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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Time Line of History
Piracy & Privateering, Maritime, Scottish, & Events

(updated 19 July 2023)
This time line is a work in progress. It incorporates events important to pirate history, as well as important historical happenings at sea, in Scotland, and around the world. Although pirates gave allegiance to no nation, they didn't work in a void. What happened on land could and did impact what happened at sea. Dates are divided into centuries first, then by year, and if the exact date is known, by month and day within that year.

Special thanks to Luis for his assistance in researching some of these dates.
Special thanks to those who have caught my errors and let me know.

Ahoy!Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19Ahoy!

Ship's wheelNational Maritime Day, May 22
Ship's wheel

Before the 1st Century               1st-3rd Centuries               4th & 5th Centuries               6th & 7th Centuries

8th Century               9th Century               10th Century               11th Century               12th Century

13th Century               14th Century               15th Century               16th Century               17th Century

18th Century               19th Century               20th Century               21st Century

19th Century
Zheng Yi marries a prostitute, who becomes known as Zheng Yi Sao (Cheng I Sao). He also inherits his father's pirate fleet and blockades the Portuguese port of Macao.

Quasi-War between the United States and France ends.

President Thomas Jefferson sends the US Navy to blockade Tripoli.

January 1: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland becomes the official name of Britain per the Acts of Union passed by Parliament the previous summer.

February 26: Yusuf Karamanli, pasha of Tripoli, declares war on the United States, which becomes known as the First Barbary War (Tripolitan War). It is also the first war that the United States fights on foreign territory and ends in 1805.

April 2: The Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Horatio Nelson, defeats the Danish fleet after Nelson "turns a blind eye" to Admiral Sir Hyde Parker's signal command to cease fighting. The engagement is known as the Battle of Copenhagen.

June 10: Tripoli declares war on the United States, after the infant country refuses to pay tribute.

July 7: Toussaint L'Ouverture declares Haiti independent.

January 29: John Beckley of Virginia becomes the first Librarian of Congress.

February 2: The first leopard is placed on exhibit in the United States. Bostonians can view the cat for twenty-five cents.

February 8: Samuel Willard receives a patent for the banjo clock.

March 16: The first United States Military Academy is established at West Point in an act of Congress.

March 25: The Treaty of Amiens (Peace of Amiens) temporarily ends hostilities between Britain and France.

May 3: Washington City is incorporated. It is the capital of the United States, and will eventually be known as Washington, DC.

June 15: The French ship Héros departs Haiti carrying a prisoner, Toussaint L'Ouverture.

July 4: The United States Military Academy opens in West Point, New York.

August 21: The West India Docks, for shipping to and from the Caribbean, opens in London.

August 25: Touissant L'Ouverture is imprisoned in France.

September 2: The British Royal Navy fires fire bombs and phosphorus rockets on Copenhagen to prevent Denmark from surrendering its fleet of ships to Napoleon Bonaparte.

April 30: Robert Livingston and James Monroe sign the treaty to purchase the Louisiana Territory from France for $15,000,000. The United States nearly doubles in size.

May 22: First public library in the United States opens in Connecticut.

August 9: The first horses arrive in Hawaii.

October 20: The US Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.

October 31: USS Philadelphia runs aground in Tripoli harbor and her commander, William Bainbridge, surrenders the ship. The 365 men aboard become prisoners, and the Tripolitans refloat the frigate for their own use.

December 20: United States assumes control of New Orleans, Louisiana. William C. C. Claiborne becomes governor of the Louisiana Territory.


January 1: Haiti becomes the first nation ever founded by former slaves and prohibits slavery when it declares its independence from France.

February 16: Lieutenant Stephen Decatur and a handful of volunteers sail into Tripoli harbor and blow up the captured USS Philadelphia.

March 4: Irish convicts stage what becomes known as the Castle Hill Uprising, Australia's first rebellion.

April : Zheng Yi (Cheng I) blockades the port of Macao for two months.

May 14: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark head west from Saint Louis, Missouri to map the new Louisiana Territory at the behest of Thomas Jefferson.

July 11: Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton fight a duel. Burr's shot wounds Hamilton, who dies the next day.

December 2: Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor of France.

Zheng Yi (Cheng I) and seven other leading pirates sign a confederation pact to impose law and order over unruly Chinese pirates. He divides this force into six fleets, each known by the color of the flag it flies.

January 30: London Dock opens to shipping. It covers 100 acres and can accommodate 500 vessels.

April 27: US Marines attack Tripoli.

June 5: Captain William Bainbridge and 292 officers and men of the USS Philadelphia are released from imprisonment in Tripoli.
June 5: "Tornado Alley" has its first recorded tornado. It occurs in southern Illinois.

June 10: Yussif Karamanli signs a treaty with the United States, bringing an end to the First Barbary War.

October 21: Naval fleets of France and Spain (a total of 33 ships), under the command of Admiral Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Silvestre de Villeneuve, battle the British fleet of 27 ships at the Battle of Trafalgar. 19 Franco-Spanish ships are lost or captured. Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson dies aboard HMS Victory. He is buried at St. Paul's Cathedral in London the following January.

November 19: Guided by Sacagewea, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reach the Pacific Oceans.

Cai Qian’s pirates are defeated by Qing army and local militia in China, but he escapes.

Zheng Yi attacks Guangdong.

Robert Fulton pens a manuscript entitled Submarine Navigation and Attack.

The British Admiralty rescinds its orders that sentences of a dozen or more lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails must be preceded by a court-martial.

Regulations and Instructions relating to His Majesty's Service at Sea are issued. These supercede those published in 1731. They require any chaplain who is appointed to serve on a ship must be of high moral character.

January 9: State funeral of Admiral Viscount Horatio Nelson. His body is interred in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

August 6: After 1,000 years, the Holy Roman Empire is officially ended.

October 7: Robert Wedgwood patents carbon paper in London.

November 21: Napoleon issues the Berlin Decree, which states that he intends to blockade Great Britain and forbids the importation of British goods into Europe, but he lacks the means to enforce it before the Fall of 1807.

Zheng Yi dies during storm at sea. His widow, Zheng Yi Sao, and Zhang Bao assume command of Chinese pirate confederation.

The Chinese pirate confederation’s Red Flag Fleet numbers 300 junks and 20,000 to 40,000 men.

February 19: Vice President Aaron Burr is arrested in Alabama on charges of treason. He is later acquitted.

March 2: The US Congress bans the importation of slaves.

March 25: Britain abolishes the slave trade with its colonies.

May 22: In Philadelphia, Townsend Speakman sells the first fruit-flavored carbonated drinks.

June 21: HMS Leopard hails the USS Chesapeake and demands that Captain James Barron permit the Royal Navy to board and search for deserters. After Barron refuses, Captain Salusbury Pryce Humphreys orders the firing of three broadsides on the Chesapeake, killing three and wounding 18. Barron surrenders, and the British seize four sailors aboard the American frigate. One of those taken is deserter Jenkin Ratford, who is hanged from the yardarm of a ship in Halifax. The other three are Americans, who are imprisoned; one of them dies. Five years pass before the other two return to the Chesapeake.

August 17: Clermont, Robert Fulton's steamboat, takes her first trip on the Hudson River.

September 1: Alexander Burr is acquitted of charges of plotting to set up an empire.

November 11: The British Orders in Council require all neutral shipping to pass through British ports, where the vessels must obtain a license and pay duty on the cargo before preceding to any European port controlled by Napoleon. Any neutral vessel failing to adhere to this edict is subject to seizure.

November 27: With Napoleon's army invading Portugal, the Portuguese royal family and court (nearly 15,000 people) depart Lisbon for Brazil.

December 22: Congress passes the Embargo Act, which prohibits all exports to foreign ports. Foreign ships may still put in at American ports, but when they set sail, their cargo holds must be empty.

France invades Spain.

February 11: Anthracite coal is experimentally burned as fuel for the first time. The test occurs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

March 23: Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother, ascends the Spanish throne.

The Chinese pirate confederation disbands.

British forces (based in India) destroy the pirate stronghold at Ras al-Khaimah.

March 1: Congress repeals the Embargo Act of 1807. The Non-Intercourse Act, prohibiting American ships from trading with Britain and France, is instituted.

April: Governor-General Bai Ling institutes the ancient strategy known as “extermination and appeasement” (military campaigns plus amnesty and rewards) to pirates who surrender in China.

June 10: An American steamboat leaves New York for Philadelphia, making this the first ocean voyage of a steamboat for the United States.

September 13: Ned Jordan and others take control of the Three Sisters and become pirates.

September 21: Zheng Yi Sao (Cheng I Sao) captures seven British seamen, including Richard Glasspole, who later writes of his experiences during his captivity.

October: Cai Qian dies during a battle with the Chinese imperial navy.

November 24: Ned Jordan hangs.

December 30: Boston, Massachusetts forbids the wearing of masks at balls.

Jean Laffite becomes leader of the Baratarians.

February: The Chinese government offers pirates amnesty.

April: Zheng Yi Sao and Zhang Bao, with over 17,000 pirates, surrender.

September 16: Father Miguel Hidalgo Y Costilla sparks a revolt in Mexico when he calls for the end of Spanish rule, equality for all, and redistribution of the land.

October 1: The first Oktoberfest is celebrated in Munich, Germany as a horse race in honor of the crown prince's marriage.

December 22: HM Frigate Minotaur sinks. All 480 aboard die.

January 10: Slaves rebel in Louisiana.

February 5: After King George III is deemed insane, his son George is appointed Prince-Regent. He will become George IV upon his father's death in 1820.

March 1: King Muhammed Ali Pasha of Egypt presides over the ceremonial murder of 500 people.

May 11: British Prime Minister Spencer Percival is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons.

July 5: Venezuela becomes the first republic in Spanish America.

November 7: Battle of Tippecanoe, which will push Tecumseh and his followers to ally with the British in the upcoming War of 1812. William Henry Harrison destroys Prophet's Town.

November 11: Cartagena declares its independence from Spain.

December 16: An earthquake hits New Madrid, Missouri, causing widespread damage.

The Order in Council brings sweeping changes to naval chaplains' status and financial arrangements in the Royal Navy. This edict becomes known as the "Chaplain's Charter."

February 7: A third earthquake along the New Madrid Fault becomes one of the largest earthquakes in American history.

March 26: An earthquake destroys 90% of Caracas, Venezuela. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people die.

May 1: Congress reopens trade with Great Britain and France.

May 11: Prime Minister Perceval of Great Britain is assassinated.

June: 18:The United States declares war on Great Britain. It is the closest vote on a formal declaration of war in American history. Members in the House of Representatives vote 79 to 49 for war, while the Senate votes 19 to 13.

June 22: Rioting begins in Baltimore, Maryland and will continue through 4 August.

June 23: USS President engages HMS Belvidera in the opening naval battle of the War of 1812.

June 24: When the French army crosses the Neman Rivar, Napoleon invades Russia. The Grande Armée numbers 600,000 men, but battle casualties, disease, and desertion will reduce that number to at most 100,000 soldiers when they enter Moscow three months later on 14 September. They find the capital abandoned and burned. Unable to find sufficient shelter and food for the winter, the army retreats on 19 October. When it reaches Poland on 14 December, only about 10,000 remain alive.

July 17: The British capture Fort Michilimackinac on Lake Huron from the Americans.

July 22: During the Peninsular War, the duke of Wellington defeats "40,000 Frenchmen in 40 minutes" at the Battle of Salamanca in Spain.

August 13: Under the command of Captain David Porter, USS Essex captures HMS Alert, the first ship captured by the Americans during the War of 1812.

