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19th Century History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Why Charles Darwin Spent 5 Years Aboard H.M.S....
HMS Beagle carried Charles Darwin around the world for five years in the early 1800s, and observations he made at the Galapagos Islands and other exotic locations led to his writings about the theory of evolution.
What Led Up to Indian Removal and the Trail of...
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.
Facts and Images: The Assassination of Abraham...
News of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865 shocked the United States at the end of the Civil War.
The 1816 Weather Disaster: A Year Without a...
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 Election of 1860 Brings Abraham Lincoln to...
The election of 1860 is one of the most important in American history, as it came at a time of national crisis and brought Abraham Lincoln to the White House.
Timelines 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.
You Should Know What the Five Points Neighborho...
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
Nullification Crisis
Definition of Nullification Crisis
A Timeline of India in the 1800s
The Raj, as British India was known, was the jewel of the British Empire in the 1800s.
Timeline from 1880 to 1890
The timeline of the 1880s includes labor unrest, turmoil in Russia, warfare in Afghanistan, and celebrations for new landmarks in New York City.
Notable Authors of the 19th Century
The 19th century was known for literary figures. Read about authors of the 1800s, including Washington Irving, Emma Lazarus, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Charles Darwin.
The Know-Nothing Party Opposed Immigration to...
Learn about the American political party called the Know-Nothings, which campaigned against immigrants, specifically new arrivals from Ireland in the 1840s and 1850s.
Mount Tambora Was the Largest Volcanic Eruption...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The tremendous
The Election of 1828 Was Marked By Dirty Tactics
The election of 1828 was perhaps the dirtiest in American history, as the campaigns of Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams threw scurrilous charges back and forth.
Krakatoa Volcano Eruption in 1883 Was a...
The colossal eruption of the volcano at Krakatoa became a worldwide weather and media event in 1883 and was followed by months of eerie red sunsets.
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.
Definition of Greenbacks. 19th Century History.
Extinct Political Parties of the 1800s
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.
A Brief History of Whaling
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.
Tammany Hall
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.
Ships, Champagne, and Superstition
The tradition of christening news ships by breaking a bottle of champagne against the bow developed in the 19th century. By the late 1800s, ship christenings were elaborate public events, attended by many thousands. It was considered extremely important that the champagne bottle break on the first attempt, or the ship would be considered unlucky.
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 Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 Shook British Rule in...
The Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Revolt of 1857, shook British rule in India.
Timeline from 1870 to 1880
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.
Timeline from 1890 to 1900
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 1886 Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago
The Haymarket Riot was ignited by an anarchist bombing, and set back the American labor union for years.
Election of 1800 Was Significant and Controvers...
The election of 1800 was significant and controversial, and was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives when Thomas Jefferson defeated Aaron Burr.
Compromise of 1877
Definition of Compromise of 1877
British Troops Burned the Capitol and the White...
The War of 1812 holds a peculiar place in history. It’s often overlooked, and it’s probably most noteworthy
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was envisioned as a compromise over slavery, but it wound up inflaming passions on both sides of the issue and becoming a major stepping stone on the path to Civil War.
Building the Brooklyn Bridge
New York's Brooklyn Bridge was the greatest engineering achievement of its era when it was finished in 1883. During its 14 years of construction skeptics thought it would collapse, but more than 125 years later, its a beautiful landmark and a very practical conveyance used by thousands of commuters everyday.
The Attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 Began...
The attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861, which began the American Civil War. While technically the first battle of the war, the engagement lasted little more than a day, and no one was deliberately killed.
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.
Definition of abolitionist. 19th Century History.
Causes of the War of 1812
The causes for the War of 1812 included impressment of American sailors as well as other important issues.
Tariff of Abominations
Definition of Tariff of Abominations
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.
Edwin Drake Drilled the First Oil Well in...
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.
John Sutter, Whose Sawmill Launched the...
John Sutter owned the land that kicked off the California Gold Rush in 1848, but did not share in any of its riches.
Classic Slave Narratives
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing. These authors, all of whom struggled to achieve freedom, told their stories and helped galvanize the abolition movement in America.
The Election of 1824 Was Decided in the House...
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William Lloyd Garrison, Leading American...
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist publisher of The Liberator, was an ardent crusader against slavery.
Significance of the Battle of Gettysburg
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
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.
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.
Prince Albert, Husband of Queen Victoria
Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria of Britain, was a German prince who came to wield great influence on British society. His untimely death in 1861 devastated Queen Victoria, who wore mourning clothes for the rest of her life.
