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Travelling from England to China in 1810

Travelling from England to China in 1810

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I'd like to know what would have been the most common route to travel from England to Canton, China, in 1810 and how long the journey would have taken.

The China trade routes were already established by that time, so a merchant ship, typically one classed as an East Indiaman, which carried supplies enough to make the long voyage, would sail 'around the horn' or around the Cape of Good Hope, depending on the stops. They would often stop at at India , Australia or the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and then proceed to China.

I found one ship, coincidentally named Canton, that has some recorded voyages from England to China, this one in 1810:

EIC voyage #8 (1810-1811) Captain George Gray acquired a letter of marque on 22 March 1810.5 He sailed from Portsmouth on 28 April, bound for China. Canton was at Penang on 5 September and Malacca on 26 September, before she arrived at Whampoa on 10 December.

So, this is about a 4-6 month trip, depending on winds and stops

Travelling from England to China in 1810 - History

Importance of Foreign Trade after the Revolution

The world that the former British colonies entered as the newly independent United States was one in which countries closely controlled their domestic and international economies. European countries had been practicing mercantilism from the 16th century on as each of them worked to become more powerful than its neighbors and competitors. Wealth in the coffers of the government was the source of power, and to insure capturing as much wealth as possible, the nation/kingdom became the center of a fairly closed trading network which included colonies that provided raw materials.

The economy of the American British colonies at the time of the revolution was extractive. Natural materials such as lumber, fish, rum were harvested and traded within the British empire. Manufacturing and other kinds of trade were prohibited by the Navigation Act of 1651 and subsequent legislation. North American British colonials were thus required to purchase Asian goods through England rather than engaging in an independent Asian trade. One of the contributing causes of colonial unrest was the exclusion of Americans from what was seen in the colonies as a very lucrative China trade.

The demand for Chinese products—tea, porcelain, silk, and nankeen (a coarse, strong cotton cloth)—continued after the Revolution. Having seen the British make great profits from the trade when the colonies were prevented from direct trade with China, Americans were eager to secure these profits for themselves. The need to provide employment for people who had depended on the sea for their livelihood, the need to continue importing manufactured goods as yet unavailable from American sources, and the need to generate capital for development stimulated the development of a new kind of foreign trade. Direct trade with China was part of this trade. With the volume of foreign trade relatively small during the early years of the Republic, trade with China played a significant role.

Ships from Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Salem were the most active in the new China trade. The immediate difficulty which all traders faced was to find commodities to sell in China to offset American purchases in China that were mostly paid for in silver shipped from the Americas to China. Traders from these different American ports settled on different commodities and followed different routes to China to obtain these commodities. In general, all traders engaged in the serial trading of goods, buying and selling in all the ports they visited.

Traders from Philadelphia first sent their ships across the Atlantic Ocean to buy and sell goods in Europe. They then traded around Africa and across the Indian Ocean to China. Around 1810, Philadelphia merchants found a source of opium in Smyrna (Turkey) and they began to ship this commodity to China. However, they continued to ship other goods as well. Ships from New York seem to have engaged in a broad range of trade strategies available and in the mid-19th century, New York became the major port involved in the China trade.

By the 1830’s, trade routes were well established between the United States and China, and the names of ports in the Eastern hemisphere, once exotic and mysterious, were becoming increasingly familiar to Americans as places of importance to the United States’ economy.

Tea was the most important imported commodity Americans obtained from China through the end of the 19th century. Initially, American imports from China largely consisted of cloth (nankeen and silk) as well as tea. Tea became the dominant commodity, expanding from approximately 36% of the total imports from China in 1822 to 65% in 1860.

Textile imports declined during the 1830s. Silk imports declined although the reason is uncertain. As cotton textile manufacturing developed in the 1820s and the quality of domestic cloth rose and the cost decreased, the U.S. stopped importing nankeen and began to export cotton cloth to China. Machine-spun cloth did not have comparable quality to the homespun, hand-woven nankeen which the Chinese continued to prefer for work clothes. It was not until the middle to the end of the 19th century that western-manufactured cloth provided the serviceability for a comparable price as did Chinese-produced cloth. At that time western cloth began to be imported into China in increasing quantities. By the last quarter of the 19th century, cotton cloth and cotton yarn represented a significant portion of the total American exports to China.

Americans initially looked to ginseng as the commodity which would finance trade with China. This market quickly turned out to be very volatile. Furs also held promise, but this market also proved to be undependable. Without a commodity which consistently found a market in China, the Americans had to use specie (metal and coins) to finance the trade. Without a source of gold or silver, Americans had to obtain specie elsewhere. They did this by engaging in a triangular trade. Goods were shipped to Europe, between European ports, or to South America and sold for Mexican dollars. The specie was then shipped to China to purchase tea. By the 1830s, a significant amount of the trade was financed by credit extended by London banks through their representatives in China.

Some Americans also turned to opium as a commodity to finance the China trade. India produced the highest quality opium, but the British East India Company held a monopoly on opium production in India until 1831. Turkey produced opium of lesser quality and on a far smaller scale than India. Americans began shipping opium from Smyrna by 1805. Turkish opium only made up a small part of the total opium imported into China. Opium did not become an important commodity in American trade with China until the 1830s when it made up approximately 1/4 of the total that Americans sold in China. Opium imported by Americans never exceeded 10% of the total opium imported into China.

Despite all these attempts to find a commodity other than specie that could balance the cost of goods imported from China, Americans could not find one.

To understand why Westerners had a difficult time finding goods which the Chinese consistently wanted to buy, it is necessary to look both at the economics and ideas about trade. The Chinese economy at the end of the 18th century was quite well developed. Goods that could not be produced locally were supplied from other sources within China. The size, diversity, and the degree of integration of the Chinese empire provided its inhabitants with necessities and its elite with many luxuries. The goods which the West originally offered the Chinese were luxury items, the market for which was soon oversupplied. At that time, over 90% of the Chinese population lived on the land and most of them lived a hand-to-mouth existence.

The West wanted the tea which China produced and believed that it had the right to trade for it. Trade was seen as the means to expand national and personal wealth, so it was assumed to be natural that every one and every country would take part in trade.

The Chinese, on the other hand, had a traditional theoretical disdain for commerce. In Confucian thought, society was divided into four social classes—ranked from high to low—scholars, peasants, artisans, and merchants. The first three groups were seen to produce something, while merchants were seen as making a profit without producing anything. Nevertheless, commerce developed in China to a high degree, but it was not protected by law and always subjected to governmental demands for “contributions.”

