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19th Century History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Was Abraham Lincoln Really a Wrestler?
President Abraham Lincoln was a very good wrestler as a youth and his wrestling exploits were used during his presidential campaign in 1860 and became part of the Lincoln legend.
What Is the Nullification Crisis?
Definition of Nullification Crisis
The Know-Nothing Party in America: It Was Not a...
The Know-Nothing Party campaigned against immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s.
Why the Election of 1828 Was the Dirtiest Ever
The election of 1828 was perhaps the dirtiest in American history, as the Jackson and Adams campaigns threw scurrilous charges at each other.
Causes of the War of 1812
The causes for the War of 1812 included impressment of American sailors as well as other important issues.
The Uprising That Shook British India
The Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Revolt of 1857, shook British rule in India.
Why the Election of 1824 Was Called "The...
The deadlocked election of 1824 was decided in the House of Representatives with the outcome widely denounced as an act of high-level bribery.
Charles Darwin's Five Years Circling the Globe...
HMS Beagle carried Charles Darwin around the world for five years and influenced his later thinking about how life evolved.
The Most Important Events of the 1800s
The 19th century was a time of tremendous change, and this comprehensive timeline will help you navigate through the decades of the 1800s.
How Five Points Became New York's Most...
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
Era of Good Feelings
Definition of Era of Good Feelings
5 Reasons the Battle of Gettysburg Mattered
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
How the Indian Removal Policy Led to the Trail...
Indian Removal was a controversial policy by which the U.S. government, led by President Andrew Jackson, forced Indian tribes in the South to leave their ancestral lands. The policy culminated in the notorious Trail of Tears, a forced exodus of the Cherokee tribe.
How Colonial Rule Defined India in the 1800s
The Raj, as British India was known, was the jewel of the British Empire in the 1800s.
Timeline: Historic Events in the 1880s
The timeline of the 1880s includes labor unrest, turmoil in Russia, warfare in Afghanistan, and celebrations for new landmarks in New York City.
How Tammany Hall Essentially Ran New York City
Tammany Hall was political machine that ran New York City through a system of political patronage, and it was the epitome of corrupt politics in the 1800s.
The Missouri Compromise
The crisis prompted in 1820 when Missouri sought to enter the Union as a slave state resulted in a great compromise which attempted to lessen the enormous tensions caused by slavery, the great divisive issue in early 19th century America.
Meet Some of the Great Authors of the 19th...
The 19th century was known for literary figures. Read about authors of the 1800s, including Dickens, Whitman, Irving, Melville, Irving, and Poe.
American System (Economic Ideas Advanced by...
Definition of American System. 19th Century History.
The Spoils Sytem, Where It Came From and What...
Definition of The Spoils System. 19th Century History.
Learn About the 19th Century's Largest Volcanic...
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
Strike Against Pullman Palace Car Company...
The Pullman Strike of 1894 stopped trains across America and the strike was broken by the U.S. Army forces deployed in American cities.
The Impossible Accomplished: Building the...
The building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the greatest engineering of its era and one still used by thousands of commuters everyday.
Tariff of Abominations
Definition of Tariff of Abominations
Why the Election of 1800 Was So Controversial
The election of 1800 was significant and controversial, and was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives when Thomas Jefferson defeated Aaron Burr.
Timeline: Noteworthy Events of the 1890s
The 1890s: A decade of events ranging from the Lizzie Borden murder case, the First Modern Olympics, to the U.S.S. Maine mysteriously exploding.
Why Krakatoa Became Worldwide News
Krakatoa's colossal eruption in 1883 became an early worldwide media event thanks to news traveling very quickly by telegraph.
Robber Barons: How They Got That Name
The term robber baron and the men it described in the late 19th century.
Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
The Anaconda Plan Was Meant to Strangle the...
The Anaconda Plan was an early strategy to economically strangle the Confederacy, similar to how an anaconda snake would constrict its victims.
How Jefferson Fought the Barbary Pirates
President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute and dispatched the young U.S. Navy to battle the Barbary Pirates.
