19th Century History: Most Popular Articles
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 Nullification Crisis
The Know-Nothing Party campaigned against immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s.
The election of 1828 was perhaps the dirtiest in American history, as the Jackson and Adams campaigns threw scurrilous charges at each other.
The causes for the War of 1812 included impressment of American sailors as well as other important issues.
The Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Revolt of 1857, shook British rule in India.
The deadlocked election of 1824 was decided in the House of Representatives with the outcome widely denounced as an act of high-level bribery.
HMS Beagle carried Charles Darwin around the world for five years and influenced his later thinking about how life evolved.
The 19th century was a time of tremendous change, and this comprehensive timeline will help you navigate through the decades of the 1800s.
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
Definition of Era of Good Feelings
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
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.
The Raj, as British India was known, was the jewel of the British Empire in the 1800s.
The timeline of the 1880s includes labor unrest, turmoil in Russia, warfare in Afghanistan, and celebrations for new landmarks in 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 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.
The 19th century was known for literary figures. Read about authors of the 1800s, including Dickens, Whitman, Irving, Melville, Irving, and Poe.
Definition of American System. 19th Century History.
Definition of The Spoils System. 19th Century History.
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 Pullman Strike of 1894 stopped trains across America and the strike was broken by the U.S. Army forces deployed in American cities.
The building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the greatest engineering of its era and one still used by thousands of commuters everyday.
Definition of Tariff of Abominations
The election of 1800 was significant and controversial, and was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives when Thomas Jefferson defeated Aaron Burr.
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.
Krakatoa's colossal eruption in 1883 became an early worldwide media event thanks to news traveling very quickly by telegraph.
The term robber baron and the men it described in the late 19th century.
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
The Anaconda Plan was an early strategy to economically strangle the Confederacy, similar to how an anaconda snake would constrict its victims.
President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute and dispatched the young U.S. Navy to battle the Barbary Pirates.
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 Haymarket Riot was ignited by an anarchist bombing, and set back the American labor union for years.
Definition of Compromise of 1877
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.
A widespread weather disaster caused by a volcanic eruption made 1816 known as the Year Without a Summer.
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.
Seven things to know about the Charge of the Light Brigade.
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.
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.
Definition of the Pendleton Act, which reformed the Civil Service in the 1880s
A British Army was massacred in January 1842 while retreating from Kabul, Afghanistan and only one man survived to tell the horrifying story.
Definition of Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
Lincoln's political skills brought him to the White House in one of the most important elections in American history.
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
General Tom Thumb was a tiny show business phenomenon who performed for Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, and millions of ordinary fans.
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi became an international celebrity even before he succeeded in uniting Italy.
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.
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 burning of Washington in 1814 by British troops was a humiliating episode in American history.
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 was notable for mudslinging, scandals, and a last-minute gaffe that allowed Grover Cleveland to defeat the favorite, James G. Blaine.
Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of Britain, was a German prince who came to wield great influence on British society.
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.
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.
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. 19th Century History.
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 popularized the terms Gotham and Knickerbocker as well as creating unforgettable characters like Rip Van Winkle.
Concise biography of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who organized the Olympic games in Athens in 1896.
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 Vanderbilt, known as The Commodore, amassed a huge fortune in 19th century America after starting out with one boat in New York Harbor.
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.
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.
Definition of Impressment of Sailors
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Definition of Greenbacks. 19th Century History.
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.
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.
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.
Definition of The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing.
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.
Jacob Riis brought attention to the plight of slum dwellers through his pioneering work as a journalist in New York City.
The 1820s were a decade of exciting changes. October 26, 1825: The entire length of the Erie Canal was officially opened across New York.
Definition of abolitionist. 19th Century History.
Christmas celebrations began in the 19th century,when Santa Claus and Christmas trees became popular, thanks to cartoonist Thomas Nast and others.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A strike at a Pennsylvania steel mill turned shockingly violent as townspeople battled a small army of Pinkertons in 1892.
