1783-1815: Lifestyles, Social Trends, and Fashion:Chronology

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1783-1815: Lifestyles, Social Trends, and Fashion:Chronology




  • Noah Websters A Grammatical Institute, of the English Language is published. It standardizes American orthography and helps make pronunciation more uniform.
  • Jan. Street commissioners in Philadelphia recommend that farmers from outlying areas clean the citys streets in exchange for manure they will gather in the process; the experiment is a complete failure.
  • 13 May Continental army officers led by Henry Knox form the Society of Cincinnati to be a hereditary organization of Revolutionary War soldiers; George Washington becomes the first president.


  • The first bale of American cotton reaches Great Britain.
  • An economic depression begins in the United States.
  • Cajun cooking is established in Louisiana by Acadians who combine their recipes with those of local injuns.


  • The typical American male wears a pea-green coat, white vest, nankeen small clothes, white silk stockings, and pumps fastened with silver buckles which covered at least half the foot from instep to toe.
  • The dollar becomes the basic monetary unit of the United States. The decimal system is devised by Thomas Jefferson.


  • The Tammany Society, or Columbian Order of New York City, is formed; this patriotic society is incorporated three years later.
  • Shayss Rebellion begins in Massachusetts.
  • The first American golf club is formed at Charlestons Green near Charleston, South Carolina, by local clergyman Henry Purcell.


  • The Free African Society is founded in Philadelphia.


  • Demonstrations occur in New York City protesting the activities of grave robbers.
  • The first-known American advertisement for tobacco appears.
  • The first bourbon whiskey is distilled by Baptist minister Elijah Craig in Kentucky. It is so refined that it becomes more popular than rum or brandy.


  • The Park Theater in New York City asks its male patrons to refrain from smoking cigars during performances because it is an offensive practice to Ladies, and dangerous to the House.
  • 26 Nov. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated for the first time as a national holiday. President George Washington, on the recommendation of Congress, declares it a day of thanksgiving for the Constitution.
  • 25 Dec. Universalists in Boston hold special services on Christmas Day, which is not recognized as a religious holiday in Puritan New England.


  • The widely practiced custom of bundling, prevalent in colonial New England and Pennsylvania, begins to die out. (Bundling occurs when courting couples go to bed together, but with all their clothes on. The couple is sometimes separated by a board, or the womans ankles are tied together.) Better heating and the construction of sturdier houses alleviate the need for this practice in the cold northern climates.



  • Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin and files for a patent the next year.
  • The destruction of American forests is spurred by the demand for pearl ash used in baking.


  • A fugitive slave act is passed by Congress.
  • 16 Oct. A New York mob destroys the home of Mother Carey, the keeper of a local brothel.


  • After more than one hundred years the powdering of mens hair goes out of style. However, mens hair is still worn in a queue tied with a black ribbon.


  • 4 May A Philadelphia ordinance forbids wooden buildings south of Tenth Street.
  • June A bathhouse opens in Philadelphia, charging one dollar for three baths.
  • 3 June Mayor Matthew Clarkson of Philadelphia issues a proclamation decrying the bad conduct and disorderliness of domestic servants and apprentices.
  • 14 June A fire destroys 250 buildings in Charleston, South Carolina; three hundred families are left homeless.



  • Philadelphia is the first American city to develop a centralized water distribution system. Three underground tunnels pump water from the Schuylkill River and distribute it throughout the city; a reserve of water is stored in a tower in the center of town.


  • 1 Nov. Fire destroys all but twelve houses in Wilmington, North Carolina.


  • 2 Apr. The New York State legislature charters the Manhattan Company to provide water to the city of New York.
  • 14 Dec. George Washington dies.
  • 15 Dec. Fire in Philadelphia destroys Oellers Hotel, one of the countrys most elegant inns.
  • 26 Dec. During his funeral oration before Congress, Henry Lee states that Washington was First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.


