19 th Century Timeline: 1801 to 1900 AD
Britain is rising as an industrial power. The average life expectancy
is around 40. A fictional "better-off" family will be described as
drinking water that has a cow taste because it is taken from a brook
from which cows drink. Meat is rare. Dental care is poor. The family
eats with wooden spoons. Candles are rarely used because they cost too
much. The father "visited the city once, but the travel cost him a
week's wages... The children sleep two to a bed on straw mattresses on
the floor." (Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity
Evolves, p. 13.)
Britain makes Ireland part of a single British kingdom. Parliament in
Dublin is abolished. The Anglican Church is to be recognized as the
official church in Ireland. No Catholics are to be allowed to hold
1801 Napoleon of France has defeated Austria. In the treaty
of Lunéville, Austria renounces claims to the Holy Roman Empire.
The Ottoman Turks, trying to maintain empire, are fighting the Saud
family and its Sunni Wahhabi allies. In Mesopotamia the Wahhabis
capture the Shiite holy city of Karbala. In Arabia they capture Mecca.
Leader of Haitian independence, Toussaint L'Ouverture, receives a
message from the French General Brunet to meet for negotiations. Brunet
assures Toussaint that he will be perfectly safe with the French, whom
he says are gentlemen. When Toussaint shows up for the meeting, the
French take and ship him to France, to a prison near the Swiss border.
The war-weary British sign a treaty ending their war against France -
The Treaty of Amiens.
Ohio becomes the 17th US state. (Mar 1)
President Jefferson and others support an investment of $15 million for
the Louisiana Territory, which Napoleon is willing to sell for cash for
his war efforts.
Toussaint L'Ouverture dies in prison. (Apr 7)
The treaty between Britain and France has broken down. Again they go to
war against each other. (May 18)
A German makes morphine from opium. Physicians are delighted that opium
has been tamed. Morphine is lauded for its reliability and safety.
In England, seven Irish rebels are the last sentenced to be hanged,
drawn and quartered. In deference to public opinion the sentence is
commuted to merely hanging and beheading.
Irish are rebelling against British rule. They are crushed militarily
by the British, but unrest among the Irish will remain in Ireland
through the rest of the century.
The Wahhabis do not view the Shia as Muslims. A Shia assassinates the
conqueror Abdul Aziz of the House of Saud.
The Royal College of Surgeons is founded in London.
Japan refuses trade with arriving Russian ships.
The Russians visit the Hawaiian islands on their way to Fort Ross in
Around 150,000 Hawaiians - nearly half of the population - are dying
from the Great Sickness - an unknown disease brought by Europeans.
Serbs revolt against Ottoman authority and win autonomy status -
self-rule within the Ottoman Empire - demonstrating Ottoman weakness to
Greeks, who remain under Ottoman rule.
Haiti proclaims itself a republic and independent.
In Hausaland (south of the Sahara and west of Lake Chad), Muslim
herdsmen war against non-Muslim Hausa chiefdoms and gain power in the
In the wartime atmosphere and as a defense against French royalty, the
Senate in France votes in favor of Napoleon Bonaparte becoming Napoleon
I, "Emperor of the French." Napoleon crowns himself emperor. Beethoven
is enraged. He dislikes royalty and tears up the title page for his
Symfonia Buonaparte, which will be known as his Symphony No.3.
Spain joins Napoleon's war as an ally against the British.
Russia, Austria and Sweden ally themselves with Britain.
In Milan, Napoleon is crowned King of Italy. He is looking towards an
invasion of England. A French fleet sails north to Spain's Atlantic
port of Cadiz. Napoleon orders his French and Spanish ships out of
Cadiz to do battle with the British. The British win, at the Battle of
Trafalgar, frustrating Napoleon's invasion plan.
For two years the British East India Company has been warring against
the Maratha Empire - which was allied with Napoleon. The East India
Company wins and gains control over Orissa and western Gujarat.
The son of Abdul Aziz, now head of House of Saud, defeats an Ottoman
garrison and captures the holy city of Medina.
The Emperor of Austria, Francis I, abdicates his other title: Holy
Roman Emperor. The Holy Roman Empire, created in the 800s, is formally
dissolved, with Napoleon reorganizing much of it into his Confederation
of the Rhine.
Jean Jacques Dessalines, leader of Haiti's revolution and self-declared
emperor, is being viewed by his generals as a ridiculous figure.
Dessalines announces his plan to march with troops into the south,
where he is not popular, and the south explodes in rebellion.
Dessalines' generals prepare a trap for him along the way. His horse is
shot from under him. He is pinned under his horse, he is shot in the
head and his body hacked to pieces with machetes.
Ruling the seas, a British naval force takes control of Cape Colony in
South Africa - the Dutch who had been ruling there now being ruled by
Britain's enemy, Napoleon.
Extending its power at sea, Britain outlaws slave trading across the
Atlantic for its own ships and for ships from all countries united with
Napoleon. Britain turns a presence on the coast of western Africa into
a crown colony - Sierra Leone.
The US Congress passes a law that bans the importation of slaves into
the US, a law to be largely ignored in southern states.
In Manchester, England, the largest factory complex in the world opens
and the event draws spectators from across Britain and beyond. The
factory uses steam acquired from burning coal. It's a change from power
by river water, which is too limited a source for the coming industrial
expansion. The availability of coal is helping the British surpass the
The Geological Society of London is created, the founders expressing
their desire to avoid preconceived notions and to collect facts for
With help from the French, Muhammad Ali Pasha drives the British out of
Egypt (a part of the Ottoman Empire).
Napoleon moves to consolidate his position in Europe. He defeats a
combined Prussian and Russian force in February. Danzig surrenders to
him. He defeats the Russians in June and occupies Königsberg. Alexander
of Russia is annoyed with the British and agrees to meet with Napoleon.
In August, Napoleon demands that Portugal join the trade boycott
against the British and declare war on Britain. Portugal hesitates.
Napoleon's ally, Spain, allows French troops to pass through its
territory to Portugal. The French captured Lisbon as Portugal's royal
family flees to Brazil.
Napoleon intervenes in a quarrel between Spain's king, Charles IV, and
the son of Charles, Ferdinand. He makes the two of them prisoners in a
comfortable setting and moves his brother Joseph from the Kingdom of
Naples to the throne in Spain. Spaniards resent the presence of French
troops and Napoleon's interventions. An unusually barbarous war begins
within Spain - with Napoleon as usual caring little about hearts and
minds. Resistance to the French spreads to Portugal. The British land a
force there to help the resistance. It is the beginning of Napoleon's
Spain's authority in its American colonies declines. Armed uprisings
occurred from Mexico to Argentina. Without Spain in control, the
British are able to do more business in Latin America, rescuing Britain
from Napoleon's economic boycott.
John Dalton argues that matter consists of a range of atoms each of
which has a distinct weight.
Russia defeats Sweden. Sweden loses Finland, which becomes an
autonomous Grand Duchy within Russia's empire. Returning to the
Hawaiian Islands from California and hoping for trade, Russians build a
fort at Honolulu and try to establish themselves on the island of
Kauai. They ignore Hawaiian customs and are driven out.
Napoleon is spread thin. The Austrians defeat him at the Battle of
Aspern-Essling, and he loses his reputation for invincibility. The
Austrians fail to follow up on their victory. Napoleon organizes an
assault and defeats the Austrians. The Austrians make peace with
Napoleon's economic blockade is not working. Britain's exports reach an
Allied with the Portuguese against Napoleon, the British negotiate an
agreement with the Portuguese calling for the gradual abolition of the
slave trade across the South Atlantic.
People have been migrating from the United States into West Florida.
These settlers rebel and declare independence from Spain. Recognizing
Spain's weakened condition from occupation by Napoleon, the US
President James Madison and Congress declare the region for the United
States - a move not recognized internationally.
Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), at the age of 16, starts a business
transporting people and then freight across the Hudson River and New
York's harbor in a small, two-masted sailboat. A revolution in
transportation was about to begin and as an entrepreneur he would be a
part of it.
The ruler of Kauai cedes his island to Kamehameha. Kamehameha is now
ruler of all of the Hawaiian Islands. In accordance with Hawaiian
tradition he is considered divine and commoners prostrate themselves
1811 to 1820
Plantation slaves just outside New Orleans are aware of the successful
slave revolt that freed the slaves of Haiti (1791-1804). On January 8,
between 200 and 500 slaves near New Orleans, from more than one
plantation, join together with stolen arms against their masters and
oppressors. They kill for their freedom. There is a musket face-off in
which the slaves lose. Most are executed and their heads displayed on
pikes as a lesson for other slaves.
The French are driven from Portugal.
Independence is declared in Caracas (Venezuela), La Paz (Bolivia) and
New Grenada (Colombia). Fighting erupts between those favoring
independence and Spanish authority in Latin America.
In Egypt, Viceroy Muhammad Ali Pasha exterminates Mamluk warlords. He
invites them to a banquet and has them slaughtered.
A 60-year-old Spanish priest, Hildago, who was influenced by the
Enlightment, is executed after leading an uprising in behalf of the
well being of Indians and mestizos.
For the Ottoman empire, Muhammad Ali Pasha drives the Wahhabi and
Saudis out of Medina and Mecca.
England, a few workers called Luddites in various cities in the
spinning and cloth finishing industries have been destroying new
machinery. They fear technological unemployment. Some are executed.
Priests in Caracas claim that an earthquake is God's anger against the
sins of the new government. Spain's military is able to regain control
of the city.
At sea, Britain has a counter-blockade against France. Britain's new
prime minister, Lord Liverpool, instructs the British navy to treat US
trading ships with new tact and to avoid clashes with Americans. This
does not deter those in the US who want war, and Congress declares war
against Britain on June 18, 1812.
