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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Sir Robert arrived in London on December 9


Lord Melbourne dismissed]

[Sidenote: Peel dissolves Parliament]

The death of Earl Spencer, which raised Lord Althorp, his son, to the Upper House, gave the King a chance to get rid of his new advisers. When Lord Melbourne, on November 14, submitted to the King the changes he proposed to make in the Ministry in consequence of the vacancies in the Exchequer, William IV. expressed his disapproval and called in the Duke of Wellington in his stead. The Duke advised that the task of forming a new Cabinet be intrusted to Sir Robert Peel, then in Rome. Sir Robert arrived in London on December 9, and at once accepted the task imposed on him. The opposition against his new-formed Ministry was so strong that it was decided to appeal to the country. On December 30, Parliament was dissolved.

[Sidenote: American slavery agitation]

[Sidenote: "Atherton Gag"]

[Sidenote: American events]

In North America, the contest between the Northern and Southern States in regard to slavery steadily gathered force. President Jackson, in his annual message, called attention to "the fearful excitement produced in the South by attempts to circulate through the mails inflammatory appeals addressed to the slaves." The Federal postmasters of the South and in several cities of the North were encouraged in the

practice of rifling the mails of possibly offensive matter. John Quincy Adams was threatened with public censure at the bar of the House for proposing to print a petition for freedmen. All attempts to get such petitions before Congress were defeated by a standing rule known as the Atherton Gag. During this year the national debt was almost liquidated by Jackson's payment of $4,760,082. A measure was passed through Congress establishing the value of gold and silver. Gold flowed into the Treasury through all channels of commerce. The mint was kept busy, and specie payments, which had been suspended for thirty years, were resumed. Gold and silver became the recognized currency of the land. The President's measures against the National Bank were less successful. On March 28, the Senate debated Clay's resolution censuring the President for his removal of the government deposits. A joint resolution by both Houses of Congress was passed, in the Senate, June 3, by a vote of 29 to 10. Other events of the year of interest to Americans were the popular riots that threw New York into a turmoil on the occasion of the first mayoralty election in that city, the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Legislature of Illinois, the establishment of the Indian Territory; and the first appearance of Bancroft's "History of the United States."

[Sidenote: Friction matches]

Of world-wide interest was the emancipation of all black slaves in the British West Indies, South Africa, and other colonies; the establishment of the German tariff union, including all German States except Austria; the transfer of the capital of Greece from Nauplia to the site of Athens; the foundation of the free university of Brussels, and the death of the great German theologian Schleiermacher. An innovation that was destined to add to the convenience and comfort of domestic life throughout the world was the introduction of lucifer matches during this year.


[Sidenote: Irish balance of power]

[Sidenote: Gladstone's anti-Irish speech]

[Sidenote: O'Connell's reply]

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