The Year Was 1831

The year was 1831 and in the lands of partitioned Poland, a group of Polish cadets from the Russian Army’s military academy in Warsaw gained control of the city and the Sejm declared a national uprising against Russia. But Russia had controlled the Congress Kingdom up to that time and would not bow to demands for Polish independence. The first battle took place in February. Although Polish forces were able to defend Warsaw for a time, it was clear that the war was over; the remaining Polish forces surrendered on 5 October 1831.

The failed uprising spurred a wave of emigration westward, particularly to France, but to the U.S., Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, and other countries as well.

Late in 1830, Belgium had also risen up to become independent of the Netherlands.
But in August 1831, the Netherlands again invaded Belgium briefly during the “Ten Days” campaign of William II, but when French intervention threatened, an armistice was signed and the Dutch withdrew.

In the U.S., there was an insurrection on a smaller scale when a slave named Nat Turner, who believed he was a prophet following a series of signs, led a group of about forty slaves to kill the family of his owner as they slept. The group moved on and killed other whites as they made their way to the nearest town. After killing at least fifty-five people, they eventually met state and federal troops. Although most escaped, the state executed fifty-five people, including Nat Turner, and in the panic that followed, nearly 200 more blacks, many innocent and totally unrelated to the rebellion, were killed by mob violence.

In 1831, Asiatic cholera made its first appearance in Britain, claiming 52,000 lives in England and Scotland.

Victor Hugo gained fame with the publication of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831. The tale, now 176 years old, has been adapted for the stage, screen, and television numerous times. 

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