Events and Dates in 1831

January, 1831

01 [exact date unknown] Gamaliel Bailey (a future prominent abolitionist) arrives in Baltimore to begin editing the Methodist Protestant. (Source: Harrold, Gamaliel Bailey, p6).

01/01 - First issue of William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator published.

01/31 - David Crockett, started a fight in Congress over which committee would receive a petition by three Cherokee to be granted 640 acre land tracts. (Source: Derr, Fronteirsman, p177)

February, 1831

02/06 - Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave Beaumont are given leave to make trip to America. (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p18)


02/11 - Edward Everett wrote his wife "The city is all agog about the controversy between Mr. CalhounVan Buren. The rupture is supposed to be impending. At the French minister's Van Buren went up to Calhoun & offered him his hand. Calhoun turned on his heel and went off; and it was said that a very angry pamphlet is to be published by Calhoun in a day or two". (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, p307). (See 2/17 re the "pamphlet")

02/13 - David Crockett writes to a constituent "Thare will be an explosion take place this week that will Tare their party into sunder Mr. Calhoun is coming out with a circular or a publication of the correspondence between him & the President that will blow their little Red Fox or aleaus Martin van buren into atoms.". (Source: Derr, Fronteirsman, p179) (see 2/17 for the actual event referred to) Crockett's optimism mirrored Calhoun's hopes of exposing Van Buren as a Machivelean who had orchestrated all his troubles.

02/15 (a guess - source says 'middle of Feb.') - Alexis de Tocqueville writes of his plans, "We are leaving, with the intention of examining, in detail and as scientifically as possible, all the mechanism of that vast American society which every one talks of and no one knows. And if events leave us the time, we are counting on bringing back the elements of a fine work or, at the very least, of a new work; for there is nothing on this subject." (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p18)

02/17 - John C. Calhoun published a pamphlet containing his correspondence with Andrew Jackson over the Seminole war matter (see 5/25/30). Calhoun believed, and slanted his presentation to try to prove, that his troubles were all caused by a conspiracy by Van Buren to undermine him. The result of the publication, as Pres. Jackson wrote on 3/7, was that Calhoun and Duff Green "destroyed themselves in a shorter space of time than any two men I ever knew." (see 3/7) (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, p307)

02/28 - Congressman David Crockett, by now an overt anti-Jackson man, made a speech and sent a circular letter accusing the federal government of mistreating the Indians, saying, in effect (quoted from source, not Crockett:) "The Indians had been urged to become farmers, like the white man, only to be told after doing so that they should move across the Mississippi and become hunters again." (Source: Derr, Fronteirsman, p175)

March, 1831

03/04 - The "Siamese Twins", Chang and Eng, land in New York for the second time (The Two, p100)

03/07 - Pres. Jackson wrote of Calhoun and Duff Green, especially re the publication of 2/17"They have cut their own throats, and destroyed themselves in a shorter space of time than any two men I ever knew." (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, p309)

03/15 - The "Siamese Twins", Chang and Eng, open an exhibit in New York for the second time. Philip Hone went to see them on that day. (The Two, p104)

03/31 - James Hale, in charge of exhibiting the "Siamese Twins", writes from New York: "We have not had forty ladies since we opened -- they you know are our best customers, if we can get them -- Our receipts have averaged but $20 per day -- and two nights at the Theatre paid $50 per night amounting in all -- 15 days to 425 dollars ... I expect to go to Philadelphia on Sunday next and try it there, and feel afraid on coming back we shall have to come down to 25 cents to make money" (The Two, p104)

April, 1831

04/02 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont set sail from France to America (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p23)

04/20 - The Washington Globe announced resignations of John Eaton and Martin Van Buren. Van Buren's friends in New York, unaware that he had something to do with engineering the whole thing, worried. (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, p315)

04/26 - In Baltimore, the Odd Fellows dedicate a new lodge, on their anniversary, in Gay Street. (Source: Vexler, Baltimore, p33)

May, 1831

05/14 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont arrive in America (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p32)

05/15 - de Tocqueville's first impressions of America (in New York): "the Americans seem to us to carry national pride altogether too far. I doubt it is possible to draw from them the least truth unfavourable to their country. ... In general it seems to me that there is much of the small town in their attitude and that they magnify objects like people who are not accustomed to seeing great things." (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p32)

