19th Century Crimes and Disasters
Famous Murders of the 19th Century
The 19th century had its share of famous murders. Read about notorious homicides including the Lizzie Borden murder case, the Lincoln assassination, and the murder of Helen Jewett.
Lizzie Borden Was Accused of Axe Murders of Her Father and His Wife
The trial of Lizzie Borden for the axe murders of her father and stepmother in 1892 was a sensation. Newspapers followed the case closely, and the Lizzie Borden case led to decades of speculation, not to mention a popular playground rhyme.
Murder of Helen Jewett Became a Media Sensation in 1836
The 1836 murder of Helen Jewett, a beautiful young New York prostitute, became a famous murder case and one of the first media sensations.
Failed Presidential Assassinations of the 19th Century
Read about assassination attempts on American presidents which failed in the 19th century. Included are the incident in which a man tried to shoot Andrew Jackson at close range, an apparent poisoning of James Buchanan, and a plot to kill Abraham Lincoln before he even took the oath of office for the first time.
The 19th century was marked by a number of notorious swindles, including one involving a fictitious county, one connected to the transcontinental railroad, and a number of bank and stock market frauds.
Hurricane Called The Great September Gale Struck New York City in 1821
A massive hurricane hammed New York City in 1821, and study of its destruction led to a theory that explained how hurricanes formed and traveled.
Krakatoa Volcano Eruption in 1883 Was a Worldwide Weather and Media Event
The colossal eruption of the volcano at Krakatoa in the Pacific Ocean became a worldwide weather and media event in 1883. Sunsets around the world were colored red by particles blasted into the atmosphere, and the news traveling by telegraph brought amazing accounts to newspaper readers around the globe.
Mount Tambora Was the Largest Volcanic Eruption of 19th Century
The eruption of the volcano at Mount Tambora in 1815 was the largest volcanic eruption of the 19th century and contributed to 1816 being known as "The Year Without a Summer."
The Year Without a Summer Was a Bizarre Weather Disaster in 1816
The year 1816 became known as The Year Without a Summer when temperatures stayed cold and crops failed; the cause was a volcanic eruption a year earlier, on the opposite side of the world.
The Cholera Epidemic of 1832 Killed Thousands and Created Panic
The cholera epidemic of 1832 afflicted major cities of Europe as well as North America, killing thousands and creating widespread panic.
New York's Great Fire of 1835
New York City's Great Fire of 1835 destroyed most of lower Manhattan and wiped out the financial center of America in one freezing night.
The Sinking of the Steamship Arctic Cost Hundreds of Lives in 1854
The sinking of the steamship Arctic, one of the grandest ships afloat in the 1850s, was a disaster that stunned the world in September 1854. The ship, which carried more than 300 people, rammed another vessel in fog off Canada, and every single passenger perished when crewmen, in a mad panic, seized the lifeboats for their own use.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 Essentially Destroyed the Entire City
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a major American city, making it one of the great disasters of the 19th century.
Did Mrs. O'Leary's Cow Start the Great Chicago Fire?
When the great Chicago Fire broke out in 1871 a rumor immediately spread that a cow belonging to a Mrs. O'Leary had kicked over a kerosene lantern and started the inferno. Was the legendary tale of Mrs. O'Leary's cow true?
The Johnstown Flood Shocked America and the World in 1889
Heavy rainfall caused water to rise in the streets of Johnstown, Pennsylvania in late May 1889. But nothing could prepare the townspeople for what was about to happen.
A dam on a hill 14 miles away burst. A wall of water sped toward the town, slamming into it like a gigantic bulldozer.
Johnstown was caught by surprise. Many citizens were drowned, crushed by debris, or simply swept away.
The Great Blizzard of 1888
The Great Blizzard of 1888 struck the Northeast and brought a modernizing society to its knees.
The Astor Place Riot Revealed a Deep Split in New York City Society
The Astor Place Riot in 1849 revealed deep fracture in New York City, as an apparent dispute about actors led to soldiers shooting dozens of rioters.
Riots In the 19th Century
Riots occurred periodically in the 19th century and startling violence brought deep divisions in society to the surface.
Great Scandals of the 19th Century
Scandals of the 19th century, including political chicanery, financial swindles, and violations of societal norms.
New York City's Flour Riot
New York City's 1837 Flour riot, sparked by rumored food shortages, demonstrated deep divisions in the city's growing population.
Financier Russell Sage Attacked
Financier Russell Sage was nearly killed in 1891 when a dynamite bomb exploded in his Manhattan office.
Steamship Lexington Disaster
The burning and sinking of the steamship Lexington in Long Island Sound was a shocking disaster in January 1840.