Timeline of Human History III: 1800-1899

This is the third part of a four-part Timeline of Human History.  To see the other parts, click on the following links:
Timeline of Human History I: Prehistory-1499
Timeline of Human History II: 1500-1799
Timeline of Human History IV: 1900-Present

NOTE: Some of the dates given below are approximate and some are subject to debate.


  • The Acts of Union create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, effective January 1, 1801 (UK; Ireland).
  • Alessandro Volta invents the voltaic pile, the first true battery (Italy).

    One of Allessandro Volta’s early voltaic piles on display at Tempio Voltiano, a museum in Como, Italy.

  • The Clothed Maja and The Naked Maja, paintings by Romanticist artist Francisco Goya (Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes) (Spain).

    Goya’s Clothed Maja, once owned by Spanish Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy, is now located in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

  • Friedrich Wöhler is born in Escherscheim, Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany).
  • Charles Goodyear is born in New Haven, Connecticut, US.


  • Despite a treaty of non-aggression, Russia unilaterally annexes eastern Georgia.
  • Thomas Jefferson becomes the third president of the US.
  • Original construction of the Neoclassical-style White House, in Washington, D.C. is complete (US).

    The north face of the White House, which has been the home of every American president but George Washington.

  • Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# minor “Moonlight”, by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).


  • Great Britain recognizes the French Republic in the Treaty of Amiens, which leads to a one-year peace in the Napoleonic Wars (France).
  • Thomas Davenport is born in Williamstown, Vermont, US.


  • The United States more than doubles in size when it buys the Louisiana Territory from France.

    A map of the United States after the Louisiana Purchase.

    A map of the United States after the Louisiana Purchase.

  • President Thomas Jefferson sends Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on an expedition to explore the American continent (US).
  • The first commercially successful steamboat, the William Symington-designed Charlotte Dundas, is launched in Glasgow (UK: Scotland).

    An artist’s depiction of the Charlotte Dundas under way.

  • Christian Doppler is born in Salzburg, Electorate of Salzburg (now Austria).


  • Estimated world population is one billion.
  • Serbia revolts against Ottoman rule.
  • Napoleon crowns himself Emperor of France.
  • Haiti, the first black republic of modern times, wins independence from France.
  • The first steam locomotive, invented by Richard Trevithick, pulls a train containing 10 tons of iron and 70 passengers approximately nine miles (UK).
  • Symphony No. 3 in Eb Major “Eroica”, by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).
  • Death of Immanuel Kant.
  • Matthias Schleiden is born in the Free Imperial City of Hamburg, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany).


  • In October, the British Navy defeats the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar, a decisive point in the Napoleonic Wars. Admiral Horatio Nelson (Lord Nelson), commander of the British fleet, is killed in the battle (Spain).

    This 1799 portrait of Horatio Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott is now in the National Maritime Museum in London.

  • The Treaty of Pressburg marks the effective end of the Holy Roman Empire (Slovakia).
  • In December, a French army, led by Emperor Napoleon I, decisively defeats a Russo-Austrian army, under Tsar Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, in the Battle of Austerlitz (Czech Republic).
  • Albanian-born Ottoman Pasha Muhammad Ali ousts Hurshid Ahmed Pasha from the governorship of Egypt and establishes a dynasty (Egypt).


  • Ludwig van Beethoven composes his Symphony No. 6 in F Major “Pastoral”, Violin Concerto in D Major, and Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major (Germany).

    This 1820 portrait of Beethoven composing the Missa Solemnis, by Joseph Karl Stiele is now located at Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Germany.


  • France and Spain invade Portugal, starting the Peninsular War.

    A map of the Peninsular War.

    A map of the Peninsular War.

  • The Ottoman Janissaries revolt, deposing and killing modernizing Sultan Selim III (Turkey).
  • Britain bans the slave trade (UK).
  • Alexander von Humboldt publishes the complete 30-volume account of his scientific expedition to South America (Germany).
  • Phenomenology of Spirit, a work of philosophy written in German by G.W.F. Hegel (Germany).
  • Ode: Intimations of Immortality, a poem written in English by William Wordsworth (UK).
  • Alfred Vail is born in Morristown, New Jersey, US.


  • The May 2nd uprising in Madrid transforms the Peninsular War into the War of Spanish Independence.
  • In the Peninsular War, France attacks Spain, its former ally.
  • The Janissaries place Mahmud II on the throne of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
  • John Dalton articulates the principles of modern atomic theory (UK: England).
  • The Valpinçon Bather, a painting by French Neoclassical artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (France).

    Ingres’ painting The Valpinçon Bather is now located in the Louvre in Paris.

  • Faust, Part 1, a play written in German by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Germany).
  • Symphony No. 5 in C minor by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).


  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposes the first fully-developed theory of evolution (France).

    An 1802 portrait of Jean-Baptiste de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck, by Charles Thévenin.

  • Charles Darwin is born in Shrewsbury, England, UK.
  • Abraham Lincoln in born in Kentucky, US.


  • Russia unilaterally annexes western Georgia.
  • Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb Major “Emperor”, by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).


  • Egyptian Governor Muhammad Ali massacres the Mamelukes (Egypt).
  • Skilled textile workers calling themselves Luddites begin a campaign to destroy new labor-saving machinery in British textile mills (UK).
  • The Netherlands decriminalizes homosexual activity.
  • Amedeo Avogadro discovers molecules and derives Avogadro’s Law, which states that equal volumes of all gases at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules (Italy).
  • Paleontologist Mary Anning discovers a fossil ichthyosaur at Lyme Regis (UK: England).

    A portrait of Mary Anning and her dog, painted before 1833.

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe is born in Litchfield, Connecticut, US.
  • Robert Bunsen is born in Göttingen, Westphalia, Rhine Confederation (now Germany).


  • Napoleon launches the French invasion of Russia. In September, the Russians fail to halt the French advance at the bloody Battle of Borodino, leading to the fall of Moscow a week later.

    A map of Europe in 1812.

    A map of Europe in 1812, showing the extent of the French Empire.

  • The War of 1812 breaks out between the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Symphony No. 7 in A Major, by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).
  • Birth of Charles Dickens in Landport, England, UK.


  • The armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden, led by Russian Tsar Alexander I and Prince Schwarzenberg, defeat the French army, under Emperor Napoleon I, in the Battle of Leipzig, which involves over 600,000 soldiers and 2,200 pieces of artillery (Germany).
  • Robert Owen publishes A New View of Society, a work of social reform written in English (UK: Wales).

    William Henry Brooke’s portrait of Robert Owen is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

  • Pride and Prejudice, a novel written in English by Jane Austen (UK: England).


  • In the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Napoleon agrees to abdicate, and is sent into exile on the island of Elba (France).
  • The Peace of Paris marks the end of the Peninsular War (France).
  • The War of 1812 ends with a return to the status quo, but not before the British burn Washington, D.C. (US).
  • Elisha Collier invents the flintlock revolver (US).
  • The Third of May, 1808, a painting by Romantic artist Francisco Goya (Spain).

    Goya’s Third of May, 1808, which shows French troops massacring Spaniards suspected of participating in the May 2nd uprising, is now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.


  • The eruption of the Mt. Tambora volcano kills 92,000 people; the resulting ash causes the “year without a summer”, crop failures and famines across the globe (Indonesia).
  • After escaping from Elba and raising an army, Napoleon is defeated at the Battle of Waterloo by the Seventh Coalition (UK, Netherlands, Prussia, Hanover, Nassau, Brunswick), led by the Duke of Wellington & Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher(Belgium), ending the Napoleonic Wars.
  • The Napoleonic Wars end with the Congress of Vienna, which redraws the map of Europe (Austria).Europe_After_the_Congress_of_Vienna-1815
  • The UK enacts the Corn Laws, which place tariffs on imported grain to protect local farmers.
  • Emma, a novel written in English by Jane Austen (UK: England).
  • Birth of Otto von Bismarck in Prussia (Germany).


  • Low solar activity and major volcanic eruptions result in The Year Without A Summer.
  • Argentina becomes independent from Spain.
  • René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec invents the stethoscope (France).

    An illustration from René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laennec’s 1819 text De l’auscultation mediate showing his stethoscope.

  • Gioachino Rossini’s Italian opera, The Barber of Seville, premieres in Rome (Italy).
  • Birth of Charlotte Brontë in Thornton, England, UK.


  • A cholera pandemic breaks out near Calcutta, India and spreads over much of Asia.
  • During the Chilean War of Independence, the Army of the Andes of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, led by General Captain José de San Martín, defeats a Spanish army led by Rafael Maroto at the Battle of Chacabuco.
  • Karl Drais invents the Laufmaschine (also known as the velocipede, the draisenne and the dandy horse), a precursor to the bicycle with no pedals (Germany).

    A Laufmaschine from the 1820s.

  • The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, an economics treatise written in English by David Ricardo (UK).
  • Death of Jane Austen.


  • Chile becomes independent of Spain.
  • The World as Will and Representation, a work of philosophy written in German by Arthur Schopenhauer (Germany).
  • Ozymandias, a poem written in English by Percy Bysshe Shelley (UK).
  • Frankenstein, a Gothic novel written in English by Mary Shelley (UK).

    This 1840 portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

  • Piano Sonata No. 29 in Bb Major “Hammerklavier”, by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).
  • Birth of Emily Brontë in Thornton, England, UK.
  • Birth of Karl Marx in Prussia (Germany).
  • Birth of Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Frederick Douglass) into slavery in Maryland, US.


  • Simón Bolívar is elected president of Venezuela and first president of the Republic of Greater Colombia.

    This 1825 portrait of Simón Bolívar by José Gil de Castro is now located at the Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru.

  • Romantic artist Francisco Goya begins painting the Black Paintings on the walls of his home near Madrid (Spain).

    The Witches Sabbath is one of the 14

    The Witches Sabbath is one of the 14 “Black Paintings” that Goya painted on the interior walls of his house. They were transferred to canvas after his death and are now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

  • The Raft of the Medusa, a painting by French Romantic artist Théodore Géricault (France).

    The Raft of the Medusa is now in the Louvre in Paris.

  • Ode on a Grecian Urn, a poem written in English by John Keats (UK).
  • Piano Quintet in A Major “The Trout”, by Franz Schubert (Austria).
  • Death of James Watt.
  • Léon Foucault is born in Paris, France.
  • Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) is born in Nuneaton, England, UK.


