The Government House of Manhattan, NY; was erected 1790, at the foot of Broad-Way, facing the Bowling Green. It was originally designed for the residence of Genl. Washington (then president of the United States) but, the Capitol being removed, he never occupied it. It then became the Governors' House, and was the residence of Governors George Clinton and John Jay. The building was subsequently used for the Custom-House, from 1799 until 1815, when it was taken down.
1790A Census Act is passed by Congress. The first census indicates a total population of nearly 4 million persons in the U.S. and western territories. African Americans make up 19 percent of the population, with 90 percent living in the South. For white Americans, the average age is under 16. Most white families are large, with an average of eight children born. The white population will double every 22 years.
The largest American city is Philadelphia, with 42,000 persons, followed by New York (33,000) Boston (18,000) Charleston (16,000) and Baltimore (13,000). The majority of Americans are involved in agricultural pursuits, with little industrial activity occurring at this time.
Petition to Congress by Mary Katherine Goddard, January 29, 1790, to retain her position as the 1st postmistress in America. Her appeals to Congress & to George Washington failed. See entry on Mary Katherine Goddard in this blog.
George Washington replies to Moses Seixas's letter on behalf of the Newport Hebrew Congregation using the off-quoted phrase that the USA government "gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance"
First American cotton mill.
Mother Bernardina Matthews establishes a Carmelite convent near Port Tobacco, Maryland, the first community of Roman Catholic nuns established in one of the original 13 states. (The Ursuline convent established in New Orleans in 1727 was still in French territory.)
Judith Sargent Murray writes "On the Equality of the Sexes"
A second great revival movement sweeps northeast America, inspired by the earlier example of Jonathan Edwards
George Washington and the Congress chose the Potomac as the navigable river on which the new US capital city will be sited.
Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84. His funeral four days later draws over 20,000 mourners.
Sarah Wentworth Morton (1759-1846) writes Ouabi; or, The Virtues of Nature. An Indian tale by Philenia, a lady of Boston. Boston: I. Thomas and E.T. Andrews, 1790. The Boston writer known as the American Sappho treats a love triangle between an Illinois chief, his wife, and a European aristocrat. The narrative poem is notable for its researched representation of Indian life. It would be set to music by Hans Graham in 1793 and would inspire Louis James Bacon's play The American Indian (1795).
Mercy Otis Warren writes Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous, Boston: I. Thomas. and E.T. Andrews, . This is the first work printed under her own name. Warren produces verse tragedies & other poems extolling republican virtues & confirming women as moral authorities.
The first ten amendments to the Constitution protecting individual rights are ratified. They are called the Bill of Rights.
First Bank of the United States is founded in Philadelphia under Alexander Hamilton and is granted a 20-year charter. Its charter is not renewed in 1811.
Susanna Haswell Rowson writes Mentoria; or, The Young Lady's Friend, a collection of letters, stories, and an essay wtih topics ranging from charity & the pitfalls of social ambition to obedience & moral conduct.
Anne Bailey rode to present-day Lewisburg to obtain ammunition for settlers at Fort Lee at present-day Charleston, which was being attacked by Native Americans. (More recent studies suggest this incident may never have occurred.) Source: Conley and Doherty, West Virginia History, 148-149.
An Indian raid on an American military camp beside the Maumee river leaves more than 600 US soldiers dead.
Slave insurrection in the French colony of St. Domingue begins the bloody process of founding the nation of Haiti, the first independent black country in the Americas. Refugees flee to America, many coming to Philadelphia, the largest & most cosmopolitan city in America with the largest northern free black community. Philadelphia has many supporters for Toussaint L'Overture.
Mary Kinnan was captured & her husband & daughter were killed by Shawnee Indians along the Tygart Valley River in Randolph County. Kinnan lived with her captors for 3 years. Source: Conley and Doherty, West Virginia History, 142.
The cornerstone of the White House in at Washington City in The District of Columbia is laid.