Traditional China did also take part in some foreign trade through its history, but it was cast in terms of largess by the Emperor in return for tribute paid by states or tribes which acknowledged Chinese suzerainty. These ideas were very much a part of the Chinese mind-set when the West approached at the end of the 18th century and remained unchanged for most Chinese into the 20th century.

Given these two very different approaches and ideas about commerce, it is easy to see why conflicts developed.

In the years following the American Revolution, speed was the most important consideration for ships. Sailing ships tended to be small and swift so that they could outrun and outmaneuver the British, French, and pirate vessels that tried to capture American ships. A ship like the Empress of China (the first American ship to trade in China), was only sixty-five feet long and twenty-five feet wide below the deck. Living quarters, the ship’s provisions, ballast, and cargo all shared this space. These small vessels made the trip around the globe with a cargo equivalent to that carried in two or three railroad boxcars. Larger sailing ship in the 1820’s and 1830’s could carry 400 to 500 tons of cargo, equivalent to about eight railroad boxcars, but still very little compared to today’s modern container ships that can carry 50,000 tons.

Sailing ships were built larger through the 1830s, 40s, and 50s, as longer trade routes became routine and the threat of pirates diminished. From 1841 through 1860, “extreme clippers” dominated the trade to Asia. These ships were large, carrying huge, lucrative cargoes of tea, spices, textiles, and chinaware to consumers in America and Europe. In the 1860s, while the United States was embroiled in a civil war, European-manufactured steam-powered ships came to dominate the ocean trade routes.

During the decades preceding and during the Civil War, the United States was largely focused on domestic matters and sectionalism rather than foreign policy. But it was also during this time that Americans, who had spent most of their history looking towards the East Coast and Europe, would begin to see the strategic and economic importance of developing the West Coast and maintaining shipping routes to the Far East.

During the late 1850’s, the United States’ trade with China declined. Domestic manufactures produced in factories in the rapidly industrializing northern states were replacing imports: cotton replaced nankeen, American pottery factories replicated Chinese designs on porcelain, and coffee imported from Central and South America was replacing Chinese tea.

The Civil War consumed the resources of the American economy. Meanwhile, European shipyards surged ahead in the manufacture of steam-powered vessels which quickly came to dominate the ocean trade routes. The United States would not catch up to Europe in this area until the 1880s and 1890s, by which time England, Spain, France, Germany, and Russia had all gained a firm foothold in the China trade.

Despite the great profits that could be made in the China trade, Europe offered a more receptive market for American goods and remained the primary focus of America’s foreign trade. As U.S. foreign trade expanded during the 19th century, trade with Europe grew enormously, while the China trade remained fairly constant and became an even smaller percentage of total U.S. foreign trade.

American interests in the Pacific, however, continued to expand. California, Oregon, and Washington became part of the United States. American missionaries and then businessmen settled in the Hawaiian islands and successfully lobbied for American rule. When the defeat of the Spanish fleet at Manila in 1898 provided the opportunity to take control of the Philippines, American business lobbied for American rule there. They believed that an American presence in the Philippines would help American businessmen compete in China where foreign countries were increasingly carving out areas of economic dominance (spheres of influence). Mounting pressure on the U.S. government eventually resulted in the promulgation of the Open Door Policy in 1899.

With the reopening of China to trade in the last quarter of the 20th century, American businessmen have again approached China as a market with great potential. This time, China is not adverse to trade but two factors – a population with little disposable income and a governement that is protecting the development of its economy – has led again to a significant trade imbalance and to questions of how to deal with this issue.

Copyright© 2006. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

Made arrowheads

In between trips they stayed in the grounds of Colonel Harrison's ancestral seat at Brandesburton Hall and wandered freely around the area.

They spent their free time walking around the East Yorkshire village and hunted birds and rabbits in the surrounding parkland.

It appears the Pygmies became a familiar sight in the area.

They even made arrowheads at the local blacksmiths and joined in the Sunday school singing, said Mr Mason.

The group used a combination of broken English and sign language to communicate.

Colonel Harrison wrote a book about his experiences among the Pygmies of Ituri Forest and explained in it how he made assurances the travelling group were volunteers, who would be well treated and returned to their homes.

And that is how the 22-year-old "Chief" Bokane, and the "Princess" Quarke, 22, along with Mogonga, 18, Masutiminga, 22, Matuka, 23, and Amurape, the oldest at 31, arrived in London in June 1905 via Egypt.

Not everyone was as keen as the colonel to bring the party to the country.

Human rights organisation the Aborigines' Protection Society apparently lobbied the Foreign Office hoping to stop the visit but Colonel Harrison was able to bring the group into the country because they were not English citizens.

The society, founded in 1837, was designed to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. It merged with the Anti-Slavery Society in 1909.

The Coaches From Travellers in Eighteenth-Century England by Rosamond Bayne-Powell

Methods of Travelling
Once having reached an English port, the aim of all travellers was to leave it as soon as possible. There were several means available. English people of the upper classes generally travelled in their carriages, drawn by their own horses, or when posting had been established, by post horses. A wealthy foreigner sometimes adopted this form of travel. Count Kielmansegg hired a landau and horses in London, for a tour through England. For this he had to pay 27s. a day but before they got to Oxford the roads had become so bad that the coachman insisted on turning back. The count being a foreigner and unable to cope with recalcitrant Englishmen, meekly hired two post-chaises, and made his way with his party to the University City, his servants riding on behind him.

Sophie de la Roche, a German in spite of her name, had a pleasanter experience. She hired, also in London, "a pretty carriage for three drawn by two horses and a friendly coachman" for 15s. a day but then nothing tiresome ever seemed to happen to Sophie. She was full of the praises of England, and no one apparently had the heart to disappoint her.

This method of travelling was not usually adopted by those who had just arrived from the Continent. It was very expensive and required a fuller knowledge of English, and of current coaching slang than the newcomers generally possessed.

The hardy Englishman frequently travelled on horseback. It was a pleasant and independent way of going in summer and if the weather were good. Bad roads and miry patches could often be avoided by taking cuts across fields or over heaths, one saw the country at one's leisure and saved the money for coach hire. On the other hand a man riding alone was liable to be attacked by highwaymen. He must know the language and the roads or he might go far out of his way and find himself benighted in a bog. He would be obliged to send all the property, which he could not cram into two saddlebags, by the stage waggon or by sea, with the risk of never seeing it again.

