1811 (The People's Chronology)
President Madison sends Britain an ultimatum February 2 demanding that she revoke her 1807 Order in Council and cease harassment of U.S. ships (see 1812).
The Regency Act passed by Parliament February 5 authorizes George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, to reign in place of his father, George III, who has become permanently mad after losing his favorite daughter, Amelia. The king suffers from the rare metabolic disorder porphyria and has had periodic bouts of delirium since as early as 1765, they have been more frequent since 1788, and he has gone blind. Now 49, the prince is a notorious voluptuary and wastrel who has run up gambling debts of £650,000 at a time when an annual income of £20,000 is considered an immense fortune (see 1795).
Former British prime minister Augustus H. Fitzroy, 3rd duke of Grafton, dies at Euston Hall, Suffolk, March 14 at age 75.
Swedish military forces massacre a Danish peasant levy at Klagerup after 91 years of sporadic violence and guerilla warfare between Scanians and Swedish occupation troops (see 1658).
British forces on the Spanish-Portuguese border narrowly defeat the French May 5 at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro (see 1810). Marshal Masséna puts 46,000 troops into the field in an effort to lift the siege of Almeida, Viscount Wellington has only 21,450 British and 2,500 Portuguese in his command, but his crafty retreat halts the French advance, and while British and Portuguese casualties total 1,550 the French lose 2,260 and abandon Almeida. Masséna is relieved of his command and succeeded by Auguste Frédéric Louis Viesse de Marmont, 36. A 35,000-man army of 17,000 British and 13,300 Portuguese troops under the command of Gen. William Carr Beresford, 42, defeats a 24,000-man French army under the command of Marshal Nicolas Soult May 16 at the Battle of Albuera in Spain; British and Portuguese casualties total 6,200 killed, wounded, and missing; the French lose about 8,000 killed or wounded and one of their guns is captured. Beresford lays siege to Badajoz but abandons the siege in June (see 1812).
The Ottoman sultan Mahmud II sends troops into the Arabian Peninsula and entrusts his Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali Pasha with the task of crushing the "heretic" Wahhabis, who captured Mecca 9 years ago and are trying to propagate their extremist form of Islam (see 1815).
The Ottoman viceroy (vizier) Muhammad Ali Pasha invites Egypt's Mameluke leaders to a banquet at the citadel of Cairo March 1 and massacres them for having plotted against him. Only a few escape the slaughter, and Mohammed Ali will reign supreme until 1849.
British forces sent by the governor general of India Gilbert Elliot capture the Dutch East Indies island of Java, taking Batavia from the French (see 1810). English colonial officer (Thomas) Stamford (Bingley) Raffles has persuaded his superiors to take the island, accompanied the expedition, and will administer Java until 1816, introducing a new system of land tenure and removing trade barriers. Now 30, Raffles was born aboard ship off Jamaica, began work at London as a clerk for the British East India Company at age 14, and was sent to Penang on Prince of Wales Island (later Malaysia) 6 years ago (see Singapore, 1819).
Cambodia's king Chan II flees to Saigon in northern Vietnam as his brother Sngon tries to usurp the throne with support from Bangkok and invades with an army. The Siamese have grown suspicious of Chan's friendly relations with Vietnam's emperor Gia Long, Siam's king Rama II wants a more compliant ruler next door, he arrives with additional troops, Gia Long sends a Vietnamese army to help, and Chan regains his throne.
Haitian liberator Henri Christophe makes himself king of his northern realm (see 1806). Ruling as Henri I from his capital at Cap Haitien, he will create an hereditary nobility of four princes, eight dukes, 22 counts, 37 barons, and 14 knights, establishing ceremonial court procedures and an elaborate dress code while he builds himself eight palaces, six châteaux, and the Citadelle Laferrière fortress just south of the capital (see 1820; real estate, 1817)
Spanish troops under Felix Calleja crush the forces of the revolutionary Creole priest Miguel Hidalgo in New Spain at the Bridge of Calderon near Guadalajara January 18 (see 1810). Hidalgo falls into Spanish hands March 19 along with other major insurgent leaders, is tried for heresy by the Mexican Inquisition, found guilty, turned over to the government, and executed July 31. His fellow priest José María Morelos y Pavón, 45, a mestizo, takes command of the independence movement in southern Mexico (see 1812).