  • Carbonaro Guglielmo Pepe leads an uprising of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, leading to a short-lived reform constitution before being crushed by the Holy Alliance (Italy).
  • Captains of a Russian Navy ship, a British Navy ship and an American sealing vessel are the first to discover Antarctica.
  • André-Marie Ampère confirms that electricity and magnetism are two forms of the same force and invents the solenoid (France).

    André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836).

  • Washington Irving publishes The Sketch Book, an English-language work containing the stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (US).
  • Louis Pasteur is born in Dole, France.
  • Birth of Susan B. Anthony in Adams, Massachusetts, US.
  • Birth of Florence Nightingale in Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany (now Italy).
  • Araminta Ross (Harriet Tubman) is born into slavery in Maryland (US).


  • The Treaty of Córdoba results in Mexican independence from Spain.
  • Peru declares its independence from Spain.
  • Simón Bolívar’s victory at the Battle of Carabobo leads to Venezuelan independence.
  • Simón Bolívar becomes first president of Gran Colombia.
  • Ottoman Egyptian Viceroy Muhammad Ali’s forces conquer Sudan and part of Libya.
  • Santorre di Santarosa leads a revolt of the Piedmont, which leads to short-lived reforms, ultimately put down by Holy Alliance troops (Italy).
  • Paleontologist Mary Anning discovers the first plesiosaur fossil at Lyme Regis (UK: England).

    The fossil plesiosaur discovered by Mary Anning is on display in the Natural History Museum in London, UK.

  • The Hay Wain, a landscape painting by Romantic artist John Constable (UK).

    Constable’s painting The Hay Wain is now located in the National Gallery in London.

  • Premiere of Der Freischütz (The Marksman), a German opera by Carl Maria von Weber, in Berlin (Germany).
  • Death of Napoleon Bonaparte.


  • Brazil, led by Pedro, begins a war of independence from Portugal, led by Pedro’s father, King John VI.
  • Chemist Joseph Fourier publishes his Analytic Theory of Heat, a French-language treatise on physical science (France).
  • Charles Babbage designs a programmable Difference Engine, a precursor to the computer (UK).

    In 1991, Doron Swade and Allan Bromley built a Difference Engine to Babbage’s specifications. It is now in the London Science Museum.

  • Jean-François Champollion translates the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone (France).
  • Symphony No. 8 in B minor “Unfinished”, by Franz Schubert (Austria).
  • Gregor Mendel is born in Heinzendorf bei Odrau, Austria (now Hynčice, Czech Republic).


  • James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Pioneers, the first of the English-language Leatherstocking Tales (US).
  • Die schöne Müllerin (The Lovely Maid in the Mill), a song cycle by Franz Schubert, based on German poems by Wilhelm Müller (Austria).
  • William Herschel dies.
  • Edward Jenner dies.
  • Francis Galton is born in Birmingham, England, UK.
  • Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir is born in Mussy-la-Ville, Luxembourg.


  • The First Anglo-Burmese War erupts along the long border between the Burmese Empire and British India.
  • Simón Bolívar becomes leader of an independent Peru following victory over Spain in the Battle of Ayachucho, the decisive battle in the Peruvian War of Independence (Peru).
  • Encouraged by the lobbying efforts of Francis Place, the UK repeals the Combination Acts, opening the door for trade unionism.
  • Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot sets out the first statement of the second law of thermodynamics, and proposes the Carnot cycle and the Carnot engine (France).

    An 1813 portrait of Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot by Louis-Léopold Boilly.

  • William Sturgeon invents the first electromagnet (UK).
  • Joseph Aspdin invents Portland cement (UK).
  • The Sea of Ice (also known as The Wreck of Hope), a painting by German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich (Germany).

    Caspar David Friedrich’s painting The Sea of Ice is now in the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Germany.

  • Don Juan, an epic poem written in English by Lord Byron (UK).
  • Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor “Choral” (Germany).
  • William Thomson, Lord Kelvin is born in Belfast, Ireland, UK.
  • Gustav Kirchhoff is born in Königsberg, Prussia (now Russia).


  • In the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro, the Kingdom of Portugal recognizes the independence of the Empire of Brazil (Brazil).
  • Bolivia, named after Simón Bolívar, becomes independent of Spain.
  • The Russian Empire defeats the Decembrist Revolt.
  • A series of strikes leads Parliament to enact a new Combination Act placing severe restrictions on trade unions (UK).
  • Social reformer Robert Owen attempts to create an experimental utopian community in New Harmony, Indiana (US).
  • The Stockton and Darlington Railway, the first public railroad, opens (UK).
  • String Quartet No. 13 in Bb Major, by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).
  • Octet for Strings in Eb Major, by Felix Mendelssohn (Germany).
  • Franz Schubert composes Ellens dritter Gesang (Hymn to the Virgin) (Austria).
  • Eli Whitney dies.


  • Joseph Nicéphore Niépce creates the first photograph using the heliography technique, which requires an exposure time of eight hours or more (France).

    The first photograph, View from the Window at Le Gras, was made in 1826.

  • John Walker invents the first true friction match (UK).
  • James Sharp invents the first commercially-produced gas stove (UK).
  • String Quartet No. 14 in C# Major and Grosse Fuge, by Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany).
  • Muzio Clementi publishes the complete Gradus ad Parnassum, a collection of over 100 instructional piano pieces (Italy).
  • Death of John Adams.
  • Death of Thomas Jefferson.


  • George Ohm discovers Ohm’s Law, which describes the relationship between electric current, electromotive force and circuit resistance (Germany).
  • Petrache Poenaru invents the first practical fountain pen (France).
  • Edwin Budding invents the manual lawn mower (UK).

    One of John Budding’s original mowers, from the early 1800s.

  • Death of Sardanapalus, a painting by French Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix (France).

    Delacroix’s painting The Death of Sardanapalus is now located at the Louvre in Paris.

  • Winterreise, a song cycle by Franz Schubert set to German poems by Wilhelm Müller (Austria).
  • The death of Alessandro Volta comes as a shock to many.
  • Death of Ludwig van Beethoven.


  • Uruguay gains independence from Spain following the Cisplatine War.
  • Friedrich Wöhler disproves vitalism by synthesizing organic urea using only inorganic materials (Germany).
  • Ányos István Jedlik builds the first commutated rotary electromagnetical engine (Hungary).
  • Franz Schubert composes his Symphony No. 9 in C Major “The Great”Piano Sonata No. 21 in Bb Major, and String Quintet in C Major (Austria).

    An 1827 portrait of Franz Schubert by Franz Eybl is located in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.

  • Leo Tolstoy is born in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia.
  • Joseph Lister is born in Upton, England, UK.
  • Joseph Swan is born in Bishopwearmouth, England, UK.


  • First discovery of a fossil Neanderthal skull (Belgium).
  • George Stephenson wins a contest to build locomotives for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway with his state-of-the-art Rocket locomotive (UK: England).
  • Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus, a painting by English Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner (UK: England).

    Turner’s painting Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus is now located in the National Gallery in London.

  • Symphonie Fantastique, by Hector Berlioz (France).
  • Felix Mendelssohn begins composing his Symphony No. 3 in A minor “Scottish”, Symphony No. 4 in A Major “Italian”; and Songs without Words (Germany).

    A watercolor portrait of Felix Mendelssohn by James Warren Childe from 1829 or 1830.

  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck dies.


  • After a decade of war, Greece wins independence from the Ottoman Empire.
  • The July Revolution in France leads to the abdication of Bourbon King Charles X and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy under Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans.
  • Polish officers in Warsaw led by Piotr Wysocki lead an armed uprising against Russia that spreads to Lithuania and parts of Belarus and Ukraine (Poland).
  • Insurrections flare up in the Papal States (Italy).
  • The Belgian Revolution leads to an independent Belgium.
  • The nations of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela are formed.

    A map of South America showing the dates of independence from Spain.

    A map of South America about 1830 showing the dates of independence from the colonial powers.

  • France colonizes Algeria.
  • Brazil decriminalizes homosexual activity.
  • Barthélemy Thimonnier invents the first commercially successful sewing machine (France).

    A model of Thimonnier’s sewing machine at the London Science Museum.

  • Andrew Ure invents the bi-metallic thermostat (UK).
  • Charles Lyell publishes the first volume of the English-language text, Principles of Geology (UK).
  • Liberty Leading the People, a painting by French Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix (France).

    Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People is now located in the Louvre in Paris.

  • Stendhal’s French-language novel, The Red and the Black (France).
  • Death of Simón Bolívar.
  • Birth of poet Emily Dickinson in Amherst, Massachusetts, US.


  • Tsar Nicholas I’s Russian troops, led by Ivan Paskevich, crush the Polish uprising (Poland).
  • Austrian troops suppress the revolts in the Papal States (Italy).
  • Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction and builds the first electrical generator (UK: England).

    Photograph of Michael Faraday from about 1861, probably taken by John Watkins.

  • Cyrus McCormick invents the first effective horse-drawn reaper (US).
  • Abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Isaac Knapp begin publishing The Liberator, an English-language anti-slavery newspaper, in Boston, Massachusetts (US)
  • Gideon Mantell first publicizes the existence of dinosaurs in his English-language book The Age of Reptiles (UK: England).
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a novel written in French by Victor Hugo (France).
  • La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) and Norma, Italian bel canto operas by Vincenzo Bellini, premiere in Milan (Italy).
  • Steamboat pioneer William Symington dies.
  • James Clerk Maxwell is born in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


  • Bending to strong public pressure, the UK Parliament passes the Reform Act, which extends the vote to the middle class and reduces the power of rich individuals in Parliamentary elections (UK).
  • Faust, Part 2, a play written in German by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Germany).
  • Eugene Onegin, a novel in Russian verse by Alexander Pushkin (Russia).


  • The Slavery Abolition Act bans slavery in the British Empire (UK).
  • Anselme Payen and Jean-François Persoz are the first to isolate and identify an enzyme, diastase (France).
  • Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, a series of color woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e style by Katsushika Hokusai (Japan).

    The Great Wave off Kanagawa is the first (and most famous) image from Hokusai’s series of color prints, Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji. 

  • Honoré de Balzac’s French-language novel Eugénie Grandet (France).
  • Felix Mendelssohn completes the Symphony No. 4 in A Major “Italian” (Germany).
  • Death of William Wilberforce.
  • Alfred Nobel is born in Stockholm, Sweden.


