top of page
  • gallopade

Historical Happenings in January 2024



The second semester of school is in full swing, and so are this month’s monumental moments! Celebrate the birthdays of notable Americans who shaped our nation and an event that changed the fortunes of many Americans using these tidbits and free resources.


History at a Glance:



January 11, 1755: Alexander Hamilton was Born


Before the world knew his name, thanks both to his accomplishments and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton was born in Nevis, a Caribbean island in the British West Indies. After his father, James, left his family in 1765, Hamilton began working as a clerk in a counting house in St. Croix at 11 years old to help provide for his family. Tragedy struck again when his mother, Rachel, passed away in 1768.[1] 


Essentially an orphan, Hamilton had to make his own way in the world, and his ambitious drive and hard work paved his path, beginning with a promotion to manager at the counting house. Fortune once more followed when he was sent to Elizabethtown Academy in New Jersey in 1773, thanks to the generosity of the people in his community who raised the funds to help him further his education.[2]


Upon completing his schooling at Elizabethtown Academy, Hamilton attended King’s College (present-day Columbia University) but left before graduating to become the captain of a New York artillery company in 1776.[3] His acts of bravery and leadership skills in this position, specifically during the Battle of Trenton, garnered the attention of General George Washington. Washington asked Hamilton to be his aide-de-camp in 1777, giving him the rank of lieutenant colonel. During the four years that Hamilton served in this position, he was responsible for conducting military missions and transporting Washington’s letters.[4] 


After serving in the Revolutionary War, Hamilton was elected to the Continental Congress in 1782 as a delegate for New York. He remained in this role for a year before resigning to start a law practice in 1783. A few years later, he was sent to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 as New York’s delegate.[5] 


One of Hamilton’s most notable accomplishments as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention was his contributions to writing much of the Federalist Papers. Along with James Madison and John Jay, he helped write 85 essays from October 1787 to May 1788 defending and interpreting the U.S. Constitution, which had been written during the Constitutional Convention. The Federalist Papers were published under the pseudonym “Publius” in newspapers throughout New York to persuade statesmen to support the new Constitution.[6] Today, these documents are regarded as significant primary sources for learning the Constitution’s purpose and the authors’ intentions behind it.[7] 


Hamilton’s political achievements as one of the Founding Fathers didn’t stop there; in 1789, he was appointed by President Washington as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury.[8] While serving in this role, he devised a plan to strengthen the young nation’s economy. His plan included funding the national debt, taking on the states’ debts they had racked up during the Revolutionary War, and taxation. Congress approved his plan only after he made a deal with Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson lent his support, which in turn garnered Hamilton the necessary votes from Southern members in Congress in exchange for Hamilton’s support of the location of the nation’s capital.[9] In addition to this financial plan, Hamilton also proposed a national bank, which led to the establishment of the First Bank of the United States on February 25, 1791.[10]


Alexander Hamilton helped establish the Bank of New York in 1784. Here, he reads aloud its Constitution. (Painting by Ernest Peixotto)

He resigned from Washington’s Cabinet on January 31, 1795; however, he remained an unofficial member as Washington and other members of his Cabinet still asked for his advice. This continued even after Washington left the presidency and John Adams became president and kept the same Cabinet members.[11] 


Over the next few years, Hamilton practiced law and politics, albeit behind the scenes. When his political rival Aaron Burr tied with Thomas Jefferson in the Electoral College’s votes in the presidential election of 1800, Hamilton operated in the background to have the House of Representatives elect Jefferson as the president.[12] Burr’s loss at Hamilton’s hand exacerbated Burr and Hamilton’s long-standing feud.


The rivalry came to a head when Burr ran for governor of New York in 1804 and was once again undermined by Hamilton, who publicly spoke against him. Burr lost the election, and in June 1804, he challenged his enemy to a duel. On July 11, 1804, the two men met in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr came out the victor, leaving Hamilton with a fatal gunshot.[13] Surrounded by his loved ones, Hamilton died on July 12, 1804.[14] 


Teacher Resources:



January 15, 1929: Martin Luther King, Jr. was Born


Michael King, Jr. (later changed to Martin Luther King, Jr.) was born at 501 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. His neighborhood, nicknamed “Sweet Auburn,” was home to a prosperous Black community where both his father, Michael King, Sr. (also later changed to Martin Luther King, Sr.) and grandfather were ministers at Ebenezer Baptist Church. King and his family later moved to another house in the “Sweet Auburn” community in 1941,[15] and he attended Booker T. Washington High School in 1942 after having skipped the ninth grade.[16]


The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in Washington, D.C.

