United States and American History: 1804

About the history of the United States in 1804, Andrew Jackson builds the Hermitage, the first automobile, Hamilton is shot by Burr in a duel.


-Andrew Jackson, a young frontier lawyer, built a small 3-room cabin in the Tennessee wilderness for his wife Rachel, little realizing that it would eventually become the "Hermitage," a national shrine.

-Although seldom credited with it, Oliver Evans actually built the 1st "automobile." The famous Philadelphia inventor constructed a 5-hp steam engine for dredging the harbor area between the city docks. This engine propelled a scow used for that purpose. The 15 1/2 ton, 30' boat was put on wheels and driven 1 1/2 mi. from its construction shed down Center Street to the docks, where its drive belt was shifted from land wheels to paddle wheels before the scow entered the river. Thus it was actually the 1st "automobile." Evans bet any comers $3,000 that he could build a steam-driven land vehicle that would beat any horse. But, like many prophets, he was ahead of his time. No one took him up on his offer, and interest in the idea died.

-The schooner Reynard brought the 1st shipment of bananas from Latin America to New York.

-An unusual "Coonskin Library" was started in Marietta, O. Settlers along the Ohio River exchanged and bartered coonskins, much in demand back East, for books from Boston merchants.

-Two patents were granted for "galluses"-otherwise known as "suspenders"-in the same year. This dual patent reflects the longing for security of the man who today wears both suspenders and a belt.

-In all your intercourse with the natives, treat them in the most friendly and conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit; allay all jealousies as to the object of your journey, satisfy them of its innocence.... of our wish to be neighborly, friendly, and useful to them.

-Jefferson's instructions to Lewis

May 14 The Lewis and Clark expedition set out from St. Louis to explore the Louisiana Territory. Captain Meriwether Lewis, Jefferson's personal secretary, and William Clark were to explore 8,000 mi. along the Missouri and Columbia rivers as far as the Pacific, returning in 1806.

July 11 Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel with Vice-President Aaron Burr on the banks of the Hudson at Weehawken, N. J. At the 2nd's command of "Present," Burr immediately fired, and Hamilton fell forward discharging his pistol into the air. Many claimed Hamilton had purposely aimed high. A coroner's jury demanded the Vice-President's arrest, but Burr fled to Georgia and South Carolina where he made a 400-mi. trip through the swamps in a canoe. Meanwhile, insulting poems appeared:

Oh Burr, oh Burr, what hast thou done,

Thou hast shooted dead great Hamilton!

You hid among a bunch of thistle

And shooted him dead with a great hoss pistol!

The former 1st Secretary of the Treasury left behind 7 children and $55,000 in debts.

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