Bunker Gay, A Genuine and Correct Account of the Captivity, Sufferings, and Deliverance of Mrs. Jemima Howe (captivity narrative).
The first political parties, Hamilton's Federalists and Jefferson's Republicans, emerge in the USA.
The US Congress passes Fugitive Slave Laws, enabling southern slave owners to reclaim escaped slaves in northern states.
Hannah Slater receives the first U.S. patent granted to a woman, for a type of cotton thread. Her invention helps her husband build a successful textile business.
Eli Whitney (1765–1825) produces the cotton gin, which speeds the process of separating the cotton fibers from the seeds.
George Washington lays the cornerstone for the Congress building on Capitol Hill.
Suzanne Vaillande appears in The Bird Catcher, in New York, the first ballet presented in the U.S. She was also probably the first woman to work as a choreographer & set designer in the United States.
An epidemic of yellow fever kills 4,044 at Philadelphia. Believed by many to have been brought to the city by refugees from Santo Domingo The fever strikes nearly all of the 24,000 inhabitants who do not flee, and it kills 1 in every 6. Physican Benjamin Rush, 47, works round the clock to bleed more than 100 patients per day; he recruits free blacks who have not fled the city, training them to bleed & purge patients. The epidemic does not abate until autumn, when cold weather kills the mosquitoes.
Massachusetts repeals its Puritanical anti-theater laws after a fight led by Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton & her husband, Perez.
Anonymous: The Hapless Orphan; or, Innocent Victim of Revenge. Boston: Printed at the Appollo Press by Belknap and Hall, 1793. By an American Lady. This sentimental didactic novel concerns a self-centered Philadelphia girl whose attachment to another's fiancé leads to the hero's suicide & a vendetta by her rival.
Ann Eliza Bleecker (Schuyler) (1752-1783) is published in The Posthumous Works of Ann Eliza Bleecker. New York: T. and J. Swords, 1793. This collection of letters, poems, and prose published by Bleecker's daughter (the writer Margaretta Faugères (1771-1801), details life on the front lines of the American Revolution and the death of Bleecker's daughter Abella. As a poet, fiction writer, & correspondent, Bleecker provides firsthand accounts of women's life during the Revolution.
Whiskey Rebellion breaks out in western Pennsylvania among farmers who oppose the collection of the tax on liquor & stills. George Washington uses military force to assert government authority on rebels in Pennsylvania refusing to pay a federal tax on whiskey.
Congress enacts the federal Slave Trade Act of 1794 prohibiting American vessels to transport slaves to any foreign country from outfitting in American ports.
Jay's Treaty provides for withdrawal of British forces from the Northwest Territory by 1 June 1796 in exchange for payments of war debts to British citizens. It is ratified on 24 June 1795.
Columbianum, first American art society, founded by Charles Willson Peale, Philadelphia
Anne Kemble Hatton (c. 1757-c. 1796) writes Tammany; or, The Indian Chief. The earliest drama about American Indians; the title character rescues his beloved from Spanish kidnappers.
The first independent black churches in America (St. Thomas African Episcopal Church and Bethel Church) established in Philadelphia by Absalom Jones & Richard Allen, respectively, as an act of self-determination & a protest against segregation.
Susanna Haswell Rowson writes Slaves in Algiers; or, A Struggle for Freedom. Philadelphia: Printed for the author by Wrigley and Berriman, 1794. The first play by a woman successfully produced in America & Rowson's only drama surviving in complete form utilizes the Barbary pirates' raids on American ships to demonstrate tyranny. The author would also perform in this play & in her subsequent dramas, including The Female Patriot (1795), The Volunteers (1795), & Americans in England (1797).