This was possibly an aspersion on English horsemanship. Owing to bad roads and furious driving there were probably more accidents to coaches and post-chaises than to riders on horseback.

Be that as it may, the foreigner arriving at an English port, generally looked around for some other method of transport. Perhaps he consulted the landlord, and if he were staying at a really first-class inn, which catered only for the quality, his host would assure him that no gentleman travelled except by post-chaise. This method of conveyance became common about the middle of the century. The chaise usually held two persons, with a dicky behind for the servants it was lighter than the old lumbering coaches and went at a faster pace. There was no coachman and the horses were driven by a post-boy who rode on one of them. These post-boys were usually grown men, some of whom were quite elderly and had been in that employment for years. Theirs was a hard life, exposed to wind and weather, contending with bad roads, tired horses and the vagaries and stinginess of passengers. No wonder that there were many complaints about them, that they were often surly, frequently drunken and sometimes in league with the highwaymen who infested the roads. These bandits would often have post-boys in their pay, and if a particularly wealthy-looking guest was leaving the Angel or the George, word would be sent by an underling of the stable that a gentleman worthy of their attention would be travelling up the London road at such and such an hour on the following day.

The post-boys generally wore a uniform, perhaps of green with gold braid and a cocked hat, though Moritz speaks of the one he had, who "wore his hair cut short, a round hat and a brown jacket of tolerable fine cloth with a nosegay in his bosom". They expected to be given a tip of 3d. a mile. This, with the 1s. 6d. a mile charged for posting and 6d. to the ostler when the horses were changed, made such a mode of travelling very expensive. Indeed when we consider the value of money, and that prices have risen enormously for most commodities during the last 200 years, we may conclude that a journey was then about the most expensive thing a man could undertake.

Stage Coaches
The stage-coach was certainly cheaper. The charge was 2d. or 3d. a mile with tips at the end of the journey to guard and coachman. In his own country the foreign traveller had been accustomed to the stage-coach or diligence and it was by this means that he usually journeyed to his destination.

The stage-coaches were heavy, lumbering vehicles. In the earlier days of the century they were generally covered with dull black leather, studded with nails, the frames and wheels being picked out with red. The windows were then covered with boards or sometimes with leather curtains. Pastor Moritz, who came to England in 1782, found a coach of this description still upon the roads, and having a taste for fresh air and sunshine he complained of a fellow traveller, a farmer "who seemed anxious to shun the light and so shut up every window he could come at".

It was not the light to which the farmer objected — no one in England minded light, but they did most strongly object to the air which came through a window. This, as was well known, was most prejudicial to health and nearly everyone would have agreed with Mr. Woodhouse on that subject.

The coaches of the early eighteenth century were entirely devoid of springs. They lumbered along at four miles an hour or even less, drawn by three horses, "unicorn" as it was called, and a post-boy sat on one of the pair.

Flying Coaches
Misson, a French traveller who visited England in 1719, tells us of

At that date these flying-coaches were not common, nor was their speed in any way excessive.

The old stage-coaches were certainly better than anything of their kind to be found on the Continent.

He was to find one stage-coach that had twelve to fifteen people on the top. This crowding of the coaches was a common complaint. They were built to carry four passengers in comfort inside and not more than six were supposed to ride on the top. Then there was the basket or rumble tumble. This was described in an advertisement in the London Evening Post of 1751 as

We may see this basket with an old woman sitting in it in Hogarth's picture of the Inn Yard. Poor Pastor Moritz did not find it a conveniency. Tired of crouching on the curved roof of the coach, hanging on to a small, wooden handle, he prepared to slip down into the basket. "A blackamoor", his fellow-passenger, tried to dissuade him, pointing out that he would be half killed but he was so uncomfortable where he was that he resolved to risk it. At first, as they were going uphill, he was fairly comfortable, indeed he was nearly asleep, when the coach began to go downhill and all the bags and parcels fell upon him. He was so much bruised and shaken that he was glad to climb back to insecurity on the roof. "The getting up there alone" he said "was at the risk of one's life" and yet, he tells us, women sometimes rode on the tops of coaches. It had "frightened and distressed him to see them getting down". This getting up and down had to be done in the street, for no coach could then have passed through the archway into the inn yard had it carried outside passengers. Later on, when seats were made for outside travellers, the newer inns built arches sufficiently high to accommodate them. The reason, of course for travelling in this extreme discomfort, was that it was cheap. The outside only paid half the price of an inside seat and he could, if he preferred it, travel in the basket for the same sum. If, driven by rain, snow or extreme discomfort, he wished to change and go inside, he could only do so if one of the insides agreed, and he was then put next to his benefactor.

"All Gammon"
In 1783 Richard Gammon introduced a bill into the House of Commons to regulate the number of outside passengers — only six might be carried on the roof and two on the box of a three- or four-horsed coach, and on a pair-horse stage only three on the roof and one on the box. " All Gammon !" infuriated coachmen and coach proprietors exclaimed. Did they not already pay a tax of £5 a year and a halfpenny a mile? The act was a dead letter.

In 1734 one of these new conveyances advertised itself as "The Newcastle Flying Coach". This marvel actually did the whole journey to London

Hitherto the coach had gone perhaps twenty-five miles or as far as the unicorn could be induced to draw it, and then had stopped to rest. The passengers stayed at their inn and continued the journey the following day when the horses were thought to be sufficiently refreshed. Now, by changing horses, the journey could be done more expeditiously. Coaches too began to improve, glass replaced boards and leather curtains in the windows and the vehicle was called a glass-coach. Later still the coaches were fitted with springs. This was not always an unmixed blessing. The mail-coaches, of which we shall speak presently, were hung so high that their motion was often intolerable. The landlady of the New London Inn, Exeter, declared that the passengers arriving there in the mails were generally so ill that they went at once to bed without ordering any supper, which was not to the advantage of her house.

