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19th Century History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Social Protest For Christmas: Why Dickens Wrote...
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.
5 Reasons the Battle of Gettysburg Mattered
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
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.
Electric Christmas Lights Stretch Back to the...
The introduction of electric Christmas lights in the 1880s was due to Edward Johnson, a friend and business associate of Thomas Edison. Johnson's family Christmas tree was the first to feature electric lights, and newspapers of the day marveled over his innovation.
How the Nullification Crisis Arose as an Early...
The Nullification Crisis, an early battle over the idea of secession, arose when John C. Calhoun of South Carolina resisted federal power.
How Many of Our Christmas Traditions Began In...
Our modern conception of Christmas celebrations really began in the 1800s, when Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and other traditions took hold.
Compromise of 1877 Ended Reconstruction,...
Definition of Compromise of 1877
The Reasons for the War of 1812 Extended Beyond...
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.
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.
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.
Anti-Immigrant Know-Nothing Party Became a...
The Know-Nothing Party campaigned against immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s.
How Five Points Became New York's Most...
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
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.
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 Colonial Rule Defined India in the 1800s
The Raj, as British India was known, was the jewel of the British Empire in the 1800s.
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.
Federal Troops Were Sent to Break the 1894...
The Pullman Strike of 1894 stopped trains across America and the strike was broken by the U.S. Army forces deployed in American cities.
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?
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.
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 Britain's East India Company Came to...
The East India Company was a private company which, after a long series of wars and diplomatic efforts, came to rule India in the 19th century.
The Spoils Sytem, Where It Came From and What...
Definition of The Spoils System. 19th Century History.
Abolitionist
Definition of abolitionist. 19th Century History.
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.
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.
Robber Barons: How They Got That Name
The term robber baron and the men it described in the late 19th century.
Tariff of Abominations
Definition of Tariff of Abominations
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.
How the German Tradition of Christmas Trees...
A look at the history of Christmas trees shows that decorated trees had appeared in America even before Prince Albert and Queen Victoria made them fashionable.
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.
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.
Pendleton Act
Definition of the Pendleton Act, which reformed the Civil Service in the 1880s
Bleeding Kansas
Definition of Bleeding Kansas. 19th Century History.
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.
Era of Good Feelings
Definition of Era of Good Feelings
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
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.
Radical Republicans
Definition of Radical Republicans.
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
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.
Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
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.
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 Was the Monroe Doctrine?
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
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.
Sharecropping
Definition of Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
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.
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.
How the British Burned the White House and...
The burning of Washington in 1814 by British troops was a humiliating episode in American history.
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.
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.
American System (Economic Ideas Advanced by...
Definition of American System. 19th Century History.
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.
Lecompton Constitution
Lecompton Constitution. 19th Century History.
How President Buchanan Failed to Handle the...
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 Civil War Year By Year: A Timeline of the...
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.
Background and Significance of the Emancipation...
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, its background and significance.
What Was the Point of the Lewis and Clark...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Question: Why
Forty Acres and a Mule
Definition of Forty Acres and a Mule
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.
The Great Victorian Novelist: Charles Dickens
Concise illustrated biography of Charles Dickens, the great Victorian novelist.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How a French Aristocrat Founded the Modern...
Concise biography of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who organized the Olympic games in Athens in 1896.
The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Definition of The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Homestead Act
Definition of Homestead Act. 19th Century History.
The Attack That Started the Civil War
The attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 began the American Civil War.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Garibaldi, Revolutionary Who United Italy
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi became an international celebrity even before he succeeded in uniting Italy.
What Lincoln Wanted to Accomplish With His...
Abraham Lincoln had specific goals in mind and took great care in crafting the Gettysburg Address.
George Washington: What You Should Know About...
The basic facts one should know about George Washington, military hero and first president of the United States.
How the Sectional Conflicts Over Slavery Led to...
America's road to Civil War stretched for decades as regional conflict, centered on the issue of slavery, threatened to split the Union. Learn about America's long road to Civil War.
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.
Financial Panics of the 19th Century
A summary of the financial panics which periodically devastated the American economy throughout the 19th century.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Defined a Great...
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates in 1858 took place in a Senate race in Illinois, yet they had national significance. Abraham Lincoln was known locally as a rising political star, and Senator Stephen A. Douglas already stood near the zenith of American politics. Their seven Lincoln-Douglas Debates across Illinois dealt with the critical issue of the day, and was a prelude to Lincoln's election as president and the outbreak of Civil War.
Sitting Bull Was a Respected Leader of the Sioux
Sitting Bull was the leader of the Sioux at the time of Custer's encounter with the war parties at the Little Bighorn. Page 6.
The Mexican War
The Mexican War, fought between the United States and Mexico in the mid-1840s, was a triumph for the US and greatly increased American territory. It was wildly popular in its day though some critics denounced it at the time, and its origins remain a topic of debate to this day. Military leaders of the American Civil War, including Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, received valuable experience in Mexican battles.
