ballads wherever in the world they may be found.

    In the News

    Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust becomes a model for industrial monopoly in America

    America's first Labor Day parade, in New York City

    Jesse James, an outlaw and leader of the James-Younger Gang is killed in his home in St. Joseph, Missouri by Robert Ford, who had joined the gang and then shot James for the reward.

    The Chinese Exclusion Act is passed by Congress and signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur, creating a ten-year moratorium on the importation of Chinese laborers. During the gold rush era, Chinese immigrants had been encouraged to come to the western U.S. to work in gold mines and to help build the western railroads. As the majority of Chinese immigrants are young men, and U.S. law forbids intermarriage with Anglo-Americans, this law creates an isolated population. Non-laborers, such as wives and families can immigrate, but it becomes very difficult for them to do so.

    Chinese Exclusion Act
  34. 1883

    Songs of America

    'The Milwaukee Fire,' a ballad about the burning of the Newell House hotel, sung by Robert Walker. Recorded by Robert Draves, August 1941 in Crandon, Wisconsin.

    In the News

    Newell House, a hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, burns at about 4:00 am, January 10, 1883. Seventy-one people are killed. An inquest finds the hotel owners were negligent in that there was only one night watchman and that there were insufficient fire escapes on the building. It remains among the worst hotel fires in U.S. history.

    Brooklyn Bridge opens in New York

    Pendleton Act creates Civil Service Commission to administer government employment

    Buffalo Bill Cody opens 'Wild West' Show

    United States divided into time zones

  35. 1884

    In the News

    Home Life Insurance building, considered the world's first skyscraper, opens in Chicago

    Belva Lockwood becomes the first woman to run for President of the United States

  36. 1885

    Songs of America

    Philadelphia composer and conductor William W. Gilchrist (1846-1916) writes Eight Songs with texts by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Margaret Elizabeth Munson Sangster, Ludwig Tieck, and Barry Cornwall.

    'Merce,' a Cuban dance song sung in Spanish by Alda Martinez with Art Pages, piano, Ramon Bermudez, drum, Carlo Pous, vocals, and Adelita Martinez. An explanation in Spanish and a translation are also available as separate recordings. Recorded by Herbert Halpert in the community of Ybor in Tampa, Florida, June 21, 1939.


    Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verse is published

    American composer Horatio Parker writes his Symphony in C minor, op. 7

    In the News

    Grover Cleveland inaugurated as the twenty-second President of the U.S.

    Washington Monument dedicated in Washington, D. C.

    Vicente Martinez Ybor moved his cigar operations from Key West to Tampa to avoid unionization of his workers, establishing the company town of Ybor.

    William Wallace Gilchrist with his son, the artist, William Wallace Gilchrist Jr, and grandson
  37. 1886

    Songs of America

    Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944) composes Four Songs, op. 1.

    Horatio Parker (1863-1919) composes Three Love Songs, op. 14.


    Arthur Rimbaud's Les Illuminations is published

    Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is published

    In the News

    Statue of Liberty dedicated in New York

    Haymarket Riot in Chicago; labor protest turns into a riot after a bomb exploded among policemen. Anarchists blamed for the bombing, and four activists were executed for the event.

    Geronimo surrenders; end of Apache Wars

    Labor Union that becomes the American Federation of Labor founded

    Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad decision rules that 14th Amendment applies to corporations

    Geronimo, full-length portrait standing, facing left, rifle at port]
  38. 1887

    Songs of America

    'In the Year of '83,' cowboy song sung by Lum Wilson 'Bill' Jackson, 1941. Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Arvin FSA Camp, California, August 12, 1941.

    'The Rovin' Cowboy,' sung and played on guitar by Homer Pierce, Arvin FSA Camp, California, 1940. A song expressing nostalgia for the cowboy life. Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Arvin FSA Camp, California, July 28, 1940.


    Emile Berliner is granted a patent on a flat-disc gramophone, making the production of multiple copies practical.

    In the News

    By the 1880s overgrazing had depleted the food supply for cattle. In the harsh winter of 1887 hundreds of thousands of cattle died in the northwest, causing the collapse of the cattle industry. This, with the widespread use of barbed wire, leads to the end of long cattle drives in the west.