These old coaches had no springs, and what the jolting over those bad roads must have been we cannot conceive. People complained about them, delicate women would not travel in them, the poet Cowper, a timid man, begs for his friends' prayers as he is about to take a journey. Then a few people began to consider improvements. "Friction annihilated" was painted on the axle-box of the "Improved Birmingham Coach" in 1758, which had it been true might have proved even more reassuring than the "sat cite si sat bene" which was painted on the door of the Newcastle-London Fly. Then the stage-coach which went from Dean Street, Soho, to Edinburgh in ten days in summer and twelve in winter, advertised that it would

Pace was accelerated. Moritz declared it was more like flying than driving and a Dutch traveller from Great Yarmouth to London was so terrified by the speed that he put his head out of the coach window, yelling continuously in his own language, "I must get out, I must get out." Another traveller remarked "The postillions drive with such speed that it gives me a singing in the ears".

The Mail And Its Guards
John Palmer of Bath had, according to de Quincey,

The first of these mail-coaches set out in 1784, and the Palmer family did very well out of them, amassing what was then the enormous fortune of £100,000. Before this date the mails had been conveyed by post-boys on horseback. This system was most unsatisfactory. Over-ridden horses fell lame or ill, the temptation to linger with a mug of beer over the ale-house fire was too great to be resisted, on lonely country roads the boys were sometimes set upon and robbed. So many letters never reached their destination that correspondents hesitated to use the post. They bribed the driver of a stage-coach to convey letters, though this was against the law, or they entrusted them to travelling friends. Palmer realized that the two requisites for the carriage of letters were speed and safety. The following is the advertisement which he issued in 1784:

To commence Monday August 2nd. The Proprietors of the above carriage having agreed to convey the mail to and from London and Bristol in sixteen hours with a Guard for its protection respectfully inform the Public that it is constructed so as to accommodate Four Inside Passengers in the most convenient manner, that it will set off every Night at Eight o'clock from the Swan with Two Necks Lad's Lane London, and arrive at the Three Tuns Inn Bath before Ten the next Morning and at the Runner Tavern Bristol at Twelve. Will set off at the said Tavern at Bristol at four o'clock every Afternoon, and arrive at London at Eight o'clock. The Price to and from Bristol, Bath and London twenty eight shillings for each Passenger. No Outsides allowed. Both the Guard and the Coachman, who will be likewise armed, have given ample security to the Proprietors for their conduct, so that those Ladies and Gentlemen, who may be pleased to honour them with their Encouragement, may depend upon every Respect and Attention.

Whatever respect and attention they may have paid the passengers, the armed guard of the mail-coach could be a terror on the roads. Pennant writing in 1792 declares that

On one occasion a guard went so far as to shoot a toll-keeper.

Coachmen and Common Informers
The old stage-coaches had no guards. The coach man, indeed, possessed a blunderbuss concealed somewhere in the box, but he did not often use it. The post-office appointed and paid the guards of the mails and provided them with cutlasses and a blunderbuss which had a folding bayonet attached. The sight of such things was apt to go to a man's head, and if there were no highwaymen to shoot he aimed at a cock or a hog, occasionally he hit. These men had low wages, they depended on tips or more questionable sources for in come. Parcels and letters were put into their hands and not into the post and they would deliver them for less than the post-office charged. This was generally winked at by the mail-coach superintendents. One of these declared that he had no objection to a guard conveying a joint of meat, and

He did protest, however, when a guard used a mail-bag for carrying fish or put 150lb. of meat and ice into the coach-box. It was, he considered, a little too much, people were complaining of an ancient and fish-like smell. By these means guards did fairly well and on good routes might make £400 or £500 a year. Some coachmen made as much or more, others, drivers of stage-coaches on out-of-the-way routes, fared very badly. The night coaches were the worst of all. In early days, as we have said, there had been no night travelling. Coach passengers were dragged out of their beds at five in the morning and deposited, shaky and tottering, at an inn at nine o'clock in the evening. Then night coaches were put on the roads. Anything was considered good enough for them, horses with the staggers, harness in decay, cushions with the moth in them, wheels which came off. No one travelled by a night coach if he could help it and the unfortunate driver sometimes made no more than 12s. a week. Two shillings or half a crown was the usual tip to a coach man.

Few would have dared give as little as a shilling, though Dr. Johnson scolded Boswell for giving as much. Coachmen were not to be trifled with, as they sat up aloft on the box seat, clad in many caped coats and fancy waistcoats, sipping brandy and water brought from the inn by obsequious attendants. In the eyes of sporting youth there was something glamourous about them, even if they reeked of spirits and had filed off their front teeth to be the better able to deal with the whip-cords, which they always carried in their mouths. Many a young man paid extra for a seat beside the coachman and would gladly give a guinea to be allowed to drive a good four-in-hand along a smooth road. A coachman was liable to a fine of from five to ten pounds for allowing passengers to drive and the common informer, who was so rife in the eighteenth century, was often lurking behind a hedge. These common informers were common pests. They were of course remunerated by the fines extracted from their victims, and some of them actually formed themselves into societies or, one might say, unlimited companies with their spies on every road and attorneys in their pay. Still the coachman, with that reckless disregard of the law and its consequences so characteristic of the age, would often pass the ribbons into other hands, smoke a pipe or take snuff and talk horses, while the young man who had slipped speedily on to the box seat had realized his ambition. We do not know whether he paid the coachman's heavy fine if the matter ever came into court. The men who drove the mail-coaches were a brave, hardy race, many of them great characters. It is pleasant to think that Mr. Weller, senior, must have driven a coach over the roads of the eighteenth century. Another driver, William Salter, drove the Yarmouth stage-coach and has his epitaph in the churchyard of Haddiscoe, near Lowestoft:

On a fine summer's day on good roads and when seats had been provided, a drive on the top of a coach could be extremely pleasant. Even the names of the vehicles were exciting. There were Telegraphs, Highfliers, Balloon coaches, Defiances and more sober-sounding Hopes, Perseverances, Regulators and Good Intents. On May Day they would be decked with flowers, with holly at Christmas and for a victory with laurel. As the coach drove into a town or village the guard would play a tune on his horn. The inhabitants could set their clocks and watches by the mail-coaches for they kept excellent time. Coachmen were fined if they were late and at the end of the century often carried a chronometer in a leather case. The stage-coach drivers never bothered about punctuality.

