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1800-1860: The Arts: Chronology

1800-1860: The Arts: Chronology




  • Itinerant artist Ralph Earl is one of the first American painters to show a great passion for nature, as evidenced in his painting Looking East From Leicester Hills.
  • 24 Apr. Congress establishes the Library of Congress.


  • François René de Chateaubriand paints Atala, a romantic rendering of the North American landscape and Native Americans based on his six-month visit.



  • Daniel Bradford publishes The Medley, or Monthly Miscellany, the first magazine in the West, in Lexington, Kentucky.


  • Charles Balthazer Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin paints portraits of five Osage chiefs visiting Washington, D.C.
  • 29 Nov. New York City mayor DeWitt Clinton, Judge Egbert Benson, merchant John Pintard, and botanist David Hosack found the New-York Historical Society.


  • Jan. Connecticut journalist Noah Webster publishes his Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, a book that attempts to standardize the use of English in the United States.


  • Jan. Washington Irving, James Kirk Paulding, and William Irving begin to publish a series of satirical essays under the title Salmagundi; of the Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launce lot Longstuff Esq., and Others; the magazine encourages the formation of a group of writers known as the Knickerbocker School, most of them living in New York, who focus their realistic accounts on American subjects.


  • The Theatre dOrleans, a one-hundred-thousand-dollar opera house, opens in New Orleans.
  • James N. Beckers play, The Indian Princess, or La Belle Sauvage, is performed in Philadelphia.
  • 12 July The Missouri Gazette is founded in St. Louis, the first newspaper published west of the Mississippi River.



  • Zebulon Pike publishes Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi and Through the Western Parts.


  • Daniel Bryan, Daniel Boones nephew, publishes The Mountain Muse, an epic poem about his uncle.


  • Nicholas Biddle edits and publishes the first edition of the journals of Meri-wether Lewis and William Clark, who explored the Trans-Mississippi West between 1804 and 1806.
  • The Library of Congress purchases the seven-thousand-volume library of Thomas Jefferson, which becomes the heart of the national library in its formative period.


  • John Pickerings Vocabulary, a collection of five hundred words and phrases native to the United States, marks an attempt to define a distinct American idiom separate from British English.


  • Samuel Seymour and Titian Peale join the Stephen Long expedition to the Rocky Mountains as painters and naturalists.
  • William Gibbes Hunt publishes The Western Review and Miscellaneous Magazine in Lexington, Kentucky.


  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes his first novel, Precaution.
  • Outside of St. Louis, Chester Harding meets and paints two pictures of Daniel Boone, the only portraits known to be done from life.
  • 26 Sept. Boone dies in Missouri at age eighty-five.


  • Charles Bird King paints the portraits of prominent Kansas, Otos, Missouris, Omahas, and Pawnees who visit Washington, D.C.
  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Spy.


  • James Hall publishes Letters from the West, a collection of pioneer legends and sketches.
  • Edwin James publishes An Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, a record of the journey of Stephen Long.


  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Pioneers, the first of the Leatherstocking tales that pit the frontiersman Natty Bumppo against the forces of a developing, westward-moving American society.


  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Last of the Mohicans.
  • Timothy Flint publishes Frances Berrian, generally regarded as the first Southwestern novel.
  • Thomas Cole paints Daniel Boone Seated Outside His Cabin.
  • Enrico Causcicis relief sculpture for the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., The Conflict Between Daniel Boone and the Indians, depicts Boone defeating two Indians in hand-to-hand combat.


  • Timothy Flint begins publication of The Western Monthly Review, the first magazine to be published west of the Alleghenies.
  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Prairie.


  • Charles Sealsfield, a German American writer, records his impressions of the United States in Americans as They Are.
  • 21 Apr. Noah Webster includes seventy thousand entries in his Dictionary of the American Language, a prodigious work that reflects twenty years work and includes twelve thousand more definitions than any other dictionary of the English language.


  • Charles Sealsfield publishes the novel Tokeah, or, the White Rose.


  • Timothy Flint publishes the novel The Shoshonee Valley.