A Venezuelan junta formed by the captain general of Caracas proclaims independence July 5, disavowing the Spanish regency created by Napoleon. The junta invites other Spanish colonies to follow its example, and dispatches a mission to enlist English support for the revolutionists of New Granada (see Miranda, 1806). Simón Bolívar, 28, met Francisco de Miranda at London last year and returns with him to Venezuela, where Miranda assumes leadership, a general congress proclaims Venezuelan independence July 7 and gives Miranda command of the revolutionary forces; Bolívar becomes one of Miranda's lieutenants and joins the fighting that begins against Spanish forces under Juan Domingo Monteverde (see 1812).
Paraguay declares her independence from Spain August 14 (see Francia, 1816).
Spanish control ends in the Banda Oriental, where Uruguayan revolutionist José Gervasio Artigas has been active (see 1810). The government at Buenos Aires tries to assert centralized control over the entire Rio de la Plata region, but Artigas champions the cause of federalism in opposition to the Buenos Aires junta (see 1814).
Chilean revolutionist José Miguel Carrera, 26, overthrows a conservative junta at Santiago (see 1812).
Cartagena in the Viceroyalty of New Granada declares its independence November 11.
Spanish authorities in the Guatemalan province of San Salvador arrest a member of a prominent planter family in November, inciting a revolt led by provincial bishop José Matias Delgado and his nephew Manuel José Arce. Guatemalan merchants have controlled much of the area's economy, indigo prices have fallen as a result of the Napoleonic wars, and the revolt gathers support from those who want a bishopric independent of the archbishop of Guatemala. Rebel forces seize control of the government and hold it for nearly a month (see 1814).
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase dies at Baltimore June 19 at age 70, having remained on the bench after his 1805 impeachment trial.
The Battle of Tippecanoe November 7 ends in defeat for the Shawnee, who have gone into combat with General William Henry Harrison in the absence of their chief, Tecumseh, who is away in the south recruiting support among the Creek (see 1809). Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (known as The Prophet) have tried to end the sale of lands to white settlers and get the Shawnee to resist alcohol. They have built a new settlement (Prophet's Town) at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers, and Tecumseh has used the place as a rallying point for tribespeople east of the Mississippi in hopes of blocking the spread of white settlements; as governor of the Indiana Territory and superintendent of the Northwest Indians, Harrison has left Vincennes September 26 with an army of 1,100 men and marched them along the Wabash toward Prophet's Town, Tenskwatawa has told his people that the white men's bullets cannot harm them. They have launched a fierce attack on Harrison's men shortly before dawn, they disperse at daylight after a 2-hour fight, having lost an estimated 600 to 800 men (Harrison's losses total 37 dead, 151 wounded). The Prophet is discredited, the confederation of eastern tribes collapses, and the white settlements become safer from attack (see Battle of the Thames, 1813).
Human Rights, Social Justice
Louisiana authorities crush a New Orleans slave revolt January 10 after an uprising on a plantation spreads to involve more than 400 blacks. Of these, 66 are killed in the fighting or subsequently executed, their heads being displayed on the road to the plantation.
Fort Ross above San Francisco Bay is founded February 2 by Russians who land at Bodega Bay and build the fort as the center of a farming colony and as a trading post for sea otter skins (the name comes from Rossiya, meaning "Little Russia;" see 1769; 1812; Sutter, 1841).
Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River is founded by the skipper of fur trader John Jacob Astor's ship Tonquin, who establishes a trading post (see 1814; Pacific Fur Co., 1810).
Russian naval officer Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin, 35, tries to survey one of the Kuril islands and is captured by Japanese forces. Commissioned by the government of Aleksandr I in 1807 to chart the coasts of Russian-held Alaska, the Kuril islands, and Kamchatka, Golovnin sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, arrived in Kamchatka 2 years ago, and will be held prisoner by the Japanese until 1813 (see 1817; 1816).
Two Portuguese half-caste explorers complete the first crossing of the African continent after a 9-year journey.
Austria declares bankruptcy March 15. High military outlays have produced inflation and blockades (the Continental System) have led to financial speculation.
Russia's Aleksandr I infuriates the emperor Napoleon by breaking the embargo against trade with Britain, arguing that the embargo is wrecking his nation's economy (see politics, 1812).
