Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What happened in America during the 1860s

The 1860s were a turbulent time in American history. The Civil War raged from 1861 - 1865, dividing the nation, families, and friends. On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, and it was ratified on December 6, 1865. The United States government purchased Alaska in 1867, while the rest of the country was struggling to recover from the war. Many other things occurred during the decade from 1860 - 1869, including new inventions, music, and food items. Below are some highlights of the 1860s.

U.S. Presidents:

1860-1865 Abraham Lincoln
1865-1869 Andrew Johnson
1869-1877 - Ulysses S. Grant

Important Dates:

1861-1865          Civil War
1863                   Gettysburg Address
1863                   Emancipation Proclamation
1864                   "In God We Trust" added to U.S. coins
April 15, 1865      President Lincoln is assassinated

1860 Census Map

New U.S. States:

1863          West Virginia
1864          Kansas & Nevada
1867          Nebraska

New U.S. Territories:

1863           Arizona & Idaho
1864           Montana
Sleeper Rail Car
Science & Technology:

1860          Internal combustion engine, linoleum, repeating rifle
1861          Postcards, hand-cranked machine gun, quad-wheel roller skates, twisted drill bits
1862          Speed of light measured
1863          Barbed wire, double-barrel cannon, paper dress patterns
1864          Spar torpedo
1865          Cowboy hat, railroad sleeper cars, rotary printing press
1866          Chuckwagons, urinals in restrooms
1867          Motorcycles, typewriters, paper clip, ticker tape, refrigerated railcars
1868          Paper bags, tape measures
1869          American football, pipe wrench, clothes hangers


1860          San Francisco boasts 145 opera performances
1861          Harriet Tubman's "Go Down Moses" is first black spiritual published with music in the U.S.
1862          Julia Ward Howe writes poem for Atlantic Monthly, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" 
                   based on hymn, "John Brown's Body"
1863          George F. Root's "The Battle Cry of Freedom becomes a rallying cry for Union soldiers
1865          Tony Pastor's Opera House opens in New York, marking the beginning of the vaudeville
1866          Musical play, The Black Crook, forerunner of musical comedy of 1920s
1867          The Boston Conservatory, Chicago Musical College, New England Conservatory, & the 
                   Cincinnati Conservatory are all founded


1861          Jelly beans, beef stroganoff, popcorn balls   
1862          Vernor's Ginger Ale
1863          Fruit salad, breakfast cereal
1866          Candy conversation hearts
1867          Synthetic baby food
1868          Tabasco sauce, Fleischmann's yeast
1869          Welch's grape juice, parfaits

I learned a lot while researching this article. Who knew that jelly beans and popcorn balls had been around for so long? I hope you enjoyed this peak into the decade of the 1860s. In the following months, I'll posting the rest of the decades through the end of the 19th century. Look for my posts on the 10th of each month.

Gabe Coulter has a successful night gambling, but a drunken cowboy who wants his money back confronts him in a dark alley. Gabe refuses, and a gunfight ensues. The dying man tells Gabe the money was for his wife and son. Though the shooting was self-defense, Gabe wrestles with guilt. The only way he knows to get rid of it is to return the money he fairly won to the man’s wife. Lara Talbot sees Gabe as a derelict like her husband and wants nothing to do with him. But as she struggles to feed her family, she wonders if God might have sent the gambler to help.

Vickie McDonough is the best selling author of 35 books and novellas. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series and the 3rd & 6th books in the Texas Trails series. Her novel, Long Trail Home, won the Inspirational category of the 2012 Booksellers’ Best Awards. Song of the Prairie, the final book in her Pioneer Promises series, set in 1870s Kansas, recently released. Vickie had three Christmas novellas in collections releasing this fall: Westward Christmas Brides, The Christmas Brides Collection, and The 12 Brides of Christmas. To learn more about Vickie or to sign-up to receive Vickie's newsletter, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com


  1. It must have been exciting for those living in the 1860s to watch as so many things were invented, created and discovered. Talk about a decade of change!

    1. Yes, lots of changes in the 1860s. It's kind of hard to imagine people were still inventing new things even in the midst of the Civil War.

  2. This was VERY informative. This is one of my most favorite time periods. I have always been fascinated by President Lincoln.

    1. I wish we'd been given the opportunity to have Lincoln as president for a longer time. It would have been interesting to see how he might have helped the country recover from the war.

  3. Nice post, Vickie! I love information like that.

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I learned some things while researching this.

  4. What a fun post, Vickie! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow it amazes me on how much was invented. I didn't realize Fleichmans yeast has been around that long. Thanks for posting this timeline! Your book sounds good!

    1. I know! I thought the same thing about the Fleischmann's. Thank's for visiting HHH today!

  6. A rich post, full of great info. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I was surprised at all the inventions made during a decade filled with turmoil.

  7. I did some research on Vaudeville for a 1920s book I was working on. Tony Pastor started Vaudeville as family entertainment, and it was very clean during the 1800s. He wanted families to have something to do together in the evenings after a hard day of work. As other people began Vaudeville shows, especially in the 1920s, it deteriorated into the bawdy shows we associate it with now.

    1. You're right, Donna. I think sometime I should do a post on Tony Pastor.

  8. Very interesting, Vickie! This post reminds me of the "Remember When" booklets that they sell at Cracker Barrel.

    1. Thanks, Amber! I hadn't thought of those books when I was writing this post, but you're right about the booklets.

  9. I really enjoyed reading this post Vickie, like reading the historical fiction that authors research and help us learn as well as enjoy the fictional story. thanks for being that kind of an author.
    I look forward to reading about Gabriel...

    1. Thanks! I love reading historical fiction, too. I hope you enjoy Gabe's story when you get a chance to read it.

  10. I do need to get this book.. sounds so interesting..like todays post!
    dkstevensneAToutlookD otCoM