August 15: Potawatomi lays siege to Fort Dearborn. Captain William Hull evacuates, but most of the Americans are killed or captured within a few hours. Three days later Hull surrenders Fort Detroit to Major-General Isaac Brock. Having surrendered without a fight, Hull is brought before a court-martial and sentenced to death. He receives a presidential pardon instead.

August 19: In an engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia, USS Constitution defeats HMS Guerrière and earns the nickname "Old Ironsides" when British shot bounces off the American ship's hull.

September 14: Great Fire of Moscow. Russians burn their city as they retreat from the approach of Napoleon and French forces. The city burns for five days. 75% of the city is destroyed and 12,000 die.

September 15: The French army arrives at the Kremlin in Moscow.

October 13: Britain declares war on the United States. The first major battle of the War of 1812, the Battle of Queenston Heights, is fought near Queenston, Ontario. The invading Americans eventually surrender to the British. During the battle, Major-General Isaac Brock, lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, is killed while leading a charge. American Lieutenant Colonel Winfield Scott is captured.

October 19: Napoleon retreats from Russia. At the time, the French army is starving. The retreat is disastrous, suffering harassment from the Russians. After forcing his way across the Studienka, Napoleon burns the makeshift bridges, an act that strands around 10,000 stragglers on the wrong side of the river. When the army finally escapes Russia on 14 December, it has lost more than 400,000 men during the invasion.

October 19: The French Army begins its withdrawal from Russia. The disastrous retreat will last until December 14.

October 22: Joshua Barney, aboard the privateer schooner Rossie, returns to Baltimore after capturing 18 British vessels valued at $1.5 million since his departure from the port in July.

December 14: Napoleon's invasion of Russia ends. As many as 530,000 French soldiers die during the totality of this invasion.

December 20: Publication of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Grimms' Fairy Tales

December 26: The Lordships of the British Admiralty call for "a complete and vigorous Blockade" of the United States.

December 29: After a three-hour battle, USS Constitution captures HMS Java off Brazil. The American commander is Captain William Bainbridge.

John Barss, Jr., commander of the privateer Liverpool Packet, is captured.

January 21: Pineapple is introduced to Hawaii.

February 6: Great Britain proclaims a blockade of Delaware and Chesapeake Bays.

March 3: Congress passes the Foreign Seamen's Act, which stipulates that once the war ends, all foreigners will no longer be permitted to serve aboard any American ship. Congress also authorizes any citizen to attack an armed British vessel without a privateering commission; if a person sinks a British vessel, that person will be paid 1/2 of the ship's value.

March 15: USS Essex arrives at Valparaiso, Chile and becomes the first American warship to enter the Pacific.

April 27: American army and naval forces capture York, the provincial capital of Canada.

May 3: British Admiral Cockburn continues pillaging the Chesapeake and attacks Havre de Grace, Maryland.

May 26: Great Britain extends its blockade of the American coast to major ports in the middle and southern states.

May 29: The British attack the American naval base at Sackets Harbor, New York, but are turned back.

June 1: HMS Shannon defeats USS Chesapeake. Captain James Lawrence is fatally wounded. His dying command is "Don't give up the ship!"

June 21: Soldiers of the British, Portuguese, and Spanish armies rout the French at Vitoria, Spain, bringing an end to the Peninsular War, which began as a result of Napoleon's invasion of Portugal in 1808. The allies are led by General Arthur Wellesley, who will later become the Duke of Wellington.

August 10: British forces attack St. Michaels, Maryland.

August 27: The Battle of Dresden results in Napoleon's defeat of the Austrians.

August 30: Red Eagle (William Weatherford) leads the Red Sticks in an attack on Fort Mims on the Alabama River. 400 of the 500 people in the fort are massacred.

September 7: The Troy Post of New York uses "Uncle Sam" to refer to the United States for the first time.

September 10: Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry commands the American squadron on Lake Erie and captures an entire British squadron at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

October 5: Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, dies at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812. The British army and some 1,000 Indian allies are defeated by the the United States.

October 16-18: At the Battle of Leipzig 120,000 men are killed or wounded, nearly half of which are French. Napoleon retreats, but refuses to admit defeat.

October 23: The first plastic surgery is performed in England.

November 9: Major General Andrew Jackson attacks the Creeks at Talladega, Alabama. Jackson won't defeat the Creeks until his forces rout them at Horseshoe Bend, Alabama on 27-28 March 1814.

November 24: Governor William Claiborne of Louisiana issues a proclamation offering a $500 reward for the capture of Jean Laffite. Laffite counters with a $1,000 bounty for the governor's deliverance to Laffite at Barataria.

December 29: British troops set fire to Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812.

December 30: A British packet arrives in Annapolis, Maryland with a request to begin peace negotiations.

February 1: Lord Byron’s poem, "The Corsair," is published. 10,000 copies are sold on day one.

February 11: Norway becomes independent.

March 9: The Allies pass the Treaty of Chaumont, which pledges to return France to her prerevolutionary boundaries.

March 27: Andrew Jackson attacks and defeats the Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend.

March 28: Captain James Hillyar of HMS Phoebe leads the attack against the USS Essex under the command of Captain David Porter.

March 30: Paris, France surrenders to the Allies.

April 11: Napoleon Bonaparte abdicates unconditionally.

April 25: Great Britain extends its blockade of the American coast to include New England.

April 28: Napoleon is exiled to Elba. This frees British regulars and their officers to deploy to the United States and Canada.

May 30: European allies and France sign the 1st Treaty of Paris, suspending the Napoleonic Wars.

July 25: The Battle of Lundy's Lane thwarts the American's attempt to invade Canada during the War of 1812.

August 8: Peace negotiations between the United States and Great Britain begin in Ghent.

August 9: Andrew Jackson forces the Creeks to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which cedes 22,000,000 acres to the United States.

August 19: The British land at Benedict, Maryland under the command of Major-General Robert Ross.

August 24: After routing the American army at the Battle of Bladensburg, the British army marches into Washington City. They  torch the President's Mansion (White House), the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and other buildings. A hurricane or tornado also strikes the city, causing additional damage, but the rain douses the flames. The British evacuate the next day after burning more public buildings.

August 27: Thomas Boyle, captain of US privateer Chasseur, proclaims a blockade of Great Britain and Ireland.

September 3: HMS Sophie arrives at Barataria with a solicitation for Jean Laffite's help during the taking of New Orleans.

September 12: An American sniper kills Major-General Robert Ross at North Point, Maryland during an assault on Baltimore, Maryland.

September 13: British bombardment of Fort McHenry, Maryland. It lasts until 7:00 the next morning. Held aboard one of the British ships, Francis Scott Key pens "The Star-Spangled Banner," which will become America's National Anthem.

September 15: The British fleet arrives at the entrance to Mobile Bay.

September 16: An American force, under command of Commodore Daniel Patterson, raids Barataria. It ceases to be a base for Jean Laffite's smuggling operations.

September 26: A British squadron attacks and sinks the American privateer General Armstrong, under the command of Captain Samuel Chester Reid, in a neutral port in the Azores.

October: Privateer Chasseur of Baltimore returns to New York after capturing 18 ships during her first cruise.

October 1: News of the burning of Washington City reaches the peace negotiators in Ghent.

October 29: Robert Fulton's Demolgos, the world's first warship powered by steam, is launched at New York City.

November 1: Andrew Jackson attacks and occupies Pensacola, Florida, which belongs to the Spanish.

November 26: The British fleet departs Negril, Jamaica, for a planned attack on New Orleans, Louisiana.

December 1: Andrew Jackson arrives in New Orleans.

December 11-12: Admiral Cochrane's fleet of 55 ships arrives off the entrance of Lake Borgne.

December 16: Andrew Jackson declares martial law in New Orleans.

December 23: The first battle between the British and American armies begins with a night engagement on the Villeré plantation outside of New Orleans.

December 24: The Treaty of Ghent is signed in Belgium, but the War of 1812 won't officially end until both sides ratify the treaty.
December 24: General Edward Pakenham arrives to take command of the British army at New Orleans.

December 27: US Schooner Carolina blows up after being hit by a British bombardment during one of the engagements collectively known as the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

December 27: Great Britain ratifies the Treaty of Ghent.

January 1: Artillery duel between the British and American armies outside New Orleans

January 8: Jean Laffite and the Baratarians help the Americans defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Neither side is aware that the war is over. Major-General Sir Edward Pakenham, the Duke of Wellington's brother-in-law, is killed during the battle.

January 30: Thomas Jefferson sells his library of 6,500 volumes to reestablish the US Library of Congress after it was burned by the British the previous August.

February 6: President James Madison grants full pardons to Jean Laffite and his men for their assistance in Battle of New Orleans.

February 11: HMS Favorite arrives in New York City with the peace treaty.

February 17: The United States Senate ratifies the Treaty of Ghent and President James Madison signs it, officially ending the War of 1812.

February 23: President Madison asks Congress to declare war on Algiers because of the Barbary Corsairs attacks on American ships.

February 26: Napoleon escapes from Elba.

March 3: President Madison signs the declaration of war on Algiers.

March 13: Official news of the end of the War of 1812 reaches New Orleans.

March 20: Napoleon returns to Paris and begins his 100-day rule.

April 6: American prisoners of war at Dartmoor prison complain about poor conditions there. The British commandant orders his troops to fire on them, killing seven and wounding 54 others.

April 10: Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies erupts. It is one of the strongest volcanic eruptions in history. Approximately 71,000 people are killed and the eruption causes a global volcanic winter.

June 8: Thirty-nine German states unite under an Act of Confederation.

June 17: USS Constellation engages in battle with and defeats a corsair frigate, whose legendary captain, Haimdou Rais, dies in the engagement. This is the beginning of the Second Barbary War.

June 18: The Duke of Wellington defeats Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo in Belgium. 25,000 French die or are wounded in the battle. Another 9,000 are captured. About 23,000 of the Allies' forces are lost.

June 22: Napoleon abdicates for the second time.

June 28: A fleet of American naval vessels arrive in the Bay of Algiers. Commodore Stephen Decatur threatens to destroy the port unless Algiers agrees to peace and to cease attacking American ships. The Algerines capitulate two days later.

June 30: The last naval confrontation in the War of 1812 is fought between the Peacock and HMS Nautilus in the Indian Ocean. The Americans win.

July 15: Napoleon surrenders to Captain Frederick Maitland of HMS Bellerophon at Rochefort, France.

August 6: Commodore Stephen Decatur's flotilla of US navy ships forces an end to Barbary piracy by Tunis and Tripoli.

October 15: Napoleon arrives on St. Helena, where he will live in exile.

June 6: Ten inches of snow fall in New England. The phenomenon is part of what becomes known as the "year without a summer" after the volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia.

July: The United Provinces of the Rió de la Plata declare their independence from Spain.

July 2: The French frigate La Méduse runs aground off Cap Blanc on the west coast of Africa through her captain's (Duroy de Chaumereys) incompetence. Of the 419 passengers and crew aboard, 250 evacuate the ship using the six lifeboats. Seventeen who remain on the ship, but only three survive and are rescued two months later. 152 crew, soldiers, and 1 woman build and launch a raft that is poorly provisioned. Thirteen days later, only 15 survivors remain to be rescued. The rest die from starvation, rioting, madness, suicide, or cannibalism.

August 27: Lord Exmouth bombards Algiers, a refuge for Barbary pirates.

Jean Laffite returns to piracy and moves his base of operations to Galveston.

February 7: Baltimore becomes the first American city to illuminate streets with gas lamps. These are installed at Market and Lemon Streets (Baltimore and Holliday).

March 8: Creation of the New York Stock Exchange

November 25: The first sword swallower performs in the United States in New York City.

Hippolyte de Bouchard attacks California's coast.

