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Step into El Centro's Internet Time Machine. The year is 1877...

  • President Ulysses and Julia Grant leave office and Rutherford B. and Lucy Hayes become the new President and First Lady. The election of 1876 was similar to the election of 2000 in that it was unclear who won when it was all over. There were examples of fraud in several states including Florida. In this case, Democrats and Republicans worked out a deal called the Compromise of 1877 in which Hayes got the presidency and he promised to end Reconstruction in the South as a result.

    Rutherford B Hayes
  • William "Boss" Tweed, the first city boss in the U.S., is in jail for his New York City crimes committed by his "Tweed Ring". Article about Boss Tweed. Images of "Boss" Tweed.
  • At the same time, about 300,000 head of longhorn cattle were herded through the city of Dallas on the way to markets such as Baxter Springs, Kansas, where my grandparents lived as Irish immigrants.
  • Marx and Engels are popular authors as socialism, communism, and other radical ideas spread.
  • Despite the spread of radicalism, many Americans are happy. John D. Rockefeller will make 45 million dollars this year.
  • Other Americans, however will continue to suffer through the Panic of 1873 with twenty percent unemployment in many cities.
  • Brigham Young, leader of the Mormons, dies.
  • The founder of Dallas, John Neely Bryan, also dies in 1877 at the Austin Lunatic Asylum (see this brief biography).
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt, railroad and shipping millionaire, dies, too.
  • On the other hand, Mark Twain is still around and a popular author although his 1876 publication, Tom Sawyer, has not quite caught the public's attention yet.
  • Another form of reading becomes more available with the founding of The Washington Post.
  • Joining clubs reaches fad proportions including Moose, Elks, and many woman's clubs. One new organization in 1877 will be the American Humane Association founded in Cleveland for the protection of both animals and children from abuse and neglect. Animals also got attention with the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
  • One reason for this joining phenomenon is the availability of labor saving devices and better communications such as those invented by Thomas Edison including his 1877 invention, the phonograph. Here's a YouTube version of his first recording. Today, there is a debate as to whether Edison was the first to make a recording. An 1860 French recording was discovered. Here's that copy. I prefer this version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." But,this will not be the only development in 1877.
  • George Baldwin Selden produces the first sketch of an automobile in 1877.
  • And, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrates his invention, the telephone, patented in 1876.
  • And, then there is Emile Berliner who invents the microphone.
  • The mysteries of space are also being revealed when the moons of mars are discovered by Asaph Hall.
  • There are many "firsts" in 1877 including the First Wimbledon tennis match. Women did start to play until 1884, though.
  • Sports also advance when the Catcher's Mask is introduced in baseball.
  • In a totally different kind of sport, the first human cannonball act is performed (London).
  • And, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City.
  • Meanwhile, in the U.S., the First Flag Day was celebrated with our 37 star flag that became a 38 star flag in 1877 with the addition of Colorado.
  • Another first developed at West Point when Henry O. Flipper became the first African-American to graduate from that institution.
  • Other firsts for African-Americans include Inman Page and George Washington Milford became the first African Americans to earn a bachelor's degree from Brown University. Also, George Washington Henderson becomes the first African American to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa honor society (University of Vermont). Henderson had been born a slave in Virginia and graduated first in his class.
  • Other African-Americans, so-called Exodusters were also trying to find a better life by going West. Here are more images of pictures of Exodusters
  • African-Americans also are glad to see Frederick Douglass appointed Marshall of Washington D.C.
  • With the end of Reconstruction in 1877, violence is becoming more a part of African-American experiences, but 1877 is a violent year for most Americans including Tejanos who were involved in the Salt War of El Paso or San Elarzio Salt War.