    Dawes Severalty Act attempts to assimilate American Indians by dividing land in reservations by family, rather than tribal units

    Interstate Commerce Commission created to enforce legislation to make railroad rates fair and eliminate secret pools and rebate agreements

  39. 1889

    Songs of America

    Margaret Ruthven Lang (1867-1972): Ojalá, a musical setting of text by George Eliot, is performed at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris in a concert of American music

    Amy Marcy Cheney Beach composes "The Western Wind" and "The Blackbird"


    Claude Debussy hears a performance of Javanese gamelan music at the 1889 ExpositionUniverselle in Paris

    Columbia Phonograph Company incorporated in Washington, DC.

    Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is published

    In the News

    Benjamin Harrison inaugurated as twenty-third President of the U.S.

    Flood kills thousands in Johnstown, PA, where composer Charles Wakefield Cadman is a boy

    Oklahoma Land Rush opens up settlement on the million acres of unassigned land in Oklahoma

    American journalist Nellie Bly sets out to beat Round the World in 80 Days, which she does in 72 days

    [Entrance to Javanese Village, Paris Exposition, 1889]
  40. 1890

    Songs of America

    Edward MacDowell composes Six Love Songs, musical settings of texts by W. H. Gardner.

    'Sprinkle Coal Dust On My Grave,' sung by coal miner Orville J. Jenks. Recorded by George Korson in Welch, West Virginia, 1940.

    Amy Marcy Cheney Beach composes Songs of the Sea, op. 10.

    The Bajich Brothers — Serbian American tambura music from Kansas. Tambura Music has been played in the U.S. since the 1890s. Webcast (place holder, need further instructions for adding this).

    The Bar J Wranglers present cowboy songs and music from Wyoming (webcast). Recorded at the Library of Congress, October 2, 2008.


    Composer John Knowles Paine receives PhD. from Yale University

    The Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts is formed in Paris

    George W. Johnson, the first black recording artist, records his big hit, "The Laughing Song" for several record companies.

    In the News

    Wyoming becomes the 44th state and the first one admitted to the Union with women's suffrage

    The United Mine Workers, or United Mine Workers of America, is founded in Columbus, Ohio to represent the rights and safety of coal miners and technicians.

    Sitting Bull, chief of the Sioux Indian Tribe, is killed in South Dakota

    Sherman Anti-Trust Act outlawed business combinations

    McKinley Tariff sets highest tariff rates to that time

    Ghost Dance movement of Plains Indians; clashes with federal authorities culminates with massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota

    First Army-Navy football game

    National American Woman Suffrage Association consolidates two independent suffrage organizations

    Federal census suggests that the United States no longer has an unsettled frontier

    The 1890s are an era of immigration into the U.S., mainly from Europe. There is a significant increase in the number of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe.

    New People's Party, or Populist Party, holds first national convention in Nebraska

    Edward Alexander MacDowell (1860-1908)
    United Mine-Workers of America
  41. 1891

    Songs of America

    "Corrido de José Mosqueda", sung in Spanish by José Suarez. A portion of a corrido about a train robbery on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, April 26, 1939 in Brownsville, Texas.


    What will become known as Carnegie Hall opens in New York City

    In the News

    A train robbery on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico on January 19, 1891 propels bandit José Mosqueda to the status of a legendary Robin Hood-like hero among Mexican Americans.

  42. 1892

    Songs of America

    George Whitefield Chadwick composes A Flower Cycle and Told in the Gate. Both cycles set to music twelve texts by American writer Arlo Bates.


    John Philip Sousa forms his band, after having led the U.S. Marine Corps Band

    Antonin Dvořák arrives in America to direct the National Conservatory in New York

    In the News

    Ellis Island in New York Bay becomes a gateway for the nation's immigrants; more than half a million are arriving each year

    Lizzie Borden arrested for murdering her parents in Massachusetts; she was acquitted at her trial

    Homestead Strike in Pennsylvania by labor union workers against Carnegie Steel.