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.
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.
Transcendentalist
Definition of Transcendentalist. 19th Century History.
Definition of Adams-Onis Treaty
Definition of Adams-Onis Treaty. 19th Century History.
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.
The Election of 1884 Was Marked By Gaffes and a...
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.
Impressment of Sailors
Definition of Impressment of Sailors
How New York's Great Fire of 1835 Nearly...
New York City's Great Fire of 1835 destroyed much of lower Manhattan and wiped out the financial center of America in one freezing night.
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.
Lincoln Made Thanksgiving Official When Urged...
A campaign by editor Sarah Josepha Hale to make Thanksgiving an official federal holiday succeeded in 1863 when President Lincoln issued a proclamation.
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.
A Look at Some Classic Slave Narratives
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing.
Tecumseh, Native American leader who stood up...
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites.
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.
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.
Treaty of Kanagawa
Definition of Treaty of Kanagawa
Leading Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison...
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist publisher of The Liberator, was an ardent crusader against slavery.
How the Anti-Slavery Republican Party Was Founded
The founding of the Republican party occurred in the mid-1850s, sparked by anti-slavery activists responding to the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
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.
Opposition to the War of 1812 Came From Many...
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.
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.
Ruthless Steel Magnate Andrew Carnegie Became a...
Andrew Carnegie ruthlessly dominated the American steel industry for a quarter-century before devoting himself to philanthropy.
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.
American Colonization Society
Definition of the American Colonization Society
Louisiana Purchase
Definition of Louisiana Purchase
Controversial Yet Essential: The Freedmen's...
The Freedmen's Bureau, an agency designed to assist former slaves following the Civil War, was controversial yet essential.
Slavery in 19th Century America
Links to the people and events that figure prominently in U.S. slavery, which was legal under the U.S. Constitution until the Civil War.
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.
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.
Free Soil Party
Definition of Free Soil Party. 19th Century History.
President of Confederacy Might Have Become...
The facts one needs to know about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
One Spooky Scary Century: Supernatural Events...
The 19th century featured a strong presence of the supernatural, despite being a period obsessed with science and technology.
Was an Obscure and Forgotten Tariff the Real...
Some people claim a forgotten law, the Morrill Tariff, was the real cause of the American Civil War. Is this true? What is the real story?
Irish Rebellions of the 1800s
Ireland was marked by a series of rebellions throughout the 1800s as the Irish fought against British rule.
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.
Molly Maguires: Violent Secret Society of...
Definition of Molly Maguires. 19th Century History.
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.
Andrew Jackson: What You Should Know About the...
The facts one should know about Andrew Jackson, one of the most significant 19th century presidents.
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.
The Facts to Know About Abraham Lincoln
The basic facts everyone should know about Abraham Lincoln, one of the great American presidents.
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
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.
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.
Bloodiest Day in American History: The Battle...
The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the Civil War.
A Bloody Beating In the U.S. Senate Inflamed...
A southern congressman beat an anti-slavery senator from Massachusetts with a cane in the U.S. Capitol as tensions over slavery boiled over in May 1856.
Victoria: The Queen Whose Name Defined an Age
She ruled Great Britain for six decades, and her life in some ways defined the 1800s.
Reconstruction
Definition of Reconstruction. 19th Century History.
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.
Oil Monopolist John D. Rockefeller Epitomized...
John D. Rockefeller's ruthless business practices branded him as a notorious robber baron, yet he gave away hundreds of millions of dollars.
Clipper Ship
Definition of Clipper Ship. 19th Century History.
How Three Powerful Senators Dominated American...
Three powerful senators, Clay, Webster, and Calhoun, each representing a particular region of the nation, defined American politics for decades in the 1800s.
King Cotton
Definition of King Cotton. 19th Century History.
Eccentric Congressman Thaddeus Stevens Impacted...
Thaddeus Stevens, eccentric congressman and fierce opponent of slavery, was a dominant figure on Capitol Hill in the Civil War era.
Antebellum Era
Definition of Antebellum. 19th Century History.
Election of 1840: The Log Cabin and Hard Cider...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The election of
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.
Manifest Destiny: What the Term Meant and How...
The concept of manifest destiny: what it meant, how the term was coined, and what its implications were in 19th century America.
Questions of Mary Todd Lincoln's Mental Health...
Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln is often remembered as being mentally ill, but is that perception of her accurate?
The New York Draft Riots
The streets of New York erupted in shocking violence for several days in July 1863 in what became known as the New York City Draft Riots. The federal government instituting conscription for the army during the Civil War was the root cause, though other factors, such as racial and ethnic strife, certainly played a part. This gallery of images documents the horrors of the Draft Riots, in which buildings were burned and hundreds of people were killed or wounded.
Secession
Definition of Secession. 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.
Why We Associate the Civil War with Amputation
Surgeons during the Civil War often amputated limbs. Why were amputations so common in the Civil War? What made Civil War wounds so destructive?
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