  • Jacob Perkins builds the first refrigerator (US).
  • Thomas Davenport creates a battery-powered direct current motor (US).

    An artist’s rendering of Davenport’s first electric motor, from 1835.

  • Hiram Moore invents the combine harvester (US).
  • Robert Schumann, Friedrich Wieck and Ludwig Schuncke publish the first issue of the German-language periodical Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal of Music) in Leipzig (Germany).
  • Dmitri Mendeleev is born in Verkhnie Aremzyani, Russia.
  • Ernst Haeckel is born in the Governate of Potsdam (now Germany).
  • Gottlieb Daimler is born in Schorndorf, Baden-Württemberg (now Germany).


  • Residents of Texas rebel against Mexican rule. The victory of Sam Houston’s Texas army over the Mexican army led by Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto paved the way for the birth of the Republic of Texas (US).
  • Samuel Colt patents a percussion cap revolver (US).
  • William Talbot invents the calotype photographic process, which creates a negative image (UK).

    Latticed Window at Lacock Abbey, Talbot’s first negative image using the calotype process.

  • Alexis de Tocqueville publishes the first volume of Democracy in America, a French-language sociopolitical analysis (France).
  • The Canti, poems written in Italian by Giacomo Leopardi (Italy).
  • Le Pere Goriot, a novel written in French by Honoré de Balzac (France).
  • Lucia di Lammermoor, an Italian opera by Gaetano Donizetti, premieres in Naples (Italy).
  • Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) is born in Missouri, US.


  • Texans win independence from Mexico and establish the Republic of Texas (US).
  • Charles Darwin returns to England after six years on the HMS Beagle (UK).
  • John Deere introduces the first steel plow (US).
  • Nature, an essay written in English by Ralph Waldo Emerson (US).
  • Sartor Resartus, a novel written in English by Thomas Carlyle (UK: Scotland).
  • Ballade No. 1 in G minor, by Frédéric Chopin (France).
  • Les Huguenots, a French opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer, premieres in Paris (France).
  • André-Marie Ampère dies.


  • Queen Victoria I begins her 63-year reign as British monarch (UK).
  • Louis Agassiz, building on the work of Karl Friedrich Schimper and Jean de Charpentier, proposes the Ice Age theory (Switzerland).
  • Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre invents the daguerreotype photographic process (France).

    Boulevard du Temple is an 1837 (possibly 1838 or 1839) daguerreotype by Louis Daguerre.

  • William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone (UK); Edward Davy (UK); and Samuel Morse (US), working independently, invent the first commercial electrical telegraph systems.
  • Charles Babbage designs (but does not build) an Analytical Machine with many of the properties of a computer (UK).
  • Louis Braille invents the Braille reading system (France).
  • Alfred Vail and Samuel Morse invent Morse Code for use in telegraph systems (US).
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson delivers the English-language lecture, The American Scholar (US).
  • The French Revolution: A History, a work written in English by Thomas Carlyle (UK: Scotland).
  • The Pickwick Papers, an English-language novel, the first by Charles Dickens (UK: England).


  • The Trail of Tears, the forced westward relocation of the Cherokee people, begins (US).
  • Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann propose the cell theory (Germany).
  • Oliver Twist, a novel written in English by Charles Dickens (UK: England).


  • The India Cyclone kills 300,000 people (India).
  • The First Opium War begins between China and UK after China shuts down the lucrative opium trade.
  • Beginning of the First Anglo-Afghan War, in which British troops invade Afghanistan due to fears of a possible Russian invasion.
  • The British East India Company, supported by Royal Marines, establishes a colony and trading post at the Port of Aden (Yemen).
  • Frederick Douglass escapes from slavery (US).
  • William Talbot invents a process for making positive photographic prints from his calotype negatives (US).
  • Charles Goodyear discovers the vulcanization process for making rubber more durable and versatile (US).
  • The first Grand National horse race is run (UK).
  • The Fighting Temeraire, a painting by English Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner (UK: England).

    Turner’s painting The Fighting Temeraire memorializes the final voyage of a famous British Navy ship. The painting is now in the National Gallery in London.

  • Michael Faraday publishes the first volume of his English-language text Experimental Researches in Electricity (UK).
  • Charles Darwin publishes The Voyage of the Beagle, an English-language account of his travels and scientific discoveries (UK).

    An 1840 watercolor portrait of Charles Darwin by George Richmond.

  • Edgar Allan Poe publishes Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, a collection of stories in English, including “The Fall of the House of Usher” (US).
  • The Charterhouse of Parma, a novel written in French by Stendhal (France).
  • Frédéric Chopin publishes 24 Preludes, Op. 28 (France).


  • Following a civil war, the nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are founded.
  • Founding of the nation of New Zealand.
  • The Act of Union unites Upper and Lower Canada in the Province of Canada, with its seat at Kingston (now Ontario).

    A map of Canada in 1840.

  • Christian Friedrich Schönbein isolates ozone and identifies it as a distinct compound (Switzerland).
  • What Is Property? a French-language book on economics and political philosophy by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (France).
  • Alexis de Tocqueville publishes the second and final volume of Democracy in America. (France).


  • The Treaty of Nanking gives Hong Kong to the British (China).
  • The British win a technical victory in the First Anglo-Afghan War, but they withdraw from Afghanistan and allow Dost Mohammad Khan to return to the throne.
  • Christian Doppler first describes the Doppler Effect (Czech Republic).
  • American physician Crawford Long is the first to use ether as an anesthetic for human surgery (US).
  • William Lindley begins building the first modern sewer system, in Hamburg, Germany.
  • Alexander Bain invents a chemical mechanical facsimile device, the first fax machine (UK).

    A drawing of Alexander Bain’s original fax machine, from 1842.

  • Snow Storm – Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth, a painting by English Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner (UK: England).

    Turner’s painting Snow Storm – Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth is now in the Tate Britain in London. According to legend, Turner had himself tied to the mast of a ship during a storm to prepare for the painting.

  • Dead Souls, a novel written in Russian by Nikolai Gogol (Russia).
  • Edgar Allan Poe publishes the English-language stories “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Masque of the Red Death” (US).

    An 1848 daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe.

  • Frédéric Chopin’s Polonaise No. 6 in Ab Major, Op. 53 “Heroic” (France).

    An 1849 photograph of Frédéric Chopin by Bisson,


  • British forces under Sir Charles Napier defeat the Talpur Amirs at the battles of Miani and Dubba, allowing the UK to annex Sindh (Pakistan).
  • Fear and Trembling and Either/Or, works of philosophy written in Danish by Søren Kierkegaard (Denmark).
  • A Christmas Carol, a novel written in English by Charles Dickens (UK: England).
  • Robert Koch is born in Clausthal, Hanover (now Germany).


  • After a long struggle, Juan Pablo Duarte and the Trinitarios achieve independence for the Dominican Republic and separate from Haiti.
  • Charles Fenerty (Canada) and Friedrich Gottlob Keller (Germany), working independently, develop a process for making paper out of wood pulp.
  • Gustaf Erik Pasch invents the safety match (Sweden).
  • Francis Rynd invents a hollow needle and uses it to make the first recorded subcutaneous injections (Ireland).
  • Rain, Steam and Speed: The Great Western Railway, a painting by English Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner (UK: England).

    Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed is now located in the National Gallery in London.

  • Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor (Germany).
  • Willliam Henry Fox Talbot publishes the first installment of The Pencil of Nature, the first commercially-published book containing photographs.

    The Open Door is one of the photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot in The Pencil of Nature.

  • John Dalton dies.
  • Birth of Friedrich Nietzsche in Prussia (now Germany).


  • The First Anglo-Sikh War begins between the British East India Company and the Sikh Empire, led by Sher Singh (India; Pakistan).
  • Tāufaʻāhau unites the Kingdom of Tonga.
  • Beginning of the Irish Potato Famine.
  • The Republic of Texas is dissolved and the United States annexes Texas as a slave state.
  • Stephen Perry invents the rubber band (UK).
  • Alexander Cartwright formalizes the rules for baseball (US).
  • The rules of rugby are established (UK).
  • The Condition of the Working Class in England, a German-language work of socioeconomics and political philosophy by Friedrich Engels (UK).
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, an English-language memoir.

    This photograph of Frederick Douglas from 1856 is now in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

  • The Evening Mirror newspaper and The American Review magazine publish The Raven, a poem written in English by Edgar Allan Poe (US).
  • Piano Concerto in A minor, by Robert Schumann (Germany).
  • Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen is born in Lennep, North Rhine-Westphalia (now Remscheid, Germany).


  • Disputes over the border between Texas and Mexico trigger the Mexican-American War.
  • At the urging of urban dwellers, the UK repeals the Corn Laws, which leads to lower food prices (UK).
  • Under the Treaty of Lahore, which ends the First Anglo-Sikh War, the victorious British annex much of the Sikh Empire in the Punjab (India; Pakistan).
  • Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier (France) and John Couch Adams (UK), working independently, calculate the location of an eighth planet.  Relying on Le Verrier’s calculations, Johann Gottfried Galle (with Heinrich Louis d’Arrest) (France) discovers Neptune.

    A 1989 photograph of Neptune taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

  • Adolphe Sax invents the saxophone (Belgium).
  • Cousin Bette, a novel written in French by Honoré de Balzac (France).
  • The Count of Monte-Cristo, a novel written in French by Alexandre Dumas (France).
  • Young Goodman Brown, a story written in English by Nathaniel Hawthorne (US).
  • Herman Melville publishes the English language novel Typee, his first, based on his adventures in the Marquesa Islands (US).


  • William Kelly invents a method for improving steel production (US).
  • Wuthering Heights, a novel written in English by Emily Brontë (UK).

    An undated portrait of Emily Brontë by her brother Branwell Brontë.

  • Charlotte Brontë’s English-language novel Jane Eyre (UK).
  • Stephen Foster publishes the song “Oh! Susanna” (US).
  • Mary Anning dies.
  • Thomas Alva Edison is born in Milan, Ohio, US.
  • Alexander Graham Bell is born in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


  • The Revolutions of 1848 sweep through Europe.
  • The February Revolution in France ends the constitutional monarchy of Louis-Philippe and establishes the Second Republic under Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte.
  • An uprising in Denmark leads to liberal reforms.
  • A revolution in Hungary results in the short-lived liberal government of Lajos Kossuth.
  • Austria and Hungary abolish serfdom.
  • The Mexican-American War ends with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which sets the Rio Grande as a boundary for Texas and gives California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and parts of Wyoming and Colorado to the US (Mexico).

