1850

President Taylor dies of acute gastroenteritis at Washington, D.C., July 9 at age 65 after 16 months in office (he grew ill after downing large quantities of iced cherries and ice milk at a hot Fourth of July celebration that included laying the cornerstone for a Washington Monument). Taylor’s cabinet resigns en masse, and his vice president Millard Fillmore, 50, moves into the White House.  The first National Convention for Women’s Rights opens October 23 in Brinley Hall at Worcester, Massachusetts.  Ernestine Rose is one of the speakers and declaims, “Who has ever heard of the Pilgrim Mothers? Did they not endure all—as the Pilgrim Fathers did?”  Congress abolishes flogging in the U.S. Navy.American Express Co. is created March 18 by a merger of the 6-year-old Wells & Co., Livingston Fargo & Co.The United States uses energy at a rate of 7,091 pounds of coal per capita, a rate that many technologically advanced nations will not attain for more than 120 years, but 91 percent of U.S. energy comes from wood, and lighting is supplied largely by whale oil and natural gas.The Singer sewing machine invented by Renselaer County, New York-born actor-mechanic Isaac Merrit Singer, 38, will become the world’s largest-selling machine of its kind.   The Bunsen burner invented by German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, 29, at Heidelberg University produces an intensely hot, almost nonluminous flame that leaves no sooty deposit on test tubes.  Only half the children born in the United States until now have reached the age of 5. The percentage will increase dramatically.  Harper’s Monthly begins publication in June at New York and will continue for more than 150 years.  Squash racquets is played for the first time by boys at England’s 279-year-old Harrow School.  Jersey cows arrive in the United States, where they will be an important dairy breed noted for the high butter-fat content of their milk.  Nearly 15 percent of the world’s sugar supply now comes from beets.  The Royal Navy reduces its daily rum ration from one-quarter pint to one-eighth pint to be dispensed before the midday meal.  Tea catches up with coffee in popularity among the English.  Folger’s coffee has its beginnings as Nantucket-born San Francisco merchant James Folger.  Millard Fillmore installs the first White House cooking stove, but his cooks quit in protest, preferring to use the fireplace until an expert from the Patent Office spends a day showing them how to regulate the heat with dampers.  The population of New York City reaches 700,000, with 20 percent of it foreign-born, mostly Irish. The U.S. Census reports that one of every four New Yorkers was born in Ireland (most have arrived half-starved and feverish in overcrowded vessels reminiscent of those used in the slave trade earlier in the century).  The U.S. Census shows a population of 23,100,278—up from just over 5 million in 1800; the South has 1.8 million black slaves, 2.1 million whites; 15.7 percent of the population overall is black.