The Stage Coach
In 1737 there was a coach which advertised that it went from London to Exeter in three days but everyone knew that it took about six. The mail-coaches, towards the end of the century, might do as much as seven miles an hour on tolerable roads but the stages did three or four and on bad roads and in bad weather even less. Then the stage-coaches had to stop, or at least slow down at every toll-gate, while the mails, their guard playing Arthur O'Bradley or Blackeyed Susan on his horn, dashed through the gates without paying a groat. Elizabeth Carter, who was fond of taking country walks, had on one occasion resolved to meet a coach at an inn and take it part of the way home. When she reached the inn she found it had already passed but by walking quickly she was able to catch it up. A stage coachman would generally make room for a chance passenger and put the fare into his own pocket. In the ordinary way it was necessary to secure a seat beforehand, have the name entered in a book and pay down a proportion of the fare. The place where this was done was called a booking-office and the name has persisted into the railway era and down to our own time.

Nearly every foreigner expressed surprise and delight at the comfort of English travel. It must have compared favourably with his own. Englishmen were less enthusiastic. They complained bitterly of being jolted to death, overcharged, cramped and pressed, insulted by the coachman and of the excessive cold in winter. Coach proprietors did what they could. "There was enough straw round my feet to conceal a covey of partridges" one ungrateful passenger remarked. In the early days many coaches laid up for the winter, emerging again on the first of May. When the coach climbed a hill, the male travellers got out and walked. Sometimes they condescended to exchange a few words with the outsides, letting it be known that they would not speak to such low fellows when they came to their inn. The behaviour of the travelling Englishman is well described by Count Kielmansegg.

Flying Waggons
The Count, when he wrote thus, had just been subjected to a vexatious delay at Godalming, as the Duke of York and Prince Charles of Mecklenburg had taken all the horses from the inn. He had had to travel in a "flying-machine" which he evidently considered beneath his dignity, though he was consoled by finding a Captain Campbell of the East India service, who was related to the Duke of Argyll, reduced to the same extremity.

This flying-machine probably resembled the one described as follows:

The machine certainly never flew. It was indeed a glorified specimen of the stage-waggon. This vehicle was an immense cart with benches inside covered by a canvas or leather hood. It was drawn at foot's pace by eight strong horses and the waggoner walked at their in heads. It never did more than two miles an hour and only travelled in the day time. Generally the same team of horses pulled the waggon through all its journeys but the flying waggons changed horses. There was the Shrewsbury Flying Waggon which began flying from Shrewsbury to London in 1750. This took five days to travel 152 miles. These heavy waggons cut up the roads, and after 1766 they were compelled to have wheels not less than sixteen inches broad and a bonus was given to those which were over two feet in breadth. A few years later James Sharpe of London made waggon wheels so broad that they rolled the roads, and the vehicle was known as the rolling waggon. People travelled in these slow-moving, uncomfortable carts because they were cheap. The charge was 1d. or 1½d. a mile, whereas the stage-coaches charged 3d. or 4d. a mile.

Travellers, who went in their own carriages, could take as much luggage as the vehicle would hold and the horses could draw. Sometimes, distrustful of inn furnishings, they conveyed their own mattresses and bed linen and even canteens of plate. The coaches had to limit the amount of luggage which passengers might take with them. Fourteen pounds weight was usually carried free anything over this amount was charged a penny a pound and heavy luggage was refused. The cost of carriage by the waggon was very high 40s. a ton would have been charged for the carriage of goods between Manchester and Liverpool, though they could be sent by water for 12s.

Moritz did not suffer from this treatment merely because he was a foreigner. Richard Warner, an English clergyman, who was so eccentric as to go on walking tours, met with gross rudeness from inn-keepers and jeers and missiles from small boys. It was supposed that no man of substance would ever walk, except with a gun over his shoulder, and that everyone who tramped the roads was either a footpad or a pauper. The roads were generally in such a bad state that walking could not have been pleasant and there was always the danger of attacks from footpads. It was not till the early nineteenth century when the highways were improved and robbers were less numerous, that walking became the pleasure and pastime of all classes.

Coaches were forbidden to travel on a Sunday, though the law was sometimes disregarded. So little travelling was there, however, that highwaymen did not consider it worth while to go out on Sundays. Grosley, marooned at Dover with a number of other passengers, found coachmen willing to drive them to London.

Messrs. Pickford
By 1777 Messrs. Pickford had already started a career which has lasted to the present time, as the following advertisement in Prescott's Manchester Journal will show:

It was not only the poor who travelled by these stage-waggons or caravans as they were sometimes called. Middle-class persons, especially women travelling alone, often preferred them. The highwaymen scorned them as beneath their notice. It is true the waggons carried goods and luggage, but these were usually heavy, bulky articles, too big and weighty for the coaches. It is probable, as Messrs. Pickford's advertisement suggests, that some people entrusted plate, watches and jewellery to their care. Highwaymen on horseback could not remove anything big or heavy, nor could they spend time examining luggage, it would have been too risky. Their policy was to snatch watches, jewellery or purses from the unlucky travellers, and then ride hastily away. The foreign visitor would not use the waggon except in cases of necessity like Count Kielmansegg or when, like Pastor Moritz, he had to consider ways and means. If he did not travel by it he probably dispatched his heavy luggage in it or, from a port, there were often facilities for sending it by sea, from inland towns by river and by the canals which intersected England. Much merchandise was carried by water, since the rivers had been deepened and supplied with locks, and Brindley had begun to make canals. This water traffic, as Dr. Trevelyan points out, led to a great increase in foreign trade, and consequently, we may infer, in the number of foreign travellers in England.

Travelling by water had its dangers and discomfort. "Gott sei dank!" von Uffenbach ejaculated when he came safely up the river from Greenwich. He tells us that when he got to London Bridge he

De Saussure writes that there were 15,000 boats to be hired on the Thames in London. The inhabitants liked this method of transport. There might be some danger at London Bridge, and there were sometimes collisions on the congested waterway but on a fine day it was easy and tranquil, the passengers by boat glided pleasantly along, avoiding the cobbled streets, the ruts and pitfalls of suburban roads, the attentions of highwaymen.

