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The Year in Review: 1859

Though the stalemate over Kansas statehood continued, the year began with the relatively uncontroversial admittance of Oregon as the nation's 33d state. It was also a year of discoveries. Prospectors reported a massive deposit of silver in Nevada known as the Comstock Lode, and in northwestern Pennsylvania, Edwin Drake drilled the first commercial oil well in the U.S. But 1859 was dominated by the actions of a determined abolitionist warrior named John Brown who led a armed band in mid-October on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown and several of his raiders were captured, tried and executed by the Commonwealth of Virginia for treason. The trial and execution of Brown dominated national headlines and created conditions that made the upcoming presidential election perhaps the most intense in American history.


How to Cite This Page: "The Year in Review: 1859," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,