Napoleon's march into Russia exposes his recklessness and shallow
strategic thinking. His march into Russia is not going well. His three
top-ranking subordinates urged a halt to the campaign. Napoleon agrees,
but the following day he changes his mind. He doesn't want to admit
folly or show weakness. On September 7 at the Battle of Borodino he
losses 30,000 to 35,000 more men, dead, wounded or captured. A week
later he is in Moscow. In mid-October he begins a terrible march back
from Russa, ending his campaign with none of the army of 600,000 with
which he began.
Napoleon's move against Russia has delayed Russia's ability to protect
their fellow Orthodox Christians, the Serbs, who have been rebelling
against Ottoman rule. The Ottoman Empire moves against rebel Serb
areas, and Albanian troops plunder Serb villages.
Napoleon has failed to win enough friends. In Spain, British and
Spanish forces defeat his military. Napoleon withdraws from Germany
after the Russians, Prussians, Austrians and Swedes defeat him there.
His Confederation of the Rhine falls into history's trash
Laura Secord walks 20 difficult miles to warn of a surprise attack by
an invading US force. She is to be a Canadian heroine.
A negotiated treaty ends the War of 1812-14 and restores
"peace, friendship, and good understanding" between the United States
and "His Britannic Majesty."
Russian and Prussian forces enter Paris. Napoleon is exiled to the
island of Elba. The terms of peace between the victors and France are
settled in another Treaty of Paris. The victors over Napoleon gather at
Vienna - the Congress of Vienna - to create a stable Europe to their
At the Congress of Vienna, September 1814 to June 1815, the British,
Spain, Portugal, a politically new France, and the Netherlands are
meeting to discuss the world without Napoleon, and they agree to
eventually abolish the slave trade.
In the Indonesian Archepelgo, Mount Tamobra has been inactive for
thousands of years, but on April 10 it begins a week of eruptions. Its
debris in the stratosphere reduces sunlight. In the Northern Hemisphere
in September there are days with no sunlight. Crops fail and livestock
die in much of the Northern Hemisphere, creating the worst of 19th
Napoleon returns to France in February. He inspires men to reach again
for glory, and his final military defeat comes June 18th at the Battle
In France, the income of working people in terms of what it buys (real
wages) begins a four-decade decline.
Because of the Tambora eruption, 1816 will be known with the year
without a summer." Amid the gloom in Britain, Mary Shelley writes a
scary story: "Frankenstein."
The British return to the Dutch their empire in Indonesia.
Spain's military drives Simón Bolivar from New Grenada. Bolivar flees
to Jamaica and then to Haiti.
Bolivar and a small force return to Venezuela and establish a base
inland in the rain forest along the Orinoco River.
In Britain, real wages have been declining at least since the late
1790s, as Britain has been burdened by war against France. From this
year on and into the next century real wages in Britain will be rising.
The British sign a Maratha kingdom, Nagpur, into its system of
alliances. Those opposed sack and burn the British residence at Poona
(Pune). 27,000 attack a British force of 2,800 a few miles north of
Poona - the beginning of the Third Anglo-Maratha War.
The Third Anglo-Maratha War ends with the break-up of the Maratha
Empire and the British in control of most of India.
For the Ottoman Empire, Egyptians are taking control of the Arabian
Peninsula. They destroy the mud-brick town of Diriyah (thirteen miles
from the center of what today is Riyadh) which had been the home base
of the Saud family and Wahhabis.
In England, 60,000 gather in a field and listen to a call for universal
suffrage. A magistrate sends a force to arrest the main speaker, Henry
Hunt. People riot. Eleven are killed and others injured. A movement for
reform gathers strength.
In England a group of revolutionaries chose a strategy of killing
government cabinet ministers, believing it will trigger a massive
uprising. It's to be known as the Cato Street Conspiracy. One of their
number was a police agent. A few conservatives used the conspiracy as
propaganda against parliamentary reform. The conspirators were tried in
court and five of them were hanged and then decapitated - the last of
A liberal uprising begins in Spain. It starts with soldiers and is
joined by others who want a constitutional monarchy or a republic. A
few who are poor and illiterate attack and set fire to churches.
The combined area of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Illinois,
Indiana, Mississippi and Alabama has six times the number of people of
European heritage that it had in 1800.
The US has becomes the world's biggest cotton producer of raw cotton.
Per capita world Gross Domestic Product (according to today's economic
historian Angus Maddison) is $667, measured in 1990 dollars. This
(according to Maddison) is up from $435 in the year 1000. Western
Europe, which was lower than the world in general in the year 1000, at
$400, is at $1,232.
1821 to 1830
The stability for Europe sought at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 is
coming undone. Following Serb rebellions against Ottoman rule in
previous years, the Greeks in March rise simultaneously against Ottoman
rule, including in Macedonia, Crete and Cyprus. The Turks respond by
hanging the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregorios V. The Greeks
liberate the Peloponnesian Peninsula in September. There, in the city
of Tripolitsa, a center of Turkish authority, Muslims in the thousands
are massacred for three days and nights.
Napoleon Bonaparte dies at the age of fifty-one under British authority
on the island of St. Helena, the reported cause: stomach cancer. The
English poet, John Keats, dies of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-six.
A treaty is signed between the United States and the declining power
of Spain. The US buys Florida for 5 million dollars, money
the US government gives to US citizens with claims against Spain. Spain
receives an established line separating the US from its territory in
Caracas falls to Bolivar's force. Venezuela is now free of Spanish
rule. Peru and Mexico declare independence. In Guatemala independence
is declared for its provinces: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, San
Salvador and Chiapas.
Michael Faraday, son of a blacksmith, has overcome the conceit of
aristocrats and, as a scientist, has been promoted in Britain's Royal
Institution. His interest in a unified force in nature and work in
electro-magnetism produces the foundation for electric motors and
contributes to what will be "field theory" in modern physics, which
includes its most basic formula: E=MC2.
A member of Portugal's royal family is in power in Brazil. He has
lifted duties paid on the importation of books, abolished censorship
and ordered the teaching of law at the universities of Sáo Paula and
Olinda. His rule is being challenged from Portugal, and from his royal
palace he declares "Independence or death!" At the age of 24 he his
proclaimed Emperor of Brazil: Pedro I.
Officials of the American Colonization society have purchased a strip
of land they call Christopolis, at Cape Mesurado on the Atlantic Coast
in western Africa. Eighty-six freed blacks have arrived.
In Vienna the accordion is invented.
In Britain, fewer crimes are capital offenses.
The Ottoman Turks respond to rebellion on the island of Chios by
slaughtering five-sixths of the islands 120,000 inhabitants.
Austria, Russia and Prussia authorize French troops to enter Spain to
destroy the liberal revolution there and re-establish the rule of
Ferdinand VII. Ferdinand begins revenge killings that will revolt those
who returned him to power.
Steam powered shipping begins between Switzerland and France on Lake
Mexico, interested in populating Texas, allows Stephen F. Austin to
sell plots of land to settlers so long as they are of good character.
The Frenchman, Eugène Delacroix, paints The Massacre of
Chios. Britain's romantic poet, Lord Byron, who has written
"We are all Greeks," has gone to Greece and dies of "marsh fever."
Britain and the US negotiate a treaty establishing procedures for
suppressing the slave trade, but the US Senate undercuts the treaty's
powers and the British refuse to sign.
In Britain, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
is founded, the first animal protection organization in the world.
Louis XVIII has died and is succeeded by his reactionary brother,
Russian military officers, who had been exposed to the Enlightenment
during Russia's occupation of France, attempt to replace authoritarian
rule with a representative democracy. Their coup, called the Decembrist
Rising, fails and they are crushed.
In Spain the Inquisition had been ended by the Revolution in 1820 that
had overthrown King Ferdinand VII, but with Ferdinand's return it is
revived. A Jew is burned at the stake, also a Spanish Quaker
schoolmaster who replaced "Hail Mary" with "Praise be to God" in school
prayer. It has been described as the last of such executions.
Britain, Russia and France break with Austria regarding the Greek war
of independence - Austria still feeling threatened by any revolt
against empire while the Russians want to protect their fellow Orthodox
Christians. Egypt, a part of the Ottoman Empire, is helping the Turks,
but a combined British, French and Russian fleet sink an Egyptian and
Turkish fleet at Navarino Bay, on the west coast of the Peloponnesian
Peninsula. This weakens Ottoman power in Greece and in
In Vienna, Austria, over 10,000 mourners attend the burial of Beethoven.
New York passes a state law emancipating slaves.
In London, parliament extends tolerance, passing the Catholic
Emancipation Bill, making it possible for Catholics to hold public
The Treaty of Adrianople ends war between Russia and the Ottoman
Empire. The Ottoman Empire grants Greece independence.
Russian authority in Georgia is recognized. The Russians are allowed
access through the narrow straits from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea.
Autonomy is extended to Serbia and to the Romanians of Moldavia and
Walachia, under Russian protection.
Scotch tape is invented.
Mexico abolishes slavery in its territories, hoping to discourage
migration into Texas from the United States.
With China's great population growth, unemployment has risen and there
has been a shortage of land, creating peasant unrest. China is still
the leader in manufacturing output (real rather than per capita), but
its share is slipping from 32.8 percent in 1750 to 29.8 percent.
India's share since 1750 has fallen from 24.5 percent to 17.6
percent. Britain, with a fraction of the population of either China or
India, has increased its share in this period from 1.9 to 4.3 percent.
The US share is 2.4 percent.