  • Four-tined forks come into use in American homes. Earlier, two- and three tined forks had been customary.
  • The Sheraton and Directoire styles of furniture, classical yet simple in design, appeal strongly to public tastes. Duncan Phyfe of New York City turns out many fine examples.
  • Gabriels Insurrection inspires Virginians to support plans for black immigration to Africa.
  • Middlebury College is founded at Middlebury, Vermont.
  • The Library of Congress is established with a $50, 000 appropriation to purchase nine hundred books and maps that arrive from London in eleven trunks.
  • A History of the Life and Death, Virtues, and Exploits of General George Washington by Mason Locke Weems is published.
  • Washington, D.C., replaces New York City as the United States capital, and Congress convenes there for the first time. The city has 2, 464 residents and 623 slaves.
  • William Young of Philadelphia invents right and left shoes.
  • Shoe polish is invented.
  • 1 Jan. Two feet of snow falls in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Mar. Charleston citizens offer a $500 reward for the identification of arsonists who had tried to destroy the city.


  • The University of South Carolina is founded at Columbia, South Carolina.
  • John Johnny Appleseed Chapman, age twenty-six, arrives in the Ohio Valley from Leominster, Massachusetts, with seeds from Philadelphia cider presses that will make the valley a rich source of apples.


  • In Saratoga Springs, New York, Gideon Putnam opens the Union Hotel; what distinguishes it as a hotel is its emphasis on lodging and services rather than food and drink.
  • The Willard Patent Timepiece is patented by clock maker Samuel Willard, age forty-nine, of Roxbury, Massachusetts; it will become known as the banjo clock.
  • The United States Military Academy is founded at West Point, New York.
  • 6 Mar. A fire destroys Nassau Hall at Princeton College.


  • The Louisiana Purchase doubles the size of the United States and extends the western border to the Rocky Mountains.
  • Ohio is admitted to the Union as the seventeenth state.
  • South Carolina resumes importing slaves after the cotton gin boosts the demand for field hands. Cotton passes tobacco as the leading United States export crop for the first time.
  • The first ice refrigerator (icebox) is patented by Maryland farmer Thomas Moore; it will be in common use by 1838.


  • The Empire style in furniture and house furnishings, imported from Napoleonic France, becomes popular in the United States. Unlike the Classical style, with its straight lines and minimal carving, Empire furniture is heavier and more massive. Combinations of marble and brass and ormolu and wood are common. Carvings include animal forms such as claw feet and eagle heads, and heavy textiles are used in the upholstery.
  • Alexander Hamilton is killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.
  • The Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase Territory begins.
  • Ohio University is founded at Athens, Ohio.
  • Capt. John Chesters schooner brings the first shipment of bananas to arrive in New York


  • Tenskwatawa, called the Open Door or the Prophet by whites, becomes a leader among the Shawnee in the Ohio River Valley.
  • Michigan is made a territory separate from the Indiana Territory, and Detroit becomes its capital.
  • The District of Louisiana is made from the Louisiana Purchase territory, and its capital is at Saint Louis.
  • 9 Aug. Zebulon Pikes party leaves Saint Louis to explore the upper Mississippi River.
  • 8 Dec. Lewis and Clark build Fort Clatsop on the Columbia River.



  • Foreign visitors are astounded by the amount of greasy food consumed by Americans and the manner in which they eat it. A French count notes that breakfast typically includes fish, steak, ham, sausage, salt beef, and bread. He complains that the whole day passes in heaping indigestions on one another.
  • The University of Maryland is founded outside of Baltimore.


  • The importation of slaves into the United States is banned.
  • Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa organize Native American resistance to the expansion of white settlers.
  • 30 Oct. The women of Marblehead, Massachusetts, tar and feather a ship captain they believe sailed away from a sinking ship because he feared losing his own vessel.


  • The territory of Illinois is created from the Indiana Territory.


  • A flight of passenger pigeons 250 miles long is sighted over Kentucky. The flock is estimated to contain two billion birds.


  • The New York City municipal council approves a plan for laying out streets in a grid pattern.
  • A series of earthquakes centered near New Madrid, Missouri, shakes the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.
  • Jan. Four hundred slaves revolt in Louisiana, kill a plantation owners son, and march on New Orleans. Armed planters and federal soldiers put down the insurrection after killing seventy-five of the slaves.
  • 27 Dec. A fire in a Richmond, Virginia, theater kills sixty-two people, including the governor and his wife.


  • Louisiana is admitted to the Union as the eighteenth state.


  • 7 Sept. Uncle Sam is used to designate the United States for the first time in an editorial published in the Troy (New York) Post.


  • The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key is published in the Baltimore American a week after the bombardment of Fort McHenry.

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1783-1815: Lifestyles, Social Trends, and Fashion:Chronology

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1783-1815: Lifestyles, Social Trends, and Fashion:Chronology