Industrial Revolution: 1810 - 1890
- Living conditions in urban areas horrify reform minded commissions in London in the 1840s and America in the 1850s and 60s. Progress is slow but the common interest in pure drinking water and sanitation is spurred by epidemics of typhoid and cholera.
- Water pollution carried disease, but no one knew exactly why until the 1880s. Some concerned reformers didn't wait for exact knowledge: John Snow, a London physician, traced a part of the cholera epidemic to a contaminated water pump in 1855.
- Smog episodes begin killing residents of large cities like London.
- Demands for conservation of wilderness areas accelerate with the felling of an enormous redwood, called the "Mother of the Forest" in 1851. The outrage over the act leads to calls for a national park system.
1811 -- The Luddites emerge in Nottingham -- the same district famous for another champion of the poor, Robin Hood. The Luddite movement is a reaction by mill workers of the Manchester - Leeds industrial region of England to the coming of steam powered machinery, replacing their skilled labor and leaving them jobless and hungry. According to legend, the mythical figure Ned Ludd was a simple minded boy who accidentally broke a "frame" (loom). Others who broke frames deliberately might cover it up by claiming that they were as clumsy as Ludd. But Ned Ludd was also said to be a general on whose orders workers would demand that factory owners shut down steam powered machinery or the frames would be broken. The Luddite movement was adamantly non-violent and reached its height in the spring of 1812 when it acted as an underground guerilla army in the region.
February 27, 1812, Lord Byron speaks to the House of Lords on the Luddite riots:
During the short time I recently passed in Nottingham, not twelve hours elapsed without some fresh act of violence; and on that day I left the the county I was informed that forty Frames [looms] had been broken the preceding evening, as usual, without resistance and without detection.
Such was the state of that county, and such I have reason to believe it to be at this moment. But whilst these outrages must be admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: the perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community.
They were not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve them: their own means of subsistence were cut off, all other employment preoccupied; and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can hardly be subject to surprise.
As the sword is the worst argument than can be used, so should it be the last. In this instance it has been the first; but providentially as yet only in the scabbard. The present measure will, indeed, pluck it from the sheath; yet had proper meetings been held in the earlier stages of these riots, had the grievances of these men and their masters (for they also had their grievances) been fairly weighed and justly examined, I do think that means might have been devised to restore these workmen to their avocations, and tranquillity to the country.
April 20, 1812, several hundred Luddites attacked the Burton power loom mill in Lancashire. Two were killed by guards, the rest dispersed but then set the mill owners house on fire. This escalation of violence was met with repression.
In June 1812 , some 38 weavers were charged with "administering oaths to weavers pledging them to destroy steam looms" and they were accused of attending a seditious meeting. At their subsequent trial all thirty-eight were acquitted. Later that summer, eight men in Lancashire were sentenced to death and 13 more were transported to Australia for attacks on cotton mills. Fifteen more were executed at York. While there were occasional outbreaks of violence afterwards, by 1817 the Luddite movement had ceased to be active in Britain.
1809-1882 -- Life of Charles Darwin, whose 1859 book The Origin of Species both established the theory of evolution as a scientific verity and established human kinship with animals. Darwin himself was an outspoken opponent of cruelty to animals, especially trapping, and had strong anti-vivisectionist leanings, criticizing exercises undertaken "for mere damnable and detestable curiosity," but never fully broke ranks with fellow scientists to clearly denounce experiments which in his view had some redeeming purpose and value. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1812 -- First gas lights introduced in London by the Gas Light & Coke Co, charterd despite opposition by Boulton & Watt steam manufacturerer. This "town gas" or manufactured gas would be used in every major US and European city, but residual coal tar would remain an environmental problem well into the 21st century.
1812 -- February 7 -- Birth of Charles Dickens, English writer whose work condemned the worst of conditions and inspired the best in people. Books include Christmas Carol, Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Great Expectations, Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby and others.
1813 -- John Snow born March 15, in York, England, Snow would become famous in 1854 as the doctor who broke the Boad Street pump and took direct action against the spread of cholera through polluted drinking water.
1815 - Corn laws passed, placing high protective tariffs on grain (corn) imports into Britain. These raised the price of grain and shored up the fading economic power of the landed gentry. The laws were an example of mercantilism and their repeal is said to be a victory for free trade. However, the 1846 repeal of the corn laws was forced by the Irish Potato Famine. The repeal came too late, and over a million Irish men, women and children died despite a general abundance of food in Europe at the time. "Deadly hatred was sown..." said Charles Gavan Duffy.
1816 -- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly writes Frankenstein.
1816 -- First Parliamentary commission to investigate child labor formed by Robert Peel. The practice of sending orphan children to manufacturing centers is curtailed. The Peel committee took evidence from doctors and textile manufacturers, but no evidence was taken from parents or children. The subsequent Factory Act of 1819 set a minimum of 9 years of age for factory work; also, hours were limited, but only for some kinds of textile factories. One key provision of the law was that it applied to all apprentices, and therefore all children and, in effect, could be applied to all workers. "Though the bill was badly mutilated, the weak and feeble Act which emerged was to become the Magna Carta of childhood; thereafter the protection of the children of the poor, first from toil and then from bodily starvation and ignorance, began." (Donald Hunter, The Diseases of Occupations, London: Hodder and Stroughton, 1955).
1817 -- U.S. Secretary of Navy authorized to reserve timber lands producing hardwoods for naval stores.
1818 -- Massachusetts bans the hunting of robins and horned larks, both popular foods, as a conservation measure.
1819 -- British Parliamentary committee expresses concern that steam engines and furnaces "could work in a manner less prejudicial to public health."
1819 -- John Ruskin born Feb. 8 -- Artist, art critic, Oxford Professor and romantic who, more than Wordworth, detested the industrial revolution. Modern towns, he said, were:
"...little more than laboratories for the distillation into heaven of venomous smokes and smells, mixed with effluvia from decaying animal matter, and infectioius miasmata from purulent disease... [Every river was] a common sewer, so that you cannot so much as baptize an English baby vut with filth, unless you hold its face out in the rain, and even that falls dirty."
1820 -- Reformer and Parliamentarian Jeremy Bentham writes The Constitutional Code, including proposals for reforming London medical assistance system and water, sewer and public works districts. Many find his proposals for social engineering distastefully autocratic.
1820s - Hudson River school of painting puts nature at the center of emerging American culture.
1821 -- Rudolf (Carl) Virchow born Oct. 13. (d. Sept. 5, 1902) -- German physician Virchow developed cell theory and fought for improving the public health services. He said:
"Medicine is a social science and politics [is] nothing but medicine on a grand scaleÉ Doctors are the natural advocates of the poor, and social problems are largely within their jurisdiction."
1822 -- Louis Pasteur born Dec. 27 in Dole, France. (d. September 28, 1895) -- Pasteur is perhaps the best known scientist of the 19th century. His germ theory of disease is the foundation of modern medicine and public health. Pasteur said:
"Two contrary laws seem to be wrestling with each other nowadays; the one, a law of blood and death, ever imagining new means of destruction and forcing nations to be constantly ready for the battlefield -- The other a law of peace, work and health, ever evolving new means of delivering man from the scourges which beset him. The one seeks violent conquests, the other the relief of humanity. The latter places one human life above any victory, while the former would sacrifice hundreds and thousands of lives to the ambition of one. The law of which we are the instrument seeks, even in the midst of carnage, to cure the sanguinary ills of the law of war; the treatment inspired by our antiseptic methods may preserve thousands of soldiers. Which of these two laws will ultimately prevail, God alone knows. But we may assert that French science will have tried, by obeying the law of Humanity, to extend the frontiers of life." (Another Pasteur link)
1822-1904 -- Life of Frances Cobbe, founder of the Victoria Street Society (1875), which became the British National Anti-Vivisection Society, and later founder of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (1898).
1823 -- James Fenimore Cooper writes The Pioneers, which contains the idea that humans should "govern the resources of nature by certain principles in order to conserve them."
1824 -- Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier writes "Remarks on the Temperature of the Terrestrial Globe and Planetary Spaces" for Annales de chimie et de physique in which he proposes the theory that the sun's heat is partially trapped in the earth's atmosphere like a giant glass jar -- the first scientific reference to global warming.
1822 -- First British humane law, with laws prohibiting dogfighting and cockfighting following in 1835. Rat-fighting was not banned until 1911. There is record of cruelty cases being prosecuted occasionally under other legislation prior to the Martin Act of 1822, including a 1749 case in Gloucester in which two men were convicted of spitefully killing a mare. One man got the death penalty. "Humanity Dick" Martin won passage of the law. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1824 -- Farmer's Guide, published in Providence Rhode Island by Solomon and William Downs, discusses causes and remedies for erosion.
1824 -- Formation of the London SPCA, which began enforcing the 1822 humane law five years before Sir William Peel formed the first London police force. About 150 convictions were won in 1824, the first year for which records exist. The London SPCA nearly went bankrupt in 1828, but was saved by Lewis Gompertz, inventor of the expanding chuck which makes changing drill bits possible. Gompertz was drummed out in 1832, however, for the alleged offenses of being a Jew and a vegetarian. He went on to found the Animals' Friend Society, which he headed until 1848. The London SPCA became the Royal SPCA by charter granted by Queen Victoria in 1840. Victoria herself donated money to antivivisection efforts, but the British Charities Commission has recently interpreted antivivisection campaigning to be outside the scope of the charter. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1827 -- John James Audubon begins work on his illustrated book, Birds of America.