France has reneged in paying its bill for wheat bought from Algeria. A
new era of European imperialism begins with Charles X sending an
invasion force of 36,000 troops to Algeria, claiming that he was
responding to the insult to his ambassador. The invasion is described
as a civilizing mission and a mission to abolish slavery and piracy - a
response to Algeria's reputation in France for having attacked the
ships of Christian nations during past centuries and for an estimated
25,000 European slaves in Algeria, including women in the harems.
Businessmen and common people loathe Charles X, who has returned to
absolutism, including dissolving parliament. The barricades go up in
the streets of Paris. Charles X is frightened and rather than fight
goes into exile, back to Britain. Parliament returns, creates a
constitutional monarchy and elects a new king, Louis-Philippe.
Violence erupts across Germany. Rent, tax and military records are
burned. People want bread or are annoyed by higher prices for food,
military conscription and in places by feudal dues. In Brunswick, Grand
Duke Karl flees and a liberal constitution is created. The king of
Saxony grants his subjects a liberal constitution. In Hesse-Kassel a
constitution and a unicameral legislature are created.
In Britain, the first edition of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology
is published and will revolutionize the age-of-earth concepts.
The first railway station opens in the United States - in Baltimore
President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, which rips the
Cherokee and other eastern tribes from their homes and banishes them to
areas west of the Mississippi River.
Joseph Smith Jr. of New York organizes the Church of Jesus Christ of
In England the lawn mower is invented.
A Frenchman patents a sewing machine.
Simón Bolivar dies disappointed and regretting that Spain did not allow
people in its American colonies to develop self-government within a
framework of institutions as had Britain with its colonists.
in 1830. In Belgium and the Netherlands the increase is about three
1831 to 1840
Various uprisings are taking place on the Italian peninsula, including
the papal states. Pope Gregory XVI is opposed to democracy at any level
and calls for help from Austria. Austria's army marches across the
peninsula, crushing revolts and revolutionary movements.
In Warsaw, Polish soldiers revolt against Russian rule. Crowds take
control of the city. Austria and Prussia want the revolt crushed.
Freedom for the Poles is a popular cause in Britain and in France, but
little help arrives and Nicholas I, who considers himself both the Tsar
of Russia and King of Poland, sends troops that overwhelm the rebellion.
In England, parliament's lower body, the House of Commons, passes a
reform bill. Britain's new Prime Minister, Earl Grey, wants to end
undue representation to towns that have shrunk (rotten boroughs) and to
give Britain's growing industrial towns representation in the House of
Commons. The bill is defeated in the House of Lords, dominated by
aristocratic conservatives. Rioting erupts in various cities, most
seriously in Bristol from April 15 to May 4.
A severe flood and plague devastate Baghdad. Mumeluke rule ends there
as Mahmud II, sultan, reasserts Ottoman control over Mesopotamia.
Charles Darwin, 22, has completed his B.A. at Cambridge and sails as an
unpaid naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle to South America, New Zealand
In Boston, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrisons begins publishing an
anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator.
In Jamaica, a black Baptist deacon, Sam Sharpe, has gathered from the
Bible that all men are created equal. He has learned from newspapers
that people in England want an end to slavery. He organizes a sit-down
strike timed for the harvest. Local planters move to crush the revolt
and a group of slaves become violent, set fire to buildings and to cane
fields. The planters crush the rebellion and hang Sam Sharpe.
In America, Cyrus McCormick invents the reaper-harvester. making it
possible to harvest at three times the previous speed.
Egypt takes advantage of Russia's defeat of the Ottoman Turks and
The Whigs acquire more power momentarily. They are largely aristocrats
with liberal leanings. They want to make Britain's political system
fairer and to placate working people without giving in to all their
demands. The Great Reform Act, denied in 1831, is passed into law.
In Illinois, a state since 1818, the Fox Indians, led by Black Hawk,
are defeated militarily. In his surrender speech Black Hawk
acknowledges defeat. He says he has done nothing shameful.
Carl von Clausewitz' On War (vom Kriege) is published two years after
his death. Clausewitz saw violence as the only proper defense against
the violence of others, and he saw war as a political act for political
In Japan, too much rain produces crop failures and what is called the
Tempo famine. (The previous famine in Japan was around fifty years
before.) Prosperity comes to a temporary end. The famine is to last
three years and an estimated 300,000 are to die.
Britain's Abolition Slavery Act goes into effect, with the British
government prepared to compensate financially those who lose slaves. In
Canada many slaves had been freed years before. The remaining 781,000
slaves are freed, but no claims for receiving financial compensation
The Queen Mother, Maria Christina, fourth wife of Ferdinand VII, who
died in 1833, officially ends Spain's Inquisition.
In Britain, vaccination becomes mandatory.
Britain and Spain renew agreement against the slave trade. British sea
captains are authorized to arrest suspected Spanish slavers and bring
them before mixed commissions established at Sierra Leone and Havana.
Vessels carrying specified "equipment articles" (extra mess gear,
lumber, foodstuffs) are declared prima-facie to be slavers.
In the southern states of the United States, abolitionists are expelled
and mailing anti-slavery literature is forbidden.
Steamships appear on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Samuel Colt of Connecticut receives a patent for his revolver in Europe.
Sam Colt receives a patent for his revolver in the United States.
Britain has been emancipating slaves in its Cape Colony. Boers in the
colony dislike it. From 10,000 to 14,000 Boers begin their Great Trek
away from British rule and toward new lands to occupy.
Pope Gregory XVI bans railways in his Papal States, calling them "ways
of the devil."
Anglo Texans are defeated at the Alamo. They declare Texas independent
and go on to defeat Mexico's military forces.
The United States officially recognizes Texas as independent. Mexico
invites the US and France to participate in international patrols to
interdict slave ships. The US declines to participate.
(May) Sam Morse patents the telegraph.
A revolt by the French and some Anglos in Canada fails.
In the Japanese city of Osaka in the wake of the famine, rebellion and
fire destroy one-fourth of the city before the rebellion is crushed. At
Edo (now Tokyo), a US ship arrives to repatriate shipwrecked Japanese
sailors, to establish trade and land missionaries. The ship is fired
upon and driven away.
Cherokee Indians are forced off their farms and out of the homes and
sent on what will become known as the "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma.
In Britain this year, 58 children under the age of 13 have died in
mining accidents, and 64 between the ages of 13 and 18.
Building on a theory about geology by Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin
develops a theory of evolutionary selection and specialization.
Scientists have been debating about cells. Cellular regeneration (cells
dividing) is involved, and cell theory is on its way to being seen as
the fundamental unit of life.
In Britain, conservatives kill another reform package, and there are
riots in Wales and such cities as Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham.
In Britain, conservatives kill another reform package, and there are
riots in Wales and such cities as Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham.
The British fear Russian influence in Afghanistan and want "a
trustworthy ally" there - on India's western frontier. There they have
sent a force of 12,000 British and Indian troops, with elephants,
38,000 camels and a horde of followers, including families,
prostitutes, and sellers of opium, rum and tobacco.
The British have claimed lands in the valley of the Aroostook River, an
area claimed by the state of Maine. A land agent arrives from the US to
expel them. British lumberjacks seize him. Maine sends 10,000 troops to
the area. A British militia in New Brunswick is called up. Neither side
wants war and the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 is created,
establishing a recognized border dividing the area between the US and
US authorities take custody of a slave trading ship, the Amistad, a
Cuban schooner. It has 53 Africans on board who had taken control and
were trying to sail the ship back to Africa.
Charles Goodyear invents vulcanization, for making rubber.
Egyptians defeat the Ottoman Turks at the battle of Nisibin, near the
After a decade of anti-opium campaigns, China's government creates
tougher laws and seizes 20,000 chests of British opium. The party in
power in London, the Whigs, did not want to be accused of
failing to protect Britain's commercial interests. It sends a punitive
expedition, starting the first Anglo-Chinese war.
France becomes the first European power to recognize Texas as
independent of Mexico. Great Britain, Holland and Belgium do so months
Europe's four big powers, including Britain, force Egypt to relinquish
control over Syria. Britain occupies the port of Aden (in south Yemen)
to protect itself from the Egyptians.
Science applied to farming is described by Justus Liebig, in his
published work Chemistry in Its Application to Agriculture and
Physiology. This is to transform agriculture, and agriculture
is to make possible coming advances in industrialization.
The population of the United States has increased 36 percent in the
last ten years - from 13 to almost 18 million. Railway track has grown
from 100 to 3,500 miles. The US now has 1,200 cotton factories,
two-thirds of them in New England.
1841 to 1850
1841 Britain makes New Zealand a colony.
The US Supreme Court decides that the Africans who had been aboard the
ship Amistad are free to return to Africa, that they are not legally
The President of the Republic of Texas sends an army into New Mexico,
hoping to annex it and other territory, including California. A Mexican
force drives the invaders back to Texas.
Britain's political resident at Kabul is hacked to death and an
uprising in the city leaves 300 of a British detachment dead.
Naval guns have been firing unexploding cannonballs. A time-delay
mechanism invented by the French navy now allows exploding shells to be
fired safely by high-powered, flat trajectory guns. The navies of
Britain, the United States and Russia will have such guns before the
Fort Ross, in northern California
The Russians withdraw from Fort Ross in Northern California.
The British are forced to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Britain and France announce their recognition of the Hawaii Islands as
an independent state.
England outlaws gibbeting - displaying bodies of the executed for the
purpose of deterring crime - the last of this having occurred in 1832.
In the United States, Charles Thurber advances an effort that began in
the early 1700s in Britain. He invents a typewriter.
In New Zealand the Maori rebel.
