United States and American History: 1821

About the history of the United States in 1821, the New York Constitutional Convention over votign rights, James Monroe sworn in as president, yellow fever comes again.

1821

--Debate in the New York Constitutional Convention centered on voting rights. Judge James Kent, chief of the New York Supreme Court, held that universal suffrage would not be good for the State. Kent argued that men who worked on the road or served in the militia should not be given the vote because, he felt, they did not have the same fidelity to the State, nor did they care as much about Government as the landowners. Kent's fear was that the manufacturers and their workers would descend on the polls and offset the interests of the farmers.

Until this time in New York, farmers, or those with at least $250 in land, excluding debts, had the right to elect State senators and the governor. The assembly of the State was elected by landholders having land worth $50 or more, and by persons renting tenements with an annual tax value of $5.

Nathan Sandford, a farmer, argued for universal suffrage, calling attention to the success universal suffrage had in other States and the benefits derived from town meetings, where those governed had a voice in their government. Stipulations for voting recommended by Sandford included: 1) that the voter must be a citizen; 2) that a person performing some service could vote as long as he continued to contribute this particular service; and 3) that a 6-month residency be required.

Result: suffrage was extended, the property qualification dropped.

--Massachusetts established the 1st high school in the country. The previous year, Boston's 1st mayor, Josiah Quincy, had called for equal education for the poor. By 1827 Massachusetts had made a high school mandatory in every town of 500 families or more.

--Emma Hart Willard opened the Troy Female Seminary, the 1st institution in the U.S. to offer a high school education for girls.

--The Kentucky legislature abolished imprisonment for debt. In the next 27 years, 8 other States would follow Kentucky's lead.

--Dept. of Overseers of the Poor in Boston published these statistics for the almshouse population: 78 sick persons; 77 children; 9 maniacs and idiots; 155 unclassified (mostly old people). A house of industry was established as a separate institution from the almshouse to provide employment for those poor who were able to work. However this did not eliminate the almshouse as a catchall institution, especially for indigent children.

Feb. The New York Daily Advertiser took the honorable Mr. Clay to task for his conflicting objectives: He favored the advancement of freedom in South America, while proposing an extension of slavery in his own country.

Mar. 4 Since Inauguration Day fell on a Sunday, James Monroe--a good Episcopalian--chose Monday, March 5, to be sworn into office. He thus set a precedent.

June 17 Lightning tore through a house in King George County, Va., killing 62-year-old Charles Massey, Sr., and 3-year-old Alexander Kosckiusko Mason. Mrs. Massey, lying asleep beside her husband, was not hurt. Both victims had been sleeping on feather beds and had not been in contact with any other substance. Since feathers are a nonconductor of electricity, the mystery of how they could be struck was never solved.

Aug. Reports from New Orleans told of sudden deaths from yellow fever. Travelers stopping to drink grog at 11 A.M. were dead by 4 P.M. the same day.

Sept. Fear of the fever drove over 200 people out of Charleston in one 24-hour period. Twelve to 15 people died daily. In some homes entire families lay dead or dying. The mayor recommended that all who could, leave the city immediately. Business was suspended, with banks open only 2 hours a day.

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