1827-1915 -- Life of Ellen Gould (Harmon) White. An early convert of Seventh Day Adventist Church founder William Miller (1782-1849), she along with the other "Millerites" prepared for the "Second Coming of Jesus" in 1844. When the Second Coming did not come, Ellen White and her husband James White built the remnants of the sect into a substantial vegetarian religion. The Adventists have de-emphasized vegetarianism since her death, and the deaths of those who knew her, to the point that the majority of Adventists today are not vegetarian. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1828 -- New York passed the first U.S. state anti-cruelty law, followed by Massachusetts in 1835 and Connecticut and Wisconsin in 1838. Every state had an anti-cruelty law by 1913, including Alaska, whose first anti-cruelty law actually preceded statehood by 46 years. Obtaining meaningful enforcement in any state really only began in 1990, when a Massachusetts man became the first American known to have actually been jailed for abusing an individual animal. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1830 -- Thomas Southwood Smith, a British physician, publishes his Treatise on Fever, in which he argued that the poor are impoverished by fever and that fever was preventable. "This book set the agenda for Edwin Chadwick's later career with the New Poor Law Board, and moved the whole ethos of public health away from the voluntary, philanthropic, individualistic eighteenth-century approach, and into the imperative, community-oriented Victorian mode,." said historian Anne Hardy
1830 -- Saxony adopts a law to prevent cruelty to animals, followed by Prussia (1838), Wurttemberg (1839), and Switzerland (1842). "Pastor Albert Knapp founded the first German animal welfare society in 1837 in Stuttgart; Nuremberg and Dresden followed in 1839, Berlin, Hamburg, and Frankfurt in 1841, Munich in 1842, and Hanover in 1844. In Switzerland, animal protection societies were formed in Berne in 1844, in Balse in 1849, and in Zurich in 1856," according to Richard Ryder in Animal Revolution. Anti-cruelty societies were also founded in Oslo in 1859, Gothenberg in 1869, and Strangnas in 1870. The Lithuanian SPCA, recently revived after a long suspension during the years of Soviet occupation, was founded in 1873.
1831 -- Charles Turner Thackrah, 1795 - 1833, a British physician, publishes The Effects of the Principle Arts, Trades and Professions, and of Civic States and Habits of Living, on Health and Longevity, with Suggestions for the Removal of many of the Agents which produce Disease and Shorten the Duration of Life. The book on occupational health (industrial hygiene) included clinical observations and suggestions for improvements that helped mitigate some of the worst effects of the industrial revolution.
"Many persons who reflect on the subject will be inclined to admit that our employments are in a considerable degree injurious to health; but they believe, or profess to believe, that the evils cannot be counteracted, and urge that an investigation of such evils can produce only pain and discontent. From a reference to fact and observations I reply that in many of our occupations the injurious agents might be immediately removed or diminished. Evils are suferend to exist, even when the means of correction are known and easiy applied. Thoughtlessness or apathy is the only obstacle to success."
1831 --House of Commons Factory Commission chaired by Michael Sadler, a member of Parliament and Yorkshire mill owner, began investigating conditions of workers in the textile mills. "Before this Commission there files a long procession of workers -- men and women, girls and boys. Stunted, diseased, deformed degraded, they pass across the stage, each with the tale of his wrong life, a living picture of man's cruelty to man, a pitiless indictment of those rulers who, in their days of unabated power, had abandoned the weak to the rapacity of the strong." Critics later contended that Sadler's commission exaggerated the problems for partisan ends, particularly the 10 hour law.
1831 -- December 26 -- Charles Darwin sets sail on the HMS Beagle, a voyage which inspires Darwin’s work on evolutionary theory, natural selection and the origin of species.
1832 -- Arkansas Hot Springs established as a national reservation, setting a precedent for Yellowstone and eventually, a national park system.
1832 -- George Catlin, a U.S. artist and author, first proposes the idea of national parks encompassing major areas in which Indians and wild country could both be preserved. In the same decade ornithologist John James Audubon is arousing an interest in wildlife conservation. Catlin is two years into his artistic crusade to paint and document the lives of Native Americans.
1833 -- The Poor Laws Commission (Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Operation of the Poor Laws). This led to the Poor Law Amendments of 1834 which created a central administration, work houses and segregation of classes of workers and sexes (including families) in the workhouses. The law specifies that workhouses are to be less accommodating than the lowest paid labor. Meanwhile, a second survey by Poor Laws Commission is begun. This survey, reported in 1838, finds that poverty is linked to disease and poor housing and sanitation.The report says families are engaged in dangerous, unhealthy work for long hours, living in "ill-furnished, uncleanly, ill ventilated" homes, eating "meagre and ilnutritious foods," and are finally falling the "victims of dissipation." Members such as Edwin Chadwick, Dr. Neil Arnott and Sir James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth find conditions in London so bad in this 1838 report that they petition for a full nationwide survey (finally reported in 1842).
1833 -- Royal Commission on the Employment of Children in Factories established, leading to the Factory Act, which drastically changes child labor hours and allows the appointment of inspectors and a permanent Factory Inspectorate.
1833, July 19 -- Report of the Board of Health in reference to the approach of cholera, Board of Health of Indianapolis
1834 -- William Morris (1834-1896) born. A writer and a fierce critic of the industrial revolution, Morris wished he could turn England from the grimy backgard of a workshop into a garden. His epic poem, The Earthly Pardise, begins with an admonition:
Forget six counties overhung with smoke,
Forget the snorting steam and piston stroke,
Forget the spreading of the hideous town;
Think rather of the pack-horse on the down,
And dream of London, small, and white and clean
The clear Thames bordered by its gardens green ...
(Quoted in Guha)
1834 -- New York bans the use of batteries (scatter guns the size of cannons) in duck hunting, but the ban is repealed the following year.
1834 -- London officials bring nuisance charges against a coal - gas manufacturing firm that contaminated the Thames by releasing large amounts of coal tar from the plant. Although other indictments had been brought, Rex v. Medley was apparently the first to have been successfully prosecuted.
Defendants unlawfully and injuriously conveyed great quantities of filthy, noxious, unwholesome and deleterious liquids, matters, scum and refuseÉ into the river Thames, whereby the waters became charged and impregnated with the said liquid and became corrupted and insalubrious and unfit for the use of his Majesty's subjects ... People who supported themselves and their families by catching and selling fish were deprived of their employment and reduced to great poverty and distress; (all) to the common nuisance and grievous injury of his Majesty's subjects, to the evil example, and against the peace.
1835 -- Ralph Waldo Emerson writes the essay Nature, beginning an American tradition of Transendentalism continued by Thoreau, Fuller, Walt Whitman and others.
The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence. Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit...
1835 -- Alexis de Tocqueville publishes Journey to England and describes the industrial city of Manchester:
"Thirty or forty factories rise on the tops of the hills...six stories (high). The wretched dwellings of the poor are scattered haphazrd around them. Round them stretches land uncultivated but without the charm of rustic nature.,, the fetid, muddy waters stained with a thousand colours by the factories ... Look up and all around this place and you will see the huge palaces of industry. you will hear the noise of furnaces, the whistle of steam. These vast structures keep air and light out of the human habitations which they dominate; they envelope them in perpetual fog; here is the slave, there the master; there is the wealth of some, here the poverty of most."
1838 -- April 21, John Muir born in Dunbar, Scotland.
1838 -- Octavia Hill (1838 - 1912) born in London. She was founder of the most influential English society for preservation, the National Trust. As "the first woman environmentalist of significance" (according to Guha), she saw the link between social reform and environmental protection. She pioneered slum improvement, anti-smoke exhibitions and helped protect many areas of London, especially Parliament Hill.
1839 -- Tanquerel des Planches publishes study of 1,200 cases of lead poisoning, one of the most complete studies of an occupational disease to date. Workers lead dust or are exposed to fumes are much more affected than those who handle solid lead, he notes.
1839 -- Formation of the Scottish SPCA. Circa 1850 the Scottish SPCA produced more than 100 glass photographic plates to teach inspectors how to investigate cruelty and neglect of horses. Long forgotten, the plates were recently rediscovered at the Scottish SPCA headquarters in Balerno. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1840 -- Southwood Smith, member of the British Board of Health, formed The Health of Towns Association. A few years later Smith helps reformers in the US by lending support to the Great American Congresses for Hygiene Reform held in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston.
1840 -- Louis Rene Villerme publishes the first major study of workers' health in France, A Description of the Physical and Moral State of Workers Employed in Cotton, Linen, and Silk Mills
1840 -- Frances Trollope's Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong, the Factory Boy is published. This popular and sentimental tale helped awaken Britain to the injustices of child labor in the factory system.
"Exactly at the bottom of the hill began a long, closely packed double row of miserable dwellings, crowded to excess by the population drawn together by the neighborhood factories. There was a squalid, untrimmed look about them all ... an odour, which seemed compounded of a multitude of villainous smells, all reeking together into one, floated over them... My eye caught the little figures of a multitude of children, made distinctly visible, even by that dim light, by the strong relief in which their dark garments showed themselves against the snow. A few steps farther brought me in full view of the factory gates, and then I perceived conserably above two hundred of thise miserable little victims to avarice all huddled together on the ground, and seemingly half buried in the drift that was blown against them. I stood still and gazed upon them -- I knew full well what, and how great, was the terror [of severe beating by mill foremen] which had brought them there too soon, and in my heart of hearts I cursed the boasted manufacturing wealth of England, which ... gives power, lawless and irresistible, to overwhelm and crush the land it pretends to fructify."
1842 -- Edwin Chadwick writes The Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. Report is first scientific inquiry linking high rates of infectious disease and child mortality to grossly unsanitary conditions and polluted drinking water. For every person who died of old age or violence in Britain in the year 1839, the commission reports, eight died of infectious disease. See The Victorian Web for excellent documentation of the public health concerns from this era. Also, Chadwick noted a good deal of resistance to sanitary measures which is documented in the Peel Web, another excellent Victorian era history project on the Web.