In Australia, a "Protection of Children Act" allows Church missionaries
to kidnap aboriginal children in order to "civilize" them - a policy
that is to last to the 1960s. (aboriginal children australia)
The Congress of the United States approves the annexation of Texas.
Mexico breaks relations with the United States. President Polk sends
troops to Texas.
The faster shipment of potatoes from the Americas across the Atlantic
to Europe allows the survival of mold arriving with the potatoes. The
mold creates potato crop failures across Europe and starvation in
Poles in Krakow revolt against Russian rule. Austrian and Russian
troops enter Krakow and Austria annexes the city.
Pope Gregory XVI dies and is replaced by Pius IX, who deviates from
Gregory's policies by introducing railways and gas streetlights to the
Papal States. Gregory had thought them departures from God's
In India the British are appearing weak after their Afghanistan
debacle. A coalition of Sikhs attack the British. In three months of
fighting the British forces prevail and the Sikhs sign a treaty
obliging them to disband most of their military.
The ruler of Tunisia, Ahmad Bey, promulgates a decree that abolishes
slavery in his country. Black slaves had been tied to domestic work. No
other part of the economy was tied to or dependent upon slavery.
In the United States, Elias Howe invents a "lock-stitch" sewing machine.
A patient in Boston is given ether as an anesthetic, a revolution in
In Belgium, Adolphe Sax invents the saxaphone.
In Italy, Ascanio Soberero discovers how to make nitroglycerin.
Cholesterol is discovered in blood. It will be more than a hundred
years before it is a widespread concern.
10) Mexicans lose Los Angeles to the United States Marines.
The war in California is essentially over.
Members of the Donner Party are starving in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
in California, and they turn to cannibalism.
2) In London, dozens of working class rebels hold a meeting.
They are largely from Germany, driven to England by German and French
monarchical governments. Today they change their name from "The
League of the Just" to the "Communist League," and they change their
slogan from "All Men Are Brothers" to "Working Men of All Countries,
1847 (Jul 1)
Britain's parliament passes the "Ten Hours Bill," which limits to
sixty-three the hours of work per week for women and children.
26) Liberia becomes an independent republic.
Three years of fighting in Tahiti ends with the French crushing
Tahitian resistance to French domination.
(Feb 2) The war between Mexico and the United States ends with the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The United States wins recognition of its
possession of Alto California, New Mexico and Texas to the Rio Grande.
Mexico is given a guarantee of rights for the people who had been
living in these areas and loyal to Mexico.
(Feb 21) With Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx writes a theory of political
development contrary to those who claim that everyone within a society
have no fundamental conflicting interests. Marx sides with the
proletariat, which he believes is exploited by capitalists. The first
sentence of his little book reads: "The history of all hitherto
existing society is the history of class struggles." His little book is
The Communist Manifesto.
The economies of Europe have been suffering from a recent economic
downturn. In France and Germany there has been a longer range decline
in income as measured by what income can buy (real wages). Karl Marx is
going to use figures from such decline to theorize about capitalism
making working people more and more miserable and about capitalism's
decline and eventual overthrow.
In Milan there is taxation without representation. In January,
sixty-one people are killed protesting against a rise in taxes by
Austria's authorities. In January in Palermo, Sicily, people riot. In
February in Paris people go to the barricades. The monarchy quits and
the Second Republic is born. Revolution in Paris inspires uprisings in
Germany and Austria. And Hungarians demand independence.
In the summer, economic recovery begins across Europe.
Revolutionaries in Paris, upset by elections that did not go in their
favor, stage another uprising, and they are crushed. The middle class
in Germany joins the aristocracy against disorder, and revolution there
is crushed. The political left in Vienna has alienated the liberal
center and reaction there replaces revolution. Austria
crushes Czech and Italian nationalism. With help from Russia, Austria
crushes Hungarian resistance to its rule.
Switzerland's civil war ends. Federalism and unity win against the
separatism wanted by the Catholic Church and Austria.
A gold rush begins in Central California.
At a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, a call is
made for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting
rights for women.
In the Hawaiian Islands until now land has not been privately owned.
This changes with the great Mahele (land division). Ownership of land
in the Hawaiian Islands is individualized, seen by Hawaii's leaders as
advantageous for Hawaiians as well as enabling foreigners to buy land.
An ancient human-like skull is discovered in a quarry on the island of
Gibraltar that in eight years will be identified as Neanderthal.
Karl Marx is ordered out of Paris and goes to London.
Conservative rule in Prussia is devoted to improving education and
science, seen there as contributing to the nation's power.
The British have defeated a second Sikh rising. The British formally
annex the Punjab and territory to Peshawar and the Khyber Pass.
In New York, Walter Hunt invents a safety pin. Poor sanitation in New
York City creates a cholera epidemic, killing 5,000 people, most of
them poor and Irish. Some believe the epidemic is God's punishment.
A Chinese Christian in China sees himself as the son of God ordered to
save the world. He has started a movement for sharing wealth, land
distribution and the Ten Commandments. He favors chastity and an end to
foot-binding for women and opposes opium smoking. He creates what is to
be known as the Taiping Rebellion. It sweeps across central-eastern
China, intending to drive away "Manchu demons" and rival
In Prussia, new freedoms won by peasants are maintained, and a decree
moves 640,000 peasants to free farming.
In the United States, Congress passes another Fugitive Slave Act, which
mandates government support for the capture of escaped slaves. Protests
occur in the northern states.
In Britain the Public Libraries Act has passed.
Five percent of British ships are now powered by steam rather than sail.
1851 to 1860
Thousands rush to gold in Australia, including Chinese prospectors and
prospectors from California. There are tent cities with populations as
large as 40,000. Food growers have a greater market for their produce,
stimulating Australia's economy. An agricultural revolution is
beginning using a mechanical harvester, called Ridley's Stripper, that
had been invented in Australia.
In Siam, King Mongkut ascends the throne. He invites European diplomats
to his coronation. He becomes known for speaking English, French and
Herman Melville's Moby-Dick has been published. He would like to see
people lower their conceit and look for happiness and meaning in the
small things that make a life well-lived. (See "Navigating Past
Nihilism," New York Times, Dec 5, 2010)
The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. In the South complaints arise
that the novel is exaggeration. In the South, owning a copy of the book
is made illegal.
The British arrive in lower Burma and bring opium from India for sale
to the Burmese.
In the United States, Francis Wolle invents and patents a machine that
makes paper bags.
Britain recognizes the right of Boers to administer their own affairs
beyond its Cape Colony border so long as the Boers end slavery.
Louis-Napoleon (Bonaparte's nephew), President of France's Second
Republic, has consolidated conservative support and dissolves
parliament. He crushes an uprising, establishes a dictatorship and
holds a plebiscite to justify his move. Peasants and the religiously
devout give him the votes he wants.
Louis-Napoleon is declared Emperor Napoleon III. He would
like to create a dynasty. France is no longer a republic. It is called
the Second Empire.
The Frenchman Joseph Gobineau has two volumes of his work published, a
work about the fall of civilizations that he believes is based on
science. Degeneration he claims came with conquerors mixing with those
they had conquered, polluting the purity of the conquerors' race. Jews
he holds had once been biologically pure but they had become
"bestialized" and a threat by having mixed with Africans.
Commodore Matthew Perry arrives in Japan with 967 men on four ships,
including two steam-powered vessels, which intimidates the Japanese. He
demands that Japan open its ports to trade with the United States. He
declares that he will return the following year to receive Japan's
Tsar Nicholas I of Russia goes to war against the Ottoman Turks over
what he sees as his right to defend Orthodox Christians in Turkey and
in Jerusalem (then under the authority of the Ottoman Empire).
The Japanese government signs a treaty with the United States that
offers "peace and friendship," the opening to two ports (Shimoda and
Hakodate), help for US ships wrecked off Japan's coast, protection for
shipwrecked persons, and permission for US ships to buy provisions.
In London, construction of the Clock Tower (Big Ben) is finished.
Urbanization and the new industrial age have been producing a new era
of tick, tick, tick.
a network of abolitionist Quakers, Unitarians, Transcendentalists and
Underground Railroad organizers. This vanguard of whites and blacks
embraced nonviolent civil disobedience, the philosophy of ...Theodore
Imperial Britain and France are afraid of Russian expansion. At a
Turkish port on the Black Sea, the Russian navy, using exploding shells
for the first time, sets a Turkish fleet afire. The British respond
with horror to the devastation. The British declare war, and Queen
Victoria writes of "the great sinfulness" of Russia having "brought
about this War" - the Crimean War.
Pope Pius IX addresses a question about differences between Jesus
Christ and others. He proclaims the infallible doctrine of the
Immaculate Conception (virgin birth) of Jesus Christ, that Jesus was
born exempt from all stain of original sin.
Elisha Graves Otis has invented an elevator brake and has started a
company to manufacture elevators that will hoist freight. He
demonstrates the elevator at the World's Fair in New York City.
The scientist John Snow had been claiming that cholera was carried in
water or food and could be ingested. Colleagues have dismissed his
idea. A cholera epidemic has broken out in London, in an area around a
water pump. Snow takes a sample of the water from the pump and through
a microscope finds it contaminated. He removes the pump's handle and
the cholera comes to a quick end.
Much of Japan's capital, Edo (Tokyo), is destroyed by earthquake,
tsunami and fire.
King Mongkut of Siam signs a trade agreement with Britain. He builds
roads, sets up printing presses, creates a currency and sets out to
Chicago adopts a plan for the first comprehensive city sewer in United
The first railway bridge across the Mississippi River is completed -
from Rock Island, Illinois, to three miles away at Davenport, Iowa.