January 1: The White House officially reopens following its destruction by the British in 1814.
January 1: A small publisher in London publishes Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. The author is listed as Anonymous, although her actual name is Mary Shelley.

February 12: Chile gains its independence from Spain.


The British establish a settlement at Singapore.

Simon Bolívar meets with others to forge a new nation called Gran Colombia, which is comprised of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru.

March 2: The first law dealing with immigration is passed in the United States.

August 16: The Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, England occurs when cavalry charges the demonstrators. Fifteen die and between 400 and 700 people are injured.

September 17: The first whaling ship reaches Hawaii.

The United States and Royal Navies begin to eradicate piracy in the Caribbean.

Fifty-two attacks of piracy in the Florida Straits are reported.

February 27: The USS Enterprise arrives in Galveston and orders Jean Laffite to leave. He does so by 7 May.

March 22: US Navy Commodore James Barron fatally wounds Commodore Stephen Decatur during a duel.

April 8: Discovery of the ancient Greek statue Venus de Milo on the island of Milos

May 11: HMS Beagle is launched.

November 20: Whale ship Essex is rammed by an eight-ton sperm whale and later sinks. At the time, the ship is 2,000 miles west of South America. This incident will inspire a famous scene in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, which is published 31 years later.

Mexico gains independence from Spain.

February 21: Nathaniel Gordon, master of the slave ship Erie, is hanged after being found guilty under the Piracy Law of 1820.

July 28: Peru declares its independence from Spain.

August 4: The first issue of the Saturday Evening Post is published.
August 4: Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, leader of a Russian expedition to Antarctica, returns to Kronstadt after becoming the first person to circumnavigate Antarctica.

August 24: Mexico gains its independence from Spain.

October: USS Enterprise captures 4 pirate ships off Cuba.

November 9: The first pharmacy college in the United States holds its first classes in Philadelphia.

November 9: Pierre Laffite dies from fever and wounds.

First recorded account of pirates forcing captives to walk the plank: The crew of the Emanuel make William Smith, master of the Blessing walk the plank.

The United States recognizes Gran Colombia and Mexico as independent countries.

Brazil declares its independence from Portugal.

February 13: Jean Laffite escapes from infirmary while a prisoner in Porto Principe.

June 9: Charles Graham of New York is granted a patent for false teeth made from porcelain.

November: During a battle with the Cuban pirate named Domingo, the captain of the USS Alligator is killed. The public is outraged and President Monroe orders the formation of the  “Mosquito Fleet” with Commodore David Porter, which is tasked with cruising Caribbean waters and the Gulf of Mexico in search of pirates.

The Mosquito Fleet begins patrolling the Caribbean with the intent to eradicate the pirates. The ships are based in Key West.

February: Ten pirates, captured by HMS Tyne, are hanged at Kingston’s Port at Royal Point.

April: Commodore David Porter defeats Cuban pirate Diabolito.

April 20: Gaceta de Colombia publishes an account of Jean Laffite's death on 5 February during a sea battle in the Gulf of Honduras.

December: President James Monroe announces the Monroe Doctrine. It essentially says that the Western Hemisphere remains off limits to European efforts to recolonize territories and that the United States will see any such attempt as a national threat. It is a bold foreign policy, even through the United States lacks the power to enforce it at this time.

December 23: Troy Sentinel publishes Clement Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas.

The United States recognizes the United Provinces and Brazil as independent countries.

February 4: J. W. Goodrich introduces rubber galoshes.

August 15: Freed American slaves establish Liberia.

January 18: Ezra Daggett and Thomas Kensett receive a patent for a process that allows food to be stored in tin cans.

February 5: The first detachable shirt collar is invented by Hannah Lord Montague of New York.

February 12: The Creeks sign a treaty with the US government that requires the tribe to turn over all their land in Georgia to the government prior to migrating west by 1 September of the next year.

March 2: USS Grampus battles El Mosquito, the schooner of pirate Roberto Cofresi. The pirate vessel is disabled, but Cofresi and his men escape ashore where they are eventually captured by local authorities.

March 29: A firing squad executes Roberto Cofresi and his men.

October 26: Official opening of the Erie Canal after eight years of construction. It connects the Great Lakes and New York City.


July 4: Thomas Jefferson dies around noon on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. His friend, John Adams, dies several hours later believing that Jefferson is still alive.

October 7: Granite Railway, the first chartered railroad in the United States, begins operating.

November 27: John Walker of England invents the friction match.

Benito de Soto leads a mutiny aboard an Argentinean slaver and goes on the account.

February 27: New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras for the first time. Participants (students) wear masks and costumes.

The U.S. erects a lighthouse on Smith Island at Cape Charles, the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.

February 18: A storm strikes Gibraltar and destroys more than 100 vessels.

February 19: Benito de Soto attacks the Morning Star. Several crew members are killed, women passengers are raped, and the survivors are locked in the ship’s hold before the pirates set fire to the ship. The crew escapes and the survivors are rescued by a British merchantman. Benito de Soto will later be captured and hanged as a pirate.

April 14: Noah Webster publishes An American Dictionary of the English Language.

April 27: The London Zoo opens in Regent's Park.

June 13: Simon Bolivar is proclaimed dictator.

Lloyds of London removes the special tariff for ships sailing to and from the Caribbean, signalling that piracy is virtually eradicated in these waters.

March 16: Ohio authorizes the first night classes for those wanting to graduate from high school.

March 17: Joseph Grimaldi, a famous clown, delivers his final performance.

June 27: James Smithson, an English scientist dies. In his will, he leaves his estate to his nephew, but should his nephew die without issue, the the entirety of the estate goes to the United States with the express purpose of establishing the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, to increase and disseminate knowledge. His nephew dies a year later and six years after that Congress accepts the gift. The Smithsonian Institute is established on 10 August 1846.September 25: An assassin fails to kill Simon Bolívar.

September 29: London's Metropolitan Police, better known as Scotland Yard, is founded.

December 4: Britain outlaws the custom of "suttee" (widow burning herself to death on husband's funeral pyre) in India.

December 29: With the exception of Benito de Soto, the convicted pirates who attacked the Morning Star are hanged in Cadiz.

January 25: Benito de Soto, the leader of the pirates who attacked the Morning Star, is executed at Gibraltar.

April 6: Joseph Smith forms the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

May 3: Regular passenger service on a steam train begins.

June 13: French forces lay siege to Algiers. Hassan Bashaw surrenders on 4 July and is exiled. Algiers becomes part of France's colonial empire, thus ending more than two centuries of state-sponsored piracy.

August 2: Charles X of France abdicates during the July Revolution.

August 28: Tom Thumb, the first American locomotive, participates in a race against a horse-drawn vehicle from the Stockton & Stokes Stagecoach Company. The race begins in Baltimore and ends in Ellicott Mills, Maryland. The horse wins, but only because of a mechanical breakdown of the rail car.

November 24: Charles Gibbs and others kill the captain and first mate of the Vineyard and go on the account.

December 16: George Davis and William Watts are hanged at Execution Dock, Wapping. Their hangings are the last to take place there.

March 9: King Louis-Philippe founds the French Foreign Legion to help control French colonies in Africa.

April 22: Charles Gibbs is executed for mutiny, murder, and piracy on Ellis Island.

May 27: Jedediah Smith, a trapper and explorer of the West, is slain by Comanche hunters.

August 21: Nat Turner, a former slave, leads an uprising against slavery. 60 people die before a 3,000-man militia stops it. The hysteria that accompanies the uprising also leads to the death of many innocent slaves.

November 11: Nat Turner is hanged in Virginia for leading an insurrection of enslaved.

December 27: HMS Beagle sets sail from London to survey around South America. Among the passengers is Charles Darwin.

September 20: Pedro Gilbert attacks the American brig Mexican. The pirates torture the master until he reveals where he hid $2,000 before locking the prisoners in the ship and setting it afire. One seaman escapes and frees the others.

November 14: New York City's first horse-drawn streetcar begins operation, carrying passengers along 4th Avenue between Prince and 14th Streets for 12 cents.

November 28: Irreconcilable differences between President Andrew Jackson and Vice-President John C. Calhoun lead Calhoun to tender his resignation. He becomes the first vice-president to resign.

June 6: Andrew Jackson becomes the first president to ride a railroad train. He boards in Ellicott Mills, Maryland and travels to Baltimore.

January 3: Stephen F. Austin is imprisoned in Mexico City.

November: Pedro Gilbert and eleven others are tried in Boston on charges of piracy. Five are acquitted, while Gilbert and the others are sentenced to death. Bernardo de Soto, the mate of the Panda, is pardoned by President Andrew Jackson the following year.

November 25: For 12 cents, customers at Delmonico's can dine on soup, steak, coffee, and half a pie. It is one of the finest restaurants in New York City.

January 30: The first attempted assassination of an American President. Richard Lawrence shoots at Andrew Jackson, but the gun misfires.

May 8: Hans Christian Andersen's first book of fairy tales is published.

June 2: P. T. Barnum and his circus begin their first tour in the United States.

September 11: Francisco Ruiz, one of the Spanish pirates convicted of piracy against the Mexican, becomes the last pirate hanged in the United States.

September 15: HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin arrive at the Galapagos Islands.

British adopt anti-piracy suppression measures around Singapore.

Edward Lloyd publishes History of the Pirates, making mention for the first time of Charlotte de Berry.

February 23: General Santa Anna of Mexico lays siege to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.

February 25: Samuel Colt obtains a patent for the first multi-shot revolving-cylinder revolver. This allows a firearm to fire multiple times without reloading.

March 2: The Republic of Texas declares its independence from Mexico.

March 6: After a siege of thirteen days, between 1,500 and 3,000 Mexican soldiers breech the Alamo and kill between 182 and 257 Texans. Among the dead at the Battle of the Alamo are William Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett.

March 27: 417 Texas revolutionaries are executed by the Mexican army at Goliad.

April 21: Sam Houston and fellow Texans defeat Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.

May 19: A raiding band of Comanche, Kiowa, and Caddo men kidnap 9- or 10-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker from her Texas home. Five family members die in the attack. She is raised by the Comanche and stays with them for 25 years until Texas Rangers recapture her against her will.

September 5: Sam Houston is elected first President of the Republic of Texas.

October 22: Sam Houston is sworn in as the first President of the Republic of Texas.

December 28: Spain recognizes Mexico as an independent nation.

Charles Ellms publishes The Pirates Own Book.

May 19: James Morgan is hanged for murdering Captain Smith of the schooner William Wirt at sea. It is the last public execution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

June 20: Queen Victoria ascends the British throne. She is 18 years old and will rule for 63 years.

August 28: John Lea and William Perrins, both pharmacists, manufacture Worcestershire Sauce.

November 15: Isaac Pitman introduces his shorthand system.

January 6: Samuel Morse demonstrates how his telegraph machine works.

April 8: Great Western, the first transatlantic steamer to make regular runs between Bristol, England and New York City, embarks on her maiden voyage.

June 28: Victoria is crowned queen of England.

August 1: The majority of the British Empire abolishes apprenticeships and former slaves are no longer indentured to their former owners.

September 3: Disguised as a sailor, Frederick Douglass escapes from slavery.

December 16: Three thousand Zulus die at the Battle of Blood River in South Africa.

January 2: Louis Daguerre, a French photographer, takes the first picture of the moon. Seven days later he announces his invention of the daguerreotype, the first commercially successful form of photography.

July 2: Slaves aboard Amistad revolt and gain their freedom. They stand trial the following year as mutineers, but are acquitted.

August 23: British capture Hong Kong

September 5: The First Opium War begins in China. It lasts for three years.

October 15: Queen Victoria proposes to her cousin, Prince Albert.