  • James Ohio Pattie publishes The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, an early document of travel in the Southwest and California.


  • Albert Pike writes The Fall of Poland, the first published poem in English composed in the West.
  • George Catlin paints Buffalo Bulls Back Fat, Head Chief of the Blood Tribe of Blackfeet, a picture that highlights Catlins desire to show the American public what Western Indians looked like.


  • Mary Holly publishes the novel Texas.
  • Timothy Flint publishes Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone, one of the most widely read books about a Western character published in the first half of the nineteenth century.
  • Carl Bodmer witnesses a battle between some six hundred Assiniboines, Crees, and Piegans, and paints Assiniboine-Cree Attack.



  • Augustus Baldwin Longstreet publishes the collection of sketches, Georgia Scenes.
  • Washington Irving reports on his frontier experience in A Tour of the Prairies.
  • James Freeman Clarke publishes the The Western Messenger.


  • Washington lrvings Astoria documents John Jacob Astors failed attempt to establish a Northwest trading post and argues for strong federal support of Northwestern claims.
  • Thomas Cole paints The Oxbow, a natural formation along the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts; the landscape reveals Coles ambivalence about the progress of American society.
  • Cole begins work on his series, The Course of Empire; the last work in the group, Desolation, calls into question the promises of Manifest Destiny.
  • Davy Crockett, scout, hunter, politician, and subject of various tall tales, dies at the siege of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.


  • In The Adventures of Captain Bonneville Washington Irving recounts the travails of Capt. Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville in the Northwest.
  • George Catlins Indian Gallery, a collection of his portraits of Plains Indians, opens in New York.


  • After eighteen years of research John James Audubon, naturalist and painter, publishes his Birds of America, containing 485 plates.


  • Caroline Kirkland publishes her novel A New HomeWholl Follow?


  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Pathfinder.
  • Richard Henry Dana Jr. publishes Two Years Before the Mast, the record of his trip around Cape Horn, of South America, and to Spanish California.
  • Carl Bodmer, after attending the Mountain Man Rendezvous, paints The Trappers Bride, an idyllic vision of interracial marriage.


  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Deerslayer.
  • Charles Sealsfield publishes The Cabin Book.
  • Thomas Bangs Thorpe writes Big Bear of Arkansas.
  • George Catlin publishes his Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs and Conditions of the North American Indians. Beyond documenting Native American cultures, Catlin also calls attention to the devastating effects of American expansionism.


  • Dec. P. T. Barnum opens the American Museum in New York City.


  • Daniel Decatur Emmett composes Old Dan Tucker and My Old Sally.
  • Catherine Stewart publishes New Homes in the West, describing life on the Western prairie.


  • Charles Sealsfield publishes the novel Life in the New World.
  • Two influential accounts of Western exploration are published: George Wilkins Kendalls Narrative of the Texan-Santa Fé Expedition and Josiah Greggs Commerce of the Prairies.
  • Charles Deas paints The Death Struggle, a romantic vision of hand-to-hand combat between a trapper and an Indian.
  • Margaret Fullers Summer on the Lakes examines the lives of women in the Midwest.


  • Johnson Jones Hooper publishes his novel Some Adventures of Simon Suggs.
  • With Fur Traders Descending the Missouri George Caleb Bingham begins a series of river scenes.


  • Daniel Decatur Emmett composes Jimmy Crack Corn.
  • Stephen Foster composes My Old Kentucky Home.
  • John C. Frémont publishes Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year, 1842.


  • David Coyner publishes his novel The Lost Trappers.
  • George Copway, an Ojibwa, publishes his autobiography, The Life, History, and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh.
  • George Catlin begins his painting La Salle Claiming Louisiana for France, April 9, 1682, a grand tableau depicting an historic moment in the European colonization of the American West; he completes the picture the next year.


  • Stephen Foster composes Oh, Susanna!
  • John Nichols composes Oh, California.
  • Rebecca Burlend publishes True Picture of Emigration, a narrative of her fourteen years in Illinois.
  • Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of painting, dies.
  • 24 Jan. James Marshall and John Sutter discover gold particles at a sawmill in Coloma, California, inspiring the gold rush.