Susanna Haswell Rowson writes Mrs. Charlotte, a Tale of Truth. [Philadelphia]: Mathew Carey, 1794. One of the first American bestsellers, this novel tells the story of an English girl seduced by a British officer, Montraville. Charlotte follows Montraville to New York, where he abandons her & she dies in childbirth. The supposedly true story exemplifies Rowson's argument for the importance of the education of young women. It had been published first in England in 1791. A sequel, Charlotte's Daughter, would be published in 1828. Also published by Rowson was, The Inquisitor; or, Invisible Rambler. 3 vols. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1794.
Founding of the American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, a joining several state & regional antislavery societies into a national organization to promote abolition. Conference held in Philadelphia.
Anne Parrish founds the House of Industry in Philadelphia, which provides employment to poor women. It is the first American charitable organization operated by women for women.
Two extra stars are added to the American flag for Vermont & Kentucky, two new states that have joined since the original union of thirteen.
Margaretta V. Bleecker Faugères (1771-1801) writes Belisarius: A Tragedy. Faugères's blank-verse tragedy is her major literary achievement, echoing Shakespeare's King Lear.
Susanna Haswell Rowson writes The Volunteers, a "musical entertainment" concerning the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. The score, with Rowson's lyrics set to music by Alexander Reinagle (1756-1809), is all that now survives of the play.
Susanna Haswell Rowson writes Trials of the Human Heart, 4 vols. Philadelphia: Printed for the author by Wrigley & Berriman and sold by M. Carey [and others], 1795. This novel describes 16 years of suffering by Meriel Howard. Rowson's first novel written in America wins an impressive list of subscribers, including Martha Washington, members of prominent Philadelphia families, and members of the New Theatre Company.
George Washington's Farewell Address is published in Philadelphia's Daily American Advertiser. He warns against the divisiveness of a party system & permanent foreign alliances, and cautions against an overpowerful military establishment. He then retires to Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Amelia Simmons produces the first truly American cookbook American Cookery: The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Puff-Pastes, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes From the Imperial Plumb to plain Cake, Adapted to this Country, and All Grades of Life. See this blog for more on Amelia Simmons.
The election brings in a Federalist president (John Adams) and a Republican vice-president (Thomas Jefferson)
1 June. Tennessee is admitted to the Union as a slave-holding state.
Susanna Haswell Rowson writes Americans in England, one of the first American works exploring the "international theme," Rowson's social comedy would be revised by the author as The Columbian Daughter in 1800.
John Adams (1735–1826) becomes the second president of the United States.
A cast-iron plow is invented, but farmers fear it will poison the soil and refuse to use it.
18 October. Amid tensions between the US & France, French foreign minister Tallyrand's agents suggest a "loan," essentially a bribe, to bring the French to the bargaining table. Charles C. Pinckney, the American minister to France, refuses, saying, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."
The USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") is launched as part of the new US navy.
Ann Eliza Bleecker’s work is published posthumously, The History of Maria Kittle. It is a captivity narrative set during the French & Indian War, is a fictionalized elaboration of the author's own experiences. It is thought to be the first American fictional account focusing on Native Americans, where horrific descriptions of an Indian attack & an earthquake are contrasted with tranquil rural scenes.
Hannah Webster Foster (1759-1840) writes The Coquette; or, The History of Eliza Wharton, an epistolary novel based on the alleged seduction of Foster's distant cousin, Elizabeth Whitman, by Pierpont Edwards, and her death in childbirth. Wildly popular, the novel would appear in numerous editions, with early editions attributed to "A Lady of Massachusetts."
Deborah Sampson (1760-1827) cooperates with Herman Mann in writing The Female Review; or, Life of Deborah Sampson, Dedham [Mass.}: Nathaniel and Benjamin Heaton, 1797. This is an account of Deborah Sampson, afterwards Mrs. Benjamin Gannett, who served as a soldier in the revolutionary war under the name of Robert Shirtliff. an embellished autobiography detailing Sampson's experiences in the American Revolution, in which she had dressed as a man & served in the Massachusetts militia & Continental army. Although she had lost her wartime diary, she told her tale to Herman Mann, who wrote & published it.