November 25: A cyclone hits southeastern India. The high winds and a storm surge of forty feet destroy Corina and 20,000 ships. Around 300,000 people die.

May 1: Great Britain issues the first adhesive postage stamp. It becomes known as the "Penny Black."

Mary 22: The transportation of British convicts to New South Wales is abolished.

June 20: Samuel Morse receives a patent for the telegraph.

James Brook puts down a rebellion in Sarawak. The Sultan of Brunei rewards him with the governorship of Sarawak, and Brook styles himself the first "White Raja." He begins hunting down Sea Dayaks and Malays, eventually ending piracy in the region.

January 21: China cedes the island of Hong Kong to Britain during the First Opium War.

5: The first continuous filibuster begins in the United States Senate. It lasts until 11 March.

March 9: The United States Supreme Court rules that the slaves of the Spanish schooner Amistad are free.

April 4: President William Henry Harrison succumbs one month after taking the presidential oath, becoming the first president to die in office.

April 14: Edgar Allan Poe publishes the first detective story. It is entitled "The Murders in the Rue Morgue."

July 5: Thomas Cook opens his first travel agency.

November 25: The slave ship Amistad returns to Africa with 35 survivors of the mutiny.

The First Opium War ends. China cedes Hong Kong to the British in the Treaty of Nanjing.

May 14: The world's first weekly illustrated newspaper, Illustrated London News, is published.

May 30: John Francis tries to assassinate Queen Victoria.

June 15: John C. Fremont and Kit Carson set off to explore what becomes known as the Oregon Trail.

November 4: Abraham Lincoln weds Mary Todd.

Shap-'ng-Tsai establishes a smuggling and pirate base at Tien Pai.

May 22: Between 700 and 1,000 people depart Independence, Missouri for Oregon on the first wagon train.

June 26: Hong Kong becomes a British colony.

July 2: During a thunderstorm in Charleston, South Carolina, an alligator falls from the sky. It is thought that the creature was picked up by a waterspout and flew ashore until being released by the maelstrom.

December 19: Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol.

Zheng Yi Sao passes away at the age of 60. After her retirement from piracy, she ran a gambling house and brothel.

May 5: Fire sweeps through Hamburg, Germany and burns for 100 hours.

June 6: The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) is founded in London by George Williams.

June 15: Charles Goodyear receives a patent for vulcanizing rubber.

June 27: Founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith is murdered by an armed mob in Carthage, Illinois.

July 3: The last two Great Auks are killed.

July 30: The Saladin pirates are hanged.

August 8: The Mormon Church selects Brigham Young as its head.

Chui App joins Shap-'ng-Tsai's pirate fleet and soon becomes his lieutenant.

The White Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke, attacks the main enclave of Indonesian pirates.

January 29: First publication of "The Raven," a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

March 1: President John Tyler signs the resolution that annexes the Republic of Texas to the United States.

May 3: The Massachusetts bar admits the first African-American attorney. His name is Macon B. Allen.
May 3: In Canton, Ohio, a fire breaks out in a theater, killing 1,600 people.

August 28: First issue of Scientific American is published.

October 10: The United States Naval Academy is founded at Annapolis, Maryland to train and educate officers.

October 13: Texas ratifies a state constitution.

December 29: Texas joins the United States, becoming the 28th state. Congress's annexation sparks the Mexican War.


February 21: Sarah G. Bagley becomes the first American woman telegrapher. She works in Lowell, Massachusetts.

May 12: The Donner party departs Independence, Missouri, to settle in California. They become trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during a winter storm.

May 13: The United States declares war on Mexico, 2 months after fighting begins between the 2 countries.

May 21: The first steamship arrives in Hawaii.

June 15: Canadian and American representatives sign the Oregon Treaty, which establishes the northern 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Georgia as the boundary between their two countries. This treaty makes the land that will become Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana part of the United States, while Great Britain gets Vancouver Island and the right to navigate part of the Columbia River. (The parallel from the Rocky Mountains east to Lake of the Woods had already been settled as the border between the two countries in 1818.)

June 28: Antoine-Joseph "Adolfe" Sax patents the saxophone.

August 10: The Smithsonian Institution is founded in Washington, DC.

August 14: Refusing to pay taxes, Henry David Thoreau is imprisoned.

September 10: Elias Howe receives a patent for the lock stitch sewing machine.

September 12: Poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett elope, even though her father believes Browning to be a fortune hunter. They live happily until her death in 1861 when she dies in her husband's arms.

September 30: Ether is used to anesthetize a patient for the first time when Dr. William Morton, an American dentist, extracts a patient's tooth.

October 16: William Thomas Green Morton demonstrates the use of ether as a general anesthetic for the first time before a group of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

October 31: Unable to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Donner party constructs at winter camp at what eventually becomes known as Donner Pass. Their food runs out and they resort to cannibalism in order to survive.

January 4: The United States government purchases Samuel Colt's first revolver pistol.

March 1: Michigan abolishes the death penalty, becoming the first English-speaking jurisdiction to do so. The only exception is for a charge of treason against the state.

May 3: During the Mexican-American War, the Mexican Army lays siege to Fort Texas near Brownsville.

June 10: The Chicago Tribune begins publication.

June 14: Robert Bunsen invents the Bunsen burner.

July 1: The first US postage stamps go on sale in New York City: 5¢ Benjamin Franklin stamp and 10¢ George Washington stamp.

July 24: Brigham Young and his followers arrive at Salt Lake City, Utah.

September 13: US General Winfield Scott captures Mexico City during the Mexican-American War.

November 10: In a thick fog the Stephen Whitney wrecks off the Irish coast. Of the 110 passengers and crew aboard, 92 die. As a result of this disaster Fastnet Rock lighthouse is built.

January 24: James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter, finds gold nuggets near John Sutter's sawmill in California.

February 2: The first ship carrying Chinese immigrants arrives in San Francisco.
February 2: The Mexican American War ends with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The United States acquires Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona for $15,000,000.

February 21: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto in London.

March 12: The Second Republic is established in France.

September 13: An iron rod shoots through Phineas Gage's brain. The railroad foreman loses much of his left frontal lobe, but survives with no lasting physical damage. Some claim that his personality changes.

September 14: Alexander Stewart opens the first department store in the United States.

November 1: Boston Female Medical College, the first such school in the United States, holds classes for the first time.

December 5: President James K. Polk addresses Congress. During this annual message, he confirms the discovery of gold in California, which helps spark the 1849 California Gold Rush.

California gold rush

Japanese Lord Asakawa Kanae, daimyo of Hizen, orders the compilation of a biography on Koxinga.

January 23: Elizabeth Blackwell earns her medical degree and becomes the first woman to do so.

February 14: President James K. Polk sits for his photograph, which is taken by Matthew Brady. He becomes the first serving president to have his picture taken.

February 28: The first boat carrying prospectors for the gold rush arrives in San Francisco from the East Coast.

March 12: First prospectors arrive in Nicaragua on their way to California to seek gold.

March 29: Niagara Falls ceases to flow for 30 hours because of an ice jam.

April 10: Walter Hunt patents the safety pin. He sells the rights to the safety pin for $400.

May 17: Fire breaks out aboard the steamboat White Cloud in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 22 vessels are destroyed before the fire spreads to the city and burns 15 blocks.

August 22: First air raid in history. Austria launches balloons without pilots against Venice.

September: British navy destroys Chinese pirates led by Shap-'ng-Tsai. Over 1,800 pirates are killed and 58 vessels are sunk or captured.

September 17: Harriet Tubman, accompanied by two of her brothers, walks away from slavery in Maryland. Harry and Ben decide to return to the plantation, but with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, Harriet escapes. After a 90-mile journey, she is free. She will become a conductor on the Underground Railroad and return to the South many times to lead others to freedom.

October 3: Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious on a Baltimore, Maryland street. He succumbs four days later.

October 6: Known as the Martyrs of Arad, 13 generals are executed for their participation in the Hungarian Revolution, which began in 1848.

December: Shap-'ng-Tsai accepts a pardon and becomes an officer in the Imperial Chinese Navy.

December 28: The process of dry-cleaning is discovered after M. Jolly-Bellin accidentally knocks over a lamp containing turpentine and oil on his clothes and sees how the liquid cleans them.

July 9: President Zachary Taylor dies 16 months after taking office.

September 1: Opera star Jenny Lind arrives in New York at the behest of P. T. Barnum.

September 28: Flogging is banned aboard US naval and merchant ships.

April 23: Canada issues its first postage stamps.

May 3: Fire sweeps through San Francisco, destroying between 1,500 and 2,000 buildings.

June 2: The first prohibition law outlawing alcohol goes into effect in the United States in Maine.

June 5: The National Era begins publishing in serial format Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. It is the first time that the anti-slavery novel is published.

June 15: Baltimore diaryman Jacob Fassell sets up the first ice cream factory.

July 24: The window tax in Britain is abolished.

August 12: Isaac Merit Singer receives a patent for a sewing machine.

August 20: US schooner America beats British yacht Aurora in the first America's Cup.

August 22: Gold is discovered in Australia.

November 14: Harper & Brothers publishes Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

January 1: Postage stamps are issued in the Netherlands for the first time.

March 18: Henry Wells, William G. Fargo, and several others launch start a company dealing in shipping and banking.

March 20: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is published in book form.

April 29: Peter Roget publishes the first edition of his thesaurus, Roget's Thesaurus.

January 4: Solomon Northrup is freed legally after it is proven that he was a free Black man who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. He later writes about his time as a slave in Twelve Years a Slave.

March 5: The Steinway and Sons Piano Company is founded in New York City.

May 6: The first railroad disaster in the United States occurs in Norwalk, Connecticut. 46 die.

May 14: Gail Borden receives a patent for processing condensed milk. Aside from being an inventor, he is also a land surveyor and newspaper publisher.

July 8: Commodore Matthew Perry and his squadron of 4 vessels arrive in Tokyo Bay, making the United States the first Western nation to establish relations with Japan since foreigners (aside from the Dutch and Chinese) were forbidden to enter the country a century before.

July 21: The New York state legislature sets aside more than 750 acres on Manhattan Island to create Central Park.

July 25: California Rangers kill Joaquin Murrieta, a bandit known as the "Robin Hood of El Dorado."

September 15: Antoinette Blackwell becomes the first American woman ordained as a minister.

October 4: The Ottoman Turks declare war on Russia, sparking what becomes the Crimean War. England and France will eventually join the fight, which lasts more than 2 years before Russia is defeated.

March 1: The SS City of Glasgow sails from Liverpool. The ship and her crew of 480 passengers and crew are never seen again.

September 20: Battle of the Alma is the first major battle of the Crimean War. British and French troops defeat the Russians.

September 27: Arctic, a luxury passenger ship with a wooden hull, and the iron-hulled steamer Vesta collide off the Newfoundland coast in heavy and sudden fog. 322 people are killed.

October 17: The Siege of Sevastopol begins during the Crimean War.

October 21: Florence Nightingale and 38 nurses are sent to the Crimean War.

October 25: Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. More than 100 die.

December 8: Pope Pius IX proclaims Mary free of Original Sin, when he announces that her pregnancy occurs because of Immaculate Conception.

January 9: Guiding Star, a clipper ship, vanishes in the Atlantic. 480 people are assumed dead.

August 4: John Bartlett publishes his Familiar Quotations.

The United States adopts a standard passport system.

February 20: Packet ship John Rutledge sinks in North Atlantic after striking ice berg. Only 1 survivor, Thomas Nye, is rescued by Germania. During first 3 months of year, nearly 830 passengers and crew go missing in North Atlantic because of the unusual amount of ice floating farther south than usual.

March 30: Russia signs the Treaty of Paris, ending the Crimean War.

