Francis Cabot Lowell visits textile mills in Lancashire, England and closely observes the factories' power looms. Although British law forbids the removal of this critical industrial technology, Lowell memorizes the details and reproduces the British loom, with improvements, in a factory in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1814.
Henry Clay of Kentucky assumes office as a member of the United States House of Representatives. He will eventually serve eleven years in the House and fourteen years in the United States Senate.
Construction begins on the National or Cumberland Road at Cumberland, Maryland. It will reach Wheeling, Virginia in 1818 and Vandalia, Illinois in 1839. Originally funded in 1806, the road was one of the few internal improvement projects financed by the federal government during this period.
Francis Cabot Lowell and several investors sign the "Articles of Agreement between the Associates of the Boston Manufacturing Company," forming the joint-stock company that will introduce large-scale textile manufacturing to New England.
A treaty ending the War of 1812 is negotiated at Ghent. With commercial relations between the United States and Great Britain restored, British manufacturers will dump tons of goods into American markets hoping to recapture American consumers. American manufacturers will struggle to compete, leading to calls for protective measures such as tariffs.
Jacob Hyer and Tom Beasely square off in what many boxing aficionados recognize as America's first prizefight.
President James Madison signs a bill re-chartering the Bank of the United States. Its primary purpose is to serve as a repository for federal deposits and a source of loans to the federal government. But the bank will also try to reduce the number of bank notes issued by state chartered banks. This will be only partially successful; by 1821 $45 million in state bank notes will remain in circulation.1
New York Governor DeWitt Clinton presides over a groundbreaking ceremony for the Erie Canal. Critics question the expense and practicality of the project, labeling it "Clinton's Big Ditch."
The Panic of 1819, caused partially by over-speculation in western lands, further convinces Congressman Henry Clay that federal land policy is too generous. He will oppose future congressional attempts to reduce land prices and minimum parcel requirements, and legislate preemption rights.
Charles Grandison Finney undergoes a powerful conversion experience leading to his decision to abandon a career in law and become a minister.
James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna, A Descriptive Tale, introducing Natty Bumppo. Reappearing in The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 (1826), The Prairie: A Tale (1827), The Pathfinder: The Inland Sea (1840), and The Deerslayer: The First War Path (1841), Bumppo reflects an emerging conception of American masculinity-- rugged, individualistic, self-defined, at home in nature, and ambivalent toward civilized society.
The New York Evening Post provides the first round-by-round newspaper report of a prize fight between "a butcher and a man whom they called the champion of Hickory Street."2
Joseph Smith claims to have been visited by an angel on this day who directs him to serve God. Smith will later claim that in a subsequent visit from the angel in 1827, he is led to the golden tablets containing the revelation from God that will become The Book of Mormon. Published in 1830, the book becomes the foundation for a new church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Erie Canal is completed. The canal stretches 363 miles, linking Lake Erie to the Hudson River. Eighty-three locks lift canal traffic a combined 568 feet between Buffalo and Albany.3
The town of Lowell is incorporated. Formerly just a small village along the Pawtucket Canal, the quickly expanding community of textile plants is named after Francis Cabot Lowell. By 1840, 20,000 people and nine separate textile plants will be located at Lowell.
Evangelist Charles Grandison Finney arrives in Rochester, New York at the invitation of townspeople concerned about unruly workers, increased public drinking, and growing disrespect for the Sabbath. Finney will hold a series of revivals over the next six months leading to higher rates of church membership among all sectors of the population.
Congress passes a land law reducing the minimum parcel of federal land available for purchase to 40 acres. The legislation, aimed at making western lands more affordable to small farmers, is opposed by Henry Clay, who fears that cheap western lands will drain eastern cities of their manufacturing labor supply and cause agricultural overproduction.
As the cholera epidemic plaguing Europe crosses the Atlantic, dietary reformer Sylvester Graham draws huge crowds in New York interested in his theories linking disease to diet. The Graham Diet of coarse-grain bread and vegetables will be embraced by thousands as part of a larger behavioral prescription emphasizing moderation and self-control.
Timothy Flint publishes the Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone, the First Settler of Kentucky, further establishing the Kentucky frontiersman as an American icon. Filled with tall tales of backwoods adventure, the book, like James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, presents an emerging conception of American manhood—independent, self-made, ambivalent toward society, and in tune with nature.
About 800 female employees of the Lowell Mills go on strike to protest a 15% wage reduction. The strike fails and the women return to work after just a few days.
About 1500 female employees of the Lowell Mills go on strike to protest wage cuts and a rent increase in the company dormitories. The "mill girls" are better organized than they were in 1934; they form the Factory Girls Association to coordinate their strike. After several months the company agrees to rescind the proposed rent increase.
Shaker membership peaks with roughly 6000 members living in nineteen communities stretching from New England to Ohio to Kentucky.
The first issue of the Lowell Offering, a literary journal produced by the women employees of the Lowell Mills, is released.
Two thousand New Yorkers ferry up the Hudson River to Hastings to watch a prize fight between Thomas McCoy and Christopher Lilly. McCoy, an Irish boatman, wins the early rounds. But by the 30th round, Lilly, an English immigrant, gains the advantage. At the end of 119 rounds, McCoy collapses and dies. A coroner determines that McCoy has drowned in his own blood.