What Happened During the Great Irish Famine?
The Great Famine that ravaged the potato crop in Ireland in the 1840s caused widespread starvation, and prompted a wave of emigration to America.
The Impact of the 1886 Haymarket Square Riot in...
The Haymarket Riot was ignited by an anarchist bombing, and set back the American labor union for years.
Compromise of 1877 Ended Reconstruction,...
Definition of Compromise of 1877
What Were the Major Events of the 1870s?
The 1870s were marked by Custer meeting his end at the Little Bighorn, construction work on the Brooklyn Bridge, Queen Victoria taking an imperial title, and Bismarck provoking the Franco-Prussian War.
Why 1816 Was the Year Without a Summer
A widespread weather disaster caused by a volcanic eruption made 1816 known as the Year Without a Summer.
Timeline from 1830 to 1840
The 1830s was a decade marked by railroad building in America, Opium Wars in Asia, and the ascension to the British throne of the woman who whose name would come to define the century, Queen Victoria.
Charge of the Light Brigade: The Famous Blunder...
Seven things to know about the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Why Is Election Day on a Tuesday in November?
The tradition of holding America's presidential election on a Tuesday in November began in the early 1800s, and was established in law in the 1840s.
Why Didn't These Political Parties Make It Out...
The 19th century gave birth to today's political parties, but it also saw the emergence and extinction of a number of other parties. Some were the parties of presidents, and some seemed to have been doomed for failure and obscurity.
Pendleton Act
Definition of the Pendleton Act, which reformed the Civil Service in the 1880s
Britain's Disastrous Retreat from Kabul
A British Army was massacred in January 1842 while retreating from Kabul, Afghanistan and only one man survived to tell the horrifying story.
Sharecropping
Definition of Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
How Abraham Lincoln Won the Fateful Election of...
Lincoln's political skills brought him to the White House in one of the most important elections in American history.
What Was the Monroe Doctrine?
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
Barnum's Greatest and Smallest Attraction,...
General Tom Thumb was a tiny show business phenomenon who performed for Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, and millions of ordinary fans.
Garibaldi, Revolutionary Who United Italy
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi became an international celebrity even before he succeeded in uniting Italy.
Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation Declared...
A campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday finally succeeded when Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for a national day of Thanksgiving at the height of the Civil War, in 1863. Prior to that, Thanksgiving was a regional holiday, celebrated mostly in the northeast and on different days in different states.
How Uncle Tom's Cabin made slavery a personal...
Did the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin help to start the Civil War? Did Harriet Beecher Stowe intend to influence public opinion by writing a novel? To what extent did she influence public opinion?
How the British Burned the White House and...
The burning of Washington in 1814 by British troops was a humiliating episode in American history.
Some of the spookiest events of the very spooky...
The 19th century featured a strong presence of the supernatural, despite being a period obsessed with science and technology. These are some of the noteworthy supernatural and spooky events of the 1800s.
The Election of 1884 Between Cleveland and...
The election of 1884 was notable for mudslinging, scandals, and a last-minute gaffe that allowed Grover Cleveland to defeat the favorite, James G. Blaine.
Queen Victoria's German Husband Influenced...
Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of Britain, was a German prince who came to wield great influence on British society.
Men Labored in Horrendous Conditions in the...
Much of the early work on the Brooklyn Bridge was invisible to the public, as it occurred underwater, in caissons, huge bottomless boxes sunk on the river bottom. Page 3.
Social protest at Christmas: How Dickens...
Why and how Charles Dickens wrote his classic story A Christmas Carol, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his encounters with the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
Half of New York Fled the City: The 1832...
The cholera epidemic of 1832 afflicted major cities of Europe as well as North America, killing thousands and creating widespread panic.
Definition of Adams-Onis Treaty
Definition of Adams-Onis Treaty. 19th Century History.
The National Road, America's First Major Highway
The National Road, an early forerunner of the federal highway system, was constructed from western Maryland to Ohio in the early decades of the 19th century.
Washington Irving Gave Us Gotham, Knickerbocker...
