AMERICAN WEST TIMELINE: 18th CENTURY




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WEST TIMELINE 18th CENTURY

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Executive Summary of 18th Century America Major Events of the Decade 1700-1710 Major Events of the Decade 1710-1720 Major Events of the Decade 1720-1730 Major Events of the Decade 1730-1740 Major Events of the Decade 1740-1750 Major Events of the Decade 1750-1760 Major Events of the Decade 1760-1770 Major Events of the Decade 1770-1780 Major Events of the Decade 1780-1890 Major Events of the Decade 1790-1700 Executive Summary of the Century {to be done} Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1700-1710 1704: Jonathan Swift's "The Battle of the Books" (written 1697 but not published until 1704). Allegorical battle between Ancient and Modern books. 1705 "Eusebio Kino produces a map which finally establishes that California is part of North America, not a giant island." 1705: Daniel Defoe, later to become famous for "Robinson Crusoe" in 1719, is especially interesting to us for having published, in 1705, "Memoirs of Sundry Translations from the World of the Moon Translated from the Lunar languages by the Author of the True-Born English Man." This was a satire on English culture and politics, and featured (from my point of view) a spaceship "powered by an ambient flame, which fed on a certain spirit." He also dealt with the mental hazards of the trip by taking a tranquilizer. 1706: Daniel Defoe "A True Relation of the Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal, the Next Day After Her Death, to One Mrs. Bargrave, at Canterbury, the 8th of September 1705" (early ghost story, based on actually reported incident) 1706: Tom d'Urfey ripped off Cyrano de Bergerac, but this led to the fascinating opera "Wonders in the Sun or the Kingdom of the Birds." 1707: Alain Rene Le Sage's "Asmodeus" in which a young student of Alcola (Don Cleofas Leandro Perez Zambullo) is visited one night by the cheerful demon Asmodeus who claims "It is I that have introduced into the world luxury, debauchery, games of chance, and chemistry." Tobias Smoillet translated this into the popular "The Devil on Two Sticks." Is Chemistry really devilish? Well, this fantasy has many shrewd social insights into the real life of Madrid. Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1710-1720 1714 "French explorer and fur trader Etienne Veniard ventures up the Missouri River to the Platte. French traders explore the length of the Mississippi and its tributaries during these decades." 1714: Thomas Parnell becomes the first of the "Graveyard Poets" with the publication of "A Night Piece on Death." This movement, obsessed with mortality, influenced Horror poetry and Horror literature in general, even up to the 1990's "Goth" scene. See Robert Blair (1743), Thomas Wharton (1747), Thomas Gray (1752). 1716 "To guard their territory against the spread of French trading posts in neighboring Louisiana, the Spanish establish permanent border settlements in east Tejas near the Sabine River." 1718 "Martin de Alarcon establishes San Antonio at the junction of the San Antonio and San Pedro Rivers in Tejas, midway between Mexico and Spain's settlements on the Sabine River along the border with French Louisiana. Nearby, Fray Antonio de San Buenaventura establishes the mission of San Antonio de Valero, later known as The Alamo." 1718 "New Orleans is established by the French." 1720: Daniel Defoe "Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell": Fantasy about a mute magician Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1720-1730 This decade was a highpoint of social satire with science fictional elements, of which the greatest work is Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" (1726). Swift started working on this book apparently around 1720, when the idea was advanced in the Scriblerus Club, of which he was a member. It was to have been incorporated in the "Memoirs of Scriblerus." It has the advantage of being a book of interest to adults because of its satire on man and his institutions, and to children because of its Fantasy. It is divided into 4 parts, told in the first person. Part I: On 4 May 1699, Lemuel Gulliver, a ship's surgeon, sails from Bristol. After a shipwreck, he swims ashore to find himself on an island, Lilliput, whose inhabitants are no more than 6 inches high. Here Swift satirizes the meanness of human beings by showing how ridiculous are wars waged by these little people, who take part in them with all seriousness. Political parties are attacked, too. In Lilliput the parties are known by the height of their heels; their greatest controversy involves a vigorous argument about on which end an egg should be broken. Part II: Gulliver finds himself in Brobdingnag, the natives of which are as tall in proportion to him as the Lilliputians were short. Here, in