    A map of US land acquisitions.

    A map of US land acquisitions, including the Mexican Cession, which was part of the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo.

  • The American women’s rights movement begins at the Seneca Falls Convention (US).
  • William Thomson, Lord Kelvin makes the first accurate calculation of absolute zero (UK).
  • The Cambridge Rules of soccer/football are codified (UK).
  • The Communist Manifesto, a work of political philosophy written in German by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (UK).

    This photograph of Karl Marx, taken about 1875, is now at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

  • Principles of Political Economy, an economics treatise written in English by John Stuart Mill (UK).
  • Thomas Babington Macauley publishes the first two volumes of his History of England from the Accession of James II, a work of history written in English (UK).
  • Vanity Fair, a novel written in English by William Makepeace Thackeray (UK).
  • Annabel Lee, a poem written in English by Edgar Allan Poe (US).
  • Death of Emily Brontë.


  • In the First War of Italian Independence, Austria, led by Field Marshal Josef Radetzky, successfully defends its Italian possessions against Sardinia, Piedmont and Savoy, allied with the Papal States and Sicily (Italy).
  • Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery (US).
  • Walter Hunt invents the safety pin (US).

    An illustration from Walter Hunt’s 1849 patent – Figure 2 shows the first safety pin.

  • Henry David Thoreau publishes the English-language essay Civil Disobedience and the travel memoir, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (US).
  • The Sickness Unto Death, a work of philosophy written in Danish by Søren Kierkegaard (Denmark).

    An 1840 unfinished sketch of Søren Kierkegaard by his cousin Niels Christian Kierkegaard.

  • Jacob Perkins dies.


  • Proclaiming himself the brother of Jesus Christ, Hong Xiuquan leads the Taipei Rebellion in southern China against the Qing dynasty, resulting in 20 million deaths over the next 14 years.
  • David Copperfield, a novel written in English by Charles Dickens (UK).
  • The Scarlet Letter, a novel written in English by Nathaniel Hawthorne (US).
  • The Prelude, an autobiographical poem written in English by William Wordsworth (UK).


  • The Great Exhibition is held in London inside the Crystal Palace (UK).
  • Léon Foucault definitively demonstrates the Earth’s rotation with his pendulum (France).

    This exact replica of Foucault’s original 1851 pendulum has hung in the Panthéon in Paris since 1995.

  • The first America’s Cup yacht race is held (US).
  • Moby Dick, a novel written in English by Herman Melville (US).

    An 1870 portrait of Herman Melville by Joseph Oriel Eaton is located in the Houghton Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • The House of the Seven Gables, a novel written in English by Nathaniel Hawthorne (US).
  • Rigoletto, an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi, premieres in Venice (Italy).
  • Thomas Davenport dies.
  • Death of photography pioneer Louis Daguerre.


  • Portugal decriminalizes homosexual activity.
  • Elisha G. Otis invents the first safety elevator (US).
  • Léon Foucault designs and builds the first modern gyroscope (France).

    An 1867 replica of Foucault’s original gyroscope.

  • The Neoclassical-style British Museum, designed by Sir Robert Smirke, is completed (UK: England).

    The facade of the British Museum.

  • Ophelia, a painting by Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais (UK: England).

    Millais’s Ophelia is at the Tate Britain in London.

  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel written in English by Harriet Beecher Stowe (US).
  • Henri Becquerel is born in Paris, France.


  • U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry uses the threat of force to open Japan’s ports to trade.
  • The Crimean War among France, UK, Ottoman Empire and Russia begins.
  • Charles Frédéric Gerhardt first synthesizes acetylsalicylic acid (France).
  • Charles Pravaz (France) and Alexander Wood (UK), working independently, create the first true hypodermic syringes.
  • Bleak House, a novel written in English by Charles Dickens (UK: England).
  • Piano Sonata in B minor, by Franz Liszt (Hungary).
  • La Traviata, an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi, premieres in Venice (Italy).
  • Verdi’s Italian opera Il Trovatore debuts in Rome (Italy).
  • Le Stryge, a photograph by Charles Nègre (France).

    Le Stryge is a photograph by Charles Nègre showing fellow photographer Henri Le Secq on the balcony of Notre Dame Cathedral with a gargoyle.

  • Fire at Ames Mill, Oswego, NY, a photograph by George N. Barnard (US).

    Fire at Ames Mills, a tinted photograph by George N. Barnard. is considered one of the first examples of photojournalism.

  • Christian Doppler dies.
  • Heike Kamerlingh Onnes is born in Groningen, The Netherlands.
  • Birth of Vincent van Gogh in Zundert, The Netherlands.


  • Henry David Thoreau publishes his English-language philosophical memoir, Walden (US).

    This 1856 daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau by Benjamin D. Maxham is now in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

  • Georg Ohm dies.
  • Birth of Oscar Wilde in Dublin, Ireland.
  • Paul Ehrlich is born in Strehlen, Lower Silesia, Prussia (now Germany).


  • Alexander Parkes makes celluloid, the first man-made plastic (UK).
  • Robert Yeates invents the first true can opener (UK).
  • The first modern ice hockey game is played in Kingston, Ontario (Canada).
  • Realist artist Gustave Courbet’s painting The Painter’s Studio (France).

    The full title of Courbet’s painting is “The Artist’s Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life.” It is now located at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

  • The first edition of Leaves of Grass, containing poems written in English by Walt Whitman (US).

    The 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass included a photograph of the poet.

  • Andrea del Sarto, a poem written in English by Robert Browning (UK).
  • The Valley of the Shadow of Death, a Crimean War photograph by Roger Fenton (Russia).

    The Valley of the Shadow of Death shows spent cannonballs littering a Crimean War battlefield. The photograph became controversial after historians discovered an alternate version with no cannonballs on the road.

  • Death of Charlotte Brontë.


  • The Treaty of Paris ends the Crimean War, recognizing the Ottoman Empire and removing the Russians from the Black Sea (France).
  • Henry Bessemer independently invents a steelmaking process that allows for mass steel production (UK).

    This Bessemer converter, now located at Kelham Island Museum, UK, stopped operating in 1978.

  • William Henry Perkin creates mauveine, the first synthetic organic dye (UK).
  • History of Rome, a treatise written in German by Theodor Mommsen (Germany).
  • Herman Melville publishes The Piazza Tales, an English-language collection of stories including “Bartleby the Scrivener” (US).
  • Amedeo Avogadro dies.
  • Nikola Tesla is born in Smiljan, Austrian Empire (now Croatia).
  • Sigmund Freud is born in Freiberg in Mähren, Austrian Empire (now Příbor, Czech Republic).
  • J.J. Thomson is born in Manchester, England, UK.
  • Woodrow Wilson is born in Staunton, Virginia, US.


  • A mutiny of British East India Company soldiers grows into a rebellion in the upper Gangetic Plain and central India, which is eventually suppressed by the British.
  • Gustave Flaubert’s French-language novel Madame Bovary (France).
  • Flowers of Evil, poems written in French by Charles Baudelaire (France).

    An 1855 photograph of Charles Baudelaire by Paris photographer Nadar.

  • Two Ways of Life, a composite photograph by Oscar Gustav Rejlander (UK).

    Two Ways of Life is a composite photograph made from of more than 30 separate negatives.

  • Heinrich Hertz is born in Hamburg, German Confederation (now Germany).


  • The United Kingdom takes over direct rule of India from the now-dissolved British East India Company, marking the start of the British Raj.
  • The Ottoman Empire decriminalizes homosexual activity.
  • Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace propose that the mechanism of evolution is natural selection (UK).
  • Hymen Lipman invents the first combination pencil-eraser (US).
  • The first recorded Australian Rules football game is played.
  • Fading Away, a composite photograph by Henry Peach Robinson (UK).

    Henry Peach Robinson created the composite photograph Fading Away by combining five separate negatives.

  • Max Planck is born in Kiel, Duchy of Holstein (now Germany).
  • Birth of Theodore Roosevelt in New York, New York, US.
  • Birth of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester, England, UK.


  • The Armistice of Villafranca ends the Second Italian War of Independence, in which France and Sardinia defeat Austria in Italy; Sardinia obtains Lombardy, and France acquires Savoy and Nice.
  • Tanyus Shahin, a Maronite, leads Lebanese peasants in an uprising against their Druze landlords in Keserwan (Lebanon).
  • Construction of the Suez Canal begins (Egypt).
  • Louis Pasteur proposes and proves the germ theory of disease, which states that each disease is caused by a particular microorganism, or ‘germ’ (France).
  • Pasteur’s experiments disprove spontaneous generation (France).

    An undated photograph of Louis Pasteur, taken by Nadar.

  • Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen invent spectrum analysis (spectroscopy) and discover the elements cesium and rubidium (Germany).

    Spectra from the sun, potassium, rubidium and caesium based on drawings by Kirchhoff and Bunsen published in the American Journal of Science in November 1861.

  • Edwin Drake begins drilling the first modern oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania (US).

    A replica of the engine house and derrick at Drake’s Well in Titusville, PA.

  • Charles Darwin publishes the English-language text The Origin of Species (UK: England).
  • On Liberty, a work of political philosophy written in English by John Stuart Mill (UK: England).
  • A Tale of Two Cities, a novel written in English by Charles Dickens (UK: England).
  • Faust, a French opera by Charles Gounod, premieres in Paris (France).
  • Alexander von Humboldt dies.
  • Alfred Vail dies.


  • In the wars for Italian independence, revolutionary leader Giuseppe Garibaldi captures Sicily and King Victor Emmanuel II takes Naples (Italy).
  • Despite Garibaldi’s dream of an Italian Republic, he and Victor Emmanuel II agree to fight for a monarchy, the Kingdom of Italy.

    An 1866 photograph of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

  • Maronite-Druze tensions in Lebanon and Syria lead to riots and ultimately a massacre of Christians by Muslims, which triggers military intervention by France.
  • Florence Nightingale founds the first secular nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (UK).

    A photograph of Florence Nightingale taken about 1860. This is a 1920 print from the original negative.

  • Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir invents the first two-stroke gas-fired internal combustion engine with cylinders, pistons, connecting rods, and a flywheel (Belgium).

    Jean Joseph Lenoir’s 1860 internal combustion engine.