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 ruthlessly dominated the American steel industry for a quarter-century before devoting himself to philanthropy.
Jay Gould, a notorious robber baron, became famous for manipulating railroad stocks and trying to corner the market on gold.
A summary of the financial panics which periodically devastated the American economy throughout the 19th century.
Time zones, an innovation by American railroads in 1883, eventually spread worldwide.
Definition of Radical Republicans.
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 presidential election of 1876 was widely believed to have been stolen when a special deal was struck to declare Rutherford B. Hayes the winner.
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.
Definition of Forty Acres and a Mule
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.
Learn about the spectacular exhibition--a technology milestone--organized by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's scientifically minded husband.
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.
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The Crimean War of 1854-56 was waged by allies Britain and France against Russia, and was provoked over obscure reasons.
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites.
The highly controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, intended as a compromise over slavery, actually inflamed tensions and hastened the Civil War.
The real story of how Abe Lincoln's use of an ax became a political legend.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a major American city, making it one of the great disasters of the 19th century.
Biography of Boss Tweed, legendary corrupt political boss of New York City in the era following the Civil War.
Definition of Transcendentalist. 19th Century History.
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
This stereograph card shows the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge before the four massive suspension cables were strung between them. Page 4.
This illustration from an illustrated newspaper shows how the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge was a cause of great celebration. . Page 9.
Definition of War Hawks. 19th Century History.
The rumor that Mrs. O'Leary's cow started the great Chicago Fire in 1871 has persisted. But is it true?
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.
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
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 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, a controversial set of laws passed by Congress, preserved the Union but was only a temporary solution to the issue of slavery in America.
Dramatic images of George Armstrong Custer during the Civil War, when he first became famous as a dashing cavalry commander.
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.
Definition of Stump Speech: History of the term and its lively 19th century frontier origins.
Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln is often remembered as being mentally ill, but is that perception of her accurate?
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.
Brief biography of Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, who was controversial in her own time and remains a largely misunderstood figure today.
Definition of Antebellum. 19th Century History.
Definition of Bleeding Kansas. 19th Century History.
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.
The presidential campaigns of the 1800s could be raucous affairs, with iconic personalities battling it out at times of national crisis.
Jim Fisk was a partner of business man Jay Gould, and the pair defined unethical Wall Street practices in the late 1860s.
These six facts about Queen Victoria may change the way you think about the woman whose name defined the 19th Century.
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.
A look at Francis Cabot Lowell's innovative and adventurous Lowell Girls textile factory work program of the early 19th century.
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 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 on Fort Sumter in April 1861 began the American Civil War.
Scottish-born John Muir was a strong advocate for the US National Parks in the 19th century.
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist publisher of The Liberator, was an ardent crusader against slavery.
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.
Definition of Louisiana Purchase
Lizzie Borden was arrested for the ax murders of family members and her trial was a media sensation in the early 1890s.
Concise biography of Frederick Douglass, whose life was emblematic of the struggle of slaves and former slaves in 19th century America.
Definition of Clipper Ship. 19th Century History.
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.
Images such as this, of the Brooklyn Bridge's temporary footbridge, fascinated the public in the 1870s. Page 5.
John D. Rockefeller's ruthless business practices branded him as a notorious robber baron, yet he gave away hundreds of millions of dollars.
Abraham Lincoln had specific goals in mind and took great care in crafting the Gettysburg Address.
Concise biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most influential American writers of the 19th century and a leading Transcendentalist.
Civil War drummers were a critical part of the army. Here are five things you should know about them.
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, its background and significance.
The first National Park was Yellowstone, a magnificent wilderness set aside in 1872 to be preserved and protected.
Definition of Penny Press. 19th Century History.
America was shocked in 1862 by Alexander Gardner's photographs taken on the battlefield at Antietam.
Definition of the American Colonization Society
The facts one needs to know about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
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.