Britain adopts paper money as currency May 10 to ease an economic crisis (see John Law, 1720). A bullion report issued by government economists establishes the intrinsic-value theory of money. Bank notes may be a useful medium of exchange, but the notes must bear a definite ratio to the amount of coin and bullion in the vaults. Government cannot create money, which is rather a token of labor performed. Government can acquire money only through taxation or by borrowing, and for government to issue irredeemable paper money is to violate the sanctity of contracts, cheat creditors, increase prices, and disrupt business (see Smith, 1776; Ricardo, 1809; Bank Charter Act, 1844).
Luddites riot against Nottingham textile manufacturers who have replaced craftsmen with machines, cut wages, and employed unapprenticed workmen. The employers receive threatening letters early in the year from "General Ned Ludd," evoking the name of the now legendary man who broke knitting frames at Manchester in October 1779; organized bands run amok beginning in March, Nottingham authorities have to hire 400 special constables to guard the factories, the prince regent offers a reward of 50 guineas to anyone "giving information on any person or persons wickedly breaking the frames," but the Luddites burn one of Richard Arkwright's factories and break into the house of James Hargreaves to smash his spinning jenny. Britain's Orders in Council and a change in fashion have led to a deterioration in the standard of craftsmanship needed to make stockings, and the Nottingham knitters have sought to intimidate those who have brought in the machines that the workers perceive to be a threat to their livelihoods (see 1812; technology [Arkwright], 1769; technology [Hargreaves], 1770).
U.S. customs duties fall to $6 million as loss of trade with Britain and France reduces duties to half their 1806 level. The Napoleonic wars and Britain's Orders in Council have reduced trade and Congress will impose an excise tax in 1813.
The charter of the Bank of the United States lapses (see 1791). Resentment of the central bank's restrictive credit policies and its lack of political accountability have begun to fuel a populist backlash (see 1829).
Construction begins on the Cumberland Road that extends westward from Cumberland, Maryland, but states' rights political forces will block congressional appropriations to continue the first national undertaking to improve U.S. internal transportation (see 1806; 1817; Lancaster Road, 1792; Jackson, 1830).
New York's Mayor De Witt Clinton proposes construction of a canal that would exploit a gap in the Allegheny Mountains to link the Hudson River with Buffalo on Lake Erie, bring the produce of America's agricultural heartland into New York City, and make the city prosper (see Geddes, 1809). Most canals in the country are no more than two miles long, the longest is 27 miles, and the idea of a 360-mile "ditch" strikes most people as preposterous. The state legislature opposes his idea, as do most of the city's merchants, but Clinton will rally public support by holding huge rallies for the great Erie Canal (see 1815).
The steam ferry Juliana goes into service at New York between Vesey Street and Hoboken under the direction of Colonel John Stevenshe first steamboat to be used for ferry service, which heretofore has been based on small paddle-wheelers whose motive power came from four horses plodding around shafts (see 1809; 1812).
The S.S. New Orleans launched by Nicholas Roosevelt leaves Pittsburgh September 11 with Roosevelt and his wife among the passengers. First steamboat in the Mississippi Valley, the ship starts down the Ohio River for the Mississippi on a 14-day voyage to New Orleans (see Fulton, 1807). Without steam, cargo ships from Pittsburgh have taken as long as 6 weeks to reach New Orleans, and with no way to return upstream they have been broken up for firewood while their crews made their way back overland. The first steamboat to ascend the river will make the voyage up to Pittsburgh in 25 days in 1815 (see Shreve, 1816).
Krupp Gusstahlfabrik (Cast Steel Works) "for the manufacture of English cast steel and all articles made thereof" is founded at Essen by German industrialist Friedrich Krupp, 24, a descendant of Arndt Krupp (see 1599; Huntsman, 1740). The emperor Napoleon has offered a 4,000-franc reward to the first steelmaker who can match the British process, and Krupp gives up his coffee and sugar wholesaling trade to try for the reward, opening a small steelworks in a shed adjoining his house (see 1816).
French chemist-physicist Pierre Louis Dulong, 26, uses guano (bat or bird droppings) to produce the explosive nitrogen trichloride (see 1817).