  • Charles Averill publishes his novel Kit Carson, The Prince of the Gold Hunters.
  • Francis Parkman publishes The California and Oregon Trail, a record of his travels beyond the Missouri River.
  • George Frederick Ruxton publishes Life in the Far West, an Englishmans perspective on Western America.
  • In New York City a panorama featuring a voyage around Cape Horn opens to the public.


  • Opera debuts in San Francisco with an aria from Verdis Ernani.
  • David G. Robinson publishes Seeing the Elephant.
  • Bayard Taylor, the San Francisco correspondent for the New York Tribune, collects his letters in Eldorado.
  • Josiah Gregg, explorer and author of Commerce of the Prairies, dies.
  • James Wilkins creates intense excitement when he exhibits his Moving Mirror of the Overland Trail in Peoria, Illinois.
  • Frederic Church paints Twilight, Short Arbiter Twixt Day and Night, an epic landscape suggesting the grandeur of the American West.


  • Dame Shirley (Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe) begins publishing The Shirley Letters, vivid accounts of life amongst the miners.
  • Mayne Reid publishes the novel The Scalp Hunters.
  • Stephen Foster composes Old Folks at Home.
  • Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, ethnographer, geologist, and Indian agent, publishes the first volume of his History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Schoolcrafts work becomes a resource for writers such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
  • George Caleb Bingham depicts Daniel Boone as a Moses-like figure in The Emigration of Daniel Boone into Kentucky.
  • With the Country Election Bingham begins his Election series, three paintings depicting the democratic process in the West.
  • James Fenimore Cooper, author of the Leatherstocking novels, dies in his home in Cooperstown, New York, the basis for the fictional settlement in Coopers The Pioneers.
  • George Copway briefly publishes a newspaper devoted to Native Americans, Copways American Indian.
  • John James Audubon, naturalist, painter, and author of Birds of America, dies.



  • Augustus Baldwin Longstreet publishes his novel, Flush Times.
  • Old Block (Alonzo Delano) collects his Pacific News articles, humorous sketches of life in gold-rush San Francisco, in Pen Knife Sketches; or, Chips of the Old Block, illustrated by Charles Christian Nahl, well known as the premier artist of the gold rush.
  • For the first time San Francisco has its own resident opera company, The Pacific Musical Troupe.
  • Asher B. Durand paints Progress (The Advance of Civilization), commissioned by railroad baron Charles Gould.


  • Margaret Jewell Bailey publishes The Grains, and John Rollin Ridge publishes The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit.
  • Henry David Thoreau publishes Walden, Or Life in the Woods, a work that would soon have an enormous impact on that way that American writers viewed nature.


  • Augusta J. Evans publishes the novel Inez, A Tale of the Alamo.
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes the poem Song of Hiawatha.
  • Walt Whitman anonymously publishes a collection of poems titled Leaves of Grass.
  • John Phoenix (George Horatio Derby), one of the first Far Western humorists, publishes a collection of his sketches, Phoenixiana.
  • Maria Ward publishes Female Life Among the Mormons.


  • Alonzo Delano presents his play, A Live Woman in the Mines, one of the earliest dramas written in the West.
  • Frederick Church paints Niagara, one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century landscape painting in the United States.


  • Dewitt C. Peters publishes The Life and Adventures of Kit Carson, portraying Carson as a gentleman with no bad habits.
  • Currier and Ives, in a series popularizing the image of the mountain men, print a lithograph of Louis Maurers The Last Shot.


  • Washington Irving, best known as the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle as well as three books on the West, dies.


  • Catherine Soule publishes her novel Pet of the Settlement: A Story of Prairie-Land.
  • Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, reports on San Francisco in Overland Journey, from New York to San Francisco.
  • Frederick Church paints Twighlight in the Wilderness, a painting that echoes the ambivalence that Thomas Colt felt about the future of the United States.
  • Oct. Thomas Maguires lavish Opera House opens the season with a festival of twelve successive nights of opera, each featuring a different production.

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