Washington Irving popularized the terms Gotham and Knickerbocker as well as creating unforgettable characters like Rip Van Winkle.
How Coubertin Founded the Modern Olympics
Concise biography of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who organized the Olympic games in Athens in 1896.
When Was the First Oil Well Made?
The first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859 by Edwin Drake, who started the modern oil industry though he would only drill three oil wells in his brief career.
Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt Amassed the...
Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as The Commodore, amassed a huge fortune in 19th century America after starting out with one boat in New York Harbor.
The War of 1812 Was Opposed By Many Americans
Considerable opposition to the War of 1812, much of it quite bitter, came from Americans who opposed the declaration of war signed by President Madison.
Timeline from 1800 to 1810
The decade from 1800 to 1810 represented a time of expansion and exploration in the United States and a time of warfare and turmoil in Europe.
Impressment of Sailors
Definition of Impressment of Sailors
Election of 1840: The Log Cabin and Hard Cider...
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Greenbacks
Definition of Greenbacks. 19th Century History.
The Civil War Year By Year
The American Civil War lasted four years, and evolved from what people thought would be a minor conflict into an very bloody ordeal. Learn about the chronology of the Civil War.
Why Whaling Was So Important in the 19th Century
The whaling industry flourished in New England from about 1820 to 1860, until the demand for oil for illumination was replaced by oil taken from the ground.
Abraham Lincoln's Greatest Speeches
One of the things that made Abraham Lincoln a skillful politician and great president was his ability to write and deliver great speeches. Read about Lincoln's greatest speeches, and learn what he accomplished with them.
The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Definition of The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
A Look at Some Classic Slave Narratives
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing.
The Invention of the Telegraph Changed...
In the 19th century the world was changed profoundly by the telegraph, which made transmission of news almost instantaneous. A transatlantic cable made communication possible between America and Europe, and by the end of the century nearly every corner of the world had been reached by the telegraph wire.
Reformer With a Camera: Urban Journalist Jacob...
Jacob Riis brought attention to the plight of slum dwellers through his pioneering work as a journalist in New York City.
Timeline from 1820 to 1830
The 1820s were a decade of exciting changes. October 26, 1825: The entire length of the Erie Canal was officially opened across New York.
Abolitionist
Definition of abolitionist. 19th Century History.
Christmas traditions including even Santa Claus...
Christmas celebrations began in the 19th century,when Santa Claus and Christmas trees became popular, thanks to cartoonist Thomas Nast and others.
What Products Were Produced from Whales?
Whaling in the 1800s is often remembered for tales of adventure, but men actually risked their lives throwing harpoons at huge animals because many useful products were obtained from the bodies of whales.
Timeline: Major Events of the 1840s
The decade of the 1840s was marked by the Mexican War, the discovery of gold in California, and the launch of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.
Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor
The great Prussian diplomat and political strategist Otto von Bismarck provoked several wars while engaging in his life's work of unifying Germany in the late 1800s.
Timeline from 1850 to 1860
The decade of the 1850s was marked by controversy over slavery in the United States, the Crimean War fought between Russian and European powers, and the rapid growth of steam-power travel on water and land.
When Pinkertons Sent to Break a Strike Were...
A strike at a Pennsylvania steel mill turned shockingly violent as townspeople battled a small army of Pinkertons in 1892.
Emma Lazarus Changed the Meaning of the Statue...
A poem by Emma Lazarus essentially changed the meaning of the Statue of Liberty, which had not been intended to be a symbol of immigration.
Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie ruthlessly dominated the American steel industry for a quarter-century before devoting himself to philanthropy.
Wall Street Manipulator Jay Gould Personified...
Jay Gould, a notorious robber baron, became famous for manipulating railroad stocks and trying to corner the market on gold.
Financial Panics of the 19th Century
A summary of the financial panics which periodically devastated the American economy throughout the 19th century.
Why We Have Time Zones and How the Railroads...
Time zones, an innovation by American railroads in 1883, eventually spread worldwide.
Radical Republicans
Definition of Radical Republicans.