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.
Anaconda Plan
Definition of Anaconda Plan. 19th Century History.
Emancipation Proclamation
Definition of The Emancipation Proclamation
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.
The Crimean War
The Crimean War of 1854-56 was waged by allies Britain and France against Russia, and was provoked over obscure reasons.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858
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.
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.
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?
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.
Shawnee Chief Tecumseh Created a Confederation...
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites upon Indian lands in what is now Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. His conflict with William Henry Harrison became a frontier legend, and after his death in the War of 1812 he was a respected figure in both the Indian and white cultures.
The Young U.S. Navy Battled North African Pirates
The young U.S. Navy battled North African pirates when Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute.
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.
Definition of Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
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.
The Cholera Epidemic of 1832 Killed Thousands...
The cholera epidemic of 1832 afflicted major cities of Europe as well as North America, killing thousands and creating widespread panic.
Abe Lincoln and His Ax: Reality Behind the Legend
The real story of how Abe Lincoln's use of an ax became a political legend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Era of Good Feelings
Definition of Era of Good Feelings
Why Were Flags Enormously Important in the...
Flags were enormously important in the American Civil War for both practical and symbolic reasons.
Forty Acres and a Mule
Definition of Forty Acres and a Mule
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.
Financial Panics of the 19th Century
A summary of the financial panics which periodically devastated the American economy throughout the 19th century.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a major American city, making it one of the great disasters of the 19th century.
Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens, a Congressman from Pennsylvania, was a lifelong opponent of slavery and led the Radical Republicans during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The Spoils System
Definition of The Spoils System. 19th Century History.
The Election of 1876 Brought Rutherford B....
The election of 1876 was close and controversial, and the winner of the popular vote was denied the White House. In a deal made with a congressional commission, Rutherford B. Hayes wound up defeating Samuel J. Tilden, who had probably won the election.
A Christmas Carol by Charles 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.
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 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.
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?
Early American Presidents
The basic facts about America's earliest presidents, from 1789 to 1840.
Seven Facts About the Lincoln-Douglas Debates
Seven facts everyone should know about the legendary Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858.
Monroe Doctrine
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
The Great Irish Famine: Turning Point for...
The Great Famine that ravaged the potato crop in Ireland in the 1840s caused widespread starvation, and prompted a wave of emigration to America.
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.
Violence Over Slavery on the Floor of the US...
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.
The Founder of the Modern Olympics, Pierre de...
Concise biography of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who organized the Olympic games in Athens in 1896.
The Underground Railroad Helped Slaves Escape
Concise history of the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped fugitive slaves.
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.
Homestead Steel Strike of 1892 Shocked America
A strike at Homestead, Pennsylvania, turned shockingly violent as townspeople fought a small army of Pinkertons in 1892.
Murder of Helen Jewett Became a Media Sensation...
The 1836 murder of Helen Jewett, a beautiful young New York prostitute, became a famous murder case and one of the first media sensations.
Britain's Great Exhibition of 1851 Was a...
Britain's Great Exhibition of 1851 assembled technology from around the world in London. Learn about the spectacular exhibition organized by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's scientifically minded husband.
The Story Behind the Gettysburg Address, the...
Abraham Lincoln took great care in writing the Gettysburg Address, which has become one of the most quoted speeches in history.
Timeline from 1840 to 1850
The 1840s were marked by the Mexican War, the discovery of gold in California, and the launch of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.
Radical Republicans
Definition of Radical Republicans
Robber Baron
Definition of Robber Baron. 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.
Was the Morrill Tariff the Real Cause of the...
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?
Definition of Transcendentalist. 19th Century History.
Civil War Drummer Boys
Civil War drummers were a critical part of the army. Here are five things you should know about them.
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.
John Brown, Fanatical Abolitionist Whose Raid...
John Brown, a fanatical abolitionist, led a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry and moved the U.S. closer to Civil War.
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?
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Transcendentalist...
Concise biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most influential American writers of the 19th century and a leading Transcendentalist.
Why did the Lewis and Clark Expedition Cross...
: Why did the Lewis and Clark Expedition Cross North America? Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and
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, and the base it stands upon, has some surprising answers.
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.
How did the Statue of Liberty become a symbol...
The Statue of Liberty was not meant to be a symbol of immigration, but a poem by Emma Lazarus gave it deeper meaning than even its creator intended.
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 writer who gave us Gotham, Knickerbocker,...
Washington Irving popularized the terms Gotham and Knickerbocker as well as creating unforgettable characters like Rip Van Winkle.
Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
George Armstrong Custer
Dramatic images of George Armstrong Custer during the Civil War, when he first became famous as a dashing cavalry commander.
Timeline from 1810 to 1820
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Arthur Conan Doyle
Scottish-born author Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the world's most famous characters, Sherlock Holmes.
The Black Friday Gold Corner
Unscrupulous financier Jay Gould tried to corner the market on gold, and caused the Black Friday panic of September 24, 1869.
Supernatural and Spooky Events of the 1800s
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.
Bleeding Kansas
Definition of Bleeding Kansas. 19th Century History.
John Muir, Naturalist Whose Writings Inspired...
Scottish-born John Muir was a strong advocate for the US National Parks in the 19th century.
Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, Debated...
Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois is best remembered for the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates, but he was also one of the most influential figures in the US government in the 1850s, and played a crucial role in legislation that propelled the United States toward the Civil War.
Thomas Jefferson: Significant Facts and Brief...
The basic facts one should know about Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence.
The Johnstown Flood: Photos and Facts
The Johnstown Flood of May 31, 1889 was the biggest news story to hit American since the Civil War. More than 2,000 people were killed when a wall of water sped down a valley and devastated an industrial town in western Pennsylvania, in calamity that was, by most accounts, avoidable.
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.
Presidential Campaigns of the 1800s
The presidential campaigns of the 1800s were often raucous affairs, with iconic personalities battling it out amidst backdrops of national crisis. The campaigns could be shockingly nasty, and some of the image making would not be greatly out of place today.
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >In November 1863
Great Legislative Compromises Held the Union...
Notable compromises in the 1800s delayed the Civil War by holding the Union together despite the critical issue of slavery. The Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and 1854's Kansas-Nebraska Act essentially postponed the sectional split that eventually became the Civil War.
The First American Political Conventions
The first national political conventions in America took place prior to the presidential election of 1832. And the distinction of holding the first political party convention actually belongs to a long-forgotten political movement in America, the Anti-Masonic Party, which convened in Baltimore in late 1831.
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 Road to the Civil War
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.
Boss Tweed
Biography of Boss Tweed, legendary corrupt political boss of New York City in the era following the Civil War.
American System (Economic Ideas Advanced by...
Definition of American System. 19th Century History.
Antebellum Era
Definition of Antebellum. 19th Century History.
Battle of Bull Run in Summer of 1861 Was a...
The First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas) was considered a defeat for the Union, and it destroyed any hope that the war would be short and easy.
Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italy's Revolutionary Hero
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi became an international celebrity even before he succeeded in uniting Italy.
Zebulon Pike Led Two Expeditions to the West in...
Zebulon Pike led two expeditions in the 1800s that remain mysterious to this day. Was Pike a blundering explorer cursed with bad luck, or a skillful spy?
Cornelius Vanderbilt Amassed a Colossal Fortune...
Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was known as The Commodore, amassed a huge fortune in 19th century America after starting out with one boat in New York Harbor.
The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Definition of The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Jefferson Davis: Significant Facts and Brief...
The facts one needs to know about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
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.
Impressment of Sailors
Definition of Impressment of Sailors
Slavery in 19th Century America
Slavery was legal under the U.S. Constitution in the early 19th century and controversy over it would split the nation and eventually lead to an extremely costly Civil War.
John James Audubon, Painter and Naturalist,...
John James Audubon overcame obstacles to create a masterpiece of 19th century American art, a collection titled Birds of America which was published in four volumes between 1827 and 1838.
The Founding of the Republican Party
The founding of the Republican party occurred in the mid-1850s, sparked by anti-slavery activists responding to the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
Frederick Douglass: Former Slave and Abolitioni...
Concise biography of Frederick Douglass, whose life was emblematic of the struggle of slaves and former slaves in 19th century America.
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.
The 1840 Presidential Election
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Significant Elections:
John C. Frémont, Explored the West and...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >John C. Frémont
Native Soldiers
Gallery of vintage images of British India in the 19th century, including this lithograph depicting the Madras Army. Page 2.
Irish Rebellions of the 1800s
Ireland was marked by a series of rebellions throughout the 1800s as the Irish fought against British rule.
Martin Van Buren: Significant Facts and Brief...
The significant facts one needs to know about Martin Van Buren, America's eighth president and in many ways the founder of the nation's system of political parties.
Horace Greeley, Legendary Editor of the New...
Concise biography of legendary 19th century newspaper editor Horace Greeley.

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