United States and American History: 1855

About the history of the United States in 1855, Longfellow publishes Song of Hiawatha, the first U.S. Oil Business, Bleeding Kansas goes slave, a crime break down by ethnicity.


--Abraham Lincoln wrote to his friend James Speed:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal except Negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty--to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

--Sarah Hale, advocate of higher education for women and editor of Godey's Lady's Book, which influenced the manners and morals of the day, launched a campaign against the use of the word "female," in connection with women in public activity.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha was published.

Jan. 1 The 1st oil business was formed by 2 New York City law partners, Jonathan J. Eveleth and George H. Bissell. Yale professor and chemist-toxicologist Benjamin Silliman discovered 8 products which could be extracted from the oil by commercial processes, thus making an oil business feasible, and the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Co. began obtaining oil from a spring in Venango County, Pa.

Mar. 30 Proslavery forces won the election in the Kansas Territory after bitter fighting between antislavery Free-Soilers and proslavery Border Ruffians, both of whom had moved to Kansas, just for the election.

Apr. 1 A judge commented in a New York Herald article that various crimes could be assigned to ethnic groups. Murders, riots, and violent assaults, said this judge, were the work of Irishmen. Daring burglaries and highway robberies he assigned to Englishmen, while petty thefts and larcenies were attributed to the Germans. Skillful forgeries and obtaining goods under false pretenses were designated as strictly American offenses.

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