April 16: The Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law outlaws privateering. The United States chooses not to sign, which allows this government to continue to issue letters of marque to privateers during times of war.

21: Pro-slavery forces sack Lawrence, Kansas.

May 24: John Brown and abolitionist settlers kill five pro-slavery settlers at Pottawatomie, Kansas.

June 9: 500 Mormons depart Iowa for Salt Lake City, Utah.

June 17: The Republican Party opens its first national convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

October 8: Chinese officials board the Arrow, a British-registered ship, and arrest several Chinese members of the crew in Guangzhou (Canton). Although these men are later released, this incident contributes to the Second Opium War.

Chinese pirates along the coast of Vietnam kidnap seaman Edward Brown.

Bully Hayes, an opium smuggler, captures Eli Boggs, an American and notorious pirate on the South China coast.

Iranun pirates capture Colonel Ibanez y Garcia of Spain in Philippine waters.

February 18: Chinese residents of Sarawak rebel against James Brooke (White Rajah).

February 21: Congress passes legislation that outlaws foreign currency as legal tender in the United States.

March 3: France and the United Kingdom declare war on China. The conflict becomes known as the Second Opium War.

March 6: The US Supreme Court makes slavery legal in all US territories in the Dred Scott decision.

March 23: Elisha Otis installs his first elevator at 488 Broadway in New York City.

June 27: During a mutiny of Indian sepoys, 120 British women and children are massacred at Bibighar during the siege of Cawnpore.

August 24: Stocks fall precipitously on the New York Stock Exchange during the Panic of 1857.

November 9: Atlantic Monthly begins publication.

February 11: Fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, France experiences her first vision of the Virgin Mary.

February 21: The first electric burglar alarm is installed by Edwin T. Holmes. It is located in Boston, Massachusetts.

March 30: Hymar L. Lipman of Philadelphia patents the first pencil with an attached eraser.

August 2: The East India Company transfers the governing of India to the British Crown.

August 21: The first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas takes place in Illinois.

October 26: A patent for a rotary washing machine is awarded to Hamilton Smith.

October 28: The first Macy's store opens at 6th Avenue in New York City. Gross receipts for the day total $11.06.

February 25: First time a plea of insanity is used to prove innocence.

March 21: Scottish National Gallery opens in Scotland.

April 25: Construction on the Suez Canal begins. Upon its completion 10 years later, it will connect the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

May 31: Big Ben, the clock in Elizabeth Tower which overlooks the Houses of Parliament in London, England, tolls for the first time.

June 30: Charles Blondin, a French acrobat, crosses Niagara Falls while walking on a tightrope. He is the first person to accomplish this feat.

July 12: William Goodale of Massachusetts receives a patent for a machine that manufactures paper bags.

August 27: First successful oil well drilled near Titusville, Pennsylvania.

September 1: First Pullman sleeper rail car goes into service.

September 2: Gas lighting is introduced to Hawaii.

September 20: George Simpson receives a patent for the electric range.

October 16: John Brown leads a raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry in Virginia.

November 2: John Brown is found guilty of murder, conspiring slaves to revolt, and treason. He is sentenced to hang.

November 12: Jules Léotard performs the first flying trapeze act without a net in Paris, France. He wears a one-piece garment that soon becomes popular and is named for him.

November 24: Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection is published.

December 2: John Brown, an abolitionist, is hanged for murder, treason, and inciting slaves to revolt at Charles Town, Virginia.

Circa: The Little Ice Age ends.

April 3: The Pony Express begins operations. Riders carry mail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California on horseback. The relay journey covers 1,800 miles.

May 18: The Republican Party nominates Abraham Lincoln for president.

June 9: Malaseka, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter becomes the first "dime novel" published in the United States. The author is Mrs. Ann Stevens.

September 8: Lady Elgin, an excursion steamer, is rammed during a storm on Lake Michigan and sinks. About 300 lives are lost, making it the largest loss of life on the Great Lakes.

October 15: Grace Bedell, who is 11 years old, writes a letter to Abraham Lincoln in which she suggests he grow a beard.

October 18: The Second Opium War ends. British troops pillage and torch Yuanmingyuan, the summer palace of the Manchu emperors since the previous century.

November 6: Abraham Lincoln is elected as the 16th President of the United States.

December 20: South Carolina secedes from the Union.

December 26: The first steamship owned by one man, Cornelius Vanderbilt, makes her maiden voyage.

December 28: Harriet Tubman reaches Auburn, New York. After 8 years of evading capture as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, this is her last trip  to free slaves.

A joint force of Royal Navy and Dutch warships is sent to eradicate piracy in the Malay Archipelago.

January 15: Elisha Otis patents the steam elevator.

February 1: Texas becomes the 7th state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.

4: Jefferson Davis is selected interim president of the Confederacy.

February 18: Jefferson Davis is sworn in as interim president of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama.

March 3: Tsar Alexander II signs the Emancipation Manifesto, freeing Russian serfs and granting them full rights of free citizens.

March 17: Italy becomes a unified country under Victor Emmanuel II.

April 12: The Confederacy fires on Fort Sumter, launching the start of the American Civil War. It falls the next day after a bombardment that lasts for 34 hours.

April 17: Jefferson Davis invites Southerners to request letters of marque that will permit privateering against Northern shipping.

April 19: President Lincoln orders the blockade of Confederate ports.

May 5: The US Naval Academy moves from Newport, Rhode Island to Annapolis, Maryland.

July 21: The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the Battle of First Manassas, takes place near Manassas, Virginia during the American Civil War. The Confederates win.

August 5: The US Army bans flogging.
August 5: Abraham Lincoln signs the Revenue Act, imposing a 3% tax for the first time on incomes over $800.

September 9: Sally Tompkins, a nurse, receives a commission as a cavalry captain in the Confederate Army. She is the only female commissioned officer in that army.

September 13: First naval battle of the American Civil War. The Union frigate Colorado sinks a Confederate privateer off Pensacola, Florida.

October 24: A telegram is sent across the United States, becoming the first transcontinental telegram. This new means of communication between opposite coasts is far faster than the Pony Express, which makes that entity unnecessary.

October 26: After 19 months of operation, the Pony Express ends.

November 2: Harper's Bazaar, a women's fashion magazine begins publication.

November 6: Jefferson Davis is elected as president of the Confederacy.

January 1: The United States levies its first income tax. Those earning less than $600 must pay a 3% tax; those earning over $10,000 must pay 5%.

February 1: Julia Howe publishes "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

March 9: USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, two ironclads, clash at Hampton Roads, Virginia during the American Civil War.

April 6: The Union Army defeats the Confederates at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. It becomes known as the Battle of Shiloh.

May 11: Confederates scuttle CSS Virginia off Norfolk, Virginia.

July 12: The Medal of Honor is created for the US Army. It is awarded for bravery on the battlefield.

July 14: The regular spirit ration on ships of the US Navy is banned by an act of Congress.

August 6: The crew of CSS Arkansas blows up the Confederate ironclad after suffering mechanical problems in the battle with USS Essex on the Mississippi River.

August 24: Captain Raphael Semmes sets sail aboard on CSS Alabama to become the most successful and notorious of the commerce raiders during the American Civil War.

August 29: Second Battle of Bull Run begins in Manassas, Virginia. The Confederates win the next day.

September 1: The American government levies a tax on tobacco.

September 5: General Robert E. Lee and his army cross the Potomac River into Maryland.

September 15: Confederate General Stonewall Jackson and his troops capture the Union arsenal at Harpers Ferry. More than 12,500 prisoners are taken, making this the largest Union surrender during the American Civil War.

September 17: The bloodiest day of fighting during the American Civil War occurs at the Battle of Antietam (Battle of Sharpsburg) in Maryland. It is the first battle fought on Union soil. Casualty estimates exceed 26,000 killed, wounded, and/or missing or captured.

September 23: Newspapers in the north publish President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

December 26: First US navy hospital ship

The Track of Fire; or, A Cruise with the Pirate Semmes, a dime novel about the infamous commerce raider of the Confederacy, is published.

January 1: President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, which frees slaves in Confederate states.

January 3: James Plimpton receives the first patent for roller skates with four wheels.

February 26: President Abraham Lincoln signs the National Currency Act, authorizing a single currency for the country.

March 19: During her maiden voyage, CSS Georgiana, sinks. The cruiser carries munitions and medicines valued at $1,000,000 at the time.

May 2: During an attack on Chancellorsville, Virginia, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is wounded by his own soldiers.

May 18: The Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi begins.

June 2: Harriet Tubman leads Union guerillas into Maryland on a raid to free slaves.

June 24: Under the command of General Robert E. Lee, the Confederate Army crosses the Potomac. Their destination is to invade Pennsylvania.

July 1: First shots fired at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War. Union forces, under General George Meade, defeat General Robert E. Lee's Confederate forces on 3 July.
July 1: 49 cities in the United States begin delivering mail for free. The postage, though, costs 3¢ per ounce.

July 3: The Battle of Gettysburg ends after three days of intense fighting, resulting in more than 50,000 casualties. It is a major victory for the Union Army.

August 15: The Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is transported to Charleston, South Carolina via the railroad.

August 21: William Quantrill leads a deadly raid on Lawrence, Kansas.

September 5: A bread revolt occurs in Mobile, Alabama.

October 3: President Abraham Lincoln makes the last Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day.

October 15: During a test run, the Confederate submarine Hunley sinks. The inventor and seven crew members die.

November 19: Four months after the Battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln delivers an address at the dedication of the military cemetery there.

November 23: A patent is granted for a process that allows the making of color photographs.
November 23: The Battle of Chattanooga begins during the US Civil War.

February 17: The Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, after being raised, plants a 135-pound torpedo into the Union sloop-of-war Housatonic, which sinks. Only five crewmen die. Those aboard the Hunley also die after the submarine disappears just outside Charleston, South Carolina's harbor. Hunley is the first submarine to sink an enemy ship.

February 27: For the first time, Union prisoners of war are incarcerated at what will become an infamous Confederate prison known as Andersonville.

March 9: Ulysses S. Grant is appointed commander of the Union Army.

April 9: Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a Union surgeon, is captured by Confederate soldiers and arrested as a spy.

May 5: The Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia lasts for three days and is the first engagement in which forces under General Ulysses S. Grant face off against those of General Robert E. Lee.

May 11: General J.E.B. Stuart is mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern during the Civil War.

June 3: The second Battle of Cold Harbor results in the loss of around 7,000 Union soldiers, under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, during the American Civil War. It is considered one of the worst Northern defeats of the war.

June 15: Robert E. Lee's Arlington, Virginia estate becomes the United States' first national cemetery.

June 19: USS Kearsage sinks CSS Alabama, a commerce raider captained by Raphael Semmes and responsible for the capture of 66 ships over a three-year period, off Cherbourg, France. More than 20 Union warships are involved in the hunt for Alabama, but Kearsage engages her in a spectacular battle after France refuses to allow Semmes to put into a dry dock to overhaul the vessel.

July 14: Gold is discovered in Helena, Montana.

July 15: A train carrying Confederate prisoners collides with a coal train. Of the 955 men aboard, 65 die and 109 are injured.

August 5: Rear Admiral David Farragut leads the Union forces to victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay.

September 4: John Hunt Morgan, leader of the Confederate guerrillas known as Morgan's Raiders, is killed by Federal troops.

October 5: A cyclone destroys most of Calcutta, India. Around 60,000 people die.

November 15: After burning Atlanta, General William Tecumseh Sherman and his Union troops begin their March to the Sea that ends at Savannah, Georgia on 10 December.

November 25: A Confederate plot to burn New York City fails.