  • There is some good news for Hispanics, though. Romualdo Pacheco (R-CA) is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives winning by a margin of one vote.
  • Texans actually experience decreasing violence along the Mexican border with Porfirio Diaz as President since he wants to improve U.S./Mexico relations and the federal government sends troops to pursue bandits into Mexico. He also arrests Tejano Juan Cortina who had organized raids in Texas.
  • Laborers also faced violence in the Great Railway Strike of 1877, the most violent in U.S. history and the first use of U.S. troops to stop a labor action.
  • Meanwhile, the secretive organization of Irish coal miners, the Molly Maguires, are being tried, convicted, and executed for their alleged activities in the coal mining fields of Pennsylvania despite the fact that the only evidence was provided by a Pinkerton's spy.
  • Criminals also will create havoc in 1877 including Belle Starr, the "bandit queen," who moved out of Dallas in 1876.
  • In 1877, Billy the Kid commits his first murder during the Lincoln County War in New Mexico.
  • Dallas has its problems with Sam Bass who robs the Mesquite train in 1877. At the same time in 1877, Texas murderer John Wesley Hardin is arrested and convicted of murdering a sheriff.
  • To combat crime, cowtowns hire lawmen like Wyatt Earp
  • Americans seem less concerned about other forms of violence such as attacks on Chinese immigrants in California who are accused of destroying American society and threatening virtuous white women and children with their opium dens. San Francisco has already become the first government in the U.S. to outlaw drugs, specifically opium, and in 1877, becomes the first to pass a zoning law in the U.S. to restrict Chinese laundries. Violence erupts in what was referred to Kearneyism. (Another cartoon)
  • Many Americans welcome violence against Indians and celebrate the surrender of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians in 1877. Also that year, many Americans were happy to hear about the death of Crazy Horse who had been an American Indian leader at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.
  • Other world violence does not concern Americans who basically will ignore fighting in South Africa between Dutch Boers & Zulus as Europe partitions Africa. The British use this as an opportunity to take over although neither the Dutch nor the Zulus wanted that outcome. This is about the time of European partitioning of Africa that had also created the Belgian Congo in 1876.
  • And, who cares if the Russo-Turkish War ends with the creation of the sovereign nation of Serbia
  • There is a lighter side to 1877. Women's fashions were changing. Here's some French fashion. This picture shows women's fashion in 1872, 1877, and 1880. Here's a picture of the cover of Harper's Bizaree in 1877. Meanwhile, bicycling becomes a fad despite the awkwardness of the contraption. And, you might see these dances. Here's one you ought to try (no one is watching)the Galop (see YouTube or Dance Worksheets, too). In classic dance, the ballet "Swan Lake" debuts (by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky).
  • In Texas, dancing was controversial among some who preferred the popular Sacred Harp or Shape Note music. In general, however, 1877 was not a very interesting year for music. It's part of the so-called the "deadzone" from after the Civil War until around 1890. One of the few songs that you might know is Mary Had a Little Lamb which was the first thing Edison recorded on his phonograph. Feel free to sing at the top of your lungs!
  • Here are some photos from 1877 that might clarify your understanding of that year:
    Herbert Hoover, age 3 (President, 1928-32)
    White House Master Bedroom
    Colt Double Action Pistol
  • Here are some international art examples from 1877:
    A Girl Reading by Frank Duveneck
    A Sea Spell by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
    Castle Rock by Alfred Thompson Bricher
    The Banjo Player by Thomas Eakins
    Paintings of John Singer Sargent
    Other 1877 Links:
  • Images from 1877
  • History of Toilet Paper
  • 1877 - Wikipedia
  • 1877 -
  • Political Graveyard: Politicians Who Were Born or Died in 1877
  • Official Tall Ship of Texas - 1877 - The Elissa
  • Philadelphia Timeline: 1877
  • Queen Victoria was proclaimed queen-empress of India.
  • Reconstruction, 1866-1877
  • Snow Storm at Mt. Shasta by John Muir
  • - 1877
  • Born in 1877
  • Brainy History - 1877
  • What Happened in 1877?
  • The West - 1870-1880

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    Page created by: Wanda Downing Jones, El Centro College