Here are some one liners...
The Plaster Cast and the Lord of the Rings -- A lot of elements come together this year to produce the modern orthopedic cast.
The Book that Started the War between the States -- Uncle Tom's Cabin is a full on attempt to convince Christians that they are murdering a Black Jesus when they own slaves or let slaves be owned.
In Other News -- Hydraulics, Wells Fargo, and the Prussian education system comes to America.
The Plaster Cast and the Lord of the RingsBroken bones are set and immobilized so that the body can heal the break. To this point, the various systems for keeping the bones aligned amount to rough splits wrapped in bandages and a lot of pain. For example, when Benedict Arnold broke his leg during the Battle of Saratoga, two halves of a wooden cylinder were strapped to his leg. It was a painful arrangement. By the time of the Napoleonic Wars, wet strips of cardboard were molded to an injured limb and then coated with a starchy paste that dried within 6 hours. This was considered a vast improvement since actual starch would take days to set. An improved system of wrapping the limb in cotton wool before applying the mixture has helped considerably and remains the basic beginning of an orthopedic cast. Finally, the Dutch Army medic, Antonius Mathysen, dips bandages in wet plaster of Paris and then wraps it around the limb. It hardens in minutes rather than hours. Thus we have the plaster cast that will remain the state of the art until the 1980s when it will be replaced by the fiberglass cast which has the virtues of being lighter, waterproof and a formidable weapon.    
The Book that Started the War between the StatesHarriet Beecher Stowe has been publishing, Uncle Tom's Cabin in serial form in an abolitionist newspaper, but this year it comes out in book form. It sells 300,000 copies in 3 months. Will it really start a war? No. It will take the hard work of three failed Presidents and an army of fool politicians to turn a painful transition into an ugly, ugly war, but the moral impetus to end slavery in America comes from this book. It is the story of Uncle Tom, a black slave and house servant of a poor white family. When the family falls on hard times, they are forced to sell Tom. Uncle Tom suffers trials and tribulations, especially under Simon Legree who beats him and his fellow slaves sadistically. But Tom knows his Bible and he is a model Christian encouraging his fellows to believe in God and take Jesus into their hearts. He is given a chance to escape, but he refuses, "...the Lord's given me a work among these yer poor souls, and I'll stay with 'em and bear my cross with 'em till the end." The end is near. Simon Legree hates Tom, but Tom fights for Simon's soul. Finally, Simon beats Tom to the ground and he faints away. This is not the end of the book. It is only the end of Tom in this life. For the immortal soul of Simon Legree and perhaps the soul of every reader who sits and does nothing, something unforgivable has happened.     
In Other News
- Say hello to Wells Fargo and Company. The board of directors at American Express don't want to take a chance in California, so Mr. Wells and Mr. Fargo start their own rough and ready express company. It does a lot more than simply deliver mail. 
- Horace Mann brings the Prussian system of education to Massachusetts. It's just on a trial basis. If anything goes wrong, we'll fix it... endlessly.