  • The first men’s British Open golf tournament is held in Scotland (UK: Scotland).
  • The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, a work of history written in German by Jacob Burckhardt (Switzerland).
  • The Mill on the Floss, a novel written in English by George Eliot (UK: England).
  • The Woman in White, a novel written in English by Wilkie Collins (UK: England).
  • Ascension of Mont-Blanc, a photograph by August-Rosalie Bisson (France; Italy).

    Ascension of Mont Blanc is one of a series of photographs taken on a photographic expedition to the French Alps.

  • Charles Goodyear dies.
  • William Dickson is born in Le Minihic-sur-Rance, France.
  • Jane Addams is born in Illinois, US.


  • Following the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln, the southern states secede, leading to the American Civil War (US).

    A May 1861 portrait of Abraham Lincoln taken at Matthew Brady’s studio in Washington, D.C.

  • After fighting off a rebellion led by General Félix María Zuloaga, interim President Benito Juárez is officially elected President of Mexico.
  • Russia abolishes serfdom.
  • Even though significant sections of Italy remain unconquered, Victor Emmanuel assembles a Parliament in Turin which declares the Kingdom of Italy.
  • Great Expectations, a novel written in English by Charles Dickens (UK).

    This 1858 photograph of Charles Dickens by Herbert Watkins is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

  • Silas Marner, a novel written in English by George Eliot (UK: England).
  • Tartan Ribbon, the first color photograph, by James Clerk Maxwell and Thomas Sutton (UK: Scotland).

    Tartan Ribbon, the first color photograph, was created by projecting three separate exposures, each made using a different color filter, onto a screen simultaneously.

  • The Catacombs of Paris, a series of photographs by Nadar (France).

    One of the series of Nadar’s Catacombs of Paris photographs, among the first-ever experiments with photographing scenes in total darkness. The long exposure times required led Nadar to use manikins instead of living models.

  • Frederick Gowland Hopkins is born in Eastbourne, England, UK.


  • The Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg) was the first major battle on Union territory in the American Civil War, pitting Confederate General Robert E. Lee against the Union’s General George B. McClellan.  Although there was no clear tactical victor, the Union won a strategic victory in the court of public opinion.
  • Nikolaus Otto invents an indirect acting, compressionless four-cycle free-piston internal combustion engine (Germany).
  • Richard Jordan Gatling invents the Gatling Gun, the first machine gun (US).

    A Gatling gun from the American civil war era, 1861-1865.

  • Alexander von Humboldt publishes the final volume of Kosmos, his attempt to synthesize all the sciences (Germany).
  • Victor Hugo’s French novel Les Misérables (France).
  • Fathers and Sons, a novel in Russian by Ivan Turgenev (Russia).
  • President Lincoln on the Battlefield at Antietam, a photograph by Alexander Gardner (US).

    One of Alexander Gardner’s photos of President Lincoln at Antietam, with Major General John A. McLernand and Allan Pinkerton.


  • The Union victory over the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, marks a turning point in the American Civil War (US).
  • President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which frees slaves in the rebel states of the Confederacy (US).
  • Poles rise up against Russian rule (Poland).
  • A fire and crush in a crowded Santiago church, followed by the collapse of the roof, leaves more than 2,000 people dead (Chile).
  • Opening of the London Underground, the world’s first underground railway (UK).

    Chancellor of the Exchequer William Gladstone inspects the London Underground Railway with directors and engineers of the railway company shortly before it opens to the public.

  • Swiss businessman Henry Dunant and others form the organization that would become the International Committee of the Red Cross (Switzerland).
  • The Plongeur, the first submarine to operate without human power, is launched (France).

    An 1867 model of the Plongeur submarine.

  • James Plimpton invents four-wheeled quad roller skates (US).
  • The Salon des Refusés exhibits paintings by Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissaro and others who were rejected from the Paris Salon (France).
  • A Harvest of Death, Battlefield of Gettysburg, a photograph by Timothy O’Sullivan (US).

    A Harvest of Death was published in Alexander Gardner’s 1866 book A Photographic Sketch Book of the War.


  • Nanjing, Hong Xiuquan’s capital, falls to Qing imperial troops, ending the Taipei Rebellion (China).
  • Russian troops quash the uprising in Poland.
  • The International Workingmen’s Association (the First International) is founded in London (UK: England).
  • Louis Pasteur invents pasteurization (France).
  • Édouard Manet’s paintings Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) and Olympia create an uproar (France).

    Manet’s scandalous Olympia, which depicts a prostitute in the pose of a goddess, is now located in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

  • Portrait of Georges Sand, a photograph by Nadar (France).

    Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, known by her pseudonym Georges Sand, was a French novelist and memoirist.

  • Walther Nernst is born in Briesen, Prussia (now Wąbrzeźno, Poland).


  • Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the American Civil War and restoring the southern states to the US.
  • Confederacy supporter John Wilkes Booth assassinates President Abraham Lincoln (US).
  • The United States abolishes slavery.
  • Gregor Mendel publishes the laws of heredity, which he derived from his experiments with pea plants (Czech Republic).

    A photograph of Gregor Mendel (1822-1884). The rediscovery of his laws of inheritance at the turn of the 20th Century began the science of genetics.

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a novel written in English by Lewis Carroll (UK: England).
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, a story written in English by Mark Twain (US).
  • Tristan und Isolde, a German opera by Richard Wagner, premieres in Munich (Germany).
  • Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, a photograph by Nadar (France).

    Nadar photographed the 21-year-old Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress of her day in classical robes, leaning on a classical pillar.


  • The Prussian victory over the Austrian Empire at the Battle of Königgrätz  (also known as the Battle of Sadowa) leads to the Peace of Prague, which puts an end to the Austro-Prussian War and awards Austrian-controlled Venetia to the Kingdom of Italy (Czech Republic).
  • Crime and Punishment, a novel written in Russian by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russia).
  • Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, by Max Bruch (Germany).
  • Yosemite Valley from the Best General View, a photograph by Carleton E. Watkins (US).

    Yosemite Valley from the Best General View. Carleton Watkins’s photographs of Yosemite that helped convince Congress to make it a national park.

  • Thomas Hunt Morgan is born in Lexington, Kentucky, US.
  • Birth of Sun Yat-Sen in Guangdong, China.


  • Tokugawa Yoshinobu’s resignation and abdication to Emperor Meiji marks the end of the Tokugawa shogunate (Japan).
  • The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 establishes the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, consisting of two monarchies (Austria and Hungary) and one autonomous country under the Hungarian crown, Croatia–Slavonia.
  • The British Parliament enacts the first British North America Act, which creates a federal dominion of Canada and sets out a large part of the Canadian Constitution (UK).
  • The US buys Alaska from Russia.
  • Diamonds are discovered in South Africa.
  • Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel invents dynamite (Sweden).

    Alfred Nobel invented dynamite as a way to make demolition safer. His fortune was used to establish the Nobel Prizes.

  • Joseph Monier invents reinforced concrete (France).
  • Charles Wheatstone (UK), Werner von Siemens (Germany) and Samuel Alfred Varley (UK), working independently, invent the dynamo.
  • Joseph Lister publishes his English-language medical text Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery (UK: Scotland).

    A 1902 photograph of Joseph Lister.

  • Karl Marx publishes his German-language treatise on political economy, Das Kapital (UK).
  • Peer Gynt, a play written in Norwegian by Henrik Ibsen (Norway).
  • Night on Bald Mountain, a tone poem by Modest Mussorgsky (Russia).
  • Don Carlos, an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi, debuts in Paris (France).
  • Portrait of Sir John Herschel, a photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron (UK).

    Julia Margaret Cameron’s Portrait of John Herschel.

  • Michael Faraday dies.
  • Maria Salomea Skłodowska (Marie Curie) is born in Warsaw, Kingdom of Poland, Russian Empire (now Poland).
  • Wilbur Wright is born in Millville, Indiana, US.


  • The Meiji Restoration returns practical imperial rule to Japan.

    An 1873 photographic portrait by Uchida Kyuichi of Emperor Meiji (whose personal name was Mutsuhito), who reigned until 1912.

  • Christopher Latham Sholes invents the first commercially successful typewriter (US).

    A Sholes typewriter from 1873.

  • Sporting goods store Peck & Snyder begins selling the first baseball cards (US).
  • Little Women, a novel written in English by Louisa May Alcott (US).
  • Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), by Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria).
  • Piano Concerto in A minor, by Edvard Grieg (Norway).
  • Die Meistersinger von Nürnberga German opera by Richard Wagner, premieres in Munich (Germany).
  • Léon Foucault dies.
  • Karl Landsteiner is born in Baden bei Wien, Austria.
  • Felix Hoffmann is born in Ludwigsburg, Kingdom of Württemberg (now Germany).


  • The first transcontinental railroad is completed in the US.

    “East and West Shaking Hands at Laying of Last Rail,” a photograph taken at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869 by Andrew J. Russell.

  • The Suez Canal opens (Egypt).

    The opening of the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

  • Dmitri Mendeleev creates the first modern periodic table of the elements (Russia).
  • Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association (US).

    An 1870 photograph of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton by Napoleon Sarony.

  • Johannes Friedrich Miescher isolates and identifies deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (Germany).
  • William Crookes invents the Crookes Tube (UK).
  • Johann Hittorf discovers cathode rays (Germany).
  • War and Peace, a novel in Russian by Leo Tolstoy (Russia).
  • The Idiot, a novel in Russian by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russia).
  • Sentimental Education, a novel in French by Gustave Flaubert (France).
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi is born in Porbandar, British Indian Empire (now India).


  • Beginning of the Great Persian famine of 1870–1872 (Iran).
  • Forces of the Kingdom of Italy under Raffaele Cadorna capture Rome and the Papal States.
  • Prussian forces under Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke defeat the French, led Marshal Patrice de MacMahon, and capture French Emperor Napoleon III at the Battle of Sedan in the Franco-Prussian War.
  • Siegfired Marcus attaches an internal combustion engine to a handcart and becomes the first person to propel a vehicle with gasoline (Austria).
  • Thomas Edison invents the Universal Stock Ticker (US).
  • The Gothic Revival-style Palace of Westminster (home to the British Houses of Parliament in London are completed (UK: England).

    The British Houses of Parliament are housed in the Palace of Westminster.

