United States and American History: 1839

About the history of the United States in 1839, the Amistad incident, invention of vulcanized rubber, the first woman horse thief Josephine Amelia Perkins.


The far-reaching, the boundless future will be the era of American greatness. In its magnificent domain of space and time, the nation of many nations is destined to manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles; to establish on earth the noblest temple ever dedicated. . . .

--John L. O'Sullivan, in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review

--The Amistad incident occurred. Slaves being transported from Havana to Cuban sugar plantations aboard the Spanish vessel Amistad, mutinied. Managing to free themselves of their chains and arming themselves with machetes intended for sugarcane cutting, they seized the ship. But the Spanish navigators tricked the slaves, and instead of taking them back to Africa they put in at Montauk Point, Long Island. The slaves were later freed by the U.S. Supreme Court, almost precipitating an international crisis between the U.S. and Spain.

--Charles Goodyear 1st vulcanized rubber successfully, making rubber nonsticky and solid at high temperatures. The discovery was an accident--Goodyear happened to drop rubber mixed with sulfur upon a hot stove and vulcanization took place. While his discovery later brought fortunes to others, he himself died a poor man because of the many infringements upon his patent.

--The 1st woman horse thief in the U.S. published her confessions. Josephine Amelia Perkins, born and raised in England, stole her 1st horse from her own father for her elopement. Eventually she came to America completely broke, and continued her career of horse-stealing. She herself admitted to being "4 times detected, twice pardoned on account of my sex, once for reasons of supposed insanity, and the 4th and last time, convicted and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in Madison County jail, Kentucky."

Mar. 3 The New York Mirror printed the following program for a dinner conversation: "When you are seated next to a lady, you should be only polite during the 1st course; you may be gallant in the 2nd; but you must not be tender till the dessert."

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