1842 -- Royal Commission on Employment of Children in the Mines reports "cruel slaving revolting to humanity," The commission found women and children chained to carts and working 15-hour days. Historian Hodgkinson summed up the commission's findings: "Brutality, cruelty, debauchery, obscenity and sex." The subsequent Mines Act of 1842 prohibited all women and boys under age ten from working in the mines. Inspectors were not, at this time, allowed to go underground but they were supposed to inspect the medical condition of the miners.
1842 -- English engineers lay out sewer system in Hamburg, Germany, and English system of house by house sewer lines is adopted elsewhere in Europe.
1842 -- New York city physician John H. Griscom,, appointed inspector for the Board of Health, begins writing 'The Sanitary Condition of the Laboring Population of New York City." The report is among the first to outline the connection between poverty and disease. It especially condemned landlords who turned basements into "living graves for human beings." Filth from overused facilities was another cause of disease. Like his predecessors in New York, he argued for the elimation of common nuisances and the worst slums. But he also wanted reform -- universal sewer and water systems, regulations on housing cleanliness and density, and replacing politically appointed health wardens with medical experts empowered to make inspections and close down buildings. Griscom's reforms were politically unacceptable, and he was not reappointed. His report was reissued in 1845. Burrows and Wallace's book Gotham notes:
"Among Griscom's many striking dpeartures from conventional bourgeois wisdom was his refusal to blame the poor for their wretched housing. He knew that lack of fresh water and adequate sanitation made it impossible for residents to keep clean and pious homes... On the other hand, he didn't blame the rich, as the reformers did. rather he appealed to them to provide decent housing, not just as "a measure of humanity, of justice to the poor,' but as a matter of self interest. Bad housing meant sick workers, and sick workers meant lower profits, higher relief outlays, and higher taxes... Griscom was convinved that such rational appeals would have weight because the problem seemd to stem from lack of understanding: 'One half of the world does not know how the other half lives.'"-- Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham, A History of New York City to 1898, (Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 785.
1843 -- House of Commons Select Committee on the Smoke Nuisance recommends all manufacturers be removed to a distance of 5 to 6 miles from city center.
1843 -- Prison reform movement in the United States initiated by Dorothea Dix
1843 -- Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes the Cry of the Children:
"For oh" say the children "we are weary,
And we cannot run or leap --
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
To drop down in them and sleep
Our knees trumble sorely in the stooping--
We fall upon our faces, trying to go;
And undernath our heavy eyelids drooping,
The reddest flower would look as pale as snow.
For, all day, we drag our burden tiring,
Through the coal-dark underground --
Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron
In the factories, round and round ...
1843 -- Scottish Rights of Way Society formed to protect walking areas around the city of Edinburgh.
1844 -- Edward Carpenter born (1844 - 1929), former priest and Cambridge fellow took the message of the simple life to heart and founded the Sheffield commune.
1844 -- Formation of the New York State Association for the Preservation of Fish & Game, a distant ancestor of the National Wildlife Federation. In 1881 it hosted the massacre of 20,000 passenger pigeons--the last great flock netted in the wild--at a Coney Island fundraiser.
1845 -- Friedrick Engels writes The Condition of the Working Class in England
"If anyone wishes to see in how little space a human being can move, how little air -- and such air -- he can breathe, how little of civilization he may share and yet live, it is only necessary to travel [to Manchester, England]... The cottages are old, dirty and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts and in part without drains or pavement; masses of refuse, offal and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions; the atmosphere is poisoned by the effluvia from these, and laden and darkened by the smoke of a dozen tall factory chimneys."
1845 -- Griscom's New York city sanitary report reissued (see 1842).
1845 -- Massachusetts Sanitary Commission formed; survey of Boston slums shows alarmingly high infant and maternal mortality rates as well as many communicable diseases. A second report by Lemuel Shattuck in 1850 confirms findings. In 1869 a the first state board of health is established.
1845 -- Mar. 18 -- Johnny Appleseed (John Chaptman) dies at age 70 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.. The legendary but real man planted apple trees across Ohio and Indiana for nearly 50 years.
1845 -- Irish Potato famine begins. Over 1.5 million people die of starvation and associated disease by 1849 and another million people emigrate from Ireland, mostly for America. The problem was not only the failure of the potato crop, but rather, the laws which encouraged English landowners to export grain back to England. Irish historians today regard the disaster as one of history's great genocides.
"... The stronger nation snatched away from the weaker, the power of helping itself ... The claim of the [Irish] nationalists to re-enter the management of their own affairs -- since it was plain that the England could not manage them successfully -- was treated as sedition... [And yet] no people are bound to starve while their soil produces food cultivated by their own hands... On the relief committees, doctors, clergymen and country gentlemen bore the burden of the work, but a multitude of the gentry stood apart, as if the transaction did not concern them. They were busy in transmitting the harvest to England, or clearing the population off their estates ... or quartering their relations and dependents on the relief fund as overseers, and... obtaining grants for their own families of money designed for the suffering poor on their estates. The benevolence of the minority could not counterbalance these odious offenses, and deadly hatred was sown..." -- Charles Gavan Duffy, Four Years of Irish History 1845-1849, (London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1883), p. 356-357.
As Irish journalist John Mitchel said at the time: "The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine." Mitchel was exiled under the Treason Felony Act for this comment.
1846 -- English corn laws repealed. The laws, first passed in 1815, put up a high tariff barrier to grain imports and were meant to tilt the economic balance towards the rural gentry and away from urban working classes. The policy was contrversial for years, but failed during the Irish Potato Famine, since cheap Irish corn (grain) was shipped to England while people starved in the Irish countryside.
1847 -- Southwood Smith publishes An Address to the Working Classes of the United Kingdom on their Duty in the Present State of the Sanitary Question
1847 -- Cholera attacks London again. Southwood Smith writes to the city's workers:
"For every one of the lives of these 1,500 persons who have perished during the last quarter and who might have been saved by human agency, those are responsible whose proper office is to interfere and to stay the calamity -- who have the power to save but will not use it. But their apathy is an additional reason why you should rouse yourselves and show that you will submit to this dreadful state of things no longer. Let a voice come from your streets, alleys, courts, workshops and houses that shall startle the ear of the public, and command the atention of the Legislature. "
1847 -- Towns Improvement Clauses Act (UK) encourages paving, drainage, cleansing and lighting and also gives large towns the power to appoint full time medical officers. Subsequent City Sewers Act of 1848 led to London appointment of Sir John Simon (1816-1904).
1847 -- US Rep. George Perkins Marsh of Vermont notes destructive impact of people on the land in a set of speeches around the country. In 1864 he will publish Man and Nature: The Earth as Modified by Human Action.
1848 -- The year 1848 holds the same type of symbolic significance in world history as, for example, 1968 or 1989, in that great revolutions in human thought and organization took place. Since this occurred mostly in Europe, it went more or less unnoticed in US history. However, several web sites are devoted to the Spirit of 1848.
1848 -- American Medical Association formed with two main initial goals: license physicians and survey sanitary conditions across the U.S.
1848 -- April 10 -- Chartist movement brings two million signatures to London demanding political and social reforms.
1848 -- Cholera epidemic kills 62,000 Britons. The Times notes that the disease "is the best of all sanitary reformers -- it overlooks no mistake and pardons no oversight." (Markham).
1848 -- May 7, Public Health Act is passed by a reluctant Parliament fearful of spread of cholera. National Board of Health is formed and leads local boards to regulate water supply, sewerage, offensive trades. Smoke abatement becomes a political responsibility of the health department. The board is a political failure, however (see 1854).
1848 -- (13 October 1821 - 05 September 1902) German physician Rudolf (Carl) Virchow, later famed for cell theory, founds the medical journal Medical Reform (Medicinische Reform), and writes "Report on the Typhus Epidemic in Upper Silesia." Preserving health and preventing disease requires "full and unlimited democracy" and radical measures rather than "mere palliatives" This investigation of t hetroubles of mill workers of Silesia condemned unsanitary conditions there in the Prussian Reichstag, much to the discomfort of Bismark and other Prussian industrialists. Virchow famously says:
"Medicine is a social science and politics [is] nothing but medicine on a grand scale... Doctors are the natural advocates of the poor, and social problems are largely within their jurisdiction." "
Later in life, Virchow will fight for improving the health and welfare service, meat inspections, and the first four urban hospitals in Berlin. He encourages water and sewage system development.
1848 -- Andrew Jackson Downing, a landscape architect, proposes creation of a 500 acre People's Park in New York. By 1853 land was purchased and by 1857 a board of commissioners was appointed for what became known as Central Park.
1848 - Elizabeth Gaskill writes Mary Barton: A tale of Manchester Life. "Nobody, not even Charles Dickens, had gone as far looking at the grim reality of industrial misery. The middle class wife of a Unitarian preacher, Gaskill took herself into the lower depths of the city, into the gin palaces and dark reeking alleys where skin and bones children played among the rats." (Simon Schama)
We do not want dainties, we want bellyfuls. We don not want grand houses, we want a roof to cover us from the rain, and the snow and the storm. I am not alone to ask this. The helpless ones that cling to us in the keen wind ask us, why we brought them into the world to suffer. -- Elizabeth Gaskill in Mary Barton
1849, June -- Cholera strikes New York city, killing 5,000 mostly poor and Irish. Many people thought cholera was God's retribution for sin. Others wanted environmental reform, and worked to provide sewers and banish pigs from city streets. One roundup in 1849 pushed over 20,000 pigs north to the upper wards. Still, with over 200 slaughterhouses and over 375,000 animals slaughtered per year with only the most rudimentary sanitation, New York was a public health disaster waiting to happen.
