In the years leading up to the Civil War, the United States begins to thrive. Though life expectancy is still low, early scientific advances are beginning to eliminate some of the diseases that plagued previous generations. As the nation discovers its sense of self, uniquely American traditions are born.
The average life expectancy during this era was 37.
More and more doctors are able to hear unhealthy—or deathful—sounds through a new instrument called the stethoscope.
Golden lockets worn to funerals typically show portraits of mourners weeping over tombs beneath willow trees, or simply a portrait of the beloved person who is, alas, deceased.
Southern funerals are often major social events, with folks coming from miles around, sent for by word of mouth to mourn, eat cake and drink hot rum.
For adults, nothing but black will do for proper mourning attire, though children are allowed to attend funerals wearing white in summer and gray in winter.
Gloves and handkerchiefs are now deemed too expensive to continue as gifts to mourners, but silver spoons—”coffin spoons”—are still common as tokens of appreciation for those who nursed the dearly departed.
Coffins have no handles or padding; are made of poplar, mahogany, walnut or cherry; and are covered with fringed cloths called “palls” (white for children and women, black for men).
1800 - Napoleon conquers Italy
1812 - France invades Russia, 600,000 men are lost in the winter retreat
1831 - Nat Turner leads unsuccessful slave revolt in U.S.A.
1839 - First Opium War between China and Britain
1845 - Edgar Allan Poe publishes The Raven and Other Poems
1846 - U.S.A. declares war on Mexico