Famous Murders of the 19th Century
The 19th century had its share of famous murders, including the Lizzie Borden murder case, the Lincoln assassination, and the murder of Helen Jewett.
The Great Stolen Election of 1876
The presidential election of 1876 was widely believed to have been stolen when a special deal was struck to declare Rutherford B. Hayes the winner.
Was Moby Dick a Real Whale?
When Herman Melville wrote his classic novel Moby Dick, he relied on the story of a notorious white whale often sighted in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America.
Forty Acres and a Mule
Definition of Forty Acres and a Mule
Timeline from 1860 to 1870
A timeline of the 1860s, including the American Civil War, the greatest historical event of the decade, as well as other events around the world.
Best Tech Event Ever: The Great Exhibition at...
Learn about the spectacular exhibition--a technology milestone--organized by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's scientifically minded husband.
Who Paid for the Statue of Liberty?
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States, but the question of who actually paid for the statue has some surprising answers.
What Was the Point of the Lewis and Clark...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Question: Why
Superpower Clash of the 1800s: The Crimean War
The Crimean War of 1854-56 was waged by allies Britain and France against Russia, and was provoked over obscure reasons.
Tecumseh, Native American leader who stood up...
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites.
How the Kansas-Nebraska Act Backfired
The highly controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, intended as a compromise over slavery, actually inflamed tensions and hastened the Civil War.
Did Lincoln Really Swing a Mean Ax?
The real story of how Abe Lincoln's use of an ax became a political legend.
How One Fire Destroyed Chicago
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a major American city, making it one of the great disasters of the 19th century.
Boss Tweed, New York's Legendary Corrupt...
Biography of Boss Tweed, legendary corrupt political boss of New York City in the era following the Civil War.
Transcendentalist
Definition of Transcendentalist. 19th Century History.
Timeline from 1810 to 1820
The decade from 1810 to 1820 was marked by the Battle of Waterloo, the British burning the White House, Francis Scott Key writing the Star-Spangled Banner
The Brooklyn Bridge Under Construction
This stereograph card shows the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge before the four massive suspension cables were strung between them. Page 4.
The Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge Was a Time...
This illustration from an illustrated newspaper shows how the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge was a cause of great celebration. . Page 9.
War Hawks
Definition of War Hawks. 19th Century History.
Did Mrs. O'Leary's Cow Really Start the Chicago...
The rumor that Mrs. O'Leary's cow started the great Chicago Fire in 1871 has persisted. But is it true?
Abraham Lincoln's 1838 Address to the...
Abraham Lincoln, in his earliest published speech, warned of mob violence while speaking on America's future at the Young Men's Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois.
Great Legislative Compromises Held the Union...
Compromises in the 1800s over slavery delayed the Civil War: The Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Compromise of 1850, and 1854's Kansas-Nebraska Act
John James Audubon's Created the Masterpiece...
Audubon overcame obstacles to create a masterpiece of 19th century American art, a collection titled Birds of America, in four volumes between 1827 and 1838.
The Grimké Sisters
The Grimké Sisters became abolitionist heroines in the 1830s, as the women from a slave-owning family in the South toured New England speaking out against the evils of slavery.
The Compromise of 1850 Delayed the Civil War...
The Compromise of 1850, a controversial set of laws passed by Congress, preserved the Union but was only a temporary solution to the issue of slavery in America.
George Armstrong Custer
Dramatic images of George Armstrong Custer during the Civil War, when he first became famous as a dashing cavalry commander.
Constructing the Cables on the Brooklyn Bridge...
The work of suspending the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge had to be precise and it was complicated by being done high up on the bridge, in all kinds of weather. Page 8.
Why It's Called a Stump Speech: The Lively...
Definition of Stump Speech: History of the term and its lively 19th century frontier origins.
Was Mary Todd Lincoln Mentally Ill?
Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln is often remembered as being mentally ill, but is that perception of her accurate?
Building the Erie Canal
It was a dream, and many people scoffed. But when the Erie Canal opened in 1825, it was the marvel of its age. And it was soon a huge economic success.