  • Premiere of Coppélia, a comic ballet choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon to the music of Léo Delibes, with libretto by Charles Nuitter, in Paris (France).
  • Death of Charles Dickens.
  • Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Vladimir Lenin) is born in Simbirsk, Russia.


  • After Prussia defeats France in the Franco-Prussian War, all German states except Austria unite to form the German Empire.
  • Otto von Bismarck becomes the first Chancellor of a united Germany.

    This photograph of Otto von Bismarck from about 1875 is located in the German Federal Archives in Koblenz.

  • King Victor Emmanuel II establishes the capital of the Kingdom of Italy at Rome, symbolizing the unification of Italy.
  • A socialist uprising establishes the Paris Commune, which rules Paris for less than three months before being brutally suppressed (France).
  • Gold is discovered in South Africa.
  • The Descent of Man, a book on human evolution written in English by Charles Darwin (UK).
  • Through the Looking Glass, a novel written in English by Lewis Carroll (UK: England).
  • Aida, an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi, debuts in Cairo (Egypt).
  • Communards in their Coffins, a photograph by André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (France).

    Communards in their Coffins, a photograph by Andre-Adolphe Eugene Disderi, was taken after the collapse of the Paris Commune of 1871.

  • Hot Springs on the Gardiner River, Upper Basin, a photograph by William Henry Jackson (US).

    Jackson’s photograph of the Hot Springs was designed for viewing in a stereograph.

  • Charles Babbage dies.
  • Ernest Rutherford is born in Brightwater, New Zealand.
  • Orville Wright is born in Dayton, Ohio, US.
  • Arthur Tansley is born in London, England, UK.


  • Women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony is arrested in Rochester, New York for voting in the presidential election (US).

    A photograph of Susan B. Anthony on her 50th birthday in 1870.

  • Impression, Sunrise, a painting by French Impressionist Claude Monet (France).

    Monet’s Impression, Sunrise was the painting that gave the name to the artistic movement now known as Impressionism. The painting is now in the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.

  • The Possessed, a novel in Russian by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russia).
  • Middlemarch, a novel written in English by George Eliot (UK: England).
  • Samuel Morse dies.


  • The Panic of 1873 financial crisis leads to economic depression in the US and Europe.
  • A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, an English-language work by James Clerk Maxwell (UK).

    An undated portrait of James Clerk Maxwell. This is an engraving by G. J. Stodart, based on a photograph by Fergus of Greenock.

  • A Season in Hell, poems written in French by Arthur Rimbaud (France).
  • Mount of the Holy Cross, a photograph by William Henry Jackson (US).

    The Mount of the Holy Cross is a mountain in Colorado that displays a cross of snow at certain times of the year.

  • Ancient Ruins in the Canyon de Chelly, a photograph by Timothy O’Sullivan (US).

    Ancient Ruins in the Canyon de Chelly, a photograph by Timothy O’Sullivan, was taken in what is now the Navajo Nation in Arizona. The photo shows the White House ruins, which were built and occupied by Ancestral Puebloan people between 1060 A.D. and 1275 CE.


  • Joseph Glidden invents barbed wire (US).

    A handmade piece of Joseph Glidden’s barbed wire, from the 1870s.

  • Othmar Zeidler synthesizes DDT, which would become the first pesticide (Austria).
  • McGill University and Harvard College play the first American football game (US).
  • The Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers holds its first exhibition, at Nadar’s Paris studio; a critic will label the group “impressionists” based on the title of a painting by Claude Monet (France).
  • The Dance Class, a painting by French Impressionist Edgar Degas (France).

    Degas completed two versions of the The Dance Class in 1874. Both show ballet master Jules Perrot teaching his students. The version above is in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.  A different version is located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

  • Far from the Madding Crowd, a novel written in English by Thomas Hardy (UK: England).
  • Messa da Requiem, by Giuseppe Verdi (Italy).
  • Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modest Mussorgsky (Russia).
  • Mussorgsky’s Russian opera Boris Godunov debuts in St. Petersburg (Russia).

    An 1874 photograph of Modest Mussorgsky.

  • Guglielmo Marconi is born in Bologna, Italy.
  • Winston-Leonard Spencer Churchill is born in Woodstock, England, UK.


  • The first Kentucky Derby horse race is held (US).
  • The Paris Opera House, designed by Charles Garnier, is completed (France).

    The Paris Opera House (also known as the Palais Garnier) was home to the Paris Opera from 1875 to 1989.

  • Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket, a painting by American Tonalist artist James McNeill Whistler (UK).

    James McNeill Whistler sued art critic John Ruskin after Ruskin said that Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold was the equivalent of “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.”

  • Climate and Time, in their Geological Relations, a scientific text written in English by James Croll, convinced many of the Ice Age theory (UK).
  • Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russia).
  • Carmen, a French opera by Georges Bizet, debuts in Paris (France).
  • Charles Lyell dies.
  • Gilbert N. Lewis is born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, US.


  • Drought in China leaves nine million dead by 1879.
  • After a military coup, the Young Ottomans force Sultan Abdülaziz to abdicate in favor of the mentally ill Murad V, who is deposed within a few months, to be replaced by Abdülhamid II, who rules for two years under the first Ottoman constitution, the Kanûn-u Esâsî (Turkey).
  • Native Americans of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples, led by Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, defeat General George Custer and the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Little Bighorn in what is now Montana (US).

    An 1877 photograph of a man that many believe to be Crazy Horse.

  • Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone (US).

    An 1876 photograph of Alexander Graham Bell.

  • Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, a painting by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (France).

    Renoir’s painting Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette is now located at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

  • Symphony No. 1 in C minor, by Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria).
  • The first complete performance of Richard Wagner’s German opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle), at Bayreuth (Germany).
  • Willis Carrier is born in Angola, New York, US.
  • Konrad Adenauer is born in Cologne, Germany.


  • The Russo-Turkish War begins when Russia attacks Ottoman lands in the Balkans and Romania declares its independence.
  • Modernization efforts by the new Meji Empire lead disaffected samurai, led by Saigo Takamori, to launch the short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful Satsuma Rebellion (Japan).
  • Federal troops are brought in to stop the Great Railroad Strike, which was triggered by wage cuts (US).
  • Astronomer Asaph Hall discovers the moons of Mars (US).
  • David Edward Hughes, Emile Berliner and Thomas Edison, working independently, invent the carbon microphone (US).
  • Thomas Edison invents the phonograph (US).

    Thomas Edison’s original phonograph made audio recordings on tin foil.

  • The first Wimbledon tennis tournament is held (UK: England).
  • Anna Karenina, a novel in Russian by Leo Tolstoy (Russia).
  • Symphony No. 2 in D Major, by Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria).
  • Premiere of Swan Lake, a ballet with choreography by Julius Wenzel Reisinger and music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, at the Bolshoi in Moscow (Russia).
  • Street Life in London, a book of photographs and English-language text by photographer John Thomson and journalist Adolphe Smith (UK).

    The Crawlers is one of the photographs in the book Street Life in London.

  • Oswald Avery is born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Frederick Soddy is born in Eastbourne, England, UK.


  • The Treaty of San Stefano, at the end of the Russo-Turkish War, creates a sovereign Bulgarian principality (Turkey).
  • The Treaty of Berlin grants sovereignty to Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania and divides Bulgaria in three parts, leaving Eastern Rumelia autonomous and giving Macedonia to the Ottomans (Germany).
  • Belgian King Leopold II, acting as a private individual, hires Henry Stanley to explore the Congo and establish a colony there on behalf of the International African Society (Dem. Rep. of Congo).
  • Joseph Swan (UK) and Thomas Edison (US), working independently, invent commercially-viable incandescent electric light bulbs.

    Light bulbs from 1878-1880 from Joseph Swan (left) and Thomas Edison.

  • Violin Concerto in D Major, by Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria).
  • Symphony No. 4 in F minor and Violin Concerto in D Major, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovksy (Russia).
  • Eadweard Muybridge publishes The Horse in Motion, a series of photographs of a horse in motion (US).

    Sallie Gardner was one of a series of cards published by Muybridge as The Hourse in Motion, each of which showed multiple photographs of horses running.


  • Britain wins the Anglo-Zulu War and annexes the Zulu Kingdom (South Africa).
  • Egyptian Officer Ahmed ‘Urabi leads a mutiny that develops into a revolt against Khedive Tewfik (Egypt).
  • James Ritty invents the cash register (US).

    James Ritty’s original 1879 cash register.

  • A Doll’s House, a play written in Norwegian by Henrik Ibsen (Norway).
  • Má Vlast, six symphonic poems by Bedřich Smetana (Czech Republic).
  • Eugene Onegin, a Russian opera by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, premieres in Moscow (Russia).
  • James Clerk Maxwell dies.
  • Albert Einstein is born in Ulm, Germany.
  • Otto Hahn is born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
  • Birth of Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili (Joseph Stalin) in Gori, Georgia, Russian Empire (now Georgia).


  • The First Boer War begins between the South African Republic and the United Kingdom (South Africa).
  • Explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza signs a treaty with Makoka, king of the Kongo, establishing French control over the region (Rep. of the Congo).
  • Werner von Siemens invents the electric elevator (Germany).
  • Fredrik and Otto Kampfe invent the safety razor (US).

    Star Safety Razors, invented by the Kampfe Brothers, from 1884.

  • Cologne Cathedral is finally completed, 600 years after construction began (Germany).

    Cologne Cathedral, with the Rhine River in the foreground.

  • Symbolist Arnold Böcklin paints the first of five versions of The Isle of the Dead (Switzerland).

    This version of Isle of the Dead (1880) is located in the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Kunstmuseum in Basel, Germany. Other extant versions are located in New York, Berlin and Leipzig.

  • The Brothers Karamazov, a novel in Russian by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russia).
  • Anton Chekhov publishes his first short story in the Russian magazine Dragonfly (Russia).
  • Death of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).
  • Alfred Wegener is born in Berlin, Germany.


  • Assassination of Russian Tsar Alexander II by members of the Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will) revolutionary movement.
  • Ahmed ‘Urabi’s forces topple the Khedive of Egypt and establish a new government.
  • American nurse Clara Barton founds the American branch of the International Committee of the Red Cross (US).

    A c. 1866 photograph of Clara Barton (1821-1912).

  • Lucien Gaulard and John D. Gibbs demonstrate an alternating current transformer in London (UK).
  • The first men’s US National Tennis Tournament (precursor to the US Open) is held (US).
  • Luncheon of the Boating Party, a painting by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (France).