November 29: Sand Creek Massacre. At least 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho noncombatants die.

January 31: The United States abolishes slavery with the passing of the 13th Amendment.

February 4: Robert E. Lee is named General-in-Chief of the Confederate Army.

April 2: Confederate President Jefferson Davis is forced to flee Richmond, Virginia.

April 9: General Robert E. Lee and 26,765 Confederate troops surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

April 14: John Wilkes Booth shoots President Abraham Lincoln while he and his wife watch a play at Ford's Theater in Washington. Lincoln succumbs to his wound early the next morning.

April 17: Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in the assassination of the president.

April 26: John Wilkes Booth dies at a Virginia farm.

April 27: The SS Sultana, overloaded with more than 1,800 people (many are former Union POWs returning home) explodes, catches fire, and sinks on the Mississippi River. The majority of those aboard die. It becomes the worst maritime disaster in US history.

May 10: Union soldiers capture Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia. He will spend the next two years as a prisoner in Fort Monroe, Virginia, after being indicted for treason, but is never tried.

May 13: The Battle of Palmito Ranch, near Brownsville, Texas, becomes the final engagement of the American Civil War. Private John Jefferson Williams of B Company, 34th Regiment of the Indiana Infantry is the last man killed in the war.

June 6: After a skirmish with Union soldiers in Kentucky, a wounded William Quantrill dies. The leader of Quantrill's Raiders, an irregular force of Confederate soldiers that includes Frank and Jesse James, led the raid on Lawrence, Kansas 2 years earlier, in which he and his men killed any male, adult or child, they saw. In all, at least 150 males died before the town was set afire.

June 13: President Andrew Johnson proclaims the reconstruction of the confederate states.

June 19: Union General Gordon Granger declares that all slaves in Texas are free. This day eventually becomes known as Juneteenth, which is celebrated as the independence day of enslaved African Americans.

June 22: CSS Shenandoah fires the last shot of the American Civil War. The vessel is in the Bering Strait at the time and does so to signal her surrender.

June 30: 8 of the alleged conspirators in President Abraham Lincoln's assassination are found guilty.

July 4: Lewis Carroll publishes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

July 5: The US Secret Service begins operating under the Treasury Department. Its initial directive is to help prevent counterfeiting.

July 7: Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt are hanged for their participation in the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln. Surratt becomes the first woman executed by the federal government.

July 13: P. T. Barnum's museum burns down.

July 14: Edward Whymper becomes the first person to climb the Matterhorn.

August 22: William Sheppard receives the first US patent for liquid soap.

October 9: The first underground oil pipeline is laid in Pennsylvania.

November 6: After circumnavigating the world, the CSS Shenandoah lowers the Confederate flag and surrenders to British authorities. During her cruise, she sank or captured 37 vessels.

November 11: The US Army's first female surgeon, Mary Edward Walker, receives the Medal of Honor. She is first woman to receive the medal, which will be rescinded in 1917 and later reinstated in 1977.

December 18: Slavery is formally abolished in the United States with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

December 15: US Marines arrest Raphael Semmes for illegally escaping Union custody after surrendering the CSS Alabama. Four months later, the prosecutor drops all charges and Semmes is released.

December 29: William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist, publishes the last issue of The Liberator.

February 13: Jesse James holds up a bank for the first time. He steals $15,000 from the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri.

February 21: Lucy B. Hobbs is the first American woman to earn a doctorate in dental surgery.

March 1: Paraguayan canoes sink two Brazilian ironclads on the Rio Paraná during the War of the Triple Alliance.

March 19: Monarch of the Sea, an immigrant ship, sinks in Liverpool, claiming 738 lives.

March 28: First ambulance goes into service.

April 4: Dmitry Karakozov attempts to assassinate Tsar Alexander II in St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexander narrowly escapes death.

April 10: Philanthropist and diplomat Henry Bergh founds the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in New York City.

May 16: The US Congress passes legislation to create a new coin, worth 5 cents (later known as the nickel). It is to be made from nickel and copper.

August 11: The world's first roller skating rink opens in Newport, Rhode Island.

October 6: First train robbery in the United States. The Reno Brothers steal $13,000.

October 15: Fire destroys 2,500 homes in Quebec, Canada.

December 21: During Red Cloud's War, a small party of Lakota and Cheyenne lead US Army soldiers of Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming into an ambush, pitting 81 soldiers against 1,500 to 2,000 warriors from the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. All the soldiers are killed in what becomes known as Fetterman's Fight (or Massacre) or the Battle of the Hundred-in-the-Hands.

Canadian provinces take steps to become a nation and severe some ties with Britain.

February 1: Brick layers begin working 8-hour days.

March 12: Last French troops leave Mexico.

March 30: The United States purchases Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000. The purchase earns the nickname "Seward's Folly."

May 23: Jesse James and his gang rob a bank in Richmond, Missouri. They net $4,000, but kill two people.

June 19: Emperor Maximilian of Mexico is executed by a firing squad.

June 20: President Andrew Johnson announces the purchase of Alaska.

June 25:The first patent for barbed wire is granted to Lucien B. Smith of Ohio.

July 1: The Dominion of Canada, the official name of Canada, is founded.

October 1: Publication of Karl Marx's Das Kapital.

October 18: The United States takes possession of Alaska.

November 15: First stock ticker unveiled in New York City, which makes up-to-the-minute prices available to investors wishing to purchase and sell stocks.

November 25: Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, patents dynamite.

February 24: In a vote of 126 to 47, the US House of Representatives votes to impeach President Andrew Johnson.

March 5: President Andrew Jackson's impeachment trial begins.

March 13: The United States Senate opens the impeachment trial of President Andrew Jackson.

March 24: Formation of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

April 11: The shogunate is abolished in Japan.

May 16: The US Senate fails to impeach President Andrew Johnson by a single vote.

June 25: President Andrew Johnson signs a bill that limits government employees to an 8-hour work day.

July 28: Citizenship, as well as equal civil and legal rights, are granted to African Americans and emancipated slaves with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

October 1: Publication of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women

December 9: A traffic light, the world's first, is erected in London near Westminster Bridge. A month late, a gas leak causes one of the lights to explode and the traffic light is removed.

December 25: President Andrew Johnson unconditionally pardons those who fought for the Confederacy.

January 20: Elizabeth Cady Stanton testifies before Congress. It is the first time a woman does so.

March 5: Dmiriti Mendeleev presents the first periodic table at the Russian Chemical Society.

March 11: Armand David, a French missionary, introduces the West to the giant panda after he receives a skin from a hunter.

May 10: The Golden Spike is driven into the ground at Promontory Summit, Utah, completing the United States' first transcontinental railroad. The two rail lines began on opposite ends of the country and, when the spike unites the two tracks, it connects the Central Pacific Railroad to the Union Pacific Railroad. It signifies the last time that west-bound travelers will have to cross the country on covered wagons.

May 15: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton establish the National Woman Suffrage Association.

May 18: During festivities celebrating the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II, a mass panic on Khodynka Field in Moscow results in the death of 1,389 people.

June 27: The yen becomes the official currency of Japan. Clan notes, issued by feudal lords, are no longer acceptable tender.

August 16: A Paraguayan battalion of children is massacred by the Brazilian army during the Battle of Acosta Ñu.

August 23: First cargo of rail freight arrives in San Francisco. The train comes from Boston and carries boots and shoes. The trip takes 16 days.

October 1: The world's first post cards are issued in Vienna, Austria.

October 16: The Cardiff Giant is found in New York state. It is believed to be a petrified prehistoric man, but is later discovered to be a hoax.

November 16: Suez Canal opens. It takes 10 years to build.

November 23: Cutty Sark is launched in Dumbarton, Scotland. She is one of the last clipper ships to be built and the only one that still survives.

January 3: Construction begins on New York's Brooklyn Bridge. It takes more than a decade to complete.

January 15: The donkey premieres as the symbol of the US Democratic Party in one of Thomas Nash's cartoons.

January 23: The US Army kills 140 Blackfoot women and 33 children in Montana.

February 3: The Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified. It guarantees the right to vote regardless of race.

February 5: The first motion picture is shown to an audience. The theater is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

February  12: Utah becomes the second territory to grant women the right to vote, one year after the Wyoming Territory did so.

February 25: Hiram R. Revels takes the oath as the first African-American member of Congress. He serves as a senator from Mississippi.

March 30: Texas becomes the last Confederate state to rejoin the Union.

June 28: The US Congress establishes the first federal holidays: New Years Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. These official holidays initially only apply to federal employees.

August 1: The Irish Land Act gives rights to tenants of landlords in Ireland.

August 2: The world's first underground tube railway, Tower Subway, opens in London.

August 15: Transcontinental Railway is completed in Colorado.

October 25: Pimlico Race Course opens in Baltimore, Maryland. It will become home to the Preakness, the second of the triple crown horse races.

July 25: Wilhelm Schneider of Davenport, Iowa is awarded a patent for the carousel.

September 7: HMS Captain capsizes in the Bay of Biscay. 500 die.

October 6: 1st national tour of the Fisk Jubliee Singers begins.

October 8: The Great Chicago Fire starts in Patrick and Catherine O'Leary's barn. When the inferno ends two days later, 200 to 300 people are dead, 4 square miles of the city are destroyed, 100,000 are left homeless, and damages are estimated at $2,000,000. Also lost is the original Emancipation Proclamation.
October 8: Another fire, this one is Peshtigo, Wisconsin, consumes the city within hours. 1,152 people die.

November 10: Henry Morton Stanley meets David Livingstone near Lake Tanganyika, Africa and asks, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

February 20: The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens to the public in New York City.

February 27: Charlotte Ray graduates with a degree in law from Howard University, making her the first African-American female lawyer.

March 1: E. Remington and Sons of Ilion, New York, produce the first practical typewriter.
March 1: Congress establishes the first national park in the United States; Yellowstone National Park is also the first national park in the world.

April 12: Jesse James and his gang rob a bank in Columbia, Kentucky. They get away with $1,500, but murder one person.

May 10: Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman nominated for the US Presidency.

July 9: John Blondel of Maine is awarded a patent for the doughnut cutter.

August 18: A. M. Ward issues the first mail-order catalog.

October 3: Bloomingdale's department store opens in New York City.

November 5: Susan B. Anthony votes in the election for US president. She is later arrested for voting illegally and is convicted at her trial, which she calls "the greatest outrage history ever witnessed."

November 7: Mary Celeste sets sails from Staten Island bound for Genoa. 4 weeks later she is found abandoned at sea. No reason for the crew's disappearance is discovered.

December 5: Mary Celeste is found abandoned at sea about 400 miles from the Azores. The fate of the 10 people aboard the brigantine remains a mystery.

March 3: The United States Congress enacts the Comstock Law. This makes it illegal to send "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" books through the mail.

June 5: The British pressure Sultan Bargash bin Said to close the notorious slave market in Zanzibar.

June 9: The Alexandra Palace in England burns down 16 days after it opens.

June 18: Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for voting for US President.

August 14: Field and Stream is published for the first time.

September 20: Panic sweeps the New York Stock Exchange.

October 8: First women-run women's prison opens in Indiana.

October 30: Premiere of P. T. Barnum's "Greatest Show on Earth."

November 19: William Magear Tweed, also known as "Boss Tweed," of Tammany Hall in New York City is convicted of defrauding the city of $6,000,000. He is sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Congress passes a law requiring owners or representatives of wrecked American ships in which someone lost his/her life or inflicted damage impacts the vessel's seaworthiness to present records to customs collectors, either where the ship is registered or where the incident occurs.

January 31: Jesse James and his gang rob a train at Gads Hill, Missouri.

May 9: The first horse-drawn bus appears on streets in Mumbai, India.

