The year 1845 was a time of unimaginable deprivations: No smart phones, no Twitter, no Words With Friends, plus there was a lot of cholera, and those Irish street gangs, and also slavery somewhere. The Gowanus Canal was not just a repulsive sewage channel and heartbreaking symbol of environmental devastation, but a primary means of public transport through Brooklyn—construction on the great bridge to Manhattan wouldn't be begin for another quarter century. And on this day in 1845, it was probably also very cold.
For a mostly unknown writer and poet from Baltimore, January 29 was one of his last good days. The New York Evening Mirror published his [...]