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The Dreaded “Land of Storms”: Rounding, Avoiding, and Cutting Out Cape Horn, 1526-1914

Before the completion of the U.S. transcontinental railroad (1869) and Panama Canal (1914) a major impediment to Euro-American exploration and colonization of Pacific lands was sailing around Cape Horn – the furthest-most point on the South American continent. The Spanish were the first to explore the region in 1526. In the late eighteenth century British and New England whalers began documenting extreme conditions while navigating the Drake Passage – the strait separating Antarctica from South America.

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Antebellum Icon: Republicanism vs. Monarchy and Kossuth in America, 1851-1852

Although he was thronged by thousands of people in the principal cities of England, a key reason Hungarian nationalist and freedom fighter Lajos (Louis) Kossuth was so popular during his 1851-1852 visit to the United States was the American aversion to monarchy. Kossuth, the figurehead of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution to overthrow the Habsburg Dynasty’s grip on that nation, was welcomed by massive crowds eager to listen to his republican-inspired orations. The New York Times noted in late 1851 that the “reception of the illustrious Kossuth… was such a scene as the world seldom beholds.”

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“Never really subdued nor reconciled to our rule”: The 1842 Retreat from Kabul

The massacre of Major General Sir William Elphinstone’s army and its auxiliaries in early 1842 while attempting to retreat from Kabul, Afghanistan, was a shock to British statesmen and the public. The expeditionary force, many of whom were sent there in 1839 to assert British control, was made up of roughly 700 British soldiers, 3,800 Indian troops, and 14,000 civilians and workers attached to lend it support. Lord Auckland, the Governor General of India, was so shocked upon learning of the disaster that he had a stroke.

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