05/19 - At a public dinner organized by Gov. Hamilton at St. Andrew's Hall, George McDuffie gave a harrangue, calling the tariff "a system of stupendous oppression under which we are steadily and rapidly sinking into utter and hopeless ruin", and labeled the idea that nullification would end in "blood-shed and civil war" as "utterly ridiculous". "The Union, ... is a foul monster, which those who worship ... are worthy of their chains. ... shall we be frightened by mere phantoms of blood, when our ancestors, for less cause, encountered the dreadful reality? ... [are we] to be frightened from the discharge of our most sacred duty ... by the mere nursery tales of raw-heads and bloody-bones?" (Source:  Freehling, Prelude to Civil War, p222)

05/28 - The Charleston Mercury explains to its readers why the Commander in Chief will not be able to command the force to suppress nullification. (Source:  Freehling, Prelude to Civil War, p232, which describes it as a "good example" of what nullifiers were saying.)

05/29 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont begin their examination of Sing-Sing. (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p66-7)

05/30 - Frances Trollope sets out for Niagara Falls. (Source: Introduction to Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans, p.lx)

June, 1831

06/06 - The first Annual Convention of the People of Color was convened in Philadelphia, at Wesleyan Church on Lombard St. A major part of its platform was opposition to the colonization movement. Simeon Jocelyn, with the backing of Arthur Tappan and William Lloyd Garrison, all attending the convention, proposed there a "Negro college" in New Haven, CT, the city selected in part for its "friendly, pious, generous, and humane" population. (Source: Richards, Gentlemen of Property and Standing, p37; Chronological History, p140) (See 9/1831 and 10/1831 for the reaction of the "friendly,.., generous", New Haven population.)

06/13 - John Berrien "was despatched" from the Jackson Cabinet where he had served as Attorney General. The last to go, he could not take a hint and resign. (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, p316)


July, 1831

07 (date uncertain) The Tappan brothers organize a "Society for Promoting Manual Labor in Literary Institutions" (and make Theodore Weld its primary promoter). (source: Thomas, Weld, p25)

07/02 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont arrive in Albany, NY (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p115)


07/12 Charleston, SC nullifiers, meeting in Fayolle's hall, create a statewide States Rights and Free Trade Association with object of "unifying the nullifiers' campaign, distributing propaganda, and arranging meetings ... educating and exciting the 'rable' [in violation of the old rules of aristocracy]". (Source:  Freehling, Prelude to Civil War, p224-5)

07/23 - Touring the wild territory of Michigan, de Tocqueville and Beaumont get advice from a "Major Biddle", and rent some horses.(Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p154,155)

07/26 - John C. Calhoun's Fort Hill Address appeared in the Pendleton Messenger.

07/31 - As twenty-eight Menominee Indians held a kind of celebration of their massacre of Foxes the previous year, and fall into a drunken stupor, Black Hawk (supposedly, according to Lyman) and a large group of Foxes ambush and kill the whole group. (Source: Lyman, John Marsh, p159,160) (see also 7/7/1830) Note: Black Hawk, in his Autobiography, p115 (ed Donald Jackson, c1955, 1990 based on the 1833 edition) says nothing about going up with the Foxes on this mission, but does say he counselled with them and agreed with the action.

August, 1831

08/01 - Approximate date of Lincoln's arrival in New Salem, where he intended to settle for a while, working for Denton Offut. (Source: Beveridge, Lincoln, vol. 1, p108)

08/05 - Frances Trollope sets foot on English soil again, almost four years since departing for America. (Source: Introduction to Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans, p.lx)

08/09 - Thurlow Weed rode on the first steam passenger train to run in New York State, from Albany to Schenectady. The two-carriage train was pulled the 16 miles by the engine "De Witt Clinton".