Travelling from England to China in 1810 - History

Each of us has been touched in some way by the experiences, choices and attitudes of our ancestors. The decisions they were often forced to make during the great migrations of the 1800s radically changed our ancestors' world - and ours. 1800-1900 ? Unprecedented population growth in Europe along with social, political and religious conflict left millions without land or a means of support in the 19th century. Many moved to cities, other countries or across oceans in search of a better life. Industrialization accelerated rapidly with manufacturing techniques. Improvements in turnpikes, canals, steam engines and railroads made it possible for made it possible to move from one place to another with more ease. In the years just after the American Revolution, the westward migration of Americans intensified. In 1800, significant numbers of settlers were moving to Kentucky and Tennessee ? the only two states west of the Appalachians at the time. Early in the century, as the states of Ohio, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi and Alabama opened up, they too became magnets for those hoping to find their fortunes and better lands to cultivate. 1803 ? War between England and France resumed. As a result, transatlantic trade and emigration from continental Europe became practically impossible. Irish emigration was curtailed by the British Passenger Act, which limited the numbers to be carried by emigrant ships. 1803-1851 ? When the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, the door was opened for the government to move forward more aggressively with earlier attempts to relocate eastern tribes of Native Americans to lands beyond the Mississippi River. Although initially rejecting the forced moves, small groups of Native Americans left for the west in 1810 and again between 1817 and 1819. For the next several decades, Native Americans were moved out of areas where whites were settling. In 1838, U.S. Army troops were ordered to round up as many Cherokees as possible and to march them over 800 miles across the plains and across the Mississippi to the Oklahoma Territory. An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 Cherokees died on what became known as the Trail of Tears. In 1851, the Indian Appropriations Act consolidated western tribes on reservations to enable the westward expansion of settlers and to open the way for the building of the transcontinental railroad. 1807-1808 ? In 1807, the Congress of the United States passed the Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves. The federal law that stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported took effect in 1808. 1812-1814 ? The War of 1812 between Britain and the United States brought immigration to a halt until the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 that ended the war. 1815-1865 - The largest global migration of modern times began just after the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815) and continued for the rest of the century. The first great wave of emigration to the United States brought 5 million immigrants between 1815 and 1860. 1818-1861 ? Liverpool became the most-used port of departure for British and Irish immigrants, as well as considerable numbers of Germans and other Europeans as the Black Ball Line sailing packets began regular Liverpool to New York service. Before the American Civil War (1861-1865), the vast majority of immigrants came from western and central Europe: Ireland, England, Wales, France, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and German-speaking areas. Ship Europa (built 1848) voyaged from Liverpool to New York. From New York Port, Ship Images at Ancestry. 1819 ? The first significant federal legislation was passed relating to immigration: Passenger lists were to be given to the collector of customs and immigration to the United States was to be reported on a regular basis. 1820 ? The United States saw the arrival of 151,000 new immigrants. 1825 ? Great Britain officially recognized the view that England was overpopulated and repealed laws prohibiting emigration. 1825 ? The completion of the Erie Canal linked the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Erie and opened up a new era in transportation history. Completed by thousands of immigrant laborers, the waterway forged a new route to the interior of the country and made New York City the greatest port in the world. 1840 ? The Cunard Line began passenger transportation between Europe and the United States, opening the steamship era. 1845 ? The Native American party, precursor of the nativist and anti-immigrant Know-Nothing party, was founded. 1846 ? Crop failures in Europe and mortgage foreclosures sent tens of thousands of dispossessed to the United States. 1846-47 ? Irish of all classes immigrated to the United States as a result of the potato famine. The fares of many immigrants were paid for by landlords, the British government or the local Poor Law Union. 1848 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which brought an official end to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), was signed on February 2, 1848. Under the terms of the treaty, Mexico ceded to the United States Upper California and New Mexico. This was known as the Mexican Cession and included present-day Arizona and New Mexico and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. Mexico relinquished all claims to Texas and recognized the Rio Grande as the boundary with the United States. 1848 ? Failure of German revolution resulted in the emigration of political refugees. 1849 ? California Gold Rush drew migrants from across the United States and foreign countries. 1855 ? Castle Garden immigration receiving station opened in New York City to accommodate mass immigration. Alien women married to U.S. citizens became U.S. citizens by law (the law was repealed in 1922). 1858 ? A financial crisis in Sweden caused large-scale migration to the United States. 1860 ? New York became the largest Irish city in the world. Of its 805,651 residents, 203,760 were Irish-born. 1861-1865 ? The Civil War caused a significant drop in the number of foreigners entering the United States. Large numbers of immigrants served on both sides during the war. 1862 ? The Homestead Act encouraged naturalization by granting citizens title to 160 acres, provided that the land was tilled for five years. Homesteading Family. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration 1864 ? Congress centralized control of immigration with a commissioner under the Secretary of State. In an attempt to meet the labor crisis caused by the Civil War, Congress legalized the importation of contract laborers. 1875 ? The first direct federal regulation of immigration was established by prohibiting entry of prostitutes and convicts. Residency permits were required of Asians. 1880 ? The U.S. population was 50,155,783. More than 5.2 million immigrants entered the country between 1880 and 1890. 1882 ? The Chinese Exclusion law was established, curbing Chinese immigration. A general immigration law of the same year excluded persons convicted of political offenses, lunatics, idiots, and persons likely to become public charges. A head tax of fifty cents was placed on each immigrant. A sharp rise in Jewish emigration to the United States was prompted by the outbreak of anti-Semitism in Russia. 1883 ? In an effort to alleviate a labor shortage caused by the freeing of the slaves, the Southern Immigration Association was founded to promote immigration to the South. 1885 ? Contract laborers were denied admission to the United States by the Foran Act. However, skilled laborers, artists, actors, lecturers and domestic servants were not barred. Individuals in the United States were not to be prevented from assisting the immigration of relatives and personal friends. 1890 ? New York City had the distinction of being home to as many Germans as Hamburg, Germany. 1891 ? The Bureau of Immigration was established under the Treasury Department to federally administer all immigration laws (except the Chinese Exclusion Act). Classes of persons convicted of felonies or misdemeanors of moral turpitude and polygamists. Pogroms in Russia caused large numbers of Jews to immigrate to the United States. 1892 ? Ellis Island replaced Castle Garden as the New York reception center for immigrants. 1893 ? Chinese legally in the United States were required to apply to collectors of internal revenue for certificates of residence or be removed. 1894 ? The Immigration Restriction League was organized to lead the restriction movement for the next twenty-five years. The league emphasized the distinction between old' (northern and western Europeans) and new' (southern and eastern European) immigrants. 1894-96 ? To escape massacres, Armenian Christians began immigrating to the United States. 1900 ? The U.S. population was at 75,994,575. More than 3,687,000 immigrants were admitted in the previous ten years.

Checking the regional risk level

China’s National Health Commission launched a WeChat mini program (see the below graphic) for citizens to check out the infection risk level of a special area, for epidemic personnel to check out the countries and cities visited (staying for more than four hours) by the traveler during the past 14 days.

