Decade By Decade: Timelines of the 1800s
February 27, 1860: Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer from Springfield, Illinois, gave a speech at Cooper Union in New York City. Lincoln delivered a forceful and well-reasoned argument against the spread of slavery, and became an overnight star and a leading candidate for the upcoming presidential election.
November 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected president of the United States.
December 20, 1860: In response to Lincoln's election, the state of South Carolina issues an "Ordinance of Secession" and declares it is leaving the Union. Other states will follow.
March 4, 1861: Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the president of the United States.
April 12, 1861: In the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Sumter is attacked by Confederate guns.
May 24, 1861: Death of Col. Elmer Ellsworth, an event which energizes the North in the war effort.
Summer and Fall, 1861: Thaddeus Lowe begins the U.S. Army Balloon Corps, in which "aeronauts" ascend in balloons to view enemy troops.
December 13, 1861: Prince Albert, the husband of Britain's Queen Victoria, dies at the age of 42.
May 2, 1862: Death of writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden.
September 17, 1862: The Battle of Antietam is fought in western Maryland. It becomes known as the "America's Bloodiest Day."
October, 1862: Photographs taken by Alexander Gardner are put on public display at Mathew Brady's gallery in New York City. The public is shocked by the carnage depicted in the photographic prints.
January 1, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.
July 1-3, 1863: The epic Battle of Gettysburg is fought in Pennsylvania.
July 13, 1863: The New York Draft Riots begin, and continue for several days.
October 3, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln issues a proclamation declaring a Day of Thanksgiving to he observed on the last Thursday in November.
November 19, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address while dedicating a military cemetery at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg.
January 3, 1864: Death of Archbishop John Hughes, an immigrant priest who became a political force in New York City.
March 4, 1865: Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated for his second term as president of the United States. Lincoln's second inaugural address is remembered as one of his most notable speeches.
April 14, 1865: President Abraham Lincoln is shot at Ford's Theatre and dies the next morning.
Summer 1866: The Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, is formed.
March 17, 1867: The annual parade for St. Patrick's Day in New York City is marred by violent clashes. In the following years the tone of the parade is changed and it becomes a symbol of the emerging political power of the New York Irish.
May 30, 1868: The first Decoration Day is observed in the United States. The graves of Civil War veterans are decorated with flowers at Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries.
February 1868: Novelist and politician Benjamin Disraeli becomes Prime Minister of Britain for the first time.
Summer, 1868: Writer and naturalist John Muir arrives in Yosemite Valley for the first time.
March 4, 1869: Ulysses S. Grant is inaugurated as president of the United States of America.