1848 -- Another revolution in France, Louis Philippe abdicates and workers rise up in Paris and found The Second Republic. A public health advisory committee is attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce and establishes a network of local public health councils
1848 -- Karl Marx and Frederick Engels publish The Communist Manifesto
1848 -- Gold discovered at Sutter's Mill on California's American River.
1849 -- U.S. Department of Interior established.
1849 -- Cholera kills 5,000 in New York City, leading to first serious calls for urban reform in U.S.
1850 -- U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service founded; among the first attempts to regulate technology on behalf of public safety.
1850 -- London Epidemiological Society formed.
1851 -- US Congress enacts Shipowner's Limitation of Liability Act to limit liability in the event of accidents such as an oil spill. The purpose of this statute was to allow a shipper to limit their liability to the 'post-accident' value of a vessel and its freight to encourage the growth of the shipping industry. The law becomes problematic when major oil spills begin to occur a century later. (Savage. 2000)
1851 -- The first formal international health conference, held in Paris in 1851, was followed by a series of similar conferences aimed at drafting international quarantine regulations. A permanent international health organization was established in Paris in 1907 to receive notification of serious communicable diseases from participating nations, to transmit this information to the member nations, and to study and develop sanitary conventions and quarantine regulations on shipping and train travel. This organization was ultimately absorbed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948.
1851 -- Dec 31 -- Washington Post reports in "Spoliation of Forests" that the Forestry Association has met regarding problems from logging after pressure from the public to preserve national forestlands.
1851-1939 -- Life of Henry Salt, vegetarian advocate, founder of the anti-hunting Humanitarian League in 1891, and influential teacher of both the vegetarian and antivivisectionist playwright George Bernard Shaw, and the vegetarian moral philosopher and politician Mohandas Gandhi, at whose request Jawaharal Nehru wrote into the Indian constitution the statement that it is every citizen's duty to prevent animal suffering. Although others including Abraham Lincoln apparently used the phrase "animal rights" in various contexts, Salt is believed to have been the first person to advocate an animal rights movement.
1852 -- "Mother of the Forest' -- a giant sequoia tree 300 feet high, 92 feet in circumference and about 2,500 years old -- is cut down for display in carnival sideshows. The tree was in Calaveras Grove, part of what will become Yosemite National Park. Public opinion is aroused by the act. Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, called it "vandalism" and "villainous speculation." Gleason's Pictorial, a popular Boston magazine, said, "To our mind, it seems a cruel idea, a perfect desecration, to cut down such a splendid tree... what in the world could have possessed any mortal to embark in such a speculation with this mountain of wood?"
1853 -- Paris' Bois de Boulogn, is expanded by Louis Napolean. Its curving paths, lakes and roads make it a widely imitated model for urban parks.
1853 -- Novelist Charles Dickens opens his novel Bleak House with an image of London as a twisted, twilight world of smoke, shadows and wraiths. Dickens writes:
"Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow flakes -- gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun."
1853 -- Doctor Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 - 1910), the first US woman to be allowed to earn a medical degree, opens a dispensary in a tenement district of New York City. Civil War halts efforts to expand into a medical college and a nursing school but in 1868 the clinic becomes the New York Infirmary for Women and Children.
1854 -- Walden by Henry David Thoreau is published. [ See The Thoreu Project at Northern Illinois University ]
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. ... Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.
1854 -- September 7 -- John Snow (1813-1858), a London doctor, convinces local authorities to let him close down the water pump on Broad Street. After getting permission, he breaks the pump handle. The spread of cholera is slowed dramatically as a result. What had happened, according to Hunter (1976) is that shortly before the cholera epidemic the Lambeth Water Co. had moved above the tidal reaches of the Thames, making its water uncontaminated by London sewage, while the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Co. continued to supply unfiltered water to eastern areas of London, including Broad Street. By investigating all cholera deaths in one region of London, Snow documented the relationship between the disease and the source of drinking water and provided an early model of effective epidemiology.
1854 -- Benjamin McCready (1823-1892) publishes On the Influence of Trades, Professions, and Occupations in the United States, in the Production of Diseases. It is the first American look at occupational disease.
1854 -- Britain's Board of Health (created in 1848) is dismissed, partly because of Edwin Chadwick's rigid and uncompromising personality, and partly because of the unfortunate outbreak of a major cholera epidemic just as the board began its work. The Times of London approvingly says Britons "prefer to take our chance of cholera and the rest than be bullied into health."
1854 -- Tetraethyl lead (TEL) discovered by German chemist as a curiosity. It is first added to gasoline as an octane booster in 1921. Banned in the U.S. in 1986 and Europe in 2000, it takes until 2012 to have lead removed from gasoline in the developing world.
1854 -- Patrick Geddes born (1854 - 1932). Social ecologist who coined the term "carboniferous capitalism," Geddes opposed the exploitation of rural areas by industrial cities. He created city plans for Europe and Asian cities that tried to balance them with the resources and healthy world views of the country. Geddes was a major influence on historian Lewis Mumford (b. 1895). Their correspondence is described in a book by Frank Novak.
1854 -- New York Common Council rules that homes have to be connected to sewer lines, but progress is slow. By 1857, two thirds of New Yorkers are relying on backyard and basement privies that constantly overflow.
1854 --Daniel Halladay introduces mechanical windmill for pumping water in the American Midwest. In the next century, over six million windmills, most of 1 horsepower or less, pumped water for farm homes and livestock. Very large windmills, with rotors up to 18 meters in diameter, were also used to pump water for the steam railroad trains.
1855 -- July 7 -- Prof. Michael Farraday writes Observations on the Filth of the Thames, contained in a letter addressed to the Editor of " The Times" Newspaper:
"The whole of the river was an opaque pale brown fluid...If there be sufficient authority to remove a putrescent pond from the neighbourhood of a few simple dwellings, surely the river which flows for so many miles through London ought not to be allowed to become a fermenting sewer. The condition in which I saw the Thames may perhaps be considered as exceptional, but it ought to be an impossible stat, instead of which I fear it is rapidly becoming the general condition. If we neglect this subject, we cannot expect to do so with impunity; nor ought we to be surprised if, ere many years are over, a hot season give us sad proof of the folly of our carelessness."
Faraday said he measured the opacity of the Thames River in many places by noting that the bottom of his business card was not visible when the top was just at the surface. Punch magazine observes the incident with a cartoon that showed Prof. Farraday "giving his card" to Father Thames.
1855 -- First comprehensive city sewer plan in U.S. in Chicago. By 1905, all U.S. towns with population over 4,000 have city sewers. The Baltimore city sewer system, begun in 1915, is the last to be built.
1856 -- Dietrich Brandis introduces scientific forestry in India, leading to the creation of the Indian Forestry Service. See Jan Oosthoek, The colonial origins of scientific forestry in Britain
1857 -- State of Vermont commissions study on depleted fish populations in Connecticut River. George Perkins Marsh gets the job.
1857 -- Frederick Law Olmstead appointed to develop New York's Central Park with space catering to all classes of people. Class mixing, he thought, could elevate the character of the poorer classes, especially if it occurred in properly designed environments like English style landscaped parks. Yet initially the park's rules banned all martial displays, civic processions and public oratory. And class mixing could hardly occur when the middle class moved through the park with horse and carriage while the poorer class walked. "Once again a cultural enterprise designed to mitigate the divisssiveness of metropolitan life had served only to exacerbate it." (Burrows & Wallace, Gotham, p. 795).
1858 -- The "Great Stink" of sewage in the Thames River spurs work of British Royal Commission on Sewage Disposal. Meanwhile, revolts break out in India, and the two events become linked in the public mind:
"For the first time in the history of man, the sewage of nearly three million people had been brought to seethe and ferment under a burning sun... The result we all know. Stench so foul we may well believe had never before ascended to pollute this lower air. Never before, at least, had a stink risen to the height of an historic event... For months together this topic was almost monopolized in public prints... 'India is in revolt and the Thames stinks' were two great facts coupled together ... to mark the climax of a national humiliation." (Babbitt, 1922; Glick, 1980) See also Steven Halliday, The Great Stink of London (Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton, 2001).
1858 -- Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper takes on the "swill milk" industry of New York. The term "swill" applies specificially to the watery grain left over from brewing and distilling beer and whiskey and generally to the poor quality milk distillery-fed city cows produced. Not only was swill the only source of food for dairy cattle, but the cows and milk handlers were often diseased.
1859 -- Svante August Arrhenius born Feb. 19, in Sweden. The Nobel-prize winning chemist was the first to predict global warming from fossil fuel induced CO2 buildup. (See 1894).
1859 --South Africa's Cape Colony enacts Forest and Herbiage Protection Act allowing it to take over areas of veld and forest threatened with destruction. Similar laws are enacted in 1860 in the Dutch colony of Java; in 1865 in India; and in 1871 in Australia.
1859 -- New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley tours the American west and, in 1860, publishes An Overland Journey. Of Yosemite Valley he said: "I know of no single wonder of nature on earth which can claim superiority over Yosemite."
1859 -- Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species is published, in which competition is seen as a mechanism for natural selection and survival of species. Alfred Russel Wallace independently came up with the same theory and spurred publication of the book.
1859, Aug. 25 -- Edwin L. Drake strikes oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania but kerosene sales start slowly since the market is already dominated by an alcohol-turpentine blend called camphene. (Whale oil by this time has become far too expensive and scarce to be widely used).
1859 -- Florence Kelly born 12 September. Kelly would head the National Consumers League in the 1920s and fight for the Radium Girls in 1928.
