World History 1845

About the history of the world in 1845, Bigelow invents the power loom, Ireland suffers a terrible potato famine.



* Erastus B. Bigelow of West Boylston, Mass., began construction of the first power loom for the manufacture of Brussels and Wilton carpets. Bigelow later established Bigelow Carpet Mills and helped found the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Aug. A potato blight occurred in Ireland. By the end of the year the country's entire crop had been destroyed. With 90% of the population dependent upon potatoes as their chief food supply, famine ensued.

A Reverend Hazelwood reported: "I have seen miserable creatures prick the cattle which they met on the road, and apply their lips to the wound, to appease their hunger by sucking the animal's blood."

By 1846, 48 districts were declared to be in a "state of distress," and pressure was brought to bear on the British government to repeal the Corn Laws, which put restrictive tariffs on imported foodstuffs. In May, 1846, the laws were repealed, but this did little to help the poverty-stricken Irish peasants.

The results were disastrous. In Skibbereen district, 5,060 people out of 62,000 died in a three-month period. In all, over 1 million died, while 2 million emigrated-1.3 million to the U.S. alone. (See "The Peopling of the United States-Ethnics in America," Chap. 3.) Ireland's population, which had risen from 5 million in 1830 to 8 million in 1841, dropped to 6 1/2 million in 1850.

Sept. 13 The Knickerbocker Club was founded in New York City. This club was the first to codify baseball rules.

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