United States and American History: 1831

About the history of the United States in 1831, Cyrus McCormick's reaper, William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist movement, Nat Turner's rebellion.


--The term "Old Glory" was coined by New England seaman William Driver. Before setting sail for Asia, he saluted the flag as it was unfurled, saying: "I name thee Old Glory!" The term was not popularized until the Union troops used it in the Civil War.

--A practical reaper was invented by Cyrus McCormick. Contrary to popular opinion, McCormick's was not the 1st. Earlier models had been made by Jeremiah Bailey, in 1822, and by Obed Hussey in 1830.

--The electric bell was accidentally invented by Joseph Henry. In attempting to magnetize iron at a distance, he used a magnet which vibrated the armature of an intensity battery, causing a bell to ring at the other end of a mile of copper wire.

Jan. 1 William Lloyd Garrison published the 1st number of the Liberator, a militant abolitionist newspaper, in Boston. The editorial in this issue concluded:

On this subject, I do not wish to think,

or speak, or write with moderation. . . .

--I will not retreat a single inch--AND I WILL BE HEARD.

The Georgia Senate offered $5,000 reward for his apprehension and conviction in Georgia. Earlier Garrison had called the Constitution "an agreement with hell" because it sanctioned slavery.

Mar. 19 First bank robbery in the U.S. The City Bank of New York was opened with duplicate keys and robbed of $245,000. Edward Smith was later convicted and sentenced to 5 years at Sing Sing.

July 4 Dr. Samuel Francis Smith, Baptist minister, 1st introduced the song "America" in services at Park Street Church, Boston. He had composed it in half an hour, taking the tune from a German songbook, completely unaware that the melody was the same as that of "God Save the King," the British national anthem.

Aug. Southampton Insurrection. Nat Turner, a Negro preacher in Virginia, led a slave insurrection in which 54 whites were killed. During the manhunt which followed, at least 100 blacks were killed. Twenty-eight blacks were later convicted and 20, including Turner, were hanged. Said Nat Turner in his oral confession:

. . . And on May 12, 1828, I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke He had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the 1st should be last and the last should be 1st. . . .

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