July 1: The first kidnapping for ransom occurs in the United States when four-year-old Charles Ross is taken and $20,000 is demanded for his safe return.
July 1: The first true zoo in the United States opens in Philadelphia.

September 23: A devastating typhoon strikes Hong Kong. In 6 hours, 35 European ships sink or are destroyed, and about 2,000 people die.

November 7: Thomas Nast draws a cartoon that depicts the Republican Party symbol of an elephant.

November 24: Joseph Farwell Glidden receives the first patent for commercially successful barbed wire.

January 26: George F. Green patents the first electric dental drill.

March 3: First game of indoor ice hockey played in Montreal, Quebec.

May 16: The running of the first Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Aristides wins the race.

August 2: The first roller skating rink opens in London.

August 25: Captain Matthew Webb becomes the first observed and unassisted swimmer to cross the English Channel. He does so in 21 hours and 45 minutes.

September 1: A murder conviction effectively puts an end to the Molly Maguires, who fight owners of coal mines, and the organization disbands.

September 11: First newspaper cartoon strip

September 23: Billy the Kid is arrested for the first time. He steals a basket of laundry. He will later go on to be an escapee and murderer.

A Spanish force, consisting of 32 ships and 9,000 men attacks the "pirate nest" of Sulu.

January 31: All Native Americans in the United States are ordered to move on to the reservations.

February 22: Johns Hopkins University opens

March 7: Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.

March 10: Alexander Graham Bell makes the first telephone call. He says to his assistance, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you."

June 4: The Transcontinental Express arrives in San Francisco, California for the first time. The train makes the journey from New York City in 83 hours and 39 minutes.

June 25: Battle of Little Bighorn between Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, against Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry. Custer and his men are wiped out, and the battle becomes known as "Custer's Last Stand."

June 30: Soldiers, wounded at the Battle of Little Bighorn, reach Far West, a steamboat, on the Big Horn River in southern Montana, which evacuates them to Fort Abraham Lincoln near Bismarck, North Dakota on 5 July. It isn't long before news of the loss of General Custer and more than 200 men spreads across the country.

August 2: Wild Bill Hickock is murdered in Deadwood, South Dakota.

September 7: The Youngers and the James, two groups of brothers, attempt to rob a bank. The Younger brothers are captured.

September 19: Melville Bissell of New York receives the first patent for a carpet sweeper.

October 6: The American Library Association is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

December 6: First crematorium in the United States begins operation. It is located in Washington, Pennsylvania.

February 2: Punxsutawney groundhog makes his first meteorological prediction pertaining to the end of winter at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. This becomes the first Groundhog Day.

March 10: 4 years after inventing earmuffs at the age of 15 in 1873, Chester Greenwood patents them.

April 10: The first human cannonball act is performed in London.

April 12: The catcher's mask is employed for the first time during a baseball game.

May 5: Sitting Bull leads the Lakota into Canada to avoid harassment by the US Army.

May 8: The first Westminster Dog Show is held.

May 10: President Rutherford B. Hayes installs the first telephone in the White House. It is placed in the telegraph room and its phone number is "1." 50 years will pass before a phone is placed in the Oval Office.

June 15: Henry Ossian Flipper, a former slave, becomes the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

June 21: 10 Irish immigrants, known as the Molly Maguires, are hanged in Pennsylvania.

July 9: The first lawn tennis tournament begins at Wimbledon at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club.  21 men compete in Gentlemen's Singles, the only event at the time. The winner, Spencer Gore, is announced 10 days later. The first Lady's Singles event is introduced in 1884 and Maud Watson wins.

August 12: Thomas Alva Edison invents the phonograph.

September 5: A US soldier bayonets Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse, who dies from his wound.

October 5: Chief Joseph surrenders, ending the Nez Perce War.

October 22: Blantyre mining disaster in Scotland kills 207 miners. Mine owners evict any of their families who are unable to support themselves.

November 24: Shortly before her death, Anna Sewall publishes Black Beauty, her only novel. It becomes the first major animal story in children's literature.

December 6: Thomas Edison records himself reciting "Mary had a little lamb."

January 11: Milk in glass bottles is delivered for the first time in New York City.

February 18: Billy the Kid's mentor, an English rancher named John Tunstall, is murdered, which ignites the bitter and bloody Lincoln County War in New Mexico.

February 19: Thomas Edison receives a patent for the gramophone.

April 15: Harley Procter introduces Ivory Soap.

May 2: The United States ceases to mint the 20 cent coin.

May 14: A patent is granted for Vaseline.

July 26: Black Bart, a poet and outlaw of the American West, steals the safe box of a Wells Fargo stagecoach in California. The empty box is later found with a taunting poem inside. It is the last time he makes a clean getaway. He will rob another stagecoach in November, and leaves behind clues that eventually lead to his capture. Although Charles Earl Boles robs a number of stagecoaches and becomes known as a gentleman bandit, he is only convicted of this last theft. He serves 4 years of his 6-year term.

September 1: Emma Nutt of Boston becomes the first female telephone operator.

The bridge over the River Tay in Dundee, Scotland gives way during a gale. The train crossing the bridge at the time drops into the river, killing 75 people.

February 15: The United States Congress decrees that female lawyers may appear before the US Supreme Court.

February 22: A black postmaster is lynched and his 3 daughters are shot in Lake City, South Carolina.

March 3: Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood appears before the US Supreme Court, becoming the first female attorney to present arguments before the court.

June 21: The F. W. Woolworth Great Five Cents Store opens on North Queen Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is Frank W. Woolworth's first successful store.

September 23: Audiophone, a hearing aid, is invented by Richard Rhodes.

Gokstad ship discovered on Norwegian farm.

January 1: Construction of the Panama Canal begins.

January 9: Great Gale devastates parts of Oregon and Washington. 6 feet of snow falls in Seattle, Washington over 5 days.

February 18: Tsar Alexander II of Russia survives an assassination attempt.

June 1: First pay telephone service operates in the United States. It is installed in New Haven, Connecticut.

June 28: Ned Kelly, an Australian bushranger (rural outlaw), is captured at Glenrowan. The rest of his gang dies in the confrontation, but Kelly is only wounded. He is taken to Melbourne later in the year and hanged.

August 3: The US Congress passes its first law restricting immigration.

August 14: After 632 years, Germany's Cologne Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, is completed. Construction first began in 1248.

November 11: Ned Kelly is hanged in Melbourne.

December 16: First Boer War begins between the British Empire and the Boer South African Republic.

Robert Louis Stevenson begins writing Treasure Island in Scotland.

February 19: Kansas becomes the first state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages in its state constitution.

March 13: Members of the People's Will, a far-left terrorist group, throw a bomb at Tsar Alexander II in St. Petersburg, Russia, killing him.

March 28: P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey form the Barnum & Bailey Circus, which opens in New York's Madison Square Garden. It is billed as "The Greatest Show on Earth," and will continue performing for 146 years until it closes in 2017.

April 28: Billy the Kid escapes from the Lincoln County jail in Mesilla, New Mexico.

May 21: Clara Barton establishes the American Association of the Red Cross, which later becomes known as the American Red Cross.

June 14: John McTammany, Junior, patents the player piano.

July 2: Charles J. Guiteau shoots President James Garfield, who succumbs to his injury 79 days later.

July 4: Booker T. Washington establishes the Tuskegee Institute.

July 14: Sheriff Pat Garrett shoots and kills Billy the Kid (real name, Henry McCarty). The outlaw had escaped from jail days before his execution for murder and Garrett tracked him for 3 months before finding him in New Mexico.

October 26: Gunfight at the OK Corral. It is the crowning moment in the feud between the Earp brothers and Ike Clanton's gang in Tombstone in the Arizona Territory.

November 14: Charles J. Guiteau stands trial for assassinating President James Garfield.

March 2: Roderick Maclean fires a shot at Queen Victoria as she boards a train in Windsor. She narrowly escapes the assassination attempt.

March 24: Robert Koch of Germany discovers and describes tubercle bacillus, which causes tuberculosis.

April 3: Robert Ford kills outlaw Jesse James in his home in St. Joseph, Missouri.

May 6: Immigrants from China are forbidden to enter the United States with the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

June 6: A patent for the electric iron is granted to Henry W. Seeley.

December 22: Thomas Edison creates the first string of Christmas tree lights.

March 16: Susan Hayhurst is the first woman to graduate from pharmacy college.

March 24: First telephone call between New York and Chicago takes place.

May 24: The Brooklyn Bridge opens in New York City. It spans the East River, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan.

July 3: Buffalo Bill Cody presents his first wild west show in North Platte, Nebraska.

August 27: A volcano on Krakatoa erupts, causing a tidal wave that causes more than 35,000 deaths. Two days later, seismic sea waves created by the eruption raise the level of water in the English Channel.

October 4: First official rail journey of the Orient Express between Paris and Istanbul

November 14: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is published in book form.

February 1: The first volume of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.

April 2: London closes its prison for debtors.

May 19: Premiere of the Ringling Brothers circus

June 16: The first roller coaster opens. It is located on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

July 3: Dow Jones publishes the first stock index, the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

July 4: The Statue of Liberty is presented to the United States in Paris.

August 5: The cornerstone is laid for the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island in New York City.

August 28: First known photograph of a tornado is taken near Howard, South Dakota.

September 23: Herman Hollerith patents his mechanical tabulating machine. Data processing begins.

February 21: Dedication of the Washington Monument

May 2: Good Housekeeping magazine is published for the first time.

May 19: First mass production of shoes

June 17: The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York City aboard the French ship Isere. It is comprised of 350 pieces in more than 200 cases. Estimates place the cost to the French at $250,000. It weighs 450,000 pounds. Once Lady Liberty is reassembled, she is dedicated the following year on 28 October.

July 6: Louis Pasteur succeeds in giving an anti-rabies vaccine to nine-year-old Joseph Meister, saving the boy's life.

September 2: Chinese miners are brutally murdered by white miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Hundreds more are driven from town.

October 1: The US Postal Service begins special delivery mail service.

November 10: Gottlieb Daimler unveils the world's first motorcycle.

April 25: Sigmund Freud opens his practice in psychology in Vienna, Austria.

May 4: Haymarket Riot takes place in Chicago, Illinois when a bomb kills 7 policemen.

May 8: Atlanta, Georgia's Jacob's Pharmacy begins selling Coca-Cola, which contains cocaine. It is created by pharmacist John S. Pemberton and is promoted as a cure-all tonic.

September 4: Geronimo, leader of the Apache, surrenders to the US Army.

October 9: First tuxedo is worn to a ball in New York.

January 5: Columbia University opens the first school of librarianship in the United States.

January 28: Construction begins on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

February 2: The first Groundhog Day is observed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

February 21: First American lab for bacteriology opens. It's located in Brooklyn, New York.

March 3: Anne Sullivan becomes Helen Keller's teacher. Helen is blind and deaf after an illness and is 6 years old.

April 5: Anne Sullivan teaches Helen Keller sign language for "water."

May 9: Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show opens in London.

June 8: Herman Hollerith receives a patent for the punch card calculator.


January 3: Marvin C. Stone patents the first wax drinking straw.

January 27: Founding of the National Geographic Society

March 1: Signing of the Convention of Constantinople, which guarantees free maritime passage through the Suez Canal whether there is war or peace

March 11: The Great Blizzard of 1888 strikes the United States. As much as 50 inches of snow fall and more than 400 people die.

July 4: The first organized rodeo competition takes place in Prescott, Arizona.

August 7: Martha Tabram, who may have been Jack the Ripper's first victim, is murdered in London's East End.

August 31: Mary Ann Nichols's body is found in Whitechapel, London. She is the first definite victim of Jack the Ripper.

