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1815-1850: Communications: Chronology

1815-1850: Communications: Chronology





  • The state of New York begins construction of the Erie Canal.
  • Thomas Gilpin of Delaware produces the first machine-made paper in the nation.
  • 3 Mar. Before leaving office President James Madison vetoes the Bonus Bill, which would have provided federal financing for roads and canals.



  • David Napier builds the first flatbed cylinder printing press, which will soon revolutionize the publishing and newspaper businesses.
  • The nations first agricultural journal, the American Farmer, begins publication in Baltimore.
  • 20 June The Savannah arrives in Liverpool, England, from Charleston, South Carolina, thus completing the first successful steamship crossing of the Atlantic with the aid of sails.


  • The Charleston (S.C.) Mercury begins publication.
  • 4 May President James Monroe vetoes the Cumberland Road Bill, which would have authorized the collection of tolls to pay for repairs on the National Road, connecting Cumberland, Maryland, with Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia). Citing Congresss lack of constitutional authority for federal road construction, Monroes veto message requests passage of a constitutional amendment giving the national government authority to finance and build roads.


  • Sequoyah completes the Cherokee alphabet, developing the first written version of a Native American language.
  • In Gibbons v. Ogden the Supreme Court decides that a New York statute granting a monopoly to a ferry service is unconstitutional.
  • 30 Apr. Congress passes the General Survey Bill, mandating land surveys and cost estimates by federal agents for roads necessary to national defense and commerce.


  • 26 Oct. Gov. DeWitt Clinton of New York officially opens the Erie Canal.
  • 6 Dec. In his first Annual Message to Congress, President John Quincy Adams calls for a broad program of federal investment in internal improvements. Little of his program makes it through an antagonistic Congress.


  • The first railroads in the United States are constructed, mostly short lines powered by cables, horses, or sails rather than steam.
  • Scientist Joseph Henry starts experimenting with insulated wire and the multiple-coil magnet, both important developments in telegraph research.


  • The nations first African American newspaper, Freedoms Journal, begins publication in New York City.


  • Wealthy businessman and signer of the Declaration of Independence Charles Carroll of Maryland begins construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.


  • William Cullen Bryant begins publication of the New York Evening Post.


  • At the Canton Iron Works in Baltimore, Peter Cooper designs the Tom Thumb, the first steam locomotive built in America.
  • The Ladys Book (later Godeys Ladys Book), a popular magazine for women, begins publication in Philadelphia.
  • 27 May President Andrew Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road Bill.


  • 1 Jan. William Lloyd Garrison starts publishing the Liberator, a radical abolitionist newspaper dedicated to achieving an immediate end to slavery.


  • 26 Nov. The New York and Harlem Railroad in New York City puts into operation the first streetcar in the world. A horse-drawn car built by John Stephenson, it was named John Mason and ran on lower Fourth Avenue.


  • Baltimore shipwrights complete the first clipper ship, the Ann McKim.
  • Benjamin H. Day starts publication of the New York Sun. The Sun becomes the first successful daily penny newspaper in the country.


  • Southern businessmen, in an attempt to redirect the trade of the Midwest from the Erie Canal to Southern ports, organize the Louisville, Cincinnati, and Charleston Railroad.
  • James Gordon Bennett founds the New York Herald to compete with the New York Sun.
  • Impressed by the success of the Erie Canal, many Midwestern states undertake extensive state-funded transportation projects of their own.


  • The New Orleans Picayune is founded by George W. Kendall, and it becomes a leading Southern paper.


  • Samuel F. B. Morse exhibits his electric telegraph at the College of the City of New York. Meanwhile, W. F. Cooke and Charles Wheatstone patent an electric telegraph in Britain.
  • 7 Nov. Elijah P. Lovejoy, editor of an abolitionist newspaper in Alton, Illinois, is murdered by a mob and becomes a martyr to free speech as well as to the antislavery movement.


  • The New York Herald is the first U.S. newspaper to use European correspondents.


  • Samuel Cunard starts the first Atlantic steam packet line between Europe and America.
  • In America there are 2, 816 miles of railroad in operation, double the entire mileage in Europe.


  • Horace Greeley begins the New York Tribune, which becomes an influential newspaper in the North.


  • Boston and Albany are connected by railroad.


  • Congress grants Samuel F. B. Morse $30, 000 to build the nations first telegraph line.


  • 24 May The first official telegraph transmission is made by Samuel F. B. Morse from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland.


  • The Postal Act authorizes federal subsidies for American steamship lines carrying transatlantic mail.
  • The phrase manifest destiny is made popular by the press as a succinct expression of the national desire to expand across the continent.


  • Richard M. Hoe invents the rotary press, capable of printing eight thousand newspapers an hour.
  • James D. B. De Bow starts publishing the Commercial Review of the South and Southwest.
  • 12 Dec. The United States and New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama) sign a treaty that gives the United States right-of-way across the narrow Central American isthmus between the Atlantic and Pacific.


  • Matthew Fontaine Maury of the U.S. Naval Observatory starts his Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, a navigation aid that sailors come to depend on in order to reduce their crossing times between Europe and America.
  • The Chicago Daily Tribune is founded.


  • May The news-sharing organization that comes to be known as the Associated Press is founded by a group of New York newspaper editors.


  • Jan. Amelia Bloomer, a temperance and woman suffrage advocate, begins publishing Lily, a newspaper with fiction and poetry and articles on education, marriage laws, and womens issues.


  • Harpers New Monthly Magazine begins publication in New York.
  • 19 Apr. In the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, Britain and the United States agree that neither country will try to monopolize control of transportation routes (especially potential canal routes) across the Central American isthmus.
  • 20 Sept. Congress votes to grant public lands to Alabama, Mississippi, and Illinois in order to help finance a major north-south rail trunkline from Mobile, Alabama, to Chicago, Illinois.

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