discussions with the King, England in particular and humanity in general are again attacked. The huge King cannot understand the enormous pretensions and vanities of the little people about whom Gulliver tells him. He denounces them as "the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the Earth." Part III: In this, the most Science Fictional, Gulliver makes sport of the vain endeavors of scientists and philosphers by telling about Laputa, where men forget all common sense and concern themselves with speculative philosophy. In Lagado, the flying sialnd, he sees scientists engaged in all sorts of foolish pursuits, one being the extraction of sunbeams from cucumbers. Part IV: This contains the most vicious satire of all, and tells of Gulliver's visit to the land of the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent horses who are served by a despised, filty, and degenerate human race known as Yahoos. In the end, Gulliver returns to his wife and family, but finds them unbearable after associating with the Houyhnhnms. "Gulliver's Travels" is the pre-eminent novel to make humanity appear alien, and the alien appear more human, a technique that has been used as a basis for science fiction for the succeeding three centuries. 1726: Daniel Defoe "The Friendly Daemon, or The Generous Apparition" 1726-1727: Daniel Defoe "The Political History of the Devil" in 2 volumes 1727: Daniel Defoe "A System of Magick, or A History of the Black Art" 1727: Daniel Defoe "An Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions" Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1730-1740 1731: Founding of "Gentleman's Magazine", probably the world's first magazine. Magazines, for over 200 years, became the main venue for science fiction stories... and the later genre of Westerns. 1731: Ludvig Holberg, comic playwright in Denmark (26 plays total), publishes "Erasmus Montanus", science fictional in its attention to the conflict between the technically educated (prone to pedantry and the "vapid formalism of logic") and the ignorant common man. Rasmus Berg, educated at the University in Copenhagen, knows (for example) that the world is round, but is ridiculed when he returns to his home town, where even his wealthy father-in-law to be knows that the Earth is "flat as a pancake." In the end, Rasmus pretends to believe the Earth is flat, and so wins the daughter's hand in marriage. 1731: The government of Austria commissions a study on the customs and legends of the peasants, after an episode of mass hysteria in the village of Medvegia. Johannes Fluckinger writes extensively about the legends of the Vampire, and his report is a great topic of conversation for decades to come, and influences Horror literature forever after. 1732: The most popular and translated treatise on Chemistry of its day, "Elementa Chemiae" is published by Hermann Boerhaave. Although neither Science Fiction nor Fantasy, it tips the balance towards the former by discrediting the lingering pretensions of the Alchemists in its proof that Mercury cannot be obtained from Lead by transmutation. He similarly studied the conservation of mass under chemical reactions, studied thermal capacity (following a suggestion by Farenheit) and generally led the way to a quantitative view of the natural world. 1736: Carolus Linnaeus' "Fundamentica Botanica" organizes the vegetable world, and thus advances the structured modern view of nature. 1738 "French fur trader Pierre de la Verendrye arrives among the Mandans of the upper Missouri River, becoming the first European to enter North Dakota." Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1740-1750 1741 "French fur traders Pierre and Paul Mallet complete a 2,000 mile trek through the interior of the continent. Leaving their outpost on the Missouri River in 1738, they journey upriver to the Platte, then west to Santa Fe. From there they follow the Canadian River east to the Arkansas and then head down the Mississippi to New Orleans. They discover a range of mountains at the headwaters of the Platte which the Indians call the Rockies, becoming the first Europeans to report on this uncharted mountain range." 1741 "Russians Vitus Bering and Alexi Chirikov explore the coast of Alaska." 1741: Norwegian/Danish Baron Ludvig Holberg publishes in Germany the Latin novel under the title "Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterreanaeum" about visiting stange nations at the center of the Earth. 1743 "French explorers Francois and Louis-Joseph de la Verendrye bury an inscribed lead plate at Fort Pierre, South Dakota, claiming the area for France." Some have claimed that German astronomer Eberhard Christian Kindermann wrote the first credible space travel novel, "Die geshwinde Reise auf dem Luft-schiff nach der obern Welt, welche jungsthin funf Personen angestellet (1744). It deals with a trip to Mars. 1743: Robert Blair publishes "The Grave", and becomes a notable member of "The Graveyard Poets." See Thomas Parnell (1714), Thomas Wharton (1747), Thomas Gray (1752). 