He later attended Morehouse College, one of ten Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in Georgia, and he graduated in 1948 with his Bachelor of Arts.[17] King pursued his graduate education at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. During his time in seminary, his nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights and his support of the Christian social gospel were shaped.[18]


After completing seminary, he attended Boston University in 1951 to pursue his doctoral degree. He became a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954[19] while undergoing his doctoral education at Boston University, which he completed in 1955.[20] His church held meetings to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott,[21] which began on December 5, 1955, with 40,000 African Americans participating.[22] That same day, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was founded, with King serving as its president. MIA organized carpools and meetings to sustain the boycott over the next year.


King returned to Atlanta in 1957 to help form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) but didn’t permanently move back to his hometown until 1960 when he joined his father as co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.[23] In 1963, he helped coordinate the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C., where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.[24] 


The following year, King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35.[25] Over the next few years, he continued advocating for civil rights and peaceful protests until his life tragically ended on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was preparing for a march to support the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.[26]


His life and legacy of supporting the rights of others is celebrated on the third Monday in January every year on what is known as Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK Day), a federally recognized holiday. This year, MLK Day happens to fall on his birthday!


To learn more about King’s life, check out the free resources below and discover our Martin Luther King, Jr. titles.


Teacher Resources: 



January 24, 1848: The California Gold Rush Began


There’s gold in those hills! Or, at least, there was in 1848 when James W. Marshall found gold near Coloma, California. Marshall and his fellow construction workers were building Sutter’s Mill, a sawmill owned by John Sutter, along the South Fork of the American River when he made his discovery.[27] According to an eyewitness account, Marshall found ten to 12 pieces of glittering gold.[28]


When people living in San Francisco heard about the discovery and saw the evidence, many left the city to mine for their fortune. Word spread, and people from Hawaii, Oregon, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and China came to California in droves during the summer and fall of 1848.[29]


Reports of gold were published in newspapers in the eastern U.S., but it wasn’t until President James K. Polk shared the discovery during his State of the Union address on December 5, 1848, that gold fever spread to the rest of Americans.[30] An estimated 40,000 people traveled by sea in 1849 to reach California. Many landed in San Francisco, which led to an explosion of growth in the port city. Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 people traveled across the U.S. in 1849. These fortune-seekers were nicknamed the “Forty-niners.”[31]


These prospectors used a sluice box to mine for gold.

Entrepreneurs took advantage of the exploding population and started businesses to cater to the miners. Hotels, salons, general stores, restaurants, and boarding houses opened their doors and flourished in the booming towns that popped up throughout California.[32] These towns grew prosperous as miners found $10 million worth of gold in 1849. The profit increased rapidly over the years, with $41 million worth of gold mined in 1850 (which is the equivalent of $971 million in 2005), $75 million in 1851, and $81 million in 1852.[33] 


Until the mid-1850s, mining was a solo career, but like many enterprises, big companies swooped in to make money. Miners worked for hourly wages for mining companies that used hydraulic mining from 1860 to 1880. While hydraulic mining did line these companies’ pockets with gold ($170 million in 20 years), it destroyed the environment; sediment caused by the mining washed into the rivers and killed crops. Hydraulic mining was banned by a court order in 1884.[34]


Historians regard the California Gold Rush as one of the most noteworthy events in American history during the first fifty years of the 1800s.[35] Its impact on the nation’s economy and population is significant, as are its adverse effects on California’s landscape. It just goes to show that not all that glitters is gold!


Teacher Resources:


  • Songs from the Gold Rush by the Library of Congress: An excellent way for your students to picture what life was like during the Gold Rush is by listening to classic mining songs like “Clementine” and “The Days of forty nine.” After listening to the songs, ask them to describe what they imagine being a miner was like based on the lyrics. Now, compare that to what they’ve learned about the Gold Rush. Are these songs more fact than fiction or vice versa?

  • The “Gosh Awful!” Gold Rush Mystery Teachers Guide by Carole Marsh/Gallopade International: This free resource accompanies The “Gosh Awful!” Gold Rush Mystery and is full of trivia and fun activities to help students dig deep and discover nuggets of knowledge!


For more historical tidbits, lesson plan ideas, and free activities, follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram. Also, check out our other blogs for even more resources!


 

Sources:


[1] DeConde, Alexander. "Alexander Hamilton". Encyclopedia Britannica, 4 Jan. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-Hamilton-United-States-statesman. Accessed 5 January 2024.

[2] “Today in History – January 11: Alexander Hamilton.” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/january-11. Accessed 5 January 2023.