1859 -- Netherlands -- Dr. Ali Cohen starts survey into causes and effects of water pollution. The report that resulted from this survey was the basis for the very first legal actions to be taken to counter the negative effects of the water pollution in the Veenkoloniën. See K.J.W. Oosthoek, The Stench of Prosperity
1860 -- September 6-- Jane Addams born in Cedarville, Illinois. A leader of the Progressive women's movement, Addams founded Hull House in Chicago as way to extend education, social services and political advocacy to the poor of Chicago. She fought against child labor, pollution and many other problems.
1860 -- Florence Nightingale notes in the journal Nursing -- "Within the last few years, a large part of London was in the daily habit of using water polluted by the drainage of its sewers and water-closets." (Oxford English Dictionary).
1860 -- Promoting solar energy, Prof. Augustine Mouchot of Lycee de Tours, France, said: "One cannot help coming to the conclusion that it would be prudent and wise not to fall asleep regarding this quasi security. Eventually industry will no longer find in Europe the resources to satisfy its prodigious expansion Coal will undoubtedly be used up. What will industry do then?" Mouchot's answer was to build solar energy machines. In 1874 he built a collector with 54 square feet of reflecting surface for alcohol distillation which worked at the rate of 5 gallons a minute. The machine could also power a 1/2 hp motor and develop 75 psi of steam.
1860 -- Mary Tealby, 59, a London divorcee who was already dying of cancer, founded Dogs Home Battersea near the Holloway debtors prison, as "The Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs," to care for the animals of the inmates. Charles Dickens saved it from fiscal failure with an article called "Two Dog Shows," comparing and contrasting the plight of Tealby's rescued dogs with the luxury enjoyed by Crufts Dog Show contestants. Tealby died in 1865. The shelter moved to the present location in 1871.
1860 -- San Francisco based journalist Thomas Starr King writes an eight article series on Yosemite for the Boston Evening Transcript. King was a champion of conservation and, after his death in 1864, a giant sequoia was named in his honor.
1860 -- Alabama doctor Nicholas T. Sorsby writes Horizontal Plowing and Hillside Ditching, the first book devoted to erosion control through improved cultivation methods.
1861 -- April 12 -- Civil War in the US creates enormous environmental problems, as described in The American Civil War: An Environmental View by Jack Kirby.
1861 -- Adolf Kussmaul, professor of medicine in Erlangen, writes about industrial mercury poisoning among silverers of mirrors in Furth and Nuremberg. Working conditions were so bad that Kussmaul found every adult male to have lost all teeth. Publication of the findings led to regulations forcing a switch to alternative mirror making processes in Germany.
1861 -- William Heinrich Reill writes that Germany's woods "are the heartland of folk culture ... so that a village without a forest is like a town without any historical buildings, theater or art galleries. Forests are game fields for the young, feasting places for the old." Such ideas helped conservation but they were also tied to extreme forms of nationalism.
1861-- Civil War tax $2 per gallon imposed on beverage alcohol which inadvertently includes 100 million gallon per year burning fluid and camphene lamp fuel made from alcohol and turpentine. This creates a demand for new fuel from petroleum called "kerosene" (sun fuel).
1861 -- U.S. Sanitary Commission is formed to help relief efforts for Civil War soldiers. Commission advocates argued that 22 percent of British and 30 percent of French casualties in the Crimean War had involved preventable disease. President Lincoln approved the private efforts of the Sanitary Commission, and most initial funding came from insurance companies hoping to hold down the number of deaths of their policy holders.
1861 -- Children's Employment Commission (UK) begins investigation into non-textile industries employing children, partly at behest of mill owners. A variety of reports on occupational disease are issued, including those found of the lucifer match industry, paper staining, percussion caps, cutlery grinding and potteries. Ulceration of the jaw from matches, called "phossy jaw" was banned through international cooperation .
1862 -- US Dept. of Agriculture established. President Abraham Lincoln calls it "the people's department" since 90 percent of Americans at this time are farmers.
1862 -- Formation in Sri Lanka of the Animals Non-Violence Society and passage of the first wildlife protection law adopted under British rule. The first Sri Lankan anti-cruelty law was not passed until 1907.
1863 -- John D. Rockefeller starts the Excelsior Refinery in Cleveland, Ohio. By ruthless business practices he would develop a near total monopoly on oil by the turn of the century and become the epitome of the robber barron. Standard Oil was broken up under the Sherman anti-trust act in 1911. Rockefeller was also seen as the primary opponent of renewable fuels development in the early 1900s.
1863 -- Air pollution from British chemical industry spurs the Alkali Act, intended to create reductions in hydrogen chloride emissions during alkali production. It allows agents of the first British pollution control agency, the Alkali inspectorate, to question industry officials and suggest improvements; but there were no actual regulations concerning amounts of air pollution until the act was revised in 1906.
1863 -- Thomas Morison Legge (1863-1932) born. Author of Public Health in European Capitals (1896), Lead Poisoning and Lead Absorption (1912), and Industrial Maladies (1933), Legge was Senior Medical Inspector of Factories. At the International Labor Conference in 1921, Legge helped organize the White-Lead Paint Convention (treaty) of 1926 where nations were asked to prohibit painting with white lead indoors. Britain did not ratify the Geneva White Lead Convention, and Legge resigned as a medical inspector in protest.
1863 -- Abraham Lincoln approves the Congressional charter for the National Academy of Sciences.
1863 -- Thomas H. Huxley (a friend and defender of Charles Darwin) says "The question of questions for mankind – the problem which underlies all others" – was to ascertain "the place which Man occupies in nature ... What are the limits of our power over nature, and of nature's power over us?"
1863 -- New York's Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor (est. 1844) finds "dark, contracted, ill constructed, badly ventilated and disgustingly filthy" housing. Some 18,000 people live in cellar apartments whose floors are putrid mud. (Burrows & Wallace in Gotham, p. 884).
1863 -- John Tyndall explains the "greenhouse effect" in a lecture to the British Royal Society entitled "On Radiation Through the Earth's Atmosphere." It is the first confirmation and extension of Joseph Fourier's idea that the earth would be much colder without its atmosphere.
1864 -- Former Congressman George Perkins Marsh writes Man and Nature: The Earth as Modified by Human Action, with emphasis on forest preservation and soil and water conservation. Along with Alexander von Humboldt (1769 - 1859) and Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), Marsh is considered a founder of environmental science and the scientifically-based conservation movement.
1864 -- March, Sen. John Conness of California introduces a bill to protect the Yosemite Valley. During the debate, Conness recalls the Mother of the Forest, cut down in 1852, and says his bill is designed to protect the trees. "The object of this bill is to prevent their being cut down or destroyed" (Congressional Record, 1864, p. 2301). Lincoln signs the bill in June.
1864 -- Indian Forest Department established by the British colonial government. Within 50 years it would control over one-fifth of India. The first head of the department is Dietrich Brandis, a leading German scientist from a strong tradition of forest conservation science that would go on to influence forest policy worldwide. Gifford Pinchot, remembered as Teddy Roosevelt's forrester, was a corespondent and devoted student of Brandis in the 1880s. The control of Indian forests in practice meant that ordinary farmers were forbidden from using them as part of their subsistence. (Guha)
1865 -- Founding of the Commons Preservation Society in England to protect woodlands and heths used by communities for recreation.
1865 -- June -- New York City Sanitary Survey reports a death rate of 33 per thousand (compared to Philadelphia at 20 and London at 22). Public health had deteriorated to conditions like those of London two centuries earlier said Dr. John Griscom, who wrote the first sanitary report in 1844. The 1865 report shocked the city:
"Domestic garbage, filth and the refuse of bedrooms of those sick with typhoid fever, scarlet fever and smallpox is frequently thrown into the streets, there to contaminate the air, and no doubt aid in the spread of these pestilential diseases." Some 18,000 people are living in cellars below the high water mark. "At high tide the water often wells up through the floors, submerging them to a considerable depth. In very many cases, the vaults of privies (latrines) are situated on the same or a higher level, and their contents frequently ooze through the walls into the occupied apartments beside them." As a cholera epidemic sweeps the city, the mayor of NY refuses to call together the aldermen who constituted the old Board of Health, maintaining that they are more dangerous to the city than the disease itself.
1865 -- August -- A group of interested journalists and members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Schuyler Colrfax tour the new Yosemite Valley protected area. Springfield Republication editor Samuel Bowles said, upon seeing the region for the first time: "All that was mortal shrank back, and all that was immortal swept to the front and bent down in awe."
1865 -- W.Stanley Jevons points out that at some future point Britain's coal reserves would be exhausted, or at least the coal mines would become so deep that could would be too expensive to sustain the nation's industrial leadership. (W. Stanley Jevons, The Coal Question, London:MacMillan, 1865). Also see Sir William Thompson, "Available Energy of Nature," Popular Science Monthly, 1881 vol. 20 p. 87-95.
1866 -- In one of his final masterpieces, Charles Dickens writes about the slums of London in his Uncommercial Traveller. In one heartbreaking passage (in Chapter XXXIII), Dickens describes lead poisoning:
The flare of the burning wood enabled me to see a table, and a broken chair or so, and some old cheap crockery ornaments about the chimney-piece. It was not until I had spoken with the woman a few minutes, that I saw a horrible brown heap on the floor in a corner, which, but for previous experience in this dismal wise, I might not have suspected to be ‘the bed.’ There was something thrown upon it; and I asked what that was.
‘’Tis the poor craythur that stays here, sur; and ’tis very bad she is, and ’tis very bad she’s been this long time, and ’tis better she’ll never be, and ’tis slape she does all day, and ’tis wake she does all night, and ’tis the lead, sur.’