The program also allows users to check if they used the same public transport as the confirmed cases during the last 14 days.

Similar to the color scheme of the health code system, the outbreak risk level system grants “green” color to low-risk areas, “yellow” to medium-risk areas, and “red” to high-risk areas.

Risk levels are assessed based on the number of new cases.

  • Low-risk areas – are areas with no confirmed cases or no new confirmed cases for 14 consecutive days
  • Medium-risk areas – are those with new confirmed cases within 14 days – but the total new cases are no more than 50, or with cumulatively more than 50 confirmed cases – but no cluster epidemic within 14 days and
  • High-risk areas – are those where the cumulative number of confirmed cases have exceeded 50 cases, and a cluster epidemic was recorded within the last 14 days.

By August 11, the entire country has been classified as low-risk except for several districts and streets in Liaoning province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Generally speaking, as long as you are traveling from a low-risk area, the green color in your health code system won’t change. But if you are from medium or high-risk areas, your travel to other Chinese provinces and cities will probably be restricted.

Hong Kong returned to China

At midnight on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong reverts back to Chinese rule in a ceremony attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles of Wales, Chinese President Jiang Zemin and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few thousand Hong Kongers protested the turnover, which was otherwise celebratory and peaceful.

In 1839, Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country’s economic, social, and political affairs. One of Britain’s first acts of the war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. In 1841, China ceded the island to the British with the signing of the Convention of Chuenpi, and in 1842 the Treaty of Nanking was signed, formally ending the First Opium War.

Britain’s new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over Hong Kong under the Second Convention of Peking. In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system. On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese, British, and international dignitaries. The chief executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, formulated a policy based on the concept of “one country, two systems,” thus preserving Hong Kong’s role as a principal capitalist center in Asia.  

What Exactly Was an Indentured Servant?

Indentured servants were people who came to America under a work contract, called an indenture. The term of an indenture was typically 4 to 7 years, after which time the servant was given the freedom to manage his or her own affairs.Some were even granted land and money.

For those entering indentured service voluntarily (not everyone did) the indenture was usually arranged through an agent. The agent would make agreements with employers who were willing to provide work for servants and would pay passage for the servants to travel to America (plus the agent’s fee, of course). Then, the servant and the employer would sign the indenture, making it a legally binding contract.

Here is the record of the indenture of Henry Mayer to Abraham Hestant of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on 29 September 1738 from Wikimedia Commons.

Indentured service was a sort of “work your way to America” program for people who couldn’t otherwise afford the expense. For others, it was a way to settle debts that they could not pay or as a sentence for criminal behavior – even minor offences. Old Bailey Online, one of the resources covered in our guide to criminal record research, has multiple examples of such punishment for petty and serious crimes (called transportation).

The system was often abused and was sometimes used to force people into service. A court case heard in the Salem Quarterly Court on 25 June 1661 documents an instance of people who were kidnapped and sold into indentured service. The case involves a master, Samuel Symonds, who brought charges against his two servants, William Downing and Philip Welch, for failing to complete the term of their service. The two young men claimed that they had been forcibly sold into service by George Dill, a ship’s captain who traded in indentured servants and slaves.

The proceedings of the case can be read in the Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County Massachusetts , Volume II (1912), pp. 294-297. You can access these records free of charge through Google Books. Simply go to Google Play and search the title.

Servants usually worked as farm laborers or domestic servants completing manual labor. While indentures were contracts between two people, an employer could sell an indenture to a third party so, often, servants were bought and sold just like property. Servants could be physically punished, could not marry without permission from their masters, and did not have rights in court.

For example, in the court case previously mentioned, the defendants did not win their case because the contract between the master and the ship’s captain was found to be legal, even though the two young men had been forced into service.

Were indentured servants slaves?

Because indentured servants were considered property and were treated similarly to slaves at times in American history, as explained by the Law Library of Congress, many people wonder if an indentured servant can be considered a slave. While parallels do exist, indentured servants were not slaves and their plight cannot be compared to that of African slaves in the United States.

As addressed in this article, many indentured servants were forced into service and treated horrendously – including those accused of petty crimes and servant women who were impregnated by their employers – but they were still considered human and had some rights, however minimal. They also had the hope of one day being released from their servitude. This was not true for African slaves. For help finding records and resources to better understand slavery please read our guide to African American research.

Despite these hardships, many people chose this as a way to immigrate to America. The use of indentured servants was the most common in the Middle Atlantic colonies, ranging from New Jersey down to Virginia.

The practice declined during the American Revolution and subsequent laws passed in the United States made it more expensive to finance indentures, and more difficult to enforce them. Many of those looking for cheap labor became more likely to purchase slaves.

Involuntary servitude, along with slavery in the United States, was banned as a part of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865.

China Travel Advisory

Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws. Reconsider travel to the PRC’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for the PRC and a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Hong Kong, due to COVID-19. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

The PRC has resumed most business operations (including day cares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within the PRC. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in the PRC, as testing and travel requirements frequently change.

There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into Hong Kong. Visit the Consulate General's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in Hong Kong.

Please monitor the Hong Kong government’s website for further updates on COVID-19, as testing, transit, and travel requirements frequently change.

The PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law. The PRC government uses arbitrary detention and exit bans to:

  • compel individuals to participate in PRC government investigations,
  • pressure family members to return to the PRC from abroad,
  • influence PRC authorities to resolve civil disputes in favor of PRC citizens, and
  • gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.

In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC, and there is no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it in a court of law.

U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC, including Hong Kong, may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law.

Foreigners in the PRC, including but not limited to businesspeople, former foreign government personnel, and journalists from Western countries, have been arbitrarily interrogated and detained by PRC officials for alleged violations of PRC national security laws. The PRC has also threatened, interrogated, detained, and expelled U.S. citizens living and working in the PRC.

Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC government.

The PRC government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-PRC citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the PRC government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.


Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uyghur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.


Since the imposition of the National Security Law on June 30, 2020, the PRC unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power in Hong Kong. The PRC has demonstrated an intention to use this authority to target a broad range of activities it defines as acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities. The National Security Law also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, which could subject U.S. citizens who have been publicly critical of the PRC to a heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution. PRC security forces, including the new Office for Safeguarding National Security, now operate in Hong Kong and are not subject to oversight by the Hong Kong judiciary.

