In a series of seven political debates across the state of Illinois, Senate-hopeful Abraham Lincoln and incumbent Stephen Douglas argued the question of slavery. Though Lincoln lost to Douglas, the debates pushed him into the nation’s consciousness and made him a viable presidential candidate in 1860.
Henry Clay, the Republican nominee for president, proposed the rechartering of the Bank of the United States. Incumbent president and Democrat Andrew Jackson vetoed the rechartering bill in Congress, calling the Bank “unauthorized by the Constitution.” Upon re-election, Jackson announced the deposit of Federal funds in state banks, which led to his censure and the expiration of the Bank’s charter in 1836.
Fifty-three captive West Africans revolted at sea and seized control of the slave ship L’Amistad. The ship was soon captured by the US Navy and towed to New Haven, where there was a legal battle over the Africans’ fate. In 1841, the Supreme Court ruled that the Amistad captives had been illegally enslaved and released them.
Eighty-seven pioneers led by George Donner set out from Illinois for California on April 16, 1846. The expedition suffered a series of unfortunate events and circumstances, leading to the deaths of nearly half the party. Some resorted to cannibalism for survival. Rescuers arrived in February 1847, but only forty-eight members of the party survived.