"When William Forbes and his company of actors steamed out of Savannah in May 1840, they were about to enter the Second Seminole War. Before they had been in Florida for more than a full day, the actors were ambushed by real-life Indians, lost two of their number, and had their props and costumes sacked."
In 1835 Halley’s Comet entered into view from earth, as it does every seventy-six years or so, or about once in the lifetime of most men and women. For Europeans, the comet’s appearance confirmed the rational, mechanistic order of the universe. Edmund Halley had first charted its broad orbit around the sun in 1682. After searching archives and consulting his friend Isaac Newton’s theories, Halley concluded that the comet had visited the earth’s skies regularly as far back as 87 BC and would next appear in 1758 or 1759. It did, on Christmas Day of the former year. When the comet circled back toward earth in the summer of 1835, Halley’s calculations were confirmed again.