Tsar Nicholas I of Russia dies. His son, Alexander II, makes
peace with Britain and France. The Crimean War ends. Russia's
humiliation inspires Alexander's desire for reform.
A ship owned by a Chinese, registered with the British in Hong Kong,
and docked at Guangzhou (Canton), is searched by Manchu government
agents looking for a notorious pirate. The British send an expedition
of ships seeking redress and are joined by the French, who want to
avenge the Manchu execution of a French missionary. There is also
dissatisfaction with Chinese compliance to agreements made at the end
of the first Opium War. The Second Opium War begins.
Elisha Graves Otis installs the first passenger-safe elevator in a
department store in New York City.
Giuseppe Garibaldi has been in New York for five years. He founds the
Italian National Association to fight for the unification of Italy.
In France, the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is partially
published. It is about a woman who has adulterous affairs and it
creates a scandal. Flaubert has to go to court to have the entire novel
The Supreme Court of the United States, in the Dred Scott case, rules
that African Americans, free or slave, are not citizens and have no
recourse in federal courts.
The Second Opium War ends. China is forced to pay Britain and France
indemnities and to open more ports. The opium trade is legalized.
Christians are to be allowed to proselytize and guaranteed protection,
and Westerners are to be allowed to hold property in China. Russia and
the United States rush in to gain benefit from the British and French
In Vietnam, a French and Spanish expedition seizes the port city of
Tourane (today Da Nang). The French are interested in ending Vietnamese
persecution of Christian missionaries and interested in trade.
In Vietnam, the French take over Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City.)
John Brown wants to begin a war for the liberation of all slaves in the
United States. An armed rising by him and his eighteen supporters is
crushed. Brown is tried, convicted and hanged.
Charles Darwin has been sitting on his Origin of the Species for 21
years. He has it published.
British scientist John Tyndall describes carbon dioxide (CO2) and water
vapor trapping heat in the atmosphere. And he suggests that change in
the concentration of gases could bring climate change.
The first successful oil well in the United States is drilled, in
Rabbits are brought to Australia, which will produce an ecology
Taiping rebels fail to take Shanghai, repelled by a force led by an
Englishman, Frederick Townsend Ward.
In the United States, George Crum has created what is to be known as
the potato chip. He opens his own restaurant, featuring potato chips in
a basket placed on every table.
J.J.E. Lenoir of France develops an internal, non-compression,
Jews in Britain are allowed to vote.
International trade has been increasing. World exports are 4.53 times
what they were in 1800.
A network of abolitionist Quakers, Unitarians, Transcendentalists and
Underground Railroad organizers have been practicing nonviolent civil
disobedience for about ten years (many decades before Gandhi's
non-violent civil disobendience). They have been working against the
capture of fugitive slaves. Prominent among them has been the Unitarian
Timeline: 1861 to 1870
Tsar Alexander II issues his proclamation emancipating Russia's serfs.
Abraham Lincoln takes office as the President of the United States. He
tries to reassure southern states, announcing that he does not intend
to interfere, directly or indirectly, with the institution of slavery.
But southern politicians have allowed themselves exaggerations and
panic. Some southern states proclaim secession. Shooting erupts in the
South over who will possess federal forts.
Whale oil has been the primary fuel for lamps. In Pennsylvania an oil
well has begun producing more than 3,000 barrels per day, and oil
refining has begun, producing an alternative fuel for lamps. In the US
Civil War, the Union is using whaling ships for naval blockades,
contributing to the decline in whaling.
China's Manchu emperor, Xianfeng, has been weakened by debauchery and
drugs and dies at the age of thirty. The son of his consort succeeds
him. The former consort, Cixi, becomes the boy's regent and acquires
the title Dowager Empress.
(Oct 24) Telegraphy connects the west coast of United States to the
east coast. Telegraphy is detaching communication from its dependency
on transportation. A communications revolution has been underway. It
brings an end to the Pony Express.
In Germany, workers making mirrors have lost all of their teeth. A
professor of medicine discovers they are victims of mercury poisoning.
His findings lead to government regulations requiring alternative
mirror making processes.
In Britain a government commission begins to investigate non-textile
industries employing children. Occupational diseases among children are
Prussia, the largest of the German states, a member of the landed
aristocracy, Otto von Bismarck, becomes minister-president.
Representing the king, he declares that his government is to rule
In the king's court in Siam, women being taught English by Christian
missionaries are turned off by their sermons. Anna Leonowens arrives in
Bangkok to teach English in their place. She is the English woman to be
depicted in The King and I.
The Frenchman Victor Hugo has his historical novel Les Misérables
published. It's about the rebellion in Paris that began in 1830 against
King Charles X. The book is serialized in ten installments and a best
seller across Europe and North America. Police are called in to control
impatient crowds at bookstores. Conservatives see it as a dangerous
work. Some see it as a manual for insurgency. Hugo favors revolution,
but contrary to Karl Marx he was trying to unite revolution and
religion. And unlike Marx (now in exile in London) who wants and end to
the ruling class (as a class), Hugo wants to inspire them to
humanitarianism and wants freedom and justice for all.
Miners have begun invading the Rocky Mountains and plains and clashing
with Indians. The Lakota Sioux massacre or capture almost 1,000 people
on the Minnesota frontier.
In the United States the first paper money is issued.
Thirty-eight Lakota Sioux are hanged before a crowd of angry whites in
the town of Mankato, Minnesota.
President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation becomes law.
Slavery ends in Dutch ruled Indonesia.
Cambodia become a French protectorate, with the approval of its king,
In Britain, legislators respond to air pollution from the chemical
industry by creating the Alkali Act for reducing hydrogen chloride
emissions during alkali production.
In London, the first underground (subway) passenger system opens.
The US civil war has cut Russia off from its primary source of cotton.
Cotton growing in Central Asia has become of greater importance to the
Russians, and Russia sends its military into Central Asia, where people
are sparse, largely tribal, economically undeveloped, and Muslim.
A devout Baptist, John D. Rockefeller, age 24, enters the oil refining
The Dutch in Java and Sumatra experiment with rubber cultivation.
An atronomer calculates the distance to the sun as 147 million
kilometers - short 2.6 million kilometers.
In China, the leader of the Taiping Rebellion, Hong Xiuchuan, proclaims
that God will defend his city, Tianjin (southeast of Beijing). When
government forces approach he swallows poison and dies. The monarchy
re-establishes control over most areas of China. The Taiping rebellion
is all but defeated.
A few hand-cranked Gatling guns, designed by Richard Gatling in 1861,
are in use in the US Civil War.
Miners have been invading Colorado Territory, dislocating and angering
Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. A Cheyenne-Arapaho war against whites has
erupted. An Indian chief of a band of Cheyenne and Arapaho has chosen
peace. They have settled temporarily at Sand Creek. A military
commander, Colonel Chivington, is intent on killing Indians and leads
700 men in a massacre at Sand Creek that includes women and children.
The US Civil War ends with General Robert E. Lee and his officers
surrendering their swords. President Lincoln is assassinated.
The Winnebago Indians have been removed from Iowa, Minnesota and that
part of Dakota Territory that is to be South Dakota. They are placed a
reservation in Nebraska.
The Central Pacific Railroad Company hires Chinese to work on the
In what today is Uzbekistan, Russians capture the city of Tashkent,
which is to become a Russian administrative center.
Over-reaction in crushing a rebellion in Jamaica produces an
investigation in England. The island's governor is widely condemned and
called to London. Some demand that he be tried for murder. He is
removed from office but a grand jury refuses to indict him.
In New Zealand, British regulars, white settlers and Maori loyalists
defeat another Maori rebellion.
In the Hawaiian Islands the first plantation workers have arrived,
eighty-five percent of them are from China (470 males and 52 females).
From Japan, 148 laborers have arrived.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is
A Russian student, acting alone, tries to assassinate Tsar Alexander
II. The government becomes hostile to all students. A new
minister of education takes charge of the universities and applies
1867 One in
five adult males in England and Wales can vote. Demonstrations erupt
across Britain. A demonstration in London's Hyde Park is banned by the
government, but the crowd is so huge that the government does not
attack. The Reform Act of 1867 is passed, extending the vote to those
individuals in whose name homes are owned or rented. This doubles the
number of males in Wales and England who can vote. Politicians must
account themselves to the increased electorate, but the upper classes
can better afford the increased campaigning, which helps conservative
The government of Tsar Alexander II is seeking consolidation of its
frontier. It sells Alaska to the United States.
The United States Congress abolishes peonage in the territory of New
In the United States, the Republican Party has gained more seats in
Congress, and Congress overrides President Andrew Johnson's veto of the
"Reconstruction Act." An army, including a black militia, is sent to
the South to enforce the law.
In Vienna, the Blue Danube Waltz, by Johann Strauss, premiers.
In the US, five all-black colleges are founded: Howard University in
Washington D.C., Morgan State College in Maryland, Talladega College in
Alabama, St. Augustine's College and Johnson C. Smith College
in North Carolina.
The Jesse James gang robs a bank in Savannah, Missouri, killing one
Dating trees by their annual rings begins.
In Sweden, Alfred Nobel finds that when nitroglycerin is combined with
an absorbent substance it becomes safer and more convenient to
manipulate. His mixture is patented as dynamite.
E. Remington and Sons, manufacturers of guns and sewing machines,
develop and manufacture the first commercial typewriter.
Crown Prince Mutsuhito, age 14, ascends the throne as Emperor Meiji.
Feudal lords and others have been conspiring against the Tokugawa rule.
A rallying cry is, "Honor the Emperor; expel the barbarian."