08/22 - In the very early hours of Monday morning, Nat Turner and comrades began the "Turner rebellion", in Southampton County, VA. (Source: Oates, Fires of Jubilee, p68)

September, 1831

09 [exact date unknown]


09/12 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont, in Boston, observe a 'curious ceremony' Faneuil Hall, in which flags were being consecrated before being sent on to (independence?) fighters in Poland. "The Rev. Dr. Beecher fervently and eloquently invoked the Divine Blessing on the cause of the Poles .. praying that the rod of the oppressor might be broken, and the oppressed of all nations emancipated, etc." (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p234,5)

09/17 - Gov. Floyd of Virginia posted a $500 reward for the capture of Nat Turner. (Source: Oates, Fires of Jubilee, p114)

09/22 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont hear from Francis Lieber"We Europeans, we think to create republics by organizing a great political assembly. The Republic on the contrary, is of all the governments the one that depends most on every part of society ... If an obstacle embarrasses the public way, the neighbors will at once constitute themselves a deliberative body; they will name a commission and will remedy the evil by their collective force, wisely directed ... For my part, I feel myself inclined to believe ... that constitutions and political laws are nothing in themselves. They are dead creations to which the morals and the social position of the people alone can give life." (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p248)


09/28 - The Anti-Masonic convention, in Baltimore, nominated William Wirt for president and Amos Ellmaker of PA for vice president. (Source: Vexler, Baltimore, p33; Van Deusen, Weed, p59)

October, 1831

10 (exact date unknown) - In New Haven, a mob "stoned Arthur Tappan's house on Temple St., ... another invaded the ghetto 'New Liberia' and attacked amalgamation where it actually existed, capturing four white women and 14 white men." (Source: Richards, Gentlemen of Property and Standing, p38) (see also 6/6 and 9/1831)

10/12 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont arrive in Philadelphia (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p305) de Tocqueville, asks to interview, in private, every prisoner in the Eastern State Penitentiary.


November, 1831

11/01 - Thomas Gray begins interviews with Nat Turner written up as "The Confessions of Nat Turner". (Source: Oates, Fires of Jubilee, p120)

11/05 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont visit Charles Carroll, (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p305

11/11 Nat Turner was hanged. (Source: Oates, Fires of Jubilee, p121)

11/19 - Gov. Floyd of VA wrote Gov. Hamilton of SC that he "favored gradual emancipation and colonization). (Source: Oates, Fires of Jubilee, p137)

11/20 - Andrew Jackson Jr. left Washington for Philadelphia where he would marry Sarah Yorke. (see 11/24) (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, p334)

11/22 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont, after spending a few more days in Philadelphia, set out for Pittsburgh, and the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p347) On the steamboat The Fourth of July, they converse with "a great landholder from the State of Illinois".

11/24 - Andrew Jackson Jr, adopted son of the president, married Sarah Yorke, daughter of a formerly wealthy Philadelphia merchant (who died just after losing his fortune). They married in Philadelphia, and honeymooned in the White House (almost certainly the first meeting of the father and daughter-in-law). "Sarah became a joy and comfort to [Pres. Jackson] for the rest of his days (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, p334,335)

11/26 -During the night, de Tocqueville and Beaumont are nearly drowned when The Fourth of July strikes a reef, but winds up perched on the reef, though unable to keep out water, rather than sinking (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p348)

11/30 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont arrive in Cincinnati. (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p352)

December, 1831

12 (exact date unknown) - R.W. Emerson reading works of science, including Davy's Elements of Agricultural Chemistry, thinking of "The Adamantine Record of the past" (as if life gets frozen in molten lava) "Of most importance ... [he read] J.F.W. Herschel's Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy. (Source: Richardson, Emerson, p123)

12/03 - de Tocqueville and Beaumont interview Salmon P. Chase in Cincinnati. (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p305

12/05 - The 22nd Congress convenes.

12/06 - Andrew Jackson sends annual message to Congress, and submits French treaty on spoliations to the Senate. (Source: Remini, Jackson, vol 2, pxv)

12/12 - The National Republican Convention met in the Baltimore Atheneum; the 140 delegates nominated Henry Clay for president and John Sergent of PA for vice president on 12/14.

12/26 - The riverboat carrying de Tocqueville and Beaumont to New Orleans runs aground on a sand bar. Shortly before, they witnessed a distressing scene of the forced expulsion of Choctaw Indians. They also, at about this time, have a conversation with Sam Houston about the indians. (Source: Pierson, Tocqueville, p388,9)