[3] “Today in History – January 11: Alexander Hamilton.” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/january-11. Accessed 5 January 2023.

[4] DeConde, Alexander. "Alexander Hamilton". Encyclopedia Britannica, 4 Jan. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-Hamilton-United-States-statesman. Accessed 5 January 2024.

[5] DeConde, Alexander. "Alexander Hamilton". Encyclopedia Britannica, 4 Jan. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-Hamilton-United-States-statesman. Accessed 5 January 2024.

[6] “Federalist Papers: Primary Documents in American History | Full Text of The Federalist Papers.” Library of Congress, https://guides.loc.gov/federalist-papers/full-text. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[7] “Federalist Papers: Primary Documents in American History | Introduction.” Library of Congress, https://guides.loc.gov/federalist-papers. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[8] “Today in History – January 11: Alexander Hamilton.” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/january-11. Accessed 5 January 2023.

[9] DeConde, Alexander. "Alexander Hamilton". Encyclopedia Britannica, 4 Jan. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-Hamilton-United-States-statesman. Accessed 5 January 2024.

[10]  “Today in History – January 11: Alexander Hamilton.” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/january-11. Accessed 5 January 2023.

[11] DeConde, Alexander. "Alexander Hamilton". Encyclopedia Britannica, 4 Jan. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-Hamilton-United-States-statesman. Accessed 5 January 2024.

[12] NCC Staff. “The Burr vs. Hamilton duel happened on this day.” 11 July 2023, https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/burr-vs-hamilton-behind-the-ultimate-political-feud. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[13] DeConde, Alexander. "Alexander Hamilton". Encyclopedia Britannica, 4 Jan. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-Hamilton-United-States-statesman. Accessed 5 January 2024.

[14] “Hamilton-Burr Duel.” Hamilton Grange National Memorial | National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/hamilton-burr-duel.htm. Accessed 10 January 2024.

[15] Hasty, David. “Martin Luther King, Jr.: From Youth to Leadership in Atlanta.” National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/articles/featured_stories_malu.htm?utm_source=article&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=experience_more&utm_content=small. Accessed 10 January 2024.

[16] “The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 10 Locations.” Google Arts & Culture, https://artsandculture.google.com/story/the-life-of-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-in-10-locations/qQWBkzWr7i05tA?hl=en. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[17] “The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 10 Locations.” Google Arts & Culture, https://artsandculture.google.com/story/the-life-of-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-in-10-locations/qQWBkzWr7i05tA?hl=en. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[18] “Crozer Theological Seminary.” Stanford University | The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/crozer-theological-seminary. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[19] “Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.” United States Civil Rights Trail, https://civilrightstrail.com/attraction/dexter-avenue-baptist-church/#:~:text=Martin%20Luther%20King%20Jr.,the%20famous%20Montgomery%20Bus%20Boycott. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[22] “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” HISTORY, 3 February 2010, https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/montgomery-bus-boycott. Accessed 1 December 2022. 

[23] Hasty, David. “Martin Luther King, Jr.: From Youth to Leadership in Atlanta.” National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/articles/featured_stories_malu.htm?utm_source=article&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=experience_more&utm_content=small. Accessed 10 January 2024.

[24] “Dr. King Jr.” The King Center, https://thekingcenter.org/about-tkc/martin-luther-king-jr/. Accessed 10 January 2023.

[25] “Dr. King Jr.” The King Center, https://thekingcenter.org/about-tkc/martin-luther-king-jr/. Accessed 10 January 2023.

[26] “Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.” Stanford University | The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/assassination-martin-luther-king-jr#:~:text=At%206%3A05%20P.M.,Lorraine%20Motel%20in%20Memphis%2C%20Tennessee. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[27] “The California Gold Rush.” National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/cali/learn/historyculture/california-gold-rush.htm. Accessed 12 January 2024.

[28] “Today in History – January 24: Gold!” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/january-24/. Accessed 10 January 2024.

[29] “The California Gold Rush.” American Experience - Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goldrush-california/. Accessed 11 January 2024.

[30] “The California Gold Rush.” American Experience - Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goldrush-california/. Accessed 11 January 2024.

[32] “Today in History – January 24: Gold!” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/january-24/. Accessed 10 January 2024.

[33] “The California Gold Rush.” American Experience - Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goldrush-california/. Accessed 11 January 2024.

[34] “The California Gold Rush.” American Experience - Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goldrush-california/. Accessed 11 January 2024.

[35] “The California Gold Rush.” American Experience - Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goldrush-california/. Accessed 11 January 2024.



Comments


bottom of page