Despite the anti-barbarian slogan, US, British, French and Dutch forces
join against the shogunate, shelling coastal fortresses and sinking the
shogun's ships. Tokugawa rule is declared over. The capital, Edo, is
renamed Tokyo. The emperor rules nominally while civil war continues.
Attacks on foreigners continue, but people with influence and power do
not want to provoke intervention by the Western Powers and move to end
In the United States, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is
ratified. This overturns the Dred Scott case. It entitles all persons
born or naturalized in the United States to citizenship and equal
protection under the law. Civil rights are not extended to Indians or
anyone who has held office in the Confederacy.
George Custer and his Seventh Cavalry follow tracts of a small raiding
party to a Cheyenne village on the Washita River, in western Oklahoma,
within the borders of the Cheyenne reservation. There they slaughter
Black Kettle, his family and others of the Cheyenne tribe.
Reconstructed governments had been set up in Arkansas, Alabama,
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Tokugawa forces that have attempted to establish rule in Hokkaido are
defeated. Leaders of the military victory over the Tokugawa begin
associating Emperor Meiji with Shinto ideology. Shinto shrines are
common on Buddhist temple grounds, and, in an effort to free Shinto
from Buddhist domination, violence and the breaking of images is
committed against Buddhism. Buddhist temple lands are confiscated.
The transcontinental railroad is completed, ending six years of work.
Track from west and east meet in Utah.
The Suez Canal opens. It is largely French owned but eager for
international business. Access is promised ships from all nations, for
a fee. The canal is to reduce travel time between Europe and Asia.
Giuseppe Verdi has written an opera for the opening celebration -- Aida.
One-third of the population of Savu (in the Indonesian Archipelago) die
The Territory of Wyoming allows women to vote.
The Territory of Utah allows women to vote.
Pius IX convenes the First Vatican Council at which papal infallibility
is proclaimed on matters of faith and morals.
Diamond deposits have been discovered in southern Africa, at Kimberley
in the land of the Griqua, or Griqualand, on the northern frontier of
the British colony. Diamond diggers are rushing there - Africans,
whites from Europe, Australia and the Americas.
Australia now has a substantial number of Germans and Catholic Irish
who worshiped freely. The Irish have found Australia to be without the
oppressions they had known in Ireland.
In Pennsylvania a coal mine fire suffocates 179 men. The state responds
by passing mine safety laws.
Joseph Lister believes that microorganisms transmit disease. He reports
success in sterilizing tools used in surgery.
Bismarck believes that war will arouse nationalist fervor and serve to
unite the independent German states with Prussia. France opposes such
unity. Bismarck wants a showdown with France and tricks the French into
starting war. The Franco-Prussian War begins in July. In September the
Prussians defeat the French decisively at Sedan and capture the French
emperor, Napoleon III. The emperor is deposed. France's Second Empire
ends and Third Republic begins.
In Britain, France, Germany, Austria and in Scandinavian countries,
trade relative to population size has increased four to five times what
1871 to 1880
The war between Prussia and France officially ends with the Treaty of
Frankfurt. Bismarck's success has enhanced respect among Germans for
his authoritarianism as opposed to the liberalism of his critics.
Bavaria agrees to unify with Prussia. France cedes to Germany Alsace
and Lorraine, and it is not popular among the people there. French
forces crush the Paris Commune, and as many as 30,000 "Communards" and
innocent Parisians are summarily executed.
The Meiji government sends a few men to Europe and to the US, hoping to
secure abolition of the Unequal Treaties and to examine Western
technology, banking and agricultural techniques - the Iwakura Mission.
Life expectancy at birth in England has risen from 36 years in 1700 to
41 years. (Calculated in a study in the 1980s by the Cambridge Group
for the History of Population and Social Structure.)
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Charles Taze Russell begins what will
become the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Speaking to Union Leaders in Holland, Karl Marx speaks of the
possibility of victory for the working class through electoral
politics. He says, "We do not deny that there are countries
like England and America... where labour may attain its goal by
peaceful means." (18 September)
All former Confederate States have returned to the Union (the United
States). An Amnesty Act restores the vote to those whites in the South
who have been denied it.
Japan's mission to Europe and the United States returns hopeful that
Japan can catch up with the West in modernization. The Meiji government
declares religious freedom and ends Confucianism as official state
Russia's government orders students in Switzerland to return to Russia.
The returning students launch a "To the People" movement, which they
hope will revolutionize society.
1874 Germany is suffering a small pox epidemic. Vaccination
In the United States, barbed wire has been invented. It is sold to
farmers to keep passing herds of cattle off their land.
Billy the Kid's mother, a charming immigrant and hardworking immigrant
from Ireland, dies at 43 from tuberucolis in Silver City New Mexico,
Britain makes a colony of coastal territory 100 kilometers deep and 400
kilometers wide in what today is Ghana. During fighting there a British
commander has his troops wear brown jackets and khaki trousers rather
than the traditional red coats - a move toward camouflage.
In Canada the light bulb is invented. Thomas Edison buys the patent.
Britain has bought into part ownership of the Suez Canal enterprise.
Southern Africa has became the largest diamond producing area in the
Prospectors discover gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota, an area
that the US government has promised the Sioux would be theirs forever.
An attempt by Ottoman agents to collect taxes in Herzegovina leads to a
popular uprising, and the rebellion spreads to Bosnia.
Rebellion against Ottoman rule has spread to Bulgaria. A reformist
group in Turkey deposes Sultan Abd al-Aziz. Murad V becomes sultan but
is declared insane. Abd al-Hamid becomes sultan and he accepts the new
Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
In the former Confederate states, conservatives have gained power and
are running what they call "redeemed" governments. Some of these
governments are inventing ways to limit voting by blacks: complicated
ballot boxes, literacy tests and poll taxes.
The Russians have conquered all of Uzbekistan and occupy the northern
part of Kyrgyzstan.
German physician Robert Koch establishes a procedure that proves the
germ theory of disease and boosts microbiology and the identification
of microorganisms. Soon there will be a substantial shift among many
people from concern with the devil to concern with germs.
Colorado becomes a state. Sioux and Cheyenne warriors
annihilate Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and 210 or so of his
Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn River. White Americans are
outraged and demand retribution. The US government redraws Indian
A three-year-old Niño-caused drought has devastated India, China and
Brazil, causing as many as 30 million deaths from starvation and
Japan forces the Koreans to accept a trade agreement similar to
Commodore Perry's demands to the Japanese government back in 1853.
A punitive expedition under Colonel Nelson Miles defeats the Sioux and
Cheyenne. The Crow and Blackfoot Indians are ejected from their
reservations. In Colorado, holdings of the Ute Indians are confiscated
and opened to settlement. Gold is discovered on the Salmon River in
Idaho, and whites begin invading territory that was promised to the
peaceful Nez Perce Indians. War erupts, and the US Army defeats the Nez
The US economy has been on a down swing, and labor unrest has spread
across the country. Three million men, roughly 27 percent of the
working population are unemployed. In San Francisco there is bitterness
over wealthy people hiring Chinese. A popular orator, Denis Kearney, is
haranguing the crowds with his slogan, "The Chinese must go."
Thomas Edison develops the gramophone and phonograph.
The last of union troops are withdrawn from former Confederates states.
In Japan, agrarian and samurai revolts against government reforms have
been defeated militarily, the largest being the Satsuma Rebellion,
involving several thousand men. A society is founded similar to the Red
Cross. The fighting drains the national treasury and leads to inflation.
The British intend to protect the Boers (Afrikaners of Dutch, French
and German descent) from the Zulus and to repair the Boer Republic
financially. They suppose that a majority of Boers favor British rule
and they annex the republic.
Supporting their fellow Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, the
Russians are marching toward Constantinople.
The defeated Nez Perce nation is sent to a reservation in Oklahoma.
Sultan Abd al-Hamid has dismissed the new liberal constitution and
reformist politicians. The first attempt in modern times to graft
western political ideas onto Islamic society has failed. All opposition
is suppressed and all governmental power transferred to the Sultan's
The British fear Russia's expansion southward. The word jingoism is on
the way, rising from a popular song in Britain that begins: "We don't
want to fight, but by jingo if we do We've got the ships, we've got the
men and got the money too!"
European powers get together in Berlin to settle problems regarding
revolts and war against the Ottoman Empire. They create problems for
the future that will lead to the disastrous Great War of 1914. They
settle matters to some degree in accordance with national
determination, recognizing Bulgarian and Romanian independence and
giving independence to Montenegro and Serbia, but they also defer to
old fashioned empire: the Habsburg monarchy in Vienna is given approval
of its takeover in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vienna's army, carrying
symbols of Roman Catholicism, is crushing Orthodox Serb resistance.
Cyprus transfers from Ottoman to British control.
Fearing Russia's advances into Turkistan and Samarqand, the British
occupy Kabul. The "Second Afghan War" has begun.
Vera Zasulich, a member of the youthful radical group "Land and
Liberty," seeks revenge for the beating that one of her activist
friends has received in prison. She shoots and wounds the military
governor of St. Petersburg and is tried by a jury, which fails to
convict her. The government responds by ending jury trials for people
charged with politically motivated crimes. The government also steps up
its arrest and exile of persons suspected of supporting terrorism.
The British order the King of the Zulus, Cetshwayo, to disband his army
of four to six thousand. He refuses. The Zulus defeat the British at
Isandhwana, killing 800 British and capturing 1,000 rifles, with
With the help of Gatling guns, the British overpower the Zulus, at the
Battle of Ulundi. Queen Victoria urges "kind and generous treatment of
Cetshwayo," who is exiled to Cape Town. By now the hand-cranked Gatling
gun could fire 1,200 rounds per minute - 400 rounds per minute said to
be more reasonable.