Mary Todd Lincoln, Wife of President Abraham...
Brief biography of Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, who was controversial in her own time and remains a largely misunderstood figure today.
Antebellum Era
Definition of Antebellum. 19th Century History.
Bleeding Kansas
Definition of Bleeding Kansas. 19th Century History.
Importation of Slaves Outlawed by 1807 Act of...
A law passed in 1807 to ban the importation of slaves into the United States was timed because of a little-known provision inserted in the Constitution.
Presidential Campaigns of the 1800s Could be...
The presidential campaigns of the 1800s could be raucous affairs, with iconic personalities battling it out at times of national crisis.
Jim Fisk, Flamboyant and Unscrupulous Wall...
Jim Fisk was a partner of business man Jay Gould, and the pair defined unethical Wall Street practices in the late 1860s.
Six Things You Don't Know About Queen Victoria
These six facts about Queen Victoria may change the way you think about the woman whose name defined the 19th Century.
Gigantic Anchorage Structures Held the Four...
This image of the Brooklyn anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge illustrate what actually made the bridge work: enormous cables anchored at either end would carry the weight of the roadway. Page 7.
Lowell Mill Girls
A look at Francis Cabot Lowell's innovative and adventurous Lowell Girls textile factory work program of the early 19th century.
The Head of the Statue of Liberty was Displayed...
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the United States, rose above New York harbor in 1886 and became a welcoming symbol to immigrants arriving from around the world. Page 4.
Henry Clay, the Most Powerful American...
Henry Clay was perhaps the most powerful American who never served as President of the United States, though he ran for the office several times.
The Attack That Started the Civil War
The attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 began the American Civil War.
Conservationist John Muir Helped Inspire the...
Scottish-born John Muir was a strong advocate for the US National Parks in the 19th century.
William Lloyd Garrison, Leading American...
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist publisher of The Liberator, was an ardent crusader against slavery.
The Real Story of the Bombardment Described in...
The attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore's harbor was a pivotal moment in the War of 1812 - and led to the U.S. National Anthem.
Louisiana Purchase
Definition of Louisiana Purchase
All About Lizzie Borden and Ax Murders In Her...
Lizzie Borden was arrested for the ax murders of family members and her trial was a media sensation in the early 1890s.
Former Slave Frederick Douglass Became a Fiery...
Concise biography of Frederick Douglass, whose life was emblematic of the struggle of slaves and former slaves in 19th century America.
Clipper Ship
Definition of Clipper Ship. 19th Century History.
President James Buchanan and the Secession Crisis
President James Buchanan faced a horrendous problem as his term came to an end after the election of Abraham Lincoln: the southern states began to leave the Union.
The Brooklyn Bridge's Temporary Footbridge...
Images such as this, of the Brooklyn Bridge's temporary footbridge, fascinated the public in the 1870s. Page 5.
John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller's ruthless business practices branded him as a notorious robber baron, yet he gave away hundreds of millions of dollars.
What You Should Know About the Gettysburg Address
Abraham Lincoln had specific goals in mind and took great care in crafting the Gettysburg Address.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: One of the Most Influentia...
Concise biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most influential American writers of the 19th century and a leading Transcendentalist.
Civil War Drummers: Five Things You Should Know
Civil War drummers were a critical part of the army. Here are five things you should know about them.
Background and Significance of the Emancipation...
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, its background and significance.
Yellowstone Expedition Led to Creation of First...
The first National Park was Yellowstone, a magnificent wilderness set aside in 1872 to be preserved and protected.
Penny Press
Definition of Penny Press. 19th Century History.
Alexander Gardner's Photographs of Antietam
America was shocked in 1862 by Alexander Gardner's photographs taken on the battlefield at Antietam.
American Colonization Society
Definition of the American Colonization Society
Jefferson Davis: Significant Facts and Brief...
The facts one needs to know about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
Charles Darwin Published On the Origin of...
The British naturalist Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species on November 24, 1859 and profoundly changed the way people considered biology and science in general.
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