Sarah Polk: Gas Lighting

Presidential History Blog

Sarah Childress Polk was FLOTUS in the mid-1840s – a time of major technical and industrial advances.

Technology, Circa 1840s

When James and Sarah Polk were in the White House (1845-49), the country had grown enormously. Between 1830 and 1840, the population had risen from around 13,000,000 to 17,000,000. There were now 27 states in the Union with more to come. The Gold Rush of 1849 was on a close horizon, and would help propel the nation into a modern age of industry and invention.

Railroad tracks now connected Washington to Baltimore, and New York to Philadelphia, and points beyond. Railroad trains themselves were beginning to look more like trains we recognize today, rather than the early design of stage coaches linked together like a pull-toy.

The telegraph also connected cities and towns by wire! The Morse Code tapped out messages that could travel a hundred miles in a minute…

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