The Year Was 1832

Black HawkThe year was 1832 and it brought cholera to the shores of England. The disease arrived by ship and killed more than 3,000 people in London. In April, reports began of its arrival in Paris, and its spread continued north to Ireland and Scotland, before crossing the Atlantic to the U.S. 

Common treatments prescribed in the treatment of cholera were calomel, opium, bleeding with leeches, quinine, morphine, camphor, and mustard plasters. Therapies varied widely and the cause of the disease was still unknown at this point.

The epidemic first arrived in North America in June 1832. Fears of the epidemic had preceded its arrival and a quarantine station had been set up on Grosse-Ile, an island in the St. Lawrence River. It is estimated that more than 10,000 immigrants, predominantly Irish, are buried on Grosse Ile, victims of cholera and typhus epidemics. 

1832 marked the beginning of the Black Hawk War when Sauk and Fox Native Americans, under the leadership of Black Hawk, returned to lands in Illinois and parts of Michigan Territory (now in Wisconsin) that they had ceded in an 1804 treaty. Their arrival spread fear among the settlers now living in the area and a militia was called up. (Notable among the militia was a young Abraham Lincoln.) Black Hawk surrendered to officials in August at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. 

In the southern state of Georgia, the Cherokees had been removed and in December 1831, Cherokee Indian Territory became Cherokee County and the lands were distributed via a land lottery. A database of the winners is available at

In Ohio, a February thaw followed by heavy rains caused the Ohio River to overflow its banks causing widespread damage to towns along the river. According to the History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio.

“The great flood of 1832 was a notable one–the highest known up to that date–and until 1883 the “oldest inhabitant” always referred to it as high-water mark, until the freshets of 1883 and 1884 wiped out the record. The damages caused by the rise of 1832 were not great, when compared with those sustained in 1884, because there was less property and individual interests to be placed in jeopardy.”

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2 thoughts on “The Year Was 1832

  1. A connection between the cholera epidemic of 1832 and the Black Hawk Wars: Winfield Scott had been named to replace General Henry Atkinson. Headquartered in New York, he recruited 800 men and sailed up the Hudson River and Erie Canal toward Ft. Dearborn (Chicago.) Along the way, several cases of cholera broke out among the three vessels carrying these recruits. Numbers of them fell ill and/or jumped overboard. At Fort Dearborn, only 150 of the original 800 remained. Thus, the cholera epidemic spread from New York into the Michigan Territory (Wisconsin) in July of 1832. This according to William Stark in ALONG THE BLACK HAWK TRAIL.

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