    Chinese Exclusion Act extended another decade

    Painting of Sousa by Capolino
  43. 1893

    Songs of America

    Edward MacDowell sets to music William Dean Howells's poem "The Sea"

    Horatio Parker composes Three Songs, op. 34

    Amy Marcy Cheney Beach composes Three Songs, op. 19

    American composer and singer Clara Kathleen Rogers writes The Philosophy of Singing. In 1902, she would join the voice faculty of New England Conservatory in Boston, while remaining an active song composer.

    The Beehive Band: Mormon String Band Music from Utah. A concert of songs from the early settlement of Utah presented at the Library of Congress, April 24, 2008.


    Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony premieres in New York

    The World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago

    Thomas Edison builds the Black Maria motion picture studio

    Henry Ossawa Tanner paints The Banjo Lesson

    Margaret Ruthven Lang becomes the first woman to have a work performed by a major orchestra (Boston Symphony Orchestra)

    The Salt Lake Temple of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in present day Salt Lake City is completed.

    In the News

    Grover Cleveland inaugurated for a second (nonconsecutive) term. He is both the twenty-second and twenty-fourth President of the U.S.

    Henry Ford builds first automobile engine

    Queen Liliuokalani is deposed and is forced to turn Hawaii over to the U.S.
    Financial "Panic of 1893"

    Historian Frederick Jackson Turner delivers "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" essay

    Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii
  44. 1894

    Songs of America

    'John Hardy,' a ballad sung by Donald Bryant, age 7, accompanied by Jack Bryant on guitar. Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Firebaugh FSA Camp, California, August 17, 1940.

    'Ella Speed,' a murder ballad sung by Wallace 'Stavin' Chains' Chains with Sylvester 'Texas Stavin' Chain' Jones on guitar, April 23, 1939. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax at the RamseyState Farm, Camp #4, Otey, Brazoria County, Texas.

    In the News

    John Hardy, a railroad worker, is hanged for murder in Welsh, West Virginia, January 19, 1894.

    Prostitute Ella Speed is killed by bartender Louis 'Bull' Martin in New Orleans. He is convicted of manslaughter.

    The New York Times runs an article 'Armenian Holocaust,' concerning massacres and persecutions of Armenians within the Ottoman Empire which had begun in 1894. Philanthropists in the U.S. raise aid through the newly-formed American Red Cross. Many Armenians immigrate to America during this period.

    Pullman Strike, organized by Eugene V. Debs of the American Railway Union

    Coxey's Army protest march by unemployed workers, led by Jacob Coxey

  45. 1895

    Songs of America

    'Alagaz Bartzer Sare,' sung by Ruben J. Baboyan in Armenian. A song of longing for Armenian the homeland. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Fresno, California, April 16, 1939.

    'You've Been a Good Old Wagon, But You've Done Broke Down' a ragtime song sung by Ben Harney. Recorded by Robert Winslow Gordon, ca. 1925 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Corrido de las elecciones de Brownsville a corrido about the elections of Brownsville played and sung by José Suarez, guitar. Begins with comments about the events the song relates to by Joe K. Wells. Recorded by John Avery Lomax and Ruby Terrill Lomax, April 26, 1939 in Brownsville, Texas.


    Ben Harney composes 'You've Been a Good Old Wagon, But You've Done Broke Down,' thought to be the first published ragtime song. Harney goes on to be a major promoter of ragtime in his vaudeville shows.

    'The Yellow Kid' first appears as a cartoon character; lends name to 'yellow journalism' describing sensational reporting

    In the News

    Gettysburg National Military Park established in Pennsylvania

    Booker T. Washington's 'Atlanta Compromise' address at the Cotton States and International Exposition

  46. 1896

    Songs of America

    Etta Parker is the first composer to set to music a text of Emily Dickinson, 'Have You Got a Brook in Your Little Heart?' as part of her published group of Three Songs.

    Amy Marcy Cheney Beach composes Three Songs, op. 31 (choral) and Four Songs, op. 35 (German texts by Scherenberg, Heine, and Goethe as well as 'Forget-me-not' with text by her husband, Mr. H. H. A. Beach.)

    'The Sherman Cyclone,' sung by Jim Holbert. The singer witnessed the aftermath of the tornado and speaks about it briefly on the recording. Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Visalia FSA Camp, California, August 7, 1940.