‘The lead, sur. Sure ’tis the lead-mills, where the women gets took on at eighteen-pence a day, sur, when they makes application early enough, and is lucky and wanted; and ’tis lead-pisoned she is, sur, and some of them gets lead-pisoned soon, and some of them gets lead-pisoned later, and some, but not many, niver; and ’tis all according to the constitooshun, sur, and some constitooshuns is strong, and some is weak; and her constitooshun is lead-pisoned, bad as can be, sur; and her brain is coming out at her ear, and it hurts her dreadful; and that’s what it is, and niver no more, and niver no less, sur.'
The sick young woman moaning here, the speaker bent over her, took a bandage from her head, and threw open a back door to let in the daylight upon it, from the smallest and most miserable backyard I ever saw. ‘That’s what cooms from her, sur, being lead-pisoned; and it cooms from her night and day, the poor, sick craythur; and the pain of it is dreadful; and God he knows that my husband has walked the sthreets these four days, being a labourer, and is walking them now, and is ready to work, and no work for him, and no fire and no food but the bit in the pot, and no more than ten shillings in a fortnight; God be good to us! and it is poor we are, and dark it is and could it is indeed.’
1866 -- In response to the New York Sanitary Survey of 1865, the state legislature creates the Metropolitan Board of Health with authority to conduct house-to-house inspections, remove nuisances and order cleanups (horse manure in vast quantities -- hundreds of thousands of tons -- was removed from the city). Any person considered to be a threat was moved to a hospital. The police or the board's own officers would enforce the orders. As a result, a cholera epidemic that swept from Europe to North America killed only 500 in New York but 1200 in Cincinatti and 3,500 in St. Louis.
1866 -- Founding of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by Henry Bergh, but it was not the first. Other early U.S. humane societies include the Massachusetts SPCA, founded by George Angell in 1868; the San Francisco SPCA, founded in 1868; the Pennsylvania SPCA, founded in 1869; and the Women's Humane Society of Philadelphia, founded by Caroline Earle White in 1870, after women were excluded from the board of the Pennsylvania SPCA. Bergh, Angell, and White had all been anti-slavery activists before the Civil War, and viewed animal advocacy as an extension of their work on behalf of human rights. Both Bergh and White were also instrumental in fouding societies to protect children from neglect and abuse, while Angell was regarded as "The father of humane education."(M. Clifton, 2007).
1866 -- The term Ecology is coined (in German as škologie by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834-1919) in his Generelle Morphologie der Organismen. Haeckel was an anatomist, zoologist, and field naturalist appointed professor of zoology at the Zoological Institute, Jena, in 1865. Haeckel was philosophically an enthusiastic Darwinian. Ecology is from the Greek oikos, meaning house or dwelling and logos, meaning discourse or study of a thing.
1866 - First long cattle drive starts in Texas.
1867 -- Pennsylvania legislature rejects bill to regulate water pollution, despite heavy industrial pollution in Delaware River.
1867 -- Royal Commission on River Pollution reports of water in the rivers Aire and Calder as "poisoned, corrupted and clogged by refuse from mines, chemical works, dyeing, scouring, and fulling, worsted and woolen stuffs, skin cleansing and tanning, slaughter-house garbage and the sewage of towns and houses." (Markham)
1867 -- March 23 -- Officials in Chicago open new waterworks valves to fanfare and celebration. The new system takes water from a point two miles out into Lake Michigan. Previously, drinking water had been taken from the Chicago River. "The sewers of the city discharged themselves into the river, and consequently the refuse of the city found its way to the water-works, and was re- distributed through the pipes, causing much inconvenience and ill-health. This became such an intolerable evil that it was resolved to secure pure water by other means..." Harpers Weekly April 20.
1867 -- Factories and Workshops Act of the UK brings matchmaking, paper staining, explosives and other British industries under regulation intended to protect workers from occupational disease. For the first time some workers are excluded from some trades. For example, no boy under 12 and no woman could be employed in melting or annealing glass, no child under 11 could grind metal, and no women or underage children could eat meals in any part of a glass factory. Other subsequent related acts regulated specific occupational diseases, such as the 1875 bill preventing child employment of chimney sweeps or the 1883 Prevention of Lead Poisoning Act.
1867 --Wilderness advocate John Muir begins his Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf. The book, published in 1870, describes his "botanical excursion." By that time, Muir had moved to California, and most of his subsequent writings involved preservation of the western US.
1869 -- Transcontinental railroad links US east and west coasts.
1869 -- Alice Hamilton born February 27, 1869. Hamilton becomes the first woman on the Harvard faculty and the national expert on exposures to toxic chemicals in the workplace, especially lead. Hamilton takes an active role in exposing the 1924 Ethyl leaded gasoline and 1928 "radium girls" industrial disasters.
1869 -- Mohandas K. Ghandi born Oct 2, 1869. Possessed of a great moral force, his campaigns to aid Indians in South Africa and free India from the British were extraordinary examples of non-violence studied by, among others, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella. Ghandi's environmental ideas were extensions of his practical concerns for the well being other people. Historian Ramachandra Guha points out that, like John Ruskin, Ghandi was not fond of industrial culture. However, unlike Ruskin (whose agrarian ideal was impractical in England), Ghandi's ideal and more or less self-sustaining village could have formed the basis for social renewal in a free India. But Ghandi was assassinated on Jan 30, 1948. His environmental ideas are reflected in one famous quote "Live simply so that others may simply live."
1869 -- Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman to study at MIT, begins taking thousands of water and food samples for the new Massachusetts State Board of Health. The state water survey, published in 1873, is the first of its kind. Richards believed that environment was the major factor in the quality of life and argued vehemently against "eugenic" attempts to improve "the race" of people by scientific selection of parental partners. She coined the term "euthenics" for improvement of the environment, both in and out of the household. She also used the term "ecology" in a broader sense and began the "home ecology" movement (which eventually became the "home economics" movement). Among her many accomplishments, Richards' research demonstrated the need for Massachusetts factory and food inspection laws, the first in the nation. She was also involved in the development of sanitary sewer treatment systems. Richards was an early example of the many American women who adopted conservation and environmental causes in the Progressive era. Although not outspoken in the women's suffrage or women's rights movements, she saw improvements in scientific education as a key to the progress of women and the country. "Municipal housekeeping," as it was later termed, would be a direct extension of Richards' vision of the new role for women in public affairs. Within a generation, Richards' vision became widely accepted. Women's clubs and civic improvement groups of the Progressive era contributed immense energy to the cause of conservation, with long-lasting effects. As late as 1948, a New York Times editorial page, in an endorsement of a smoke abatement (air pollution) protest, would "urge housewives and others to take this opportunity."
1869 -- John Wesley Powell leads expedition down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Later, Powell heads the US Geological Survey (see 1879).
1860s - 1880s -- French scientist Louis Pasteur's germ theory of disease revolutionizes concepts of public health, making it possible to isolate and treat specific diseases.
1870 -- Jan. 10 -- John D. Rockefeller incorporates the Standard Oil Company. Predatory business practices help it to monopolize the oil industry but lead to public hearings in the Ohio legislature and then federal "anti-trust" laws against monopolies.
1870 -April - France - Augustine Mouchot predicts a need for solar energy: “The time will arrive when the industry of Europe will cease to find those natural resources, so necessary for it. Petroleum springs and coal mines are not inexhaustible but are rapidly diminishing in many places. Will man, then, return to the power of water and wind? Or will he emigrate where the most powerful source of heat sends its rays to all? History will show what will come.”
1870 -- First coal mine safety laws passed in Pennsylvania following a fire that suffocated 179 men.
1870 -- US Weather Bureau formed by Congress; U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries formed in 1871; both will be joined, a century later, in the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administraion.
1871 -- John Muir writes "Yosemite Glaciers" for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune. Greeley had been in Yosemite 12 years before and took an active interest in its preservation. Muir's article eventually becomes a book -- The Yosemite.
1871 -- October 8, 1871 -- Worst recorded forest fire in North American history raged through northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, killing between 1,200 and 2,400 people. Coincidentally, the "great Chicago fire"began the same night, killing hundreds of people.
1872 -- The Women's Humane Society of Philadelphia became the first humane society to take an animal control contract, followed in 1895 by the American SPCA and the San Francisco SPCA. Humane societies did not commonly do animal control until the onset of the Great Depression in 1929-1930 encouraged many humane organizations to take on the job as a way of stabilizing their income. Typically, however, animal control was (and is) done at a net loss over time, and tends to become the only major activity of the humane societies that do it. (M. Clifton, 2007).
1872 -- American Public Health Association formed.
1872 -- Jan. 4 -- Arbor Day proposed by J. Sterling Morton, editor of the Nebraska City News (the state's first newspaper). The day was officially proclaimed two years later and first observed April 10, 1874. Today the Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides 8 million trees for planting each year. Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April.
1872 -- March -- President Ulysses Grant signs Yellowstone National Park Act. One factor was that Grant's opponent in the 1872 election would be Horace Greeley, a champion of Western conservation. In fact, Grant was no friend of wilderness, as is clear with his veto of an 1875 wildlife protection bill.
1872 -- May 10 -- Mining Act of 1872 passed by US Congress. The act (still in effect in 2012) forces the sale of federal lands for $2.50 per acre and prohibits the government from demanding royalties for hard-rock mineral extraction. The act has often been called "corporate welfare," such as on Sept. 6, 1995 by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
1872 -- Investigation of drinking water sources by the Newark Daily Advertiser uncovers sewage, animal carcasses, dead human bodies and industrial poisons. Chemical tests revealed, in the words of one consultant, "a shocking degree of contamination."
1872 -- Congress passes Mining Law allowing the purchase of mining rights from public land for $5 per acre or less.
1873 -- Henry Winchester's machinists invent a practical and popular repeating rifle.
1873 -- December -- First of a series of "killer fogs" in London. Over 1,150 die in three days. Similar incidents in 1880, 1882, 1891, 1892 and later.