A yellow-fever epidemic begins in New Orleans.
A territorial dispute between Bolivia and Chile erupts into war. The
prize is nitrate deposits. Chile makes war also against Peru.
In Constantinople, Turkish authorities forbid Armenian performances.
Interested in peace among Europe's powers, Bismarck joins his Germany
with Austria-Hungary in a defensive alliance.
St. Petersburg has its first significant strike by industrial workers.
After many failed attempts to assassinate Alexander II, radicals fail
again, blowing up the dining room at the tsar's palace, killing eleven
and wounding fifty-six. The tsar was late for dinner. Police arrest
many members of the radical group "Will of the People," almost
destroying the organization.
In Europe, the industrialization of food has begun with new technology
replacing the stone grinding of grains. The oil in flour will now
quickly turn rancid, so it is removed. The new flour is without
valuable nutrients, which is unknown to those processing the grains.
Vitamins will not be discovered until the 1930s.
John D. Rockefeller's empire controls 95 percent of US oil refining. In
less than eighty years, the whaling industry on the Pacific ocean has
The conservative British politician Benjamin Disraeli for the last six
years has been in his second run as Britain's Prime Minister. Many are
unhappy with his having raised taxes and unhappy about the cost of
military operations. Election results are not in his favor and he steps
The United States has a total of eleven college-level professors of
history. (Herbert J. Muller, Uses of the Past, p28.)
Timeline: 1881 to 1890
A member of the radical group, "Will of the People" assassinates Tsar
Alexander II. His son and successor, Alexander III, makes no
distinction between terrorists and political activists of the
non-violent variety. Censorship is tightened. Publishers and writers
with liberal ideas are harassed.
Austria-Hungary joins Germany's alliance with Russia, a move encouraged
by Bismarck, who hopes that Russia and Austria-Hungary will manage
their rivalry in the Balkans.
In the Transvaal, Boers (Afrikaners) rebel against British rule and
defeat the British at Majuba Hill. Britain's prime minister, Gladstone,
returns self-rule to the Boer Republic except for control of foreign
France declares Tunisia a protectorate.
Tennessee's legislature mandates racial segregation on railroads.
On July 2 the President of the United States, James Garfield, is shot
by a disgruntled office-seeker. Doctors repeatedly poke their fingers
into the bullet hole looking for the bullet, causing an infection.
Garfield dies on September 19.
Muhammad Ahmad leads a pan-Islamic rebellion amid cries for war against
infidels. He proclaims himself the Mahdi (Messiah) who is to rid the
world of evil.
In response to a nationalist revolt in Egypt against Ottoman rule,
Britain and France support the Ottoman sultan. A British army defeats
an Egyptian force at the Battle of Tell al-Kabir. Britain is concerned
about the Suez Canal, and Queen Victoria wants to protect Christians in
Egypt. Exercising her power to consult with and advise her government,
she favors keeping troops in Egypt.
Massachusetts passes a pure food law.
The Chinese Exclusion Act passed by the US Congress goes into effect.
In Appleton, Wisconsin, a hydroelectric power plant begins operation.
Alexander III believes that Jews are the killers of Christ. Pogroms
against Jews have been spreading across Russia's empire. They are being
expelled from Moscow and are fleeing the empire.
German physician Robert Koch discovers the rod-shaped bacterium that
Robert Koch discovers the rod-shaped bacterium that causes cholera.
Bismarck introduces a state heath insurance law.
Karl Marx dies, John Maynard Keynes and Benito Mussolini are born.
The Ottoman sultan, Abd al-Hamid II, has his former prime minister,
Midhat Pasha, strangled.
The Orient Express railway opens between Constantinople and Baghdad.
After five years of war - the "War of the Pacific" with Chile against
Peru and Bolivia - a peace treaty leaves Bolivia landlocked.
France incorporates Vietnam into its empire. In Africa, France occupies
In Uganda, Christians object to the King Mwanga's homosexual relations
with young boys and men who serve him as pages and attendants. Mwanga
has numerous Christians put to death, some by burning. Christians arm
themselves and ally with local Muslims in a civil war against Mwanga.
Britain proclaims a protectorate over the southern coast of New Guinea
and adjacent islands. The Germans turn northeastern New Guinea into a
colony. The Germans are trading in copra and coconut oil.
In Africa, Germany declares Togoland, Cameroon and Southwest Africa as
protectorates. The British feel their interests threatened.
In the United States an insurance salesman, Lewis E. Waterman, creates
a fountain pen that is not supposed to leak.
Britain sends a force to the Sudan to supervise an Egyptian withdrawal
from Khartoum, and the force takes charge of 2,500 women, children,
sick and wounded. Muhammad Ahmad's force surrounds them. The British
government's rejects a request for military help from a Sudanese slave
trader and warlord.
After ten months, Muhammad Ahmad overruns the British force in
Khartoum. Its leader, Charles Gordon, is killed.
With help from the British, who are involved in neighboring Sudan,
Italy takes from the Egyptians control over what today is Eritrea.
European powers meet in Berlin and make agreements concerning Africa.
They give King Leopold of Belgium control of the Congo. Germany
acquires what is today Tanzania as a protectorate. Britain annexes what
today is Botswana and approves Germany's position in Southwest Africa
and the interior of Cameroon. France is colonizing Central Africa and
establishes a little colony on the northern tip of Madagascar.
Germany buys some of the Marshall Islands from Spain, a transaction
mediated by Pope Leo XIII.
In Germany, Karl Benz develops an internal combustion engine. It can
run at 250 revolutions per minute.
A bicycle with a diamond-shaped frame and a chain drive to the rear
wheel is exhibited in London.
Britain and Germany agree on a boundary between German East Africa and
Rhodesia. Germany recognizes Britain's claim to Zanzibar.
Gold is discovered in the Transvaal - Boer territory.
In Germany, Heinrich Hertz uses sparks to send a radio signal.
After a four-year effort, American troops capture the Apache chieftain
The Interstate Commerce Act is made law. Financier-industrialist J.P.
Morgan believes that some order is needed in commerce and he helps
enforce the act.
Ethiopians are fighting Italy's attempt at colonization. The Italians
remain in Eritrea.
The Yellow River bursts its banks, and the flooding kills 900,000
George Eastman invents the Kodak camera, making it easy for
non-professionals to take photographs.
In London, five prostitutes who ate poisoned grapes have been
disemboweled. The murders are attributed to Jack the Ripper.
The German Emperor dies. His son, Friederich III, dies of throat cancer
after reigning 99 days. Friederich's son, Wilhelm II, son of Queen
Victoria's politically liberal daughter, Vicki, becomes emperor.
Slavery officially ends in Brazil. Compensation is paid to the slave
Brazil overthrows its monarchy and becomes a republic.
Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture is first performed.
The Ivory Coast becomes a French protectorate, and the English and
French agree on spheres of influence on the Gold Coast and on the
Senegal and Gambia rivers.
In a small town in Austria, Braunau, by the River Inn, which borders
Germany, Adolf Hitler is born, to a mother who is a normally good woman
and of humble origins. (baby picture)
John Muir campaigns to save Yosemite Valley in California from
North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington become states.
Idaho becomes the 43rd state. Denial of statehood to Wyoming because it
allows women to vote is overcome. Wyoming becomes the 44th state.
The US Congress creates Yosemite National Park.
In Constantinople, Armenians in the district of Gum-Gapu protest, and
authorities crush the demonstration with bloodshed.
An Indian named Wovoka foresees a messiah rescuing Indians and killing
all whites. Acceptance of the vision spreads and is associated with a
"ghost dance." Without foundation, whites fear that Sitting Bull, now
an old man, will lead a rebellion, and Sitting Bull is shot and killed.
About 500 US soldiers massacre 300 or so men, women and children at
Forty-five percent of the work force in the United States lives in
cities. The South is abandoning its dependence on cotton growing.
Mississippi creates a poll tax, literacy tests and other measures to
prevent blacks from voting.
Vincent Van Gogh commits suicide.
For the sake of popularity, Wilhelm II does not renew Bismarck's
anti-socialist legislation. As Wilhelm desired, Bismarck resigns.
in Europe have been in a down turn. British investors sell their US
stocks for needed money.
Timeline: 1891 to 1900
Hawaii's King Kalakaua dies of kidney disease and is succeeded by his
brilliant sister, Liliuokalani.
In West Africa, the French invade the Mandinka Empire, employing
artillery and machine guns. The Mandinka ruler, Samoie Touré, resorts
to a scorched earth policy and shifts his empire to the east.
In the United States, W. L. Judson develops a zipper.
Germany's Social Democratic Party advocates a variety of reforms: the
8-hour day; prohibition of child labor under the age of 14; government
regulation of working conditions; the abolition of laws that restrict
the right of people to assemble; direct suffrage by secret ballot; the
election of judges; an end to laws that put women at a disadvantage as
compared with men; a graduated income and property tax; free medical
attention; a people's militia for defense; secularized public
education; and no public money supporting religious institutions.
The German government initiates the first public old-age pension system.
Various Turkish intellectuals, including persons in the military, are
drawing inspiration from the West. In institutions of higher learning
secret societies have formed. Exiles called Young Turks meet in Geneva
to organize a nationalist movement against Sultan Hamid's rule. His
repressions are failing.
Journalist Ida B. Wells begins to investigate lynching of blacks after
three of her friends are lynched in Tennessee.
In Pennsylvania a bloody five-month strike fails at one of Andrew
Carnegie's steel mills.
In Russian ruled Poland, unrest among workers brings an attack sent by
authorities that kills 46.
