May 1st, 1845: Formerly enslaved man Fredrick Douglass published his memoir “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” The memoir helped to fuel the abolitionist movement in the United States. Douglass was known as a powerful orator, an abolitionist, and also a supporter of the suffrage movement for women.
May 19th, 1845: The Franklin Expedition set sail for the Northwest Passage, the previously uncharted path from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic. The ships were likely caught in ice and wrecked. All 128 men onboard the ships were never seen again.
September 23rd, 1846: German Astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle was the first person to discover the planet Neptune. Although previous astronomers predicted Neptune’s presence, Galle was the first to knowingly view it.
1847: Ireland experienced the most deadly year of the Irish Potato Famine. Throughout The Great Famine, over 1 million people died, and around 2.1 million people emigrated from Ireland.
February 19th, 1847: Rescuers find the Donner Party. The Donner party was a group of 87 pioneers attempting to shorten their trek along the Oregon Trail by taking a shortcut. The group was caught in multiple snowstorms and was stuck in deadly winter conditions for months. Some resulted to cannibalism to avoid starvation. Of the 87 members, only 48 survived.
February 21st, 1848: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published “The Communist Manifesto.” They argued that capitalism would be replaced with Socialism and eventually Communism. The pamphlet called for the “forcible overthrow of all social conditions.”
July 19-20th, 1848: The Seneca Falls Convention met. It was the first Woman’s Rights convention in America. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were among the organizers. One of their main goals was to secure women’s right to vote.
April 13th, 1844: Edgar Allan Poe wrote a false news story which was originally presented as a true story of a man crossing the Atlantic Ocean in three days via a giant gas balloon. The story was retracted two days later and given the name “The Balloon-Hoax.”
January 1845: The American Review published Poe’s poem, “The Raven”. Although “The Raven” made Edgar Allan Poe a household name, he only earned $15 from the original publication.
November 1846: Edgar Allan Poe, his wife Virginia, and his mother-in-law Maria moved to Fordham New York, an area now a part of the Bronx. Poe published “The Cask of Amontillado” (November) which is a story about a man seeking revenge on his enemy by fatally bricking him up inside a wall.
January 30th, 1847: Edgar Allan Poe’s wife Virginia died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. In December, Poe published the poem “Ulalume,” a tragic story of a man visiting the grave of his love.
September 27th, 1849: Edgar Allan Poe left Richmond on a boat to Baltimore. From Baltimore, he planned to go to Philadelphia to see a client, then travel to New York to gather his things and take his mother-in-law Maria and their possessions back to Richmond to permanently live with Elmira.