|January 11, 1853 - John Ericsson, designer of the
ironclad Monitor one decade later, tests his ship powered by a caloric,
hot air, engine in New York Harbor, but the experiment fails due to
lack of power.
April 22, 1853 - The Indian Frontier Post, Fort Scott, in Indian Territory (Kansas) is evacuated by the United States Army riflemen.
July 14, 1853 - U.S. President Franklin Pierce opened the first world's fair held in the United States, the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. Located on 6th Avenue in a large palace on the site of the current New York Public Library, twenty-three foreign nations and colonies participated.
July 14, 1853 - Commodore Matthew C. Perry and the United States Navy arrive in Edo Bay, Japan, greeted by the Lord of Toda. They would negotiate a treaty to allow U.S. ships into Japan.
December 30, 1853 - The Gadsden Purchase is consummated, with the United States buying a 29,640 square mile tract of land in present-day Arizona and New Mexico (approximately from Yuma to Las Cruces) for $10 million from Mexico to allow railroad building in the southwest and settle continued border disputes after the Mexican-American War. This act finalized the borders of the Continental United States.
|February 28, 1854 - In Ripon, Wisconsin, the Republican
Party is founded, in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
would hold its first convention later that year on July 6 in Jackson,
June 10, 1854 - The United States Naval Academy graduates its first class at Annapolis, Maryland.
May 30, 1854 - The Kansas-Nebraska act becomes law, allowing the issue of slavery to be decided by a vote of settlers. This established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and would breed much of the rancor that culminated in the actions of the next years of "Bleeding Kansas" .
October 31, 1854 - The New York World's Fair, extended for a second season, closes after 393 exhibit days. The second season, under the presidency of P.T. Barnum, raises the total attendance to over 1,150,000.
|March 3, 1855 - The United States Camel Corps in
created with a $30,000 appropriation in Congress.
March 24, 1855 - American businessman, banker and philanthropist, Andrew Mellon, is born.
April 21, 1855 - The first railroad train crosses the Mississippi River on the first bridge constructed at Rock Island, Illinois to Davenport, Iowa.
October 9, 1855 - The Shuttle Sewing Machine and its machine motor are patented by Isaac M. Singer, improving the development of the sewing machine.
|April 5, 1856 - Booker T. Washington was born in
on a tobacco farm in Franklin County, Virginia, and would later emerge
as one of the foremost black leaders and educators of the 20th century.
May 21, 1856 - Pro-slavery forces under Sheriff Samuel J. Jones burn the Free-State Hotel and destroy two anti-slavery newspapers and other businesses in Lawrence, Kansas. Three days later, the Pottowatomie Massacre occurs in Franklin County, Kansas when followers of abolitionist John Brown kill five homesteaders.
May 22, 1856 - South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks attacked Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the U.S. Senate after Sumner gave a speech attacking Southern sympathizers for the pro-slavery violence in Kansas. Sumner would take three years to recover while Brooks was lionized throughout Southern states.
November 1856 - John C. Fremont, the first candidate for president under the banner of the Republican Party, loses his bid for the presidency to James C. Buchanan, despite support for Fremont from Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan, the only bachelor to become president as well as the sole Pennsylvanian garnered 174 Electoral College votes to 114 for Fremont. Millard Fillmore, running on the American Know-Nothing and Whig tickets was also defeated.
November 17, 1856 - Fort Buchanan is established by the U.S. Army on the Sonoita River in current southern Arizona to administrate the new land bought in the Gadsden Purchase.
|March 4, 1857 - James Buchanan is sworn into office as
the 15th President of the United States. His tenure as
would be marred by the question of slavery and a compromise stance that
would neither alleviate nor eradicate the intractable question from
March 6, 1857 - The United States Supreme Court rules in the Dred Scott decision, 6-3, that a slave did not become free when transported into a free state. It also ruled that slavery could not be banned by the U.S. Congress in a territory, and that blacks were not eligible to be awarded citizenship.
March 23, 1857 - The first elevator is installed by Elisha Otis on Broadway in New York City.
August 11, 1857 - Colonel Isaac Neff Ebey, leader of the first permanent white settlers to Witbey Island, Washington Territory seven years earlier, is beheaded and shot by Indian raiders.
December 21, 1857 - Two companies of the 1st Cavalry under Captain Samuel Sturgis arrive at Fort Scott, Kansas to attempt to bring the disorder of "Bleeding Kansas," the slavery versus anti-slavery battle, in check.
|April 28, 1858 - Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert
landscape architects, win the competition and adoption of their plan
for Central Park in New York City.
June 23, 1858 - With strife between pro-slavery and anti-slavery partisans escalating to dramatic chaos, the 2nd Infantry and 3rd Artillery regiments under the command of Captain Nathanial Lyon attempt to restore order during the "Bleeding Kansas" campaign.
August 5, 1858 - The first transatlantic cable is completed by Cyrus West Field and others. It would fail its test due to weak current on September 1.
August 21 to October 15, 1858 - A series of debates between politicians Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln occur in Illinois.
September 17, 1858 - Dred Scott, the American slave who precipitated the decision by the Supreme Court on the topic of slavery, dies.
|August 27, 1859 - The first productive oil well for
commercial use is drilled by Edwin L. Drake in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
October 16, 1859 - The United States Armory at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers at Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) is seized by twenty-one men under the leadership of abolitionist John Brown. This act to cause an uprising of slaves in the surrounding territories fails when federal troops on October 18, under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee, kill several of the raiders and capture John Brown. The town of Harper's Ferry, now a spectacular National Park on the topic, remains one of the under recognized historic treasures in the United States. Picture below is Harper's Ferry in a Alexander Gardner photograph, July 1865. The foreground buildings along the river are the arsenal buildings raided by John Brown during the uprising in 1859.
November 1, 1859 - The Cape Lookout, North Carolina lighthouse, with a Fresnel lens seen nineteen miles away, is lit for the first time.
December 2, 1859 - John Brown is hanged for treason by the state of Virginia due to his leadership role in the raid on the Harper's Ferry armory and failed attempt to spur revolt among Virginia slaves.
Emmanuel Leutze is commissioned by Congress to paint the mural, "Westward Ho the Course of Empire Takes Its Way," for the U.S. Capitol. The mural represents frontier settlement.
Historic Travel Tip
History Historic Travel Tip
Some of the most surprising locations of historical significance within the National Park Service lay in little known or less attended sites. One gem is Harper's Ferry. This town, site of not only John Brown's famous abolitionist uprising, but Civil War battles throughout the Great Rebellion, includes dozens of restored buildings, with exhibits on the topics, as well as the Appalachian Trail, Jefferson's Rock, and whitewater rafting opportunities on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Almost the entire town is restored within the park system, and access to it, outside a small parking lot, is through a Park Service shuttle bus on the bluff above town.