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1871: Sports; social issues and crime; folkways; fashion; holidays.

An American type still popular in song, story, and movies is the cowboy of the western cattle country. He flourished from the late 1860s to the late 1880s, when cattle were driven long distances to market. The cowboy's heyday was brief; it was ended by the spread of railroad lines and by the fencing in of ranges and farms. The cowboy's life was not glamorous. It meant hard work, danger, and low pay. After a drive he would frequently spend all his pay in the saloons of such cow towns as Abilene, Kans. Between 1867 and 1871 cowboys drove 1,460,000 cattle into Abilene, the first of the famous western railheads.

The National Rifle Association was formed in response to the revived interest in rifle shooting produced by the Civil War. Shooting at a target replaced shooting for a game prize.

Henry James made a trip to Niagara Falls, sailing down from Toronto across Lake Ontario. He recorded his impressions in an early travel essay. Much of what he experienced is still echoed by visitors to the falls: "There is every appearance that the spectacle you have come so far to see is to be choked in the horribly vulgar shops and booths and catchpenny artifices which have pushed and elbowed to within the very spray of the Falls, and ply their importunities in shrill competition with its thunder. You see a multitude of hotels and taverns and stores, glaring with white paint, bedizened with placards and advertisements, and decorated by groups of those gentlemen who flourish most rankly on the soil of New York and in the vicinage of hotels; who carry their hands in their pockets, wear their hats always and every way, and, although of a stationary habit, yet spurn the earth with their heels. A side glimpse of the Falls, however, calls out your philosophy; you reflect that this may be regarded as one of those sordid foregrounds which Turner liked to use, and which may be effective as a foil; you hurry to where the roar grows louder, and, I was going to say, you escape from the village. In fact, however, you don't escape from it; it is constantly at your elbow, just to the right or left of the line of contemplation. It would be paying Niagara a poor compliment to say that, practically she does not hurl away this chaffering by-play from her edge; but as you value the integrity of your impression, you are bound to affirm that it suffers appreciable abatement from such sources. You wonder, as you stroll about, whether it is altogether an unrighteous dream that with the slow progress of taste and the possible or impossible growth of some larger comprehension of beauty and fitness, the public conscience may not tend to confer upon such sovereign places of nature something of the inviolability and privacy which we are slow to bestow, indeed, upon fame, but which we do not grudge at least to art."

Mar. 17

The first professional baseball association, the National Association of Professional Baseball Players, was organized. It replaced the amateur National Association.

June 10

The fifth annual Belmont Stakes was won by the horse Harry Bassett, with a time of 2:56. The jockey was W. Miller.

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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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