1874 -- Charles Hallock establishes Forest and Stream magazine sparking a national debate about ethics and hunting.
1874 -- German graduate student Othmar Zeider discovers chemical formula for the insecticide DDT.
1874 -- Formation of the Bombay SPCA, the longest continuously operating western-style humane society in India.
1874 -- Secretary of the Interior Delano testifies before Congress, "The buffalo are disappearing rapidly, but not faster than I desire. I regard the destruction of such game as Indians subsist upon as facilitating the policy of the Government, of destroying their hunting habits, coercing them on reservations, and compelling them to begin to adopt the habits of civilization." See "The Buffalo Harvest" in the Trade Environment Database at American University. According to the Indian History timeline, the buffalo population at this time is estimated at 7 million, down from 15 million in 1865 and from over 50 to 100 million before the European's arrived.
John Mooar, a buffalo hunter with brother Wright Mooar, obtains all the ammunition he required from the army. The government policy was to provide free ammunition to all buffalo hunters. Upon receiving his free ammunition he said, "What am I supposed to do with this ammunition, kill Indians?" The high ranking plains officer said, "You just kill buffalo, we'll take care on the Indians." He explained that the Army philosophy [was that] either the buffalo or the Indians must go. "There isn't any other way. Only when the Indian becomes absolutely dependant upon us for his every need will we be able to handle him. Every buffalo you kill now will save a white man's life." Thousands of other tough young men entered the killing spree. Wright Mooar claimed to have killed 20,000 buffalo in nine years of hunting. The Nebraska dentist who starred in the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show claimed to have killed 30,000 buffalo during his hunting career.
1875 -- President Ulysses Grant vetoes a bill protecting buffalo and other wildlife.
1875 -- British Publish Health Act consolidates authority to deal with housing, water pollution, occupational disease, and other problems.
The necessity for a bill for the improvement of the dwellings of the poor is universally admitted. No one who has lived in one of your fine modern towns can form a notion of the squalor and wretchedness of the dens in which the poor of London, and of most of the largc towns in this country, spend their days and nights. The medical officer to the local Government board has reported that in numerous towns the poorer houses are utterly unfit for human habitation .. In Liverpool, however, in which the most brutal population in the British Islands is congregated, the density of population is double that of London. Thirty thousand families, or (allowing five individuals to a family) onc hundred and fifty thousand people, live in single rooms, of which fifteen thousand are dark, filthy, undrained cellars. In Manchester, which is not one of thc six towns mentioned by the medical officer, carefully computed statistics, extending over the past ten years, show that, whereas the annual mortality in its healthiest parts is only four in 1,000, it amounts to seventy per 1,000 in its most crowded parts...
It is no exaggeration to say that ... there is hardly an unpolluted river in the whole of England. Between the sewage of towns and the odsconrings of manufact,ories, distilleries, breweries, and the lilrc, every stream and river in the country is poisoned and rendered unfit for domestic use. Sparlilmg brooks that not many years ago were frequented by speckled trout and silvery salmon are now transformed into gigantic cesspools, which a clean-living toad would be ashamed to haunt. No wise man or woman will touch a drop of London water until it has been boiled and filtered, and even then they will use as little of it as they can. The manufacturing interest will no doubt be roused if any attempt be made to interfere with their prerogative of public poisoning. But the good sense, not to say the newly- awakened terror, of the country will support the Government if their measure be wisely considered, and be calculated to promote the end it has in view, The Nation (Mar. 4, 1875, p.11, ”The Coming Measures")
1875 --American Forests founded by John Aston Warde to protect forests from unnecessary waste. The organization is probably the oldest US conservation group still in operation.
1876 -- American Forestry Association campaigns to cut timber on government reserves, American Association for the Advancement of Science calls for federal legislation to protect timberlands.
1876 -- Congress fund US Entomological Commission to investigate insect damage on crops, especially the Rocky Mountain locust. Various forms of pesticides are tested, including arsenic, lead and pyrethrum flower based compounds.
1876 -- British River Pollution Control Act makes it illegal to dump sewage into a stream.
1876 -- Diky Bird Society launched by the editor of the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, William Adams, also known as Uncle Toby. The society encouraged kindness to animals and feeding of birds. Historian Fred Milton, in the journal Environmental History, estimated that 1.2 million children joined this and similar societies such as the Band of Mercy. The Diky Birds pledged:
I hereby promise to be kind to all living this, to protect them to the utmost of my power, to feed the birds in the winter time, and never to take or destroy a nest. I also promise to get as many boys and girls as possible to join the Dicky Bird Society.
1876 -- John Ruskin launches campaign to stop the railroad lines from coming intp the English Lake District.
"When the frenzy of avarice is daily drowning our sailors, sufforcating our miners, poisoning our children and blasting the cultivable surface of England into a treeless waste of ashes, what does it really matter whether a flock of sheep, more or less, be driven from the slopes of Helvellyn, or the little pool of Thirlmere filled with shale, or a few wild blossoms of St. John's vale lost tothe coronal of English spring? ... I have said that I take no selfish interest in this resistance to the railroad. But I do take an unselfish one.... I suppose few men now living have so earnestly felt -- none certainly have so earnestly declared -- that the beauty of nature is the lblessedest and most necessary of lessons for men; and that all other efforts in education are futile till you have tought your people to love fields, birds and flowers. Come then, my benevolent friends, and join me in that teaching." (Quoted in Guha, 2000)
1877 -- Massachusetts passes the first factory inspection law, with 22 states following over the next 20 years.
1877 -- The American Humane Association is formed as an intended umbrella for the humane movement. Resolutions passed at the founding convention called for protecting the North American bison, beaver, and bald eagle from extinction, and for protecting livestock from suffering and abuse in transportation and slaughter. In 1878 the AHA separates into separate divisions for child protection and animal protection. The child protection division operates the orphanage system for the state of New York, 1895-1950.
1877 -- Local Government Board (UK) finds one quarter of all milk examined to be seriously adulterated.
1877 -- Publication of Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. Sewell's mother wrote many books for children, but Black Beauty was the only published work by Sewell herself, who died less than a year after the first edition appeared. A British Quaker, born in 1820, Sewell suffered a knee injury at age 14 which left her even more dependent upon horses for transportation than most people of her era. She became an expert horse handler, using only a loose rein and no whip. "Anna and her mother protested" when they saw horses being beaten, according to Joan Gilbert in the Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. "Some drivers threatened to beat them too." Use of the bearing rein was ubiquitous, and Sewell hoped to abolish it. Bearing reins, explained Gilbert, held horses' heads and necks in "an unnatural and painful arch. It cut off their wind as well, and many young horses were ruined due to respiratory problems." Under the influence of Black Beauty, Gilbert continued, "The bearing rein went out of style. Ironically, during Sewell's funeral procession, her mother noticed that all the horses wore bearing reins. She went from carriage to carriage, requesting that they be removed, which they were." Massachusetts SPCA founder George Angell distributed a private printing of 100,000 copies to U.S. horse handlers. "In the span of about 100 years, over 30 million copies have been printed, an all-time record for fiction," Gilbert concluded. "Black Beauty has been made into at least eight movies. Three British sisters, Christine, Diana and Josephine Pullein-Thompson, wrote two sequels to Black Beauty --Black Beauty's Kin and Black Beauty's Family.." In addition, Black Beauty inspired Fund for Animals founder Cleveland Amory to name the first and largest of the Fund sanctuaries The Black Beauty Ranch, and the name has been used in connection with many other humane projects. (M. Clifton, 2007).
1878 -- Iowa enacts first state bag limit law, limiting hunters to 25 prairie chickens and other game birds per day.
1878 -- National Quarantine Act empowers the Surgeon General of the Marine Hospital Service (precursor to the Public Health Service) to impose quarantines.
1878 -- Consolidating Act UK passed keeping children out of white lead factories.
1879 - April -- Naval engineer John Ericson (inventor of the famed Civil War ship, the Monitor), says in Scribners: "The time will come when Europe must stop her mills for want of coal…. [Industry will move to the tropics] where an amount of motive power may be obtained many times greater than now employed by all the manufactories of Europe.” The idea would not resurface again until the early 21st century.
1879 -- U.S. Geological Survey formed. John Wesley Powell, explorer of the Colorado River a decade earlier, will become its head in March 1881.
1879 -- Division of Forestry established in US, later to become US Forest Service.
1879 -- US National Board of Health is formed but is dissolved in 1883 after disagreements about role of federal government and state governments.
1880 -- January inversion leads to another "killer fog" in London with 700 deaths.
1880s -- First U.S. municipal smoke abatement laws aimed at reducing air pollution from factories, railroads and ships. Regulation under local boards of health under common law nuisance statutes.
1880s -- Engineer John Ericsson, famed for inventing the screw propeller and the U.S.S. Monitor (Civil War ironclad) devotes his remaining years to solar steam generators.
1881 -- Chicago becomes the first American city to create a local ordinance regulating smoke discharges, followed that same year by Cincinnati. Pittsburgh's first smoke ordinance passed in 1892 and St. Louis created a smoke ordinance in 1893. The ordinances were extremely feeble, and as late as 1906, the Chicago Record-Herald noted sarcastically that a judge who normally handled smoke cases thought it to be "cruel and unusual punishment" if fines of $100 were handed out more than once or twice a year.
1881 -- Circus magnate P.T. Barnum and friends founded the Connecticut Humane Society, partly to forestall humane criticism of circuses. Like many other early humane societies, Connecticut Humane was active in child protection, and continued to provide various child protection services by contract with the state until the early 1970s.
1881 -- New York creates a Dept. of Street Cleaning but little changes until 1894, when Col. George E. Waring takes charge.