Demonstrations: Participating in demonstrations or any other activities that authorities interpret as constituting an act of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with a foreign country could result in criminal charges. On June 30, 2020, as part of its color-coded system of warning flags, the Hong Kong police unveiled a new purple flag, which warns protesters that shouting slogans or carrying banners with an intent prohibited by the law could now bring criminal charges.

What Did People Eat In The 1800s?

The War of 1812 concluded in 1815, and in the decades to come, the United States developed a vast transportation system, a national bank, and interstate trade. The economy blossomed, and canals, roads, cities, and industrialization expanded.

England’s defeat in the War of 1812 also removed barriers to westward expansion and, tragically, accelerated Native American removal.

Two hundred years ago, the United States stood at the edge of a frontier — both literally and figuratively. So what was life like at that exciting time?

Population: By 1815, the United States had grown into a country of 8,419,000 people, including about 1.5 million slaves. (Official estimates are available for the entire population in 1815, but slave counts were conducted during the censuses of 1810 and 1820. In the 1810 census, there were 1,191,362 slaves by the 1820 census, there were 1,538,022 slaves). While a population of less than 10 million seems small compared to today’s count of over 320 million people, the population in 1815 had more than doubled since the country’s first census, taken in 1790, when there were 3,929,214 people. The population would continue to increase by more than 30 percent each decade for much of the 19th century.

Almost all of this growth was due to high birth rates, as immigration was low in 1815, slowed by European wars that raged from 1790 to 1815. Only about 8,000 per year entered during this period. The 1820 census counted 8,385 immigrants, including one from China and one from Africa.

Food: Because these innovations in transportation were still in their infancy in 1815, however, most Americans ate what they grew or hunted locally. Corn and beans were common, along with pork. In the north, cows provided milk, butter, and beef, while in the south, where cattle were less common, venison and other game provided meat. Preserving food in 1815, before the era of refrigeration, required smoking, drying, or salting meat. Vegetables were kept in a root cellar or pickled.

For those who had to purchase their food, one record notes the following retail prices in 1818 in Washington, D.C.: beef cost 6 to 8 cents a pound, potatoes cost 56 cents a bushel, milk was 32 cents a gallon, tea 75 cents to $2.25 a pound. Shoes ran $2.50 a pair. Clothing expenses for a family of six cost $148 a year, though the record does not indicate the quality of the clothes.

Enter your last name to learn your ancestors’ occupations.

Life Expectancy: The boom in native population in the early 19th century was even more remarkable considering the low life expectancies of the time. By one estimate, a white man who had reached his 20th birthday could expect to live just another 19 years. A white woman at 20 would live, on average, only a total of 38.8 years. If measuring from birth, which counted infant mortality, life expectancy would have been even lower. A white family in the early 19th century would typically have seven or eight children, but one would die by age one and another before age 21. And, of course, for slaves, childhood deaths were higher and life expectancy was even lower. About one in three African American children died, and only half lived to adulthood.

Disease was rampant during this time. During the War of 1812, which concluded in 1815, more soldiers died from disease than from fighting. The main causes of death for adults during this period were malaria and tuberculosis, while children most commonly died from measles, mumps, and whooping cough, all preventable today.

Housing: More than four out of every five Americans during the early 19th century still lived on farms. Many farmers during this time also made goods by hand that they’d use, barter, or sell, such as barrels, furniture, or horseshoes. Cities remained relatively small and were clustered around East Coast seaports: New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, and Charleston, South Carolina. In the 1810 census, New York, the largest, was home to 96,373 people. By 1820, the population would reach 123,706. Try out a search of 1800s census records on the Ancestry website.

Employment: Industrialization would soon accelerate urbanization. In England, the Industrial Revolution had begun in the mid-18th century, and despite attempts made to restrict the export of technology, in 1789, a 21-year-old Englishman memorized the plan for a textile mill and then opened a cotton-spinning plant in Rhode Island. By 1810, more than 100 such mills, employing women and children at less than a dollar a week, were operating throughout New England. By the 1830s, textile production would become the country’s largest industry.

Wages for other industries during the time ranged from $10 to $17 a month for seamen. Farm laborers after the end of the War of 1812 earned $12 to $15 dollars a month. A male school teacher earned $10 to $12 a month a female teacher earned $4 to $10. In Massachusetts, a tailor and printer could both expect to earn $6 a week, while a servant might earn only 50 cents a week.

Transportation: Industrialization affected the country in other ways, of course. In 1815, there were no steam railroads in America, so long-distance travel was by horseback or uncomfortable stagecoach over rutted roads. Cargo moved by horse-team was limited to 25-30 miles a day. But in 1811, Congress signed a contract for the construction of the National Road, the first highway built by the national government. By 1818, it had crossed the Appalachian Mountains, fostering westward expansion.

In 1815, Americans were also discovering steamboat travel. In 1807, Robert Fulton had opened the first steamboat ferry service, between Albany and New York City. By 1815, advances in technology allowed a rival to ferry arms and ammunition to General (later President) Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, the last battle of the War of 1812, and then to steam back up the Mississippi and then the Ohio to Pittsburgh, proving the feasibility of steamboat navigation of the mighty river.

Entertainment: For recreation, horse racing became increasingly popular by the time of the War of 1812. Singing and sheet music became widely popular, particularly “broadside songs,” or lyrics printed on a sheet of paper and sold for a penny. The sheet had no music, but instructed the purchaser which popular, well-known tune the words could be sung to. The songs often had to do with current political or military events. At the other end of the artistic spectrum, the Boston Handel and Haydn Society, formed in 1815, performed Handel’s “Messiah” in its opening concert.

Finally, singing played a large part in one of the most significant social movements of the time — and in all of America’s history — the Second Great Awakening. From 1790 to 1830, wave after wave of Protestant evangelism swept across the country. Tens of thousands of people would attend a single camp meeting, marked by enthusiastic preaching and audience singing and participation. These more informal services, led by itinerant preachers, also helped tie settlers on the Western frontier to the cultural life of the rest of the country. The Second Great Awakening also fostered greater participation by women and African Americans, who continued developing their artistic traditional of spiritual music during this period.

Curious about your ancestors’ daily lives 200 years ago? Reconstruct and reconnect to their lives with a free trial on Ancestry, where you’ll find War of 1812 records as well.

Watch the video: London to Guangzhou, England to China by train (June 2022).


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