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1854, MAY 31. - The President issued a proclamation denouncing a contemplated expedition against Cuba.
1854, JULY 13. — A United States frigate bombarded and burned' Greytown, Nicaragua.
She had been sent to demand reparation for property stolen from American citizens, and when it was refused, fired upon the town.
1854, August. — The Ostend manifesto was issued.
It was issued by our representatives at London, Madrid, and Paris, – Buchanan, Soulé, and Mason, respectively, — who met at Ostend, and published the result of their conference concerning Cuba. In it they urged that Cuba, from its geographical position, should belong to the United States, and that should Spain free the slaves there, the United States should endeavor by force to possess the island.
1854, AUGUST 2.— The reciprocity treaty between England and the United States regulating the relation between the latter and Canada in regard to trade, fisheries, &c., was ratified.
This treaty was negotiated by Lord Elgin. In 1864 the United States proposed its abrogation.
1854. — An act was passed by Congress relieving the children born abroad, of American fathers, from alienage.
1854, OCTOBER. – A. H. Reeder, appointed governor of Kansas, arrived in the territory.
He appointed an election for the 29th of November to choose a delegate to Congress. John W. Whitfield was declared elected. Claims were made of fraud in the election, and a committee appointed by the House to investigate, sustained the claims, reporting that in nine of the seventeen election districts more than two thirds of the voters were non-residents who had come into the territory only for the purpose of voting.
1854. The observatory at Ann Harbor, Michigan, was built.
1855, JANUARY 2. — Juan Alvarez began a revolt against Santa Anna.
Santa Anna abdicated, and Carrera was elected president in August, Santa Anna again going into exile.
1855 —- The railway suspension bridge at Niagara was completed.
It was built by Mr. Roebling. In 1848 a suspension bridge had been built here by C. Ellet, who the same year built one at Wheeling over the Ohio. The first was removed to give place to this one, and that at Wheeling blew down in 1854. As early as 1796 a small suspension bridge of chain cables had been built by Mr. Finley.
1855, MARCH 30. -- An election was held in Kansas for members to the assembly.
A census had been taken. Companies of men from Missouri again presented themselves and demanded to vote, in one district forcibly dispersing the judges.
The governor set aside the election from evidence to invalidate it, and ordered & new election in the six contested districts in May.
1855, JULY 2. — The legislature of Kansas met at Paunee City, the place appointed by the governor.
Seats were refused to the members elected at the May election, and were given to those chosen at the March election. A bill was passed removing the seat of government to Shawnee Mission, near the border of Missouri. This the governor vetoed, and the legislature passed again by a two-thirds vote. The legislature passed laws copied from those of Missouri. The slave laws were very rigorous. Any one printing or circulating anything “ calculated to promote a disorderly or dangerous disaffection among the slaves, or to induce them to escape from the service of their masters, or to resist their authority,” or any one aiding in such printing or circulation, was "guilty of a felony and to be imprisoned at hard labor not less than five years." Any free person denying the right to hold slaves in the territory, and publishing or circulating any book, paper, or circular maintaining such denial, to be imprisoned at hard labor for two years. Candidates were obliged to take an oath to support the fugitive slave law, as were judges of election and voters, if challenged, and attorneys admitted to practice in the courts. Jurors were chosen by the sheriff, and “no person who was conscientiously opposed to the holding of slaves, or who did not admit the right to hold slaves in the territory, should be a juror in any cause affecting the right to hold slaves, or relating to slave property.
1855, July 31.- A. H. Reeder, the governor of Kansas Ter. ritory, was removed from office.
The position reverted to Daniel Woodson, the secretary of the territory.
1855. - The charter was granted the Elmira Female College, and this institution was organized at Elmira, New York,
This was the first charter granted by the state for a female college designed to raise the standard of education for women to an equality with that for men.
1855. — A COMPANY under the direction of Dr. Keil settled at Shoalwater Bay, in Washington Territory.
They were a religious community. In 1856 they moved to Aurora, in Oregon. They came from Bethel, Missouri.
1855, SEPTEMBER 1. - Wilson Shannon, appointed as governor of Kansas, to succeed Governor Reeder, entered upon the office.
He was removed August 21, 1856, and Woodson again assumed the office.
1855, SEPTEMBER 19. - convention of delegates met at Topeka, Kansas, “to consider and determine upon all subjects of public interest, and particularly upon that having reference to the speedy formation of a state constitution, with an intention of an immediate application to be admitted as a state into the Union."
A general meeting at Lawrence, August 15, had proposed such a convention, and various other meetings in the state had seconded the movement. The convention arranged for an election for delegates to a constitutional convention in October.
1855, OCTOBER 23. — The constitutional convention met at To. peka, Kansas, and formed a constitution.
It was accepted by the people December 15, by a vote of 1731 against 46.
1856, JANUARY 15.- An election was held in Kansas to choose members of the legislature and officers of the state.
Charles Robinson was elected governor.
1856. — The copyright law was extended to secure to the authors of plays the exclusive right of representation on the stage.
1856, JANUARY 24. - The President sent a message to Congress concerning the difficulties in Kansas.
He suggested that when the population should be sufficient to constitute a state, a constitution should be framed, as a preparation for admission to the Union. He considered that acts of a revolutionary character had been performed in the state, and promised to use the force of the government should it be necessary. The message was referred to the committee on territories, who reported in March commending it.