1881 -- Norway tracks first signs of acid rain on its western coast (Mongillo, 2001)
1881 -- Helen Hunt Jackson publishes "A Century of Dishonor: A Sketch of the United States Government's Dealings with Some of the Indian Tribes." The book was so critical of broken treaties and inhumane treatment that it shocked the nation. Unlike John Muir, who saw Indians as dirty and even unworthy of the great wilderness they inhabited, Jackson and other women environmental writers in the late industrial / early Progressive era were often advocates for Indians. Carolyn Merchant writes about the issue in Environmental History.
1881 -- Unsuccessful attempt of the Victoria Street Society to prosecute British monkey vivisector David Ferrier causes vivisectors to organize the Association for the Advancement of Medicine by Research the following year. This is the first known anti-animal welfare organization.
1881 -- French Engineer Jacques D'Arsonval envisions an electric generator that uses the temperature difference between the ocean's depths and its surface. His student, Georges Claude, tested the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion system in Cuba. Today research into OTEC systems continues at the National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii.
July 1881 -- Samuel P. Langley leads expedition to Mt. Whitney in S. Calif. To research solar heat and absorption by Earth's atmosphere. Observes that as air grows thinner, temperature falls. Important for greenhouse theory. Langley's solar hot box measured air temperature inside an inner box to estimate the amount of solar energy hitting the earth.
1881 -- Dept. of Agriculture distributes pyrethrum seeds as the "insecticide of the future." Most of the plantings fail. Arsenic compounds (such as Paris Green) and, after 1892, lead arsenate, become the most popular insecticdes. Frequent reports of illness and death from eating sprayed fruit are dismissed in agricultural literatuere as "absolutely without foundation."
1882 -- Massachusetts passes first pure food laws, inspired by investigations of Ellen Swallow Richards.
1882 -- Tuberculus and cholera isolated. German physician Robert (Heinrich Hermann) Koch, one of the founders of the science of bacteriology (along with Pasteur), discoveres the tubercle bacillus (1882) and the cholera bacillus (1883). He won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1905. The discovery was the conclusive proof of the germ theory of disease. Previously most scientists believed in the "miasmatic" theory of disease, which had it that bad air ( eg malaria) was the cause of disease which could therefore be controlled by cleaning up filth. The germ theory suggested aiming at more specific germs and specific individuals than at general filth. As a result, emphasis shifted in disease prevention from community oriented cleanup to individual measures ... (Rosen, p. 40 -41).
1882 -- Caroline Earle White founded the American Anti-Vivisection Society. The New England Anti-Vivisection Society was formed in 1895, and the U.S. National Anti-Vivisection Society was established in 1929. The early anti-vivisection societies fought against cruel experiments on humans, including illiterates, prisoners, and the mentally handicapped, and were prominent opponents of eugenics, the notion of "improving the race" by prohibiting reproduction of "inferior" races and classes of humans --an idea which in the early 20th century was favored by both the political right and the left. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1882 -- Henrik Ibsen writes "Enemy of the People," a tragedy about a Norwegian doctor who is ostracized when he warns that a community's health spa waters are contaminated.
1882, Sept. 30 -- World's first hydroelectric power plant starts operation in Appleton, Wisconsin. (Mongillo, 2001)
1883 -- Lake District Defense Society formed with John Ruskin's encouragement to keep the trains out of England's scenic Lake District.
1883, Aug. 26-27 -- Krakatoa volcano erupts in Indonesia, killing over 36,000 and scattering ash into the atmosphere, causing 18 months of low temperatures, worldwide famines and spectacular sunsets.
1885 -- U.S. Biological Survey created, partly out of concern over the near extermination of the buffalo and the passenger pigeon.
1885 -- Bureau of Labor Statistics established in Department of Labor.
1885 -- British scientist discovers that slow filtration through sand reduces bacteria in drinking water by 98 percent. Around the same time, an American laboratory found that slow sand filters could remove typhoid germs in river water supplies. By 1900, dozens of British and American cities had such filters. By 1905, copper sulfate, chlorine and ozone treatments were found to kill typhoid and cholera bacteria. By 1908 the first continuous chlorination system in the U.S. began operation in Jersey City. Ordinary river water, even if somewhat polluted, could now be made relatively safe for human consumption at no great cost.
1885 -- Founding of Selbourne League in England to protect rare birds, plants and landscapes, named for the 18th century naturalist Gilbert White of Selbourne.
1885 -- Emile Zola writes Germinal, a protest against the inhuman working conditions in factories and mines. According to one Zola web site: "Etienne Lantier is an out-of-work railway worker who by sheer luck has secured a job in the coal mine called "Le Voreux."
1885 -- Adirondack Forest Preserve created by New York State (Mongillo, 2001)
1886 -- First Audubon Society formed by George Bird Grinnell, to fight the slaughter of birds for feathers.
1886 -- Major water rights court ruling in case of Lux and Miller holdings in California.
1887 -- Aldo Leopold born Jan. 11 in Burlington, Iowa. The conservationist and naturalist was famous for his Sand County Almanac, published in 1948. He was a professor of forestry at the University of Wisconsin and one of the founders of the Wilderness Society in 1935.
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
1887 -- Rio de Janeiro -- First hemispheric health conference of a series that led to the Pan American Sanitary Bureau which later became the Pan American Health Organization, a regional arm of WHO.
1887 -- Boone and Crockett Club, named after two of America's most famous frontiersmen (Daniel Boone and Davie Crockett), is founded by future president Theodore Roosevelt.
1888 -- Annie Besant helps organise a strike of women workers at the Bryant and May match factory in the East End of London. Poor working conditions, especially "phossy jaw," a debilitating occupational disease, were among the reasons for the strike.
1889 -- English writer Edward Carpenter publishes "Civilization: Its Cause and Cure" which later has a great influence on Mahatma Ghandi. At one point Carpenter looks down on the town of Sheffield and sees:
"Only a vast dense cloud, so thick that I wondered how any human being could support life in it, that went up to heaven like the smoke from a great altar. An altar, indeed, it seemed to me, wherein thousands of lives were being yearly sacrificed. Beside me on the hills the sun was shining, the larks were singing; but down there a hundred thousand grown people, let alone children, were struggling for a little sun and air, toiling, moiling, living a life of suffocation, dying (as the sanitary reports only too clearly show) of diseases caused by foul air and want of light -- all for what? To make a few people rich!"
(Quoted in Guha 2000)
1889 -- American writer and naturalist John Muir begins the campaign to save Yosemite from exploitation. His articles in Century Magazine sparked an a 1990 bill in Congress to expand federal protection and, by 1916, form a National Park Service. (Neuzil & Kovarik, 1996).
1889 -- 3:10 P.M., May 31 -- At least 2,209 residents of Johnstown, PA die after a dam on the South Fork of the Little Conemaugh river collapses after heavy rains. (See US National Park Service site for background). One of the most interesting comments on this best known of 19th century disasters ran in the New York Times under the heading: The "Warning" at Conemaugh. In it, Times editors object (in the most oblique manner) to the idea that the disaster was God's handiwork and not the fault of the engineers.
"It shows men how they should, or rather how they should not, build their dams and their cities and it seems, also, that it warns them to take thought for their spiritual safety ... Most engineers, and most laymen as well, would not hesitate to say that the responsibilty for the disaster rests upon the designer and builder of the dam. But if our religious contemporary the (New York) Witness (newspaper) is right, the designer and builder must be exculpated. We must assume that he was at work under Divine guidance and that when he built the dam in such a way as to invite overthrow and destruction, he was really an instrument in the hands of God preparing a warning which whould arouse the people of the Conemaugh Valley and of the country at large to a sense of their sins in rejecting Christ. (Yet) if the view taken by the Witness were the view taken by the Christian press and pulpit in general, if it were , in fact, the accepted Christian view, we are confident that the apostles of that faith would address and influence a constantly narrowing circle of believers. But this view is not the Christian view. It is the pagan view -- hopelessly, irredeemably pagan." -- New York Times, June 11, 1889
Also see David McCullough's book, Johnston Flood (1968)
1888 -- The Ryerss Infirmary for Dumb Animals was among the first U.S. humane societies begun specifically to protect horses and other farm animals.
1889 -- Formation of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, in response to the prolific killing of birds by "sportsmen." Ironically, the RSPB itself now engages in the prolific killing of birds if they are judged to be alien threats to native species.
1889 -- George Angell formally incorporated the American Humane Education Society as a subsidiary to the Massachusetts SPCA. Actually begun in 1882, it focused for about 30 years on forming schoolroom humane education clubs called the Bands of Mercy. More than 265,000 Bands of Mercy were chartered by Angell's death in 1909. His successor, the Rev. Francis Rowley, organized a Band of Mercy convention in Kansas City circa 1912 that drew 25,000 children plus 15,000 parents and teachers. Rowley also started the Jack London Clubs to seek the abolition of animal use in entertainment, inspired by the London book Michael, Brother of Jerry. The Jack London Clubs claimed 750,000 members at peak. However, Rowley incurred enormous debt in building Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, opened in 1915, dominating the MSPCA program ever since. Financially hobbled for more than a decade even before the Great Depression, the MSPCA allowed the Bands of Mercy to disappear and the Jack London Clubs to fade, though they still existed at least on paper as late as 1963. Jack London was a self-proclaimed Red, at a time when the term still had the original meaning of "radical" rather than the narrower later meaning of "Communist." The early Soviet Communists nonetheless regarded him as a "fellow traveler," and for that reason, Jack London Clubs formed in eastern Europe as the White Fang Societies were virtually the only pre-Communist humane institutions in that part of the world to survive the Communist era. (M. Clifton, 2007)