The Year Was 1841

Wagons used in frontier day. Wagon train now on display at the Bird Cage Theater Museum in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona.The year was 1841 and after a two-year internment in the United States, thirty-five surviving slaves from the ship Amistad were freed by a Supreme Court ruling following a four and a half hour address by former President John Quincy Adams who led the defense. The slaves stayed for a time and toured New England states as abolitionists raised funds to ship them home to Sierra Leone.

Yellow Fever swept through southern states; the Adams Sentinel of 15 November 1841 gives the following account:

“Yellow Fever at New Orleans–We are informed by a letter from New Orleans, published in the New York Commercial Advertiser, dated October 29, that the yellow fever has taken its departure from that city; and that those who had fled the city are now returning. The writer in order to demonstrate most conclusively the fatality of the epidemic during the past season, has taken the trouble to sum up the total mortality, since the outbreak of the fever, commencing on the 1st of August, and ending on the 29th October, comprising a period of twelve weeks and five days, which he states to be 2,699 of whom, 1,722 were carried off by the fever, showing an average weekly mortality of 211 deaths, of which 135 were of yellow fever.”

In November of 1841 a trader named John Neely Bryan settled on the east bank of the Trinity River to set up a trading post. That trading post would grow to be a small settlement and eventually the city of Dallas. By 1860 it would be home to 2,000 people.

In August, another group headed out West with California as their destination. A wagon train gathered at Independence, Missouri, and on 15 May, fifteen wagons and two carts set out on the Oregon Trail. The party split with some of the group heading to California, while others went to Oregon. This was the first of many wagon trains that would make the journey West on the Oregon Trail.

Edgar Allan Poe thrilled readers with the first fictional detective story when The Murders in the Rue Morgue was published.

Image: Wagons used in frontier day wagon train now on display at the Bird Cage Theater Museum in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona. (From the Library of Congress Photo Collection at Ancestry.)

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