1856, FEBRUARY 22.- A convention of delegates from the free states was held at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania,
It was the origin of the Republican party, and arranged to hold a nominating convention in Philadelphia on the 17th of June.
1856. — Congress reduced the duties, and passed an act to aid in laying the telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean.
1856, MARCH 1. — The legislature of Kansas met.
A committee was appointed to frame laws, and a memorial prepared to Congress. The legislature adjourned to meet on the 4th of July, 1856, and shortly after the adjournment Governor Robinson and others were arrested on a charge of high treason, and imprisoned. Eventually, the district attorney entered a nolle prosequi in their case, and they were discharged.
1856, MAY 22.- Charles Sumner, a senator from Massachusetts, was assaulted in the Senate chamber by Preston S. Brooks, of South Carolina.
Mr. Sumner had made a speech entitled, “The Crime against Kansas," at which Mr. Brooks took umbrage.
1856, MAY. - The Free State Hotel, in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Herald of Freedom and the Kansas Free State were destroyed by direction of Sheriff Jones, acting under writs issued from the first district court of the United States.
Judge Lecompte had charged the grand jury that combinations for resisting the territorial laws were guilty of constructive treason, and the grand jury had presented the hotel and the newspapers as nuisances to be abated.
1856. — CONGRESS passed an act to increase its compensation. The members were to be allowed, instead of eight dollars a day, three thousand
dollars a year. The mileage of eight dollars for every twenty miles of travel remained unchanged. Each day's absence, except for sickness of a member him. self or one of his family, caused a deduction.
1856. — CONGRESS made grants of the public lands for the aid of railroads.
The grants of land were made to Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to aid in constructing railroads in those states. Each alternate section, six sections wide, on each of the roads, were granted, and the remaining sections belonging to the United States were not to be sold for less than double the usual price, and before they are sold to individuals should be offered for sale at public auction at the enhanced price.
1856. — GENERAL COMONFORT was elected president of Mexico.
He took active measures against the clergy, confiscating church property, and forbidding the clergy to hold real estate. He also promulgated a new constitution which the army disapproved of, and the two bodies — the army and the clergy - united against him and forced him to resign after about a two-years' rule.
1856, JULY 1. – A committee appointed by the House to in. quire into the Kansas troubles, reported.
The committee consisted of John Sherman of Ohio, William A. Howard of Michigan, and Mordecai Oliver of Missouri. Their report, with the testimony, makes a volume of twelve hundred pages. In their opinion the elections held by those desirous to prevent the introduction of slavery were not illegal, but were attended with violence on the part of those desirous to introduce slavery. That the elections under the alleged territorial law were carried by organized invasions from Missouri; that the alleged territorial legislature was illegal, and could pass no valid laws; that the laws they passed were intended for unlawful ends; that neither of the delegates to Congress were entitled to a seat; that no election could be held in the territory without a new census, a stringent election law, impartial judges of election, and the presence of United States troops at every polling place; that the constitution formed by the convention embodied the will of the majority of the people. Oliver made a minority report asserting the contrary.
1856, JULY 2. — Congress passed an act authorizing the legislature of Kansas to provide for a convention to form a constitution, if a census showed that the state had sufficient population.
The bill had been debated from the 17th of March. The ratio of representation showed that the state should have 93,420 inhabitants.
1856, JULY 4. — The legislature of Kansas met at Topeka, and were dispersed by the military without organizing.
The marshal read a proclamation from the President, issued the February before, declaring that the Shawnee Mission legislature would be supported by the whole force of the government. Acting Governor Woodson issued a proclamation to the same effect, and about two hundred soldiers, under command of Colonel Sumner, appearing before the Hall, ordered the legislaturc to disperse, whiclı it did.
1856, JULY. - John W. Geary was appointed governor of Kansas.
He arrived there September 9, and resigned his office in March, 1857, and was replaced by Robert J. Walker, of Mississippi; Frederick P. Stanton, of Tennessee, being appointed secretary. Mr. Walker resigned the position December 17, 1857, and Stanton was removed a few days before, J. W. Denver being appointed in his place.
1856, NOVEMBER 12. — The Grand Trunk Railroad from Quebec to Toronto, a distance of eight hundred and fifty miles, was opened.
1856.- GOLD was discovered in New Columbia.
1856. — The Dudley Observatory was built at Albany, New York.
It was erected at the expense of the widow of Charles E. Dudley. She contributed seventy thousand dollars for this purpose. It was intended as a monument in memory of her husband, who had been greatly interested in astronomy, and desirous of doing something to further its study in the country.
1856. — A PATENT was issued for a process of "condensing milk."
It was issued to Gail Borden, Jr.
1856. — A WIRE suspension-bridge across the Mississippi was built at Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It was the first bridge over the Mississippi.
1856. — The first experiments with the Bessemer process for the production of steel was made at the Philipsburg furnace, in Warren County, New Jersey,
The iron used was obtained from a mine at Andover, in Sussex County, which was opened before the Revolution, and during it was taken possession of by the government, the company being principally Tories. After the war, the mine was abandoned, and in 1847 was bought by Mr. Hewitt, who, with Peter Cooper, of New York, has worked it since.
1853–57. TWELFTH administration. President,
Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire.
William R. King, of Alabama. Died April 18, 1853. Vice-President, David R. Atchison, of Missouri.
Jesse D. Bright, of Indiana.
Linn Boyd, of Kentucky.