In the first black initiated petition to Congress, Philadelphia free blacks protest North Carolina laws re-enslaving blacks freed during the Revolution.
Sarah Wentworth Morton writes Beacon Hill: A Local Poem, Historic and Descriptive, Boston: Manning & Loring, 1797. This was poetical record of the American Revolution.
Controversial Alien and Sedition Acts are passed by the US Congress as emergency measures in response to the perceived threat of war with France. The Alien and Sedition Acts give the president the power to imprison or deport foreigners believed to be dangerous to the United States and make it a crime to attack the government with "false, scandalous, or malicious" statements or writings. Thomas Jefferson later pardons all those convicted under the Sedition Act, many of whom were Democrat-Republicans.
Congress abolishes debtors' prisons.
Susanna Haswell Rowson writes Reuben and Rachel; or, Tales of Old Times, Boston: Manning and Loring, for D. West, 1798. This romantic novel surveys the history of Western civilization & attempts to interest young women toward history.
Hannah Webster Foster writes The Boarding School; or, Lessons of a Preceptress to Her Pupils, Boston: I. Thomas and E.T. Andrews, 1798. This is a collection of moral & domestic lectures, including her advocacy of female education & criticism of sexual double standards.
Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820) writes The Gleaner, Boston: I. Thomas and E.T. Andrews, 1798. This is a collection of essays on history, guidelines for women's conduct, discussion of education and politics, & poems. Originally published under the guise of male authorship to maintain an impartial readership, the essays attempt to prove the capability of women writers.
George Washington, aged sixty-seven, dies after a brief illness at his home in Virginia.
American born Helena Wells (c. 1760-c. 1809) writes The Stepmother. The story of an independent woman who manages her own finances & property after the death of her husband; it includes detailed descriptions of the conduct of a sensible woman. The daughter of a Loyalist bookseller & publisher, Wells was a novelist & educator who operated, with her sister, a boarding school for girls in London & worked as a governess.
Hannah Adams (1755-1831) writes A Summary History of New England, Dedham [Mass.]: Printed for the author, by H. Mann and J.H. Adams. This is an account of events from the sailing of the Mayflower to the establishment of the Constitution, based on primary sources from state archives & newspapers. Adams conducted much of her research in bookshops, because she could not afford to purchase books.
The census estimated the population of the United States at 3,929,214.
The United States reports a birth rate of 7.04 children per woman, one of the highest in the world.
The congress founds a new national library in Washington named The Library of Congress.
US president John Adams moves into the newly completed White House, named for its light grey limestone.
Republican Thomas Jefferson and Federalist Aaron Burr tie votes in the Electoral College in the presidential election. The US House of Representatives votes for Jefferson as president.
According to George Washington's vision, Washington City in the District of Columbia becomes the capital of the United States, a new city located at the junction of the Potomac & Anacostia rivers. Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant (1754–1825) designs a plan modeled on Versailles with grand public parks & spacious avenues radiating out from on a domed Capitol.
Off the coast of Cuba, the U.S. naval vessel Ganges captures two American vessels, carrying 134 enslaved Africans, for violating the 1794 Slave Trade Act & brings them to Philadelphia for adjudication in federal court by Judge Richard Peters. Peters turns the custody of the Africans over to the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, which attempts to assimilate the Africans into Pennsylvania using the indenture system with many local Quakers serving as sponsors.
American born Helena Wells writes Constantia Neville; or, The West Indian, a novel about education promoting Christianity in arguments with deists & Unitarians and includes an attack on English author and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
Absalom Jones & other Philadelphia blacks petition Congress against the slave trade & against the fugitive slave act of 1793.
Sarah Sayward Barrell Keating Wood (1759-1855) writes Julia and the Illuminated Baron, a gothic story of an intrepid young woman who resists an atheistic baron during the French Revolution.
See Burt, Daniel S , editor. The Chronology of American Literature: America's Literary Achievements from the Colonial Era to Modern Times. Houghton Mifflin Internet. History Matters. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University).