The Year Was 1839

The year was 1839 and on 7 January, Louis Daguerre presented his new invention to the French Académie des Sciences. The daguerreotype was the result of the first practical process by which an image was permanently stored on a metal surface. The field of photography was born and family historians everywhere rejoiced.

The Treaty of London was signed in 1839 splitting Belgium off from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg also split, with part forming another piece of Belgium. The treaty also stipulated that Belgium remain neutral and the signatory powers of United Kingdom, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, and the Netherlands signed on to help uphold that neutrality. This stipulation helped fan the fires of World War I. When Germany invaded Belgium in August of 1914, as a signatory power, Britain declared war on Germany.

In the 1830s, working-class men still didn’t have the right to vote in Britain. In 1838, William Lovett drafted the People’s Charter, which would give all men the right to vote, would establish annual elections with a secret ballot, and call for payment for Members of Parliament (MPs). In July of 1839, the People’s Charter was rejected but those in favor of the Charter were undeterred. In Newport, Monmouthshire, a group of several thousand Chartists marched on the town seeking control. Troops fired into the crowd killing twenty-two people and leaders of the movement were arrested. This brought attention and support to the Chartist movement, but it wasn’t until 1884 that the majority of men, twenty-one and older would earn the right to vote.

“The Great Fire of 1839″ was actually four large fires in Mobile, Alabama, between 29 September and 9 October. The Republican Compiler of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, reported that

“A very destructive fire occurred at Mobile on the night of the 7th inst. which destroyed about 500 houses, amounting in value, to about half a million of dollars.–We are also informed that on the night of the 8th inst. another fire occurred at the same place, which destroyed…a number of other valuable buildings.”

Slaves from Sierra Leone revolted on board the ship Amistad in 1839, led by Sengbe Pieh, also known as Joseph Cinque. The mutineers killed the captain and ordered the vessel to be sailed towards Africa. The ship was blown into U.S. waters and the “Amistad” was taken off the coast of Long Island, New York, where the mutineers were arrested. Abolitionists stepped in to aid the prisoners and after several trials a Supreme Court ruling freed them in 1841. From there they toured New England as abolitionists raised funds to ship them home to Sierra Leone.

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3 thoughts on “The Year Was 1839

  1. A major event during 1839 was the arrest and imprisonment of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. While he and several others were held at Liberty Jail, many thousands of Mormons were forced to flee from the state of Missouri under an “Extermination Order” signed by Governor Lilburn Boggs.
    The vast majority of them crossed the Mississippi River and settled briefly in Quincy, IL where they were generously welcomed by the people.

  2. Does anyone else have this problem? When I try to print the “The Year Was….” articles, blank spaces appear in place of the underlined links phrases. Is there another way to print these columns? It is time consuming to fill in the missing words after printing the entire article.

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