September 8: Jack the Ripper's second victim, Annie Chapman, is found.

September 22: First issue of National Geographic Magazine is published.

September 30: Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes become the next two women who fall prey to Jack the Ripper.

October 9. The Washington Monument opens to the public in Washington, DC. This memorial to the first American president is a marble-faced granite obelisk on which construction began in 1848 and ended in 1884.

November 9: Mary Kelly's mutilated body is found. Many believe she is the last of Jack the Ripper's victims.

December 23: After an argument with another painter, Vincent Van Gogh cuts off his left ear.

P. Christian’s Historie des Pirates published.

March 18: Susan La Flesche Picotte graduates from Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania to become the first Native American woman to graduate and become a doctor.

March 31: Official opening of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

April 1: The first machine to wash dishes is marketed in Chicago, Illinois.

April 22: At noon, thousands of men and women make a mad dash to claim parcels of land in the Oklahoma land rush.

May 14: The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is founded in London.

May 31: A flood decimates Johnstown, Pennsylvania after the South Fork Dam collapses. More than 2,200 people die.

June 8: Cable cars begin offering rides in Los Angeles, California.

July 8: The Wall Street Journal begins publication.

July 17: The body of Alice McKenzie is found in Whitechapel, raising speculation that Jack the Ripper may have returned.

August 13: William Gray receives a patent for a coin-operated telephone.

October 6: The Moulin Rouge opens in Paris.
October 6: Thomas Edison shows his first motion picture.

November 14: Nellie Bly, a reporter for New York World, begins her journey to surpass the fictional journey Phileas Fogg makes around the world in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. It takes her just 72 days and 6 hours to make the trip.

November 23: The first jukebox debuts at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco, California.

January 1: The first Tournament of Roses is held in Pasadena, California.

January 25: Nellie Bly, a journalist, beats Jules Verne's fictitious character, Phileas Fogg, when she completes her round-the-world journey 8 days before Fogg did.
January 25: Formation of the United Mine Workers of America

March 1: Arthur Conan Doyle first introduces readers to Sherlock Holmes when A Study in Scarlet is published.

August 6: Convicted of murder, William Kemmler becomes the world's first person to be executed in the electric chair. The execution occurs at Auburn State Prison in New York.

August 30: US President Benjamin Harrison signs the first law requiring the inspection of meat products.

October 1: The US Congress creates the Weather Bureau.

November 23: William III, King of the Netherlands, dies without a male heir. A special law is passed to allow his daughter, Wilhelmina, to become Queen of the Netherlands.

December 15: Native American police kill Sitting Bull while trying to arrest him in South Dakota.

December 29: More than 200 Sioux are massacred by the US 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

April 17: 13 pirates are beheaded in China as punishment for their attack on and the murder of 2 crew members, including the captain, of the SS Namoa.

May 11: Six more pirates are executed for the attack.

August 5: American Express issues the world's first traveler's checks.

December 21: YMCA students play the first official basketball game, invented by their teacher, James A. Naismith.

January 29: Incorporation of the Coca-Cola Company
January 29: Liliuokalani becomes Queen of Hawaii and is the last monarch of the country.

March 15: Jesse W. Reno of New York City patents the first escalator.

April 12: George C. Blickensderfer patents the first portable typewriter.

May 22: The first toothpaste tube is invented by Dr. Washington Sheffield.

June 6: The elevated Loop train, also known as the "L" begins operating in Chicago, Illinois. It will become one of the longest and busiest mass-transit systems in the United States.

July 18: A vaccine against cholera is first tested on humans.

August 4: Lizzie Borden is arrested in Fall River, Massachusetts on charges that she murdered her father and stepmother with an axe.

September 26: First public appearance of John Philip Sousa's band

October 5: The Dalton Gang attempts to rob 2 banks in Coffeyville, Kansas at the same time. Townspeople recognize them and raise the alarm. The only member of the Dalton gang to survive is Emmett Dalton; 4 townspeople also die. Upon his recovery, Emmett is tried and convicted, receiving a sentence of life imprisonment. 14 years later he is paroled. He eventually becomes a Hollywood screenwriter.

October 12: The United States Pledge of Allegiance is recited for the first time in public schools.

December 18: The first performance of The Nutcracker takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is performed in the Mariinsky Theatre and is written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

January 17: An American coup deposes Queen Liliuokalani and Hawaii becomes a republic.

March 1: The rank of ambassador is authorized for use for the first time by the Diplomatic Appropriation Act.

March 10: The Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) becomes a French colony.

May 4: Bill Pickett, a cowboy, invents bulldogging, a skill that involves grabbing a cow while on horseback and wrestling it to the ground.

May 5: New York Stock Exchange crashes. The event becomes known as the Panic of 1893.

June 7: Mahatma Gandhi's first act of civil disobedience.

June 20: Lizzie Bordon is acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe in Fall River, Massachusetts.

June 21: Premiere of the world's first Ferris wheel occurs at World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

June 30: The largest uncut diamond is discovered at the DeBeers mine in Orange Free State, South Africa. Named Excelsior, it weighs 995 carats.

August 1: Henry Perky and William Ford patent shredded wheat.

September 3: Beatrix Potter writes the story of Peter Rabbit for a five-year-old boy.

September 19: New Zealand grants the right to vote to all women, becoming the first nation to do so.

October 6: Nabisco Foods invents Cream of Wheat.

March 12: Bottled Coca-Cola is sold for the first time in a candy store in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

May 15: During a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Beaneaters, a fire sweeps through the bleachers and spreads across more than 12 acres. About 200 buildings are destroyed and 1,900 people are left homeless.

June 17: First epidemic of poliomyelitis breaks out in the United States.

June 28: The US Congress declares the first Monday of September as Labor Day, a holiday to honor American workers.

July 20: The Pullman Strike ends.

September 1: Hinckley, Minnesota is destroyed by a wildfire. 438 people die.

September 3: Labor Day becomes a legal holiday in the US.

September 4: 12,000 tailors go on strike in New York City in a protest against sweat shops.

November 1: Upon the death of his father, Nicholas II becomes the new Tsar of Russia.

November 26: Tsar Nicholas II marries Alexandra.

December 22: Alfred Dreyfus is court-martialed for treason in France. Initially sentenced to life imprisonment, he will later be vindicated because of tainted evidence and anti-Semitism.

February 11: The city of Georgetown becomes part of Washington, D. C.

February 21: North Carolina's legislature adjourns to mark the death of Frederick Douglas.

April 13: Alfred Dreyfus is imprisoned on Devils Island, which lies off French Guiana.

November 8: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, a German physicist, discovers X-rays.

November 19: Frederick E. Blaisdell receives a patent for the pencil.

November 27: Establishment of the Nobel Prizes

January 15: Known for his photographic portraits and images of the American Civil War, Matthew Brady dies alone and virtually forgotten in a New York hospital's charity ward.

February 23: Les Hirshfield introduces the Tootsie Roll.

March 1: Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity.

April 6: The first modern Olympic Games open in Athens, Greece.

May 7: H. H. Holmes, the first known serial killer in the United States, is hanged after confessing to killing 130 people.

May 30: The first car accident occurs when Henry Wells hits a cyclist in New York City.

June 8: First record of an automobile theft occurs after a Parisian mechanic steals a baron's Peugot.

August 16: George Carmack discovers gold at Bonanza Creek in the Klondike, setting off a gold rush.

August 29: The Chinese ambassador's chef creates chop suey during a visit to New York City.

May 18: Dracula is published. The novel is written by Bram Stoker.

May 19: After 2 years in jail following his conviction on being gay, Oscar Wilde is released. His experiences serve as the basis for The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

June 16: The Republic of Hawaii and the United States sign a treaty that annexes the republic to the United States.

September 1: The Boston subway opens, becoming the first underground rapid transit system in North America.

September 10: George Smith, a London taxi driver, is arrested for drunk driving when he runs his cab into a building. He becomes the first person ever arrested for driving drunk and is fined 25 schillings.

September 25: First British bus service begins.

October 22: The world's first car dealer opens in London, England.

November 23: J. L. Love receives a patent for the pencil sharpener.

February 1: The first automobile insurance policy is issued in the United States. The company issuing the policy is Travelers Insurance Company.

February 15: USS Maine explodes and sinks in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. 258 sailors die. This event precipitates the Spanish-American War.

February 23: Emile Zola is imprisoned in France for writing "J'accuse," a letter accusing the government of anti-Semitism and wrongly imprisoning Alfred Dreyfus.

April 24: War erupts between the United States and Spain.

May 1: Under cover of darkness and with lights extinguished, a squadron of US Navy warships enters Manila Bay and destroys the Spanish fleet.

June 18: The amusement pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey opens.

July 1: Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

July 3: The United States Navy defeats the Spanish fleet in Santiago, Cuba.

August 16: Edwin Prescott patents the roller coaster.

August 29: Goodyear Tire Company is founded.

September 1: The first American forestry school opens. It is located on the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.

13: 20,000 construction workers go on strike in Paris, France.

September 21: Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi seizes power, imprisons the Guangxu emperor, and halts the Hundred Days' Reform.

December 10: Spain and the United States sign the Treaty of Paris, which brings the Spanish-American War to an end.

December 21: Marie and Pierre Curie discover radium.

March 3: George Dewey becomes the first officer in the United States Navy to hold the rank of Admiral of the Navy.

March 6: The Bayer Company of Germany patents aspirin.

May 30: Pearl Hart, dressed as a man, and her boyfriend, dance-hall musician and gambler Dan Bandman, hold up the stagecoach between Globe and Florence, Arizona. They rob 3 passengers of $421, but Hart gives each victim $1 so they can purchase food once they reach Florence. The amateur thieves leave a trail that allows the sheriff of Pinal County to track them down and arrest them 4 days later. Hart manages to escape, but is later recognized by a lawman in New Mexico, who sends her back to Florence to stand trial. Both are convicted; Bandman is given 30 years, Hart, 5, but neither serves their full sentences. Bandman, who becomes a trusty, walks away while working in a field and is never heard from again. Hart becomes pregnant in prison and rather than deal with that embarrassing situation, Governor Alexander O. Brodie, pardons her near the end of 1902.

June 5: Alfred Dreyfus is acquitted.

July 1: The Gideon Society forms with the purpose of placing Bibles in hotels.

September 6: Carnation processes the first can of evaporated milk.

October 11: The South African War, also known as the Boer War, begins. Great Britain is pitted against two Afrikaner republics.


March 13: French law limits the workday for women and children to 11 hours.

April 4: To protest the Boer War Jean-Baptiste Sipido shoots the Prince of Wales. The crown prince survives to eventually become King Edward VII.

April 11: The US Navy purchases the first modern submarine designed and built by John Philip Holland.

April 30: Casey Jones dies trying to save the passengers of the Cannonball Express from colliding with a stalled train at Vaughn, Mississippi.

May 16: Publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

May 23: William Harvey Carney is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Fort Wagner during the Civil War. He is the first African American to received the award.

July 3: Tsar Nicholas II issues a decree that abolishes the banishment of dissidents and troublemakers to Siberia.

August: The first Michelin Guide is published. It lists hotels and restaurants in an effort to promote road travel and boost sales.

August 3: The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company is founded.

August 14: An army comprised of international forces seizes Beijing, China to crush the Boxer Rebellion.

August 29: Gaetano Bresci is sentenced to life in prison for killing King Umberto I of Italy. Bresci commits suicide while in jail the following May.

September 8: A hurricane strikes Galveston, Texas, and more than 6,000 people die. (Some estimates place the number as high as twice that.) It is one of the deadliest hurricanes in US history.

December 27: J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan premieres in London at the Duke of York Theatre.

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