    Renoir’s painting Luncheon of the Boating Party is now in the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

  • The Portrait of a Lady, a novel written in English by Henry James (US/UK).
  • Matthias Schleiden dies.
  • Alexander Fleming is born in Lochfield, Scotland, UK.


  • British forces invade and occupy Egypt; ‘Urabi is defeated at the battle of Tel el-Kebir.
  • Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy form the Triple Alliance.
  • Thomas Edison builds the first large-scale electrical supply network, supplying 110 volts of direct current to 59 customers in New York City (US).
  • Robert Koch identifies the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis as the cause of tuberculosis (Germany).

    A photograph of tuberculosis bacteria infecting a human lung (20X magnification).

  • Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invents the electric fan (US).
  • Henry W. Seeley invents the first practical and safe electric iron (US).
  • Paul Beiersdorf invents the adhesive bandage (Germany).
  • Shihan Kano develops the sport of judo (Japan).
  • Work begins on Sagrada Família church, designed by Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona (Spain).
  • Completion of the Romanesque Revival Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany).

    Because Neuschwanstein Castle was designed as a personal retreat for Bavarian King Ludwig II, he used his own funds, instead of the public’s, to build it.

  • A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, a painting by Édouard Manet (France).

    Manet’s last major painting, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere is now located in the Courtauld Gallery in London.

  • The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, a painting by John Singer Sargent (France).

    American expatriate John Singer Sargent’s painting The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit is now located at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

  • Parsifal, a German opera by Richard Wagner, debuts at Bayreuth (Germany).
  • Charles Darwin dies.
  • Friedrich Wöhler dies.
  • Robert Goddard is born in Worcester, Massachusetts, US.


  • Eruption of the Krakatoa volcano and the resulting tsunami kill between 36,000-120,000 people in Indonesia and elsewhere.
  • Robert Koch identifies the bacterium Vibrio cholerae as the cause of cholera (Germany).
  • The Brooklyn Bridge, the first steel-wire suspension bridge, opens in New York (US).

    Dozens of workers died while building the Brooklyn Bridge, including the designer, John Roebling.

  • Treasure Island, a novel written in English by Robert Louis Stevenson (UK: England).
  • Symphony No. 7 in E Major, by Anton Bruckner (Austria).
  • Symphony No. 3 in F Major, by Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria).
  • Death of Karl Marx in London, England, UK.


  • At the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, the powers of Europe impose their colonial claims on Africa and establish boundaries that remain today (Germany).
  • Edward Butler invents the three-wheeled Butler Petrol Cycle (UK).
  • Charles Renard and Arthur Constantin Krebs achieve fully controllable free flight in the French Army airship La France (France).

    The La France airship at Chalais-Meudon. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

  • Lewis Waterman produces a new, improved fountain pen (US).
  • Hiram Maxim invents the Maxim Gun, the first self-powered machine gun (UK).
  • George Eastman invents roll film (US).
  • Charles Parsons invents the modern reaction-type steam turbine (UK).
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a novel written in English by Mark Twain (US).
  • Storks, a series of nature photographs by Ottomar Anschütz (Germany).

    Ottomar Anschütz’s series of photographs of storks.

  • Gregor Mendel dies.


  • Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, an autonomous province within the Ottoman Empire, declare their unification, leading Serbia to declare war and resulting in a decisive win by Bulgaria.
  • The parties to the Berlin Conference recognize the Congo as a personal possession of Belgian King Leopold II, despite competing claims from France and Portugal (Germany).
  • The Indian National Congress is founded (India).
  • Louis Pasteur uses weakened pathogens to vaccinate citizens against anthrax and rabies (France).
  • Carl Benz builds the first practical automobile, the three-wheeled Benz Patent Motor Car, which has a high-speed gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine (Germany).

    Karl Benz’s original 1885 automobile, the Benz Patent Motor Car. The design was patented in 1886 and put into production in 1888.

  • Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach design and build the Daimler Reitwagen, considered by some to be the first motorcycle (Germany).
  • John Starley’s safety bicycle, which has pedals between two equal-sized wheels and a rear wheel chain drive, is the first modern bicycle (UK).
  • Thus Spake Zarathustra, a work of philosophy written in German by Friedrich Nietzsche (Germany).

    A photograph of Friedrich Nietzsche from about 1875, taken by F. Hartmann.

  • Symphony No. 4 in E minor, by Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria).
  • Niels Bohr is born in Copenhagen, Denmark.


  • The Treaty of Bucharest, which ends the Serbo-Bulgarian War, paves the way for the European powers to recognize the Unification of Bulgaria (Hungary).
  • An anarchist’s bomb kills seven police officers and four civilians at a rally in support of striking workers in Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois (US).
  • Samuel Gompers forms the American Federation of Labor (US).
  • Charles Martin Hall (US) and Paul Héroult (France), working independently, invent a process for extracting aluminum from other minerals.
  • France’s gift to the US, the Statue of Liberty, which was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, is erected in New York harbor.

    The Statue of Liberty’s interior construction was designed by Gustave Eiffel and the pedestal is by American Richard Morris Hunt.

  • Coca-Cola, a carbonated soft drink, is introduced (US).
  • A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, a painting by Post-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat (France).

    Seurat painted A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte using a technique he called Divisionism (now often referred to as Pointillism). The painting is now located at the Art Institute of Chicago.

  • Beyond Good and Evil, a work of philosophy written in German by Friedrich Nietzsche (Germany).
  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich, a novella in Russian by Leo Tolstoy (Russia).
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge, a novel written in English by Thomas Hardy (UK: England).
  • Symphony No. 3 in C minor “Organ”, by Camille Saint-Saëns (France).
  • Violin Sonata in A Major, by César Franck (Belgium/France).
  • The Art of Living a Hundred Years, a series of photographs of Nadar‘s interview with chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul (France).

    Photographs from Nadar’s series The Art of Living a Hundred Years. Most of the photos were taken by Nadar’s son, Paul.

  • Death of Emily Dickinson.


  • Flooding of the Yellow River breaks dikes, causing the death of at least 900,000 people (China).
  • Albert Michelson and Edward Morley conduct the Michelson-Morley experiment, which finds no evidence of ‘luminiferous aether’ (US).
  • Heinrich Hertz proves the existence of electromagnetic, or radio waves (Germany).
  • Nikola Tesla builds a two-phase commutatorless alternating current induction motor (US).
  • Josephine Cochran (also spelled Cochrane) invents the first reliable manual dishwasher (US).

    Josephine Cochran and her dishwasher.

  • John Boyd Dunlop invents the first commercially viable pneumatic tires (Ireland).
  • First women’s US National Tennis Tournament (precursor to the US Open) is held (US).
  • George Hancock invents the sport of softball in Chicago, Illinois (US).
  • At Duska collection of Russian short stories by Anton Chekhov, wins the Pushkin Prize (Russia).
  • Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor (Germany).
  • Otello, an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi, premieres at La Scala in Milan (Italy).
  • Gustav Kirchhoff dies.
  • Erwin Schrödinger is born in Vienna, Austria.
  • Henry Moseley is born in Weymouth, England, UK.


  • Great Ethiopian Famine (1888-1892): rinderpest kills 90% of cattle; includes drought, infestations of locusts and caterpillars, and outbreaks of cholera, typhus and smallpox (Ethiopia).
  • The London matchgirls’ strike (UK).
  • George Eastman invents the first portable camera (US).

    Eastman’s 1888 Kodak camera. After users finished taking all 100 photographs on the roll of film, they mailed the entire camera to Kodak, which mailed back the prints.

  • Adolf Fick makes the first true contact lenses (Germany).
  • Sunflowers, a series of paintings by Post-Impressionist Vincent van Gogh (France).

    Van Gogh’s Six Sunflowers, from his 1888 series of sunflower paintings, was located in Tokyo when it was destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1945.

  • Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889, a painting by Les XX artist James Ensor (Belgium).

    Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 is now located at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California.

  • Miss Julie, a play written in Swedish by August Strindberg (Sweden).
  • Symphony No. 5 in E minor, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russia).
  • Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, by Edvard Grieg (Norway).
  • Scheherazade, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (Russia).
  • Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman is born in Thiruvanaikoil, Madras, India.
  • John Logie Baird is born in Helensburgh, Scotland, UK.


  • Dockers’ strike in London leads to strong trade unions (UK: England).
  • Founding of the Second International in Paris (France).
  • May 1 is declared International Workers’ Day.
  • Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr found Hull House, a settlement house, in Chicago, Illinois (US).

    A photograph of Jane Addams from 1889-1890.

  • Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach build the four-wheeled Stahlradwagen automobile, which is licensed by Peugeot for production in France (Germany).

    The four-wheeled Daimler Stahlradwagen.

  • Singer produces the first electric sewing machines (US).
  • The Eiffel Tower in Paris, designed and built by Gustave Eiffel, is completed (France).

    The Eiffel Tower was originally built as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.

  • The Burghers of Calais and The Kiss, sculptures by Auguste Rodin (France).

    The original Burghers of Calais sculpture was commissioned by the Town of Calais to commemorate a legendary event during the Hundred Years War.

  • The Starry Night, a painting by Post-Impressionist Vincent van Gogh (France).

    Vincent Van Gogh painted The Starry Night while convalescing at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence after a mental breakdown.

  • Time and Free Will, a work of philosophy written in French by Henri Bergson (France).
  • The Onion Field, a photograph by George Davison (UK).

    Davison’s photograph The Onion Field is an example of pictorialism.

  • Edwin Hubble is born in Marshfield, Missouri, US.


  • Luxembourg achieves independence.
  • In the Wounded Knee Massacre, the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment fires on Lakota people led by Spotted Elk at the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, killing at least 200, while 31 soldiers also die (US).
  • William Dickson and Thomas Edison invent the first practical movie camera (US).
  • Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky makes the first three-phase alternating current induction motor (Germany).
  • Principles of Psychology, an influential text written in English by William James (US).
  • Knut Hamsun’s Norwegian-language novel Hunger (Norway).
  • Hedda Gabler, a play written in Norwegian by Henrik Ibsen (Norway).

    A photographic portrait of Henrik Ibsen.

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, a novel written in English by Oscar Wilde (Ireland).
  • Premiere of Sleeping Beauty, a ballet with choreography by Petipa and music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, in St. Petersburg (Russia).
  • An Ancient Lodger and the Plank on which She Slept, at Eldridge Police Station, a photograph by Jacob A. Riis (US).