1747: Thomas Wharton joins the ranks of "The Graveyard Poets" with "The Pleasures of Melancholy." See Thomas Parnell (1714), Robert Blair (1743), Thomas Gray (1752). Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1750-1760 1751: Ralph Morris, a designer or inventor by trade, published the fiction-pretending-to-be-fact book "The Life and Astonishing Transactions of John Daniel" with the eponymous John Daniel having purportedly invented a flying machine. By a remarkable coincidence, this same year 1751 also saw into print the novel "Peter Wilkins" by Robert Paltrock, whose hero was shipwrecked in a land of people with wings. 1752: Thomas Gray publishes the best-known poem of "The Graveyard Poets" with the immortal "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." See Thomas Parnell (1714), Robert Blair (1743), Thomas Wharton (1747). 1752: Voltaire publishes "Micromegas", with Earth being visited by aliens from Saturn and Sirius. This is perhaps the first book about Aliens On Earth. 1753 "Describing British ambitions in the New World, Bishop George Berkeley writes, 'Westward the course of empire takes its way.'" 1755 "Beginning of the Seven Years War between England and France, which in the British colonies of North America is known as the French and Indian War." 1756: Emanuel Swedenborg completes "Heavenly Arcana." Neither science fiction nor Fantasy, this is unique theological revelation by a formerly talented scientist, with images of Hell, Angels, and the spirits inhabiting other worlds which influenced later works of imagination. 1757-1765: Albrecht von Haller publisheds "Elementa Physiologiae Corporis Humani." This infant prodigy, who learned Greek and Latin by the age of 10, was attracted to Leyden by Hermann Boerhaave (who invented the term "Physiology") and published his seminal work of synthesis in 8 volumes to establish Physiology as a science on its own, beyond the practice of Medicine. His influence reached the literay world because he published in that regime as well, was said to have "discovered the beauty of the Alps" in his poetry, and his "Gedichte" (1732) went into over 12 editions. 1759 "Responding to a Comanche attack that destroyed two missions on the San Saba River in central Tejas, a Spanish force of 600 marches north to the Red River where they engage several thousand Comanche and other Plains Indians fighting behind breastworks and armed with French rifles. The Spaniards are routed, losing a cannon in their retreat, and Comanche raids become a constant threat to settlers throughout Tejas." In 1759, Voltaire published "Candide" whose notion that "this is the best of all possible worlds" was the inspiration for today's genre of "alternate history" or "parahistory" stories, also known as Alternate Worlds or "allohistory." See "Voltaire" in Authors UV In this same year of 1759, Samuel Johnson published the fantastic "Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia." Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1760-1770 1762 "France cedes its colonial territories west of the Mississippi to its ally Spain to compensate for the loss of Cuba, Florida, Minorca and the Philippines to the British in the Seven Years War." 1763 "The Treaty of Paris ends the French and Indian War. France cedes its Canadian territories to England." 1763: the story "Reign of King George VI 1900-1925" was published, but didn't make any really interesting science fictional predictions. 1764 "Auguste Chouteau, a 14-year-old from a wealthy family in New Orleans, begins clearing a site for St. Louis, a new trading post on the Mississippi River near the mouth of the Missouri." 1764 "Catherine II of Russia orders further exploration of Alaska and revokes the fur tax, lending strong governmental support to the growth of trade with the Aleuts and raising the prospect of a permanent Russian settlement in North America." 1764: Horace Walpole publishes in London the first Gothic novel: "The Castle of Otronto." Horace Walpole (24 Sep 1717-2 Mar 1797) was a British Earl as well as novelist, and son of a Prime Minister. As Member of Parliament, and publisher, he is still best remembered as author of (to be more precise) the first Gothic novel in England (pretending to be a translation from Italian), with original introduction by Sir Walter Scott. See William Beckford (1786), Mrs.Radcliffe (1794), Matthew Lewis (1795). 1767: "History and Present State of Electricity, with Original Experiments" by Joseph Priestley, popular work of science which got many amateurs tinkering with electrical items, leading to, for instance, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." 