French saltpeter (potassium nitrate) manufacturer Bernard Courtois, 34, isolates what later will be called iodine while studying products obtained by leaching the ashes of burnt kelp. The British naval embargo, the Austrian Army, and the Prussian Army have cut France off from imports of saltpeter needed in vast amounts for gunpowder. Courtois has been trying to increase production, and he has observed violet-colored vapors produced from the acidification of brines (see 1812).
Italian chemist-physicist Count Amedeo Avogadro, 35, states that equal volumes of all gases at the same temperature and pressure contain equal numbers of molecules (Avogadro's hypothesis) (see Faraday, 1834; Cannizzaro, 1851; Millikan, 1917).
Scottish physicist David Brewster, 29, shows that when light strikes a reflective surface at a certain angle the reflected light becomes completely polarized, meaning that all the light waves lie in the same plane. Brewster has found a simple mathematical relationship between the polarizing angle and the refractive index of the reflective substance, and this so-called Brewster's law will prove useful in determining the refractive index of materials that are opaque or available only in small samples (see everyday life [kaleidoscope], 1817).
Treatise on Mechanics (Traité de mécanique) by Ecole Polytechnique mathematics professor Siméon-Denis Poisson, 30, applies mathematics to mechanics and will be the standard work on the subject for years. Poisson will propound new laws of electrostatics next year and will theorize that electricity is made up of two fluids in which unlike elements attract and like elements repel (see 1837).
"Essay on the Mineralogical Geography of the Environs of Paris, with a Geological Map and Profiles of the Terrain" ("Essai sur la géographie minéralogique des environs de Paris, avec une carte géognistique et des coupe de terrain") by Alexandre Brongniart notes that the formations in the area were created under alternate freshwater and saltwater conditions, identifies distinctive fossils found in each stratum, and helps to introduce the principle of geologic dating (see Hutton, 1795). Brongniart will give the name Jurassic to fossils found in the carbonate stratum of the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland and the Jurassic period will later be dated at between 208 and 144 million years ago, making it the second of three periods of the Mesozoic Era (the Jurassic period will itself often be divided into early, middle, and late epochs, the middle epoch being dated from abut 187 to 163 million years ago).
Anatomy of the Brain by Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, 37, announces discovery of the distinct functions of sensory and motor nerves.
Naturalist Peter Simon Pallas dies at his native Berlin September 8 at age 69.
London printers experiment with a steam-powered press designed 8 years ago by German inventor Friedrich Koenig that has a system of gear wheels to control the raising and lowering of the platen, the back-and-forth movement of the bed, and the inking of the typeform by a series of rollers. Koenig and his associate Andrea Bauer have built the device, whose platen is a rotating cylinder that presses a sheet of paper against the typeform placed on the bed, with the rotation of the cylinder linked to the forward movement of the bed but disengaging when the bed moves back to go under the inking rollers, but early trials are not successful and it will be a few years before such presses are perfected (see 1814).
Fiction: Sense and Sensibility, A Novel by a Lady is published anonymously at London. Its author is Jane Austen, 36, a spinster whose depiction of manners and mores in English country society will rank her as one of the world's great novelists.
Playwright Richard Cumberland dies at London May 7 at age 79; Heinrich von Kleist dies by his own hand on the shore of Wannsee, near Potsdam, November 21 at age 34 in a suicide pact with Henrietta Vogel. He has been in despair at the failure of his political newspaper The Evening News (Die Abenblätter).
Opera: Abu Hassan 6/4 at Munich's Court Theater, with music by Carl Maria von Weber, libretto by Franz Carl Hiemer.
First performances: Concertina for B flat Clarinet and Orchestra by Carl Maria von Weber 4/5 at Munich; Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 1 in F minor and Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra in D major by Weber 6/13 at Munich; Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra No. 2 in E flat major by Weber 11/9 at Munich; Concerto No. 5 in E flat major for Pianoforte and Orchestra (Emperor) by Ludwig van Beethoven 11/28 at Leipzig.
Collection of Sacred Music is published by London-born composer-conductor Vincent Novello, 29, who founds a music publishing house under the name Novello.