    Jacob Riis’s photograph of an Ancient Lodger.

  • Death of Vincent van Gogh, by suicide (France).
  • Birth of Nguyễn Sinh Cung (Ho Chi Minh) in Hoàng Trù, French Indochina (now Vietnam).
  • Birth of Charles de Gaulle in Lille, France.


  • Eugène Dubois discovers “Java Man” (Homo erectus) in Java (Indonesia).

    A reconstruction of Java Man with the fossil skull. Note that only the dark portion of the skull was found.

  • Dr. James Naismith invents basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts (US).
  • The Palazzo-style Wainwright Building in St. Louis, Missouri, designed by Louis H. Sullivan and Dankmar Adler (US).

    The National Register of Historic Places calls the Wainwright Building “a highly influential prototype of the modern office building.”

  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles, a novel written in English by Thomas Hardy (UK).
  • Clarinet Quintet in B minor, by Johannes Brahms (Germany/Austria).
  • Peer Gynt Suite No. 2, by Edvard Grieg (Norway).
  • Chronophotographic Study of Man Pole Vaulting, a photograph by Etienne-Jules Marey (France).

    Chronophotographic Study of Man Pole Vaulting, a photograph by Etienne-Jules Marey.

  • Frederick Banting is born in Alliston, Ontario, Canada.
  • James Chadwick is born in Bollington, England, UK.
  • Tafari Makonnen Woldemikae (Haile Selassie) is born in Ejersa Goro, Ethiopia.


  • Rudolf Diesel invents the diesel engine (Germany).
  • Nikola Tesla invents the Tesla coil (US).

    Nikola Tesla in his New York laboratory with a Tesla coil.

  • John Froelich builds the first gasoline-powered tractor (US).
  • Jesse Reno and George Wheeler, working independently, invent the escalator (US).
  • James Dewar invents the Thermos vacuum flask (UK).
  • The Nutcracker, a ballet with choreography by Lev Ivanov and music by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, premieres in St. Petersburg (Russia).
  • The Terminal, New York, a photograph by Alfred Stieglitz (US).

    Stieglitz’s photograph The Terminal shows the end of a horse-drawn trolley line on a winter’s day in New York City.

  • Louis de Broglie is born in Dieppe, France.


  • New Zealand becomes the first modern country to give women the right to vote.
  • French troops, led by Lt. Gaston Boiteux, occupy Timbuktu (Mali).
  • The Scream, a painting by Expressionist artist Edvard Munch (Norway).

    One of several versions of The Scream, by Edvard Munch. It is now located at the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway.

  • Symphony No. 6 in B minor “Pathetique” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russia).
  • Symphony No. 9 in E minor “From the New World”, by Antonin Dvořák (Czech Republic).
  • String Quartet, by Claude Debussy (France).
  • Falstaff, an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi, opens at La Scala in Milan (Italy).
  • Raymond Dart is born in Brisbane, Australia.
  • Birth of Mao Zedong in Shaoshan, China.


  • The First Sino-Japanese War begins in Chinese-controlled Korea.
  • Germany colonizes Rwanda.
  • Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French military officer, is convicted of treason, triggering the Dreyfus Affair (France).

    A photograph of Alfred Dreyfus.

  • Eugene V. Debs leads a national strike against the Pullman Company (US).
  • Australia gives women the right to vote.
  • Charles Francis Jenkins uses his Phantoscope projector to project a motion picture he filmed onto a screen for an audience in Richmond, Indiana (US).
  • Sir Oliver Lodge (UK) and Jagadish Chandra Bose (India), working independently, demonstrate the transmission of radio waves at a distance.

    A photograph of Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858-1937).

  • William Ramsay and Lord Rayleigh, John William Strutt discover argon (UK).
  • John Harvey Kellogg invents breakfast cereal flakes (US).
  • Claude Debussy’s Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune (France).
  • Heinrich Hertz dies.
  • Georges Lemaître is born in Charleroi, Belgium.


  • Japan defeats China in the First Sino-Japanese War and takes Korea, Taiwan and the port of Weihai from China.
  • France invades Madagascar.
  • Westinghouse’s hydroelectric Adams Power Plant begins supplying alternating current electricity to Buffalo, New York (US).
  • Oscar Wilde is sentenced to two years in prison for “gross indecency” for a homosexual relationship.
  • Wilhelm Röntgen discovers X-rays (Germany).
  • Guglielmo Marconi transmits radio waves to a receiver 1.5 miles away (Italy).
  • The Lumière brothers present a public, commercial exhibition of projected motion pictures to a paying audience in Paris (France).

    A poster for the Lumieres’ cinema, showing L’Arroseur arrosé (The Sprinkler Sprinkled), the first movie comedy.

  • Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin designs and seeks a patent for the first rigid airship (Germany).
  • William Morgan invents the sport of volleyball in Springfield, Massachusetts (US).
  • At the Moulin Rouge, a painting by Post-Impressionist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (France).

    Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting At the Moulin Rouge is now located in the Art Institute of Chicago.

  • Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud publish Studies in Hysteria, a German-language text that introduces the principles of psychoanalysis (Austria).
  • Jude the Obscure, a novel written in English by Thomas Hardy (UK).

    A photograph of Thomas Hardy taken between 1910 and 1915.

  • The Time Machine, a science fiction novel written in English by H.G. Wells (UK: England).
  • Cello Concerto in B minor, by Antonin Dvořák (Czech Republic).
  • Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, a tone poem by Richard Strauss (Germany).
  • Louis Pasteur dies.
  • Gerhard Domagk is born in Lagow, Prussia (now Łagów, Poland).
  • Death of Frederick Douglass.


  • The Philippines become free of Spanish rule.
  • Ethiopia defends its sovereignty by defeating Italy at the Battle of Adwa (Ethiopia).
  • Georges Picquart proves that Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy committed treason, not Alfred Dreyfus, but Esterhazy is acquitted at trial (France).
  • The first modern Olympic Games are held in Athens, Greece.
  • Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity (France).

    A photograph of Henri Becquerel (1852-1908).

  • The Jewish State, a German-language pamphlet by Zionist theorist Theodor Herzl (Germany; Austria).
  • Matter and Memory, a work of philosophy written in French by Henri Bergson (France).
  • A.E. Housman’s English-language poem A Shropshire Lad (UK).
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra, a tone poem by Richard Strauss (Germany).
  • Symphony No. 9 in D minor, by Anton Bruckner (Germany).
  • Premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s Italian opera La bohème in Turin (Italy).
  • Alfred Nobel dies.
  • Wallace Carothers is born in Burlington, Iowa, US.


  • Gojong declares himself Emperor Gwangmu, first leader of the Korean Empire.

    Gojong, Emperor Gwangmu of Korea.

  • Theodor Herzl convenes the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
  • The United Kingdom colonizes Benin.
  • The first homosexual rights groups are founded: Magnus Hirshfeld starts the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee in Germany and George Cecil organizes the Order of Chaeronea in the UK.
  • J.J. Thomson discovers the electron (UK).

    .J.J. Thomson (1856-1940).

  • Felix Hoffmann at Bayer synthesizes a pure form of acetylsalicylic acid that is marketed as Bayer aspirin (Germany).
  • The first Hornsby-Akroyd Patent Safety Oil Traction Engine (tractor) is sold (UK).
  • The first Boston Marathon is run (US).
  • Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibémus Quarry, a painting by Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne (France).

    Cezanne’s painting Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibemus Quarry is now located in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

  • Dracula, a novel written in English by Bram Stoker (Ireland).
  • Cyrano de Bergerac, a French play by Edmond Rostand (France).
  • Birth of Amelia Earhart in Atchison, Kansas, US.


  • The Spanish-American War begins when the US sends troops to support Cuban rebels against Spain and ends with US occupation of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.  The turning point in the war is the Battle of Manila Bay, in which Commodore George Dewey’s fleet defeats the Spanish under Patricio Montojo (Philippines).
  • The Treaty of Paris recognizes Cuba’s independence from Spain but the US does not hand over sovereignty until 1902.
  • After the Guangxu Emperor begins the Hundred Days’ Reform, Empress Dowager Cixi, aided by General Ronglu, stages a coup d’état (China).

    A tinted photograph of the Empress Dowager Cixi.

  • The anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, anti-Christian nationalist Boxer Rebellion begins (China).
  • After 16 years of warfare, France defeats the Wassoulou Empire, led by Samori Ture (Guinea).
  • The UK, led by Sir Herbert Kitchener, defeats the army of Abdullah al-Taashi (Sudan).
  • In the Fashoda Incident, France, fearing that Britain will take Sudan, sends an expedition to Fashoda on the Nile, but is forced to withdraw under international pressure (Sudan).
  • The French newspaper L’Aurore prints J’accuse….!, an open letter by Émile Zola in support of Alfred Dreyfus (France).
  • Marie and Pierre Curie discover the radioactive elements radium and polonium (France).

    A 1904 photograph of Pierre and Marie Curie in their laboratory.

  • Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (Tahiti, French Polynesia).

    Gauguin’s painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? is now located in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

  • The War of the Worlds, a science fiction novel written in English by H.G. Wells (UK).
  • The Turn of the Screw, a novella written in English by Henry James (US/UK).
  • Death of Otto von Bismarck.


  • Germany colonizes Burundi.
  • After a second conviction for treason, Alfred Dreyfus is pardoned (France).
  • Ernest Rutherford discovers alpha and beta radiation (Canada).

    A photograph of Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937).

  • Otis Elevator Co. produces the first commercially-successful escalator (US).
  • Sigmund Freud publishes The Interpretation of Dreams, a German-language treatise on psychology (Austria).

    A photograph of Sigmund Freud from about 1900.

  • The School and Society, a work about education, written in English by John Dewey (US).
  • Oscar Wilde’s English-language play The Importance of Being Earnest (Ireland).

    A photograph of Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony, taken in 1882.

  • Arnold Schoenberg’s string sextet Verklärte Nacht (Austria).
  • Variations on an Original Theme For Orchestra “Enigma”, by Edward Elgar (UK).
  • Robert Bunsen dies.
  • Charles Best is born in West Pembroke, Maine, US.
  • Ernest Hemingway is born in Oak Park, Illinois, US.

To see the next and final part of the timeline, click on the link below:
Timeline of Human History IV: 1900-Present

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