The year was 1789 and in the U.S. a young government was beginning to take shape. In its first nationwide election, the popular Revolutionary War general, George Washington, became the countryâ€™s first presidentÂ and was sworn in at the first capitol of the United States, Federal Hall in New York City.
In France, a rebellion was underway and with the storming of the Bastille prison, the French Revolution began. In its reporting on the subject, The Times of London, EnglandÂ had the following to say of the conflict:
The spirit of liberty which so long lay in a state of death, oppressed by the hand of power, received its first spark of returning animation, by the incautious and impolitic assistance afforded to America. The French soldier on his return from that emancipated continent, told a glorious tale to his countrymen–“That the arms of France had given freedome to thirteen United States, and planted the standard of liberty on the battlements of New York and Philadelphia.” The idea of such a noble deed became a general object of admiration, the [facets?] of a similar state were eagerly longed for by all ranks of people, and the vox populi had this force of argument–“If France gave freedom to America, why should she not unchain the arbitrary fetters which bind her own people.”
Later that year, the Marquis de Lafayette, with the advice of Thomas Jefferson who was at the time the American ambassador to France, drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. It was adopted by Franceâ€™s National Assembly in August and ratified by Louis XVI in October.
There was unrest in other parts of the world as well. Sweden and Russia were at war, and briefly, Norway had joined the conflict, although a peace treaty was signed in July 1789.
In a smaller, but well-known conflict, the mutiny on the H.M.S. Bounty was also in the year 1789.Â On April 28, part of the crew of the Bounty, led by Fletcher Christian, mutinied and set Captain William Bligh and eighteen crewmembers adrift. Bligh managed to get the boat some 3,600 miles to Timor. Some of the mutineers were captured and prosecuted–three were hanged, while others, including Fletcher Christian ended up on Pitcairn Island, where some of their descendants live to this day.
In 1789, there was an epidemic of influenza in New England, New York, and Nova Scotia, which resulted in many deaths due to secondary cases of pneumonia. The new president was among those who fell ill. He caught a cold while visiting Boston, and later, was affected more seriously with influenza, which was dubbed â€œWashington Influenza.â€
Other disasters that year included floods in Norway in July that affected more than 1,500 farms with loss of livestock, inundation with water, land- and mudslides, and erosion.
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