Bad sense of history

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That's the problem with reading old stuff... I started reading Louisa May Alcott's Flower Fables, and realized I didn't really have any sense of the time they were written in. Middle of the 19th century, yes. Civil War. Dickens. But what else? Googling for timelines, and picking out a few things

Alcott: Flower Fables written around 1848, published 1854 (Little Women 1868)
Hans Christian Anderson: first collection of tales published 1835, first published in English 1845
Dickens: First novel published 1836, Christmas Carol 1843
Stephen Foster: Old Folks at home, sheet music published 1851
C. Golightly granted the first patent in England, on a rocket-airplane, 1841
Mexican-American War 1846-1848
Adolph Sax invents the Saxophone, 1840
Nitroglycerine invented 1847
Sewing Machine invented 1846
Levi Straus invents blue jeans 1850
Burton: The Arabian Nights 1850
Foucault pendulum in Paris, 1851
Taiping rebellion, 1850s
Charge of the Light Brigade (event and poem) 1854
New York (daily) Times begins publication 1851

Hm. Some of that fits my idea of mid-19th century, a lot doesn't.