The Year Was 1868

The year was 1868 and in the U.S. Andrew Johnson was serving the last year of his presidential term following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It was a turbulent year with the country still bitterly torn and struggling with issues left by the Civil War in an era known as The Reconstruction. Pitted against Congress, Johnson was impeached on eleven counts by the House for firing the Secretary of War, but was later acquitted by the Senate. For a more in depth look at Reconstruction and the political events of 1868, see The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson website, which includes excerpts from periodicals of the day.

In November of 1868, the Union General Ulysses S. Grant won the presidential election. Americans continued to move westward and in 1868 Wyoming Territory was organized from parts of Dakota, Utah and Idaho Territories. The young territorial government would go on to make history the following year when it became the first in the world to pass legislation allowing women the right to vote.

Further west, 1868 was the year of the first “Great San Francisco Earthquake.” On October 21 at 7:53 local time, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake was felt throughout northern California and Nevada and caused $300,000 worth of damage in the city.

Disaster also struck in another part of the world. Following the 1867 summer of heavy rains, Sweden saw the reverse in 1868 with a terrible drought. These agricultural events caused a wave of emigration, with many Swedes going to America.

On a more positive note, 1868 was also the year that the world was introduced to Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy when Louisa May Alcott first published the classic, Little Women. 138 years later, it remains a favorite of women, young and old–myself included. 

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2 thoughts on “The Year Was 1868

  1. I enjoyed this article and would really like to see more of these that help give a timeline of events that were happening in various years. This may help to provide clues as to where to look for an ancestor or in the very least give clues to what events might have been important to one’s ancestors. Thanks for publishing this article. Hope to see more.

  2. I agree fully with the previous comment. I know where most of my ancestors were in time, but the events that shaped their world is most interesting and helpful. The 1868 snapshot helps for my great-grandfather who, at the age of 17-18, served in the Confederate Army the last 14 months of the war. He left his home after the war and married in 1869 in a different county. The events going on in his world surely influenced him and his decisions. Would like to see more articles.

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