The Sierra Club is founded, with 182 charter members. John Muir is
elected president. The club defeats an effort to reduce the boundaries
of Yosemite National Park.
Hawaii's Queen Liliuokalane is planning a constitution that will
deprive white businessmen and professionals of their power in
government, despite their not being Hawaiian citizens. She plans to
spread power to Hawaiian citizens. The US president, Benjamin Harrison,
moves for annexation of Hawaii. Liluokalane is overthrown by an armed
militia of whites. In March, Grover Cleveland becomes US President and
opposes annexation because the people of Hawaii do not favor it. But
the whites who overthrew Liliuokalane remain in power.
Laos becomes a French protectorate.
A mounted British column crosses the Umniati River into Matabeleland
(today Zimbabwe). They have rifles, two 7-pounder field guns and a
number of Maxim machine guns. Six thousand Ndebele warriors attack the
British encampment. Hundreds of Ndebele die. Less than 10 members of
the British column are killed or wounded.
New Zealand is the first country to give women the vote in national
Colorado becomes the first state in US to allow women to vote in state
The US economy has benefited from the rising sale of agricultural
products to Europe, but Europe is in an economic contraction. In the
United States, what has been a booming economy plunges. The Reading
Railroad has collapsed financially. Hundreds of banks and businesses
dependent upon the Reading and other railroads have failed. Gold is
being exported to Europe. Money in circulation declines. Agricultural
depression spreads in the West and South of the United States.
Unemployment jumps from three percent in 1892 to between 8 and 12
In the United States, unemployment jumps to between 12 and 18.4 percent.
Alexander III dies of kidney disease. His eldest son, at 26, is crowned
Tsar Nicholas II. His main interest is devotion to God and an
undisturbed family life. A few days after his coronation, trinkets and
such are presented to the masses as presents from the tsar. Surging
forward to the gifts in an open field, more than a thousand people are
trampled to death. Nicholas visits churches, venerating saints, and
where he appears, devout Russians follow the custom of falling to their
knees at the sight of him and his entourage - a moment of silence
usually followed by roaring cheers.
Dahomey becomes a French colony.
Korea's king calls for help from China to suppress riots. Opposed to
China's influence in Korea, Japan sends troops and takes control of
Korea. Japan's military moves north from Korea into Manchuria, and they
move eastward to Port Arthur.
Captain Alfred Dreyfus is falsely accused of passing military
information to German agents and is sent to Devil's Island. Rightwing
haters of the Republic and its secularism associate the treason of
Dreyfus, a Jew, with government malfeasance.
An antiquated military force from Manchu China is overwhelmed by
Japan's more modern force.
China signs the Treaty of Shimonoseki, ceding to Japan control over the
Liaodong peninsula to Port Arthur, ceding to Japan Taiwan, and
permitting Japanese to live in and trade with Chinese.
In Germany, Wilhelm Roentgen develops X-rays.
Friedrich Engels writes an introduction to Marx's The Class Struggles
in France. Engels says: "The time of surprise attacks, of revolutions
carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of
unconscious masses, is past."
Studies in Hysteria by Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud launch an Age of
In Russia the average male dies at 31.4 years-of-age and the average
woman at 33.3.
From Florida, Jose Marti and other exiles arrive in Cuba and start
another war for independence from Spain. Marti is killed but a
guerrilla war continues, the guerrillas outnumbered five to one by
The United States Supreme Court rules that "separate but equal" public
facilities for whites and blacks are legal.
The National Association of Colored Women is formed, bringing together
more than 100 black women's clubs.
Utah becomes the 45th state, and Idaho allows women to vote.
In Constantinople, Armenian nationalists attack the Ottoman Bank.
Authorities retaliate and 3,000 Armenians die.
The British are alarmed by the spread of French influence in southern
Sudan. Britain's military leader, Horatio Kitchener, leads an army into
Britain declares Ashanti (today Ghana) a protectorate.
At Adwa, in the far north of Ethiopia, Ethiopians defeat an Italian
army, saving themselves from colonial rule.
In Matabeleland, rebels kill more than 120 white settlers. A force of
500 whites assemble and end the rebellion.
In France the real spy in the Dreyfus Affair has been found, but the
French Army prefers to keep its mistake hidden and to maintain Dreyfus,
still on Devil's Island, as guilty.
The novelist Émile Zola denounces the French General Staff regarding
the Dreyfus Affair. Zola is prosecuted for libel and flees to England.
Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist from Hungary, has been disturbed by
the anti-Semitism connected with the Dreyfus Affair. He organizes and
holds the first Zionist Congress.
forces occupy and start to build a naval base at TsingDao (QingDao)
following the murder of two German missionaries. This provokes a
European and American rush for concessions in China.
In Cuba, Spain has a "Reconstruction Policy," trying to separate the
rural population and the guerrillas. Hundreds of thousands of
Cubans have been herded into camps, which are disease-ridden and where
malnourishment spreads. A total of 321,934 people will be counted as
having perished under the Reconstruction Policy. Hostility by
newspapers and the public in the United States against Spain rises
The first subway (underground) passenger system in the United States
opens in Boston Massachusetts.
Spain fails militarily and grants limited autonomy to Cuba. The
battleship USS. Maine is sent on a "courtesy" visit to Havana with
words of friendship to Spain, which sends a naval ship to New York in
exchange. The Maine blows up in Cuba's Havana harbor, killing 266.
Spain's government is blamed. Spain denies the charge. President
McKinley gives into passions, goes before Congress, asks and receives
authority to send troops to Cuba. Spain refuses an ultimatum and the US
declares war. On May 1, the US Navy, at the Battle of Manila Bay,
defeats a Spanish squadron. On June 10, US Marines land at Guantanamo.
On July 1 the Battle of San Juan Hill takes place, with 1,200 US and
593 Spanish casualties.
In June, Congress passes a resolution that annexes Hawaii. In July,
President McKinley signs it into law.
Spain sues for peace. A formal peace treaty is signed in Paris in
December. The United States acquires all of Spain's colonies, including
the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. Cuba is recognized as
Britain obtains a 99-year lease of Hong Kong from the Chinese.
In China and India the bubonic plague begins to kill what will
eventually be three million people.
A force of 8,200 British and 17,600 Sudanese troops under
British command win against more numerous Dervish warriors at the
Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan, near Khartoum. The British lose 48
dead. An estimated 5,000 Dervish are taken prisoner and 10,000 are
Flashbulb photography begins.
A gold rush is on in Canada's Yukon Territory.
A book by a Polish financier, Ivan Bloch, is widely distributed in
Europe that predicts the kind of warfare to be fought in World War I.
Bloch describes warfare as no longer a solution to diplomatic problems.
The United States refuses to recognize the new republic in the
Philippines. Wanting Wake Island for a cable link to the Philippines,
the US claims the island. War erupts as two US privates fire upon and
kill three Filiopino soldiers on the outskirts of Manila.
Rudyard Kipling writes the poem "Take up the White Man's Burden," which
speaks of "new caught sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child."
British settlers have streamed into Boer country with the discovery of
gold there. The gold mines become British owned. Various British
colonial leaders want to annex the two Boer republics. War erupts, with
the Boers striking first.
Alfred Dreyfus is pardoned.
Valdermar Poulsen of Denmark develops the first tape recorder.
The boll weevil crosses the Rio Grande and begins to spread through US
cotton fields, damaging Southern cotton production and stimulating a
migration of blacks to the North.
Germany acquires islands in the northern Mariana and Caroline Islands.
A treaty is signed in Berlin recognizing Western Samoa as a German
colony, US control of American Samoa, and Britain as having power over
the Island of Tonga.
Tsar Nicholas II moves to tighten control over autonomous Finland,
and Finnish resistance to the Russian tsar's rule begins.
The McKinley administration hopes to build prosperity at home through
trade with China. It calls for equal trading rights among all powers in
all parts of China and for China's territorial integrity - a so-called
Open Door policy. It is ignored except that Russia and Japan voice
In China angry men take up terrorism. They are known as Boxers. More
than terrorists, they are nationalists. In the streets that display
slogans such as "protect the country and destroy the foreigner." At
least half of them are youths, and they have religious fervor. They
fear magic created by the Christians. They attack and kill Christian
missionaries and Chinese converts to Christianity. Rather than being
viewed as rebels, they have government approval.
The US, Japan and European nations send military forces to China to
rescue people and to put down what the West calls the Boxer Rebellion.
Filled with vengeful wrath, troops move through Beijing, attacking
those they believe are Boxers. They injure and pillage the property of
Unemployment in the United States is back down around 5 percent, close
to what it was in 1891.
Carry Nation and friends, with hatchets, cross Kansas, smashing glass
Another Anglo-Asante war erupts in what today is Ghana. Asanti warriors
abandon skirmishing for frontal attacks against British
In the United States, the Hawaiian Islands are deemed US Territory.
In the United States the paper clip is invented.
1.5 million telephones are in use in the United States, in a population
of 75.8 million.
In Britain the average male is dead at 51.5 years of age and the
average woman at 55.4. In France these figures are 45.4 and 50. In
Spain they are 41 and 42.5.
Germany leads the world in literacy. Germany is well supplied with
engineers, chemists, opticians, skilled workers for its factories,
skilled managers, knowledgeable farmers and skilled military personnel.
Literacy is said to be above 90 percent in Britain, France, Norway,
Sweden, and Australia; between 70 and 90 percent in the United States,
Canada and Japan; 78 percent in Italy; 50 to 70 in the Balkans; 30 to
50 percent range in Russia; and below 30 percent in China, India,
Africa and the Islamic countries.
World population is roughly 1.7 billion, up from about 1 billion in
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