    'Pearl Bryant [sic],' ballad sung by Lois Judd. This is a version of 'The Ballad of Pearl Bryan.' Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Arvin FSA Camp, California, August 1, 1940.

    'First Time I Come Into This Countree,' sung by an unidentified Bahamian American quartet. Recorded by Stetson Kennedy and Robert Cook in Florida January 23, 1940.


    Giacomo Puccini composes the verismo opera La Bohème depicting 'real life' on the opera stage.

    Library of Congress starts its Music Division

    Anton Chekhov's The Seagull is published

    In the News

    Plessy v. Ferguson: U.S. Supreme Court rules 'separate but equal' is constitutional

    Henry Ford develops the Ford Quadricycle

    William Jennings Bryan's first run for president; gives 'Cross of Gold' speech at Democratic National Convention in Chicago

    On May 15, a large tornado destroys the town of Sherman, Texas. This is part of a two-week sequence of tornadoes in nine states thought to be the worst in U.S. history.

    Pearl Bryan, 22, is brutally murdered by her lover and an accomplice in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. The trial becomes a national scandal.

    According to an 1896 census, Miami, Florida has the largest U.S. population of foreign-born African Americans, largely from the Bahamas.

    Rural Free Delivery (RFD) begins

    [La Bohème, Act II, Sextet], 4 July 1895
    Two Early Automobiles
  47. 1897

    Songs of America

    Walter Damrosch (1862-1950) composes a dramatic setting of the poem "Danny Deever" by Rudyard Kipling.

    Charles Ives (1874-1954) composes Memories.


    John Philip Sousa composes 'Stars and Stripes Forever'

    In the News

    William McKinley inaugurated as twenty-fifth President of the U.S.

    Klondike Gold Rush begins in Alaska

    Paris Exposition 1900 Sousa Band "Stars and Stripes forever"
  48. 1898

    Songs of America

    Composer Charles Ives graduates from Yale and moves to New York City.

    'Cuban War,' sung by Frank Pipkin. Recorded by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin at the Arvin FSA Camp, California, August 1, 1940. A ballad about the Spanish-American War.

    'La Terruca,' sung by Aurora Calderon. A patriotic song of Puerto Rico. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Oakland, California on April 10, 1939.

    'On John Mitchell's Train,' sung by Jerry Byrne. Recorded by George Korson at Buck Run, Pennsylvania in 1946.


    Valdemar Poulsen patents his 'Telegraphone,' recording magnetically on steel wire.

    Magazine Musical America begins publication

    In the News

    Marie and Pierre Curie discover radium

    Empress Elisabeth of Austria assassinated by anarchist

    The USS Maine is sunk in Havana Harbor, Cuba, one of the events that led to the Spanish-American War(1898-1899).

    Anti-Imperialist League founded to fight U.S. annexation of the Philippines

    The Treaty of Paris of 1898 places Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines under the military control of the U.S.

    John Mitchell is elected president of the United Mine Workers union after serving as temporary president from September, 1898 continuing as its president until 1908. He also served as the vice president of the American Federation of Labor from 1898 to 1914. One of his chief successes was in uniting workers of various ethnicities who spoke several languages.

    Charles Ives, 1874-1954
    John Mitchell, 1870-1919
    Telegraphone with operator
    U.S.S. Maine
  49. 1899

    Songs of America

    'Lament of the Old Sourdough,' a ballad sung and recorded by Paul Roseland, Alaska, 1974. The lyrics were published by Sam C. Dunham in 1901 and set to the tune of 'Old Rosin the Beau.'

    'Honkain keskella' (Deep in the forest), sung in Finnish by Celia Koljonen, Fina Petersen, and Mary Salonen. Recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Central Valley, California on September 4, 1939.

    In the News

    Gold is discovered in what is now Nome, Alaska, renewing the Alaska gold rush fever as the Klondike mines began to pan out.

    The Russian government begins an aggressive campaign for the 'Russification' of Finland. Many Finns choose to immigrate to the U.S., where they could choose to maintain their own way of life.

    Philippine American War (1899-1902), in which Filipinos under Emilio Aguinaldo continue to fight for independence after Philippines transferred from Spanish to American control following the Spanish-American War

    Rocking gold on sea shore near Nome, Alaska