A rematch between pugilist Tom Cribb and his American challenger, Tom Molineaux, attracts 20,000 spectators to Thistleton Gap, outside London, September 28 (see 1810). Molineaux has been drinking and carousing since his near-victory 9 months ago, Cribb has trained for the event, and he makes short work of his opponent, ending the contest in 19 minutes. Molineaux will continue his life of dissipation and die of fever in a Galway barn in 1818 at age 34; Cribb's offer to take on any challenger will have no further takers, he will retire undefeated in 1822, and he will survive until 1848 (see London rules, 1838).
Architecture, Real Estate
John Nash designs Regent's Park and its terraces at London and will lay out Regent Street later in the decade (see 1806; Brighton Pavilion, 1815; Buckingham Palace, 1825).
Architect Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin dies at his native Paris January 21 at age 71; architect Samuel McIntire at his native Salem, Massachusetts, February 6 at age 54.
New York adopts a Commissioners' Plan marking off future Manhattan streets and avenues in a grid pattern employed earlier for Spanish colonial towns on Caribbean islands and in William Penn's Philadelphia. Issued March 22, the plan provides for 12 numbered avenues, extending to the north. The 155 numbered cross streets, extending from the North (Hudson) River to the East River, are to be 60 feet wide, except for 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 72nd, 86th, and eight others, which are to be 100 feet wide. Devised with the purpose of imposing some order on future development of the 22-square-mile island with an eye to facilitating taxation, the plan has been adopted following a 4-year survey conducted by the Commissioners after seeing the city's population rise to 83,503, with streets laid out in haphazard fashion. The chief surveyor, John Randel Jr., says his plan will be helpful in the "buying, selling, and developing of real estate." It plots a grid pattern for Manhattan Island all the way up to 110th Street, even though the city remains mostly farmland above Canal Street. Landowner Henry Brevoort, 64, a descendant of Henrich Van Brevoort, prevails upon the city not to cut 11th Street across his farm from Broadway to Fourth Avenue (see Grace Church, 1846).
A new City Hall for New York nears completion just north of the City Common at Broadway and Park Row after 9 years of construction on a site that has been used since 1736 variously for a poorhouse, powderhouse, burying ground, jail, whipping post, and demonstrations that preceded the American Revolution. Designed in a combination of Federal and French Renaissance styles with a Georgian interior, the handsome new $500,000 building's principal architect has been French émigré Joseph François Mangin, who has helped design the Place de la Concorde in Paris and been assisted by the first American-born architect, John McComb, Jr. Its front and sides are faced with $35,000 worth of white marble from West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but when it is finished next year its north side will be left undecorated New Jersey brownstone to save $15,000, there being little but farmland in that direction and no expectation that the city will grow much beyond Chambers Street. (A statue of Justice will be installed in a cupola atop the building in 1887.)
The new Commissioners' Plan for laying out Manhattan streets and avenues provides for Tompkins Square Park but makes little other provision for parks, it being thought that the banks of the Hudson and East rivers allow ample space for strolling and other outdoor recreation.
Earthquakes beginning December 16 turn the Mississippi River to foam in places between Memphis and St. Louis, the current runs upstream for several hours, most of New Madrid, Missouri, crumbles down the bluffs into the river, the sequence of shocks makes itself felt as far away as Detroit, Baltimore, and Charleston, and the tremors continue for months.
Threshing machine inventor Andrew Meikle dies at Houston Mill, near Dunbar, in East Lothian November 27 at age 92, having derived little financial gain from his inventions (he has also devised a way to prevent storm damage to windmills by furling their sails quickly and efficiently).
Food And Drink
Napoleon awards Benjamin Delessert the medal of the Legion d'Honneur for his success with beet sugar, orders the immediate allotment of 32,000 hectares to sugar beet cultivation, and tells the Paris Chamber of Commerce that "the English can throw into the Thames the sugar and indigo which they formerly sold on the Continent with high profit to themselves" (see 1810; 1813).
The Russian ambassador to Paris Prince Aleksandr Borosovich Kurakin, 35, introduces the practice of serving meals in courses (à la Russe) instead of placing many dishes on the table at once (see 1852).
Napoleon decrees that foundling hospitals in France shall be provided with turntable devices (tours) so that parents can leave unwanted infants without being recognized or questioned. Millions of infants have been drowned, smothered, or abandoned, depriving the French armies of potential recruits. By 1833 the number of infants left at such hospitals will have increased from 63,000 to 127,000, but the hospitals will be closed by government order a few years later.