1769 "Father Junipero Serra, a Franciscan accompanying a Mexican expeditionary force under the command of Gaspar de Portola, establishes Mission San Diego de Alcala near the site of present-day San Diego. The outpost is the first in a planned string of settlements along the coast of Spain's California territory which are intended to guard against Russian intruders. Before his death in 1784, Serra founds eight more missions, including San Carlos at Carmel (1770, his headquarters in California), San Gabriel near present-day Los Angeles (1771), and San Francisco (1776)." 1769 "Jose de Ortega, a scout with the Portola expedition, discovers the entrance to San Francisco bay." One line of ancestry for modern Science Fiction was the Gothic novel, starting with "The Castle of Otronto" (1764 or 1765) by Horace Walpole (see Walpole in the Authors' segment of this web site). In this melodramatic romantic novel, the villain/tyrant Manfred, prince of Otranto, is grandson of the usurper who poisoned the rightful ruler Alfonso. His son is crushed by a giant plumed helmet, so Manfred decides to wed his son's fiancee Isabella, daughter of the Marquis of Vicenza. Manfred speaks with his grandfather's portrait come to life, and the ghost of Alfonso fulfills a prophecy by growing too big for the castle, and tearing it to rubble. Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Events of the Decade 1770-1780 1772 "Pedro Fages, now in command of the Portola expedition, leads a scouting party into central California, exploring San Francisco Bay and the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys." 1775 "Forced to labor in the mission fields and to worship according to the missionaries' teachings, the Indians at San Diego rebel against the Spanish, burning every building and killing most of the inhabitants, including the mission's head priest. Thanks to a Spanish sharpshooter, the Indians are finally driven off and the Spanish retain control of their outpost." 1776 "The Declaration of Independence marks the beginning of the American Revolutionary War." 1776: The "Declaration of Independence" is a utopian tract associated with the formation of a new nation, later to dominate the Science Fiction kingdom and, not incidentally, to land men on the moon. Of course, the genre of the Western depends on the expansion of this new nation... 1776 "A group of nearly 200 settlers, led overland from Mexico across desert and mountain by Governor Luis Anza, arrive to establish a permanent colony on San Francisco Bay." 1778 "British Captain James Cook discovers Hawaii, which he names the Sandwich Islands after his benefactor, the Earl of Sandwich. Cook goes on to explore an Alaskan estuary, now called Cook's Inlet, in hopes that it might be the Northwest Passage, and sails along the Northwest seacoast, where he trades the Indians pennies for sea otter pelts that will fetch $100 in China." 1778: Three Years Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America, by Jonathan Carver, Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Books and Events of the Decade 1780-1790 1781 "A band of settlers, following the overland trail from Mexico, escape a massacre by once-friendly Yuma Indians along the Colorado River. Fifty-five members of their party are killed and nearly 70 are taken captive. The 46 survivors forge on to Mission San Gabriel, near which they establish Los Angeles. But the overland route to California is abandoned and Spain's northernmost province becomes increasingly isolated and self-dependent." 1781 "The British surrender at Yorktown marks the end of the American Revolutionary War. 1782: Letters from an American Farmer, by Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, first major philosophical consideration of frontier life 1783: A Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, by John Ledyard 1784 "Russia establishes its first North American colony on Kodiak Island." 1784 "The North West Company is established in Montreal to challenge the Hudson's Bay Company for control of the fur trade on the northern Plains." 1785: A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, by Captain James Cook 1787 "The Northwest Ordinance sets guidelines for settlement on the American frontier, including the prohibition of slavery and a requirement to deal fairly with Indians." 1787 "The United States Constitution is approved by the Constitutional Convention and ratified by the states the following year." 1787-1788: "The Federalist" by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. This is the classic document in American political theory, originally appearing as a series of letters to New York nespapers in support of the Federal Constitution agreed upon by the Federal Convention on 17 September 1787. Its background is the government set up in America after the Revolution, the government under the Articles of Confederation. This Confederation of sovereign states was too loose and weak a union to work effectively. After a few years, a constitutional convention was called in Philadelphia to write a new constitution. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison participated, and the resulting constitution is the one defended in this work. The need for a stronger union is eloquently argued on the grounds of common defense and prosperity. At the time of its presentation, there were many objections to the new constitution. These came mainly from people who were concerned lest the new federal government encroach on the rights of the states. The arrangement of the Constitution was defended in two ways: (1) the powers given the central government were essential to the performance of its function, and (2) these powers were clearly limited and all remaining powers were left to the states. Various other objections are considered, both general and specific. The various branches of the government are described in some detail, the method of selection of their officers, their powers and the limitations on their powers, and their relations to other branches is made clear. This persuasive document not only did much to spread an understanding of the Constitution, but has served as a basic American political text ever since. As such, its arguments form the basis for all informed political science fiction in the United States, often projected into speculative fiction on the political infrastructure of the Solar System or the galaxy as a whole. Isaac Asimov combined concepts from The Federalist with the overarching design of "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire," for example, in the "Foundation" novels. 1788 "The Columbia, captained by Robert Gray of Boston, trades iron tools, mirrors and trinkets with Indians of the Northwest for otter furs. Gray explores the Columbia River, which he names for his ship, establishing an American claim to the region. Two years later, the Columbia returns to Boston after a trading stop in China, becoming the first American ship to circle the globe." Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page Major Books and Events of the Decade 1790-1800 1790: Voyages Made in the Years 1788 and 1789, by John Meares 1792 "British Captain George Vancouver, a veteran of Cook's expeditions, begins a survey of the Pacific coast. Charting the many inlets and channels north from near San Luis Obispo to Prince of Wales Island, he confirms that no sea lane connects the Pacific with Hudson Bay. On this voyage he circles Vancouver Island, which he names for himself, and explores Puget Sound, which he names for Peter Puget, the officer who first sights it." 1793 "Alexander Mackenzie, a fur trader with the North West Company, becomes the first white man to cross the North American continent. From his trading post, Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca in what is now Alberta, Canada, Mackenzie crosses the Rocky Mountains and travels through British Columbia, eventually canoeing down the Bella Coola River to the Pacific." 1795 "The Treaty of San Lorenzo establishes the border between the United States and Spanish territories along the Mississippi and gives U.S. merchants the right to ship goods through New Orleans duty-free." 1797 "Charles Chaboillez, a fur trader with the North West Company, establishes Pembina, a trading post at the junction of the Pembina and Red Rivers in present-day North Dakota." 1798: "The Essay on the Principle of Population" by Thomas Robert Malthus is one of the most important early studies of Dystopia really, really bad futures (opposite of "Utopia"). Since population tends to multiply faster than subsistence, many people will starve unless society adopts rigid population controls, such as sexual abstinence and prohibition of marriage among the poor. He was specifically attacking the Utopian writings of such as Godwin, father of Mary Shelley ("Frankenstein"). 1799 "The Russian American Company establishes its headquarters at Sitka, Alaska." 1799 "Daniel Boone leaves Kentucky for 'elbow room' in the Spanish territories west of the Mississippi, settling near St. Charles on the Missouri River." 1799: "Song" by Russian explorer A. A. Baranov, first poem by a white composed in the West 1799: Edgar Huntly, by Brockden Brown, early portrait of Indians in fiction Return to Top of 18th century Timeline Page See also the following History and Science Fiction Timeline: |Introduction: Overview and Summary |Prehistory: Ancient Precursors |16th Century: Ariosto and Cyrano on the Moon |17th Century: Literary Dawn |18th Century: Literary Expansion (you are here) |19th Century: Victorian Explosion |1890-1910: Into Our Century |1910-1920: The Silver Age |1920-1930: The Golden Age |1930-1940: The Aluminum Age |1940-1950: The Plutonium Age |1950-1960: The Threshold of Space |1960-1970: The New Wave |1970-1980: The Seventies |1980-1990: The Eighties |1990-2000: End of Millennium |2000-2010: Future Prizewinners

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