19th Century History: Most Popular Articles
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
HMS Beagle carried Charles Darwin around the world for five years and influenced his later thinking about how life evolved.
The Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Revolt of 1857, shook British rule in India.
A widespread weather disaster caused by a volcanic eruption made 1816 known as the Year Without a Summer.
The Raj, as British India was known, was the jewel of the British Empire in the 1800s.
The building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the greatest engineering of its era and one still used by thousands of commuters everyday.
Krakatoa's colossal eruption in 1883 became an early worldwide media event thanks to news traveling very quickly by telegraph.
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 19th century was a time of tremendous change, and this comprehensive timeline will help you navigate through the decades of the 1800s.
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.
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 timeline of the 1880s includes labor unrest, turmoil in Russia, warfare in Afghanistan, and celebrations for new landmarks in New York City.
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.
Definition of Nullification Crisis
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.
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 Know-Nothing Party campaigned against immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s.
Lincoln's political skills brought him to the White House in one of the most important elections in American history.
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 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.
Concise biography of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who organized the Olympic games in Athens in 1896.
The election of 1828 was perhaps the dirtiest in American history, as the Jackson and Adams campaigns threw scurrilous charges at each other.
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.
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.
Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of Britain, was a German prince who came to wield great influence on British society.
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 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 Fox Sisters, two girls in the village of Hydesville, New York, began a craze for spiritualism in the 19th century.
A British Army was massacred in January 1842 while retreating from Kabul, Afghanistan and only one man survived to tell the horrifying story.
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
Confederate agents plotted to burn New York City in late 1864, and the plot failed though a number of hotels and theaters were set on fire in one hectic night.
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.
Flags were enormously important in the American Civil War for both practical and symbolic reasons.
The burning of Washington in 1814 by British troops was a humiliating episode in American history which is generally overshadowed by the events of three weeks later, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the
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.
This stereograph card shows the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge before the four massive suspension cables were strung between them. Page 4.
Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln is often remembered as being mentally ill, but is that perception of her accurate?
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 election of 1824 was decided in the US House of Representatives, and when John Quincy Adams won, defeating Andrew Jackson, the entire affair was denounced as
The Crimean War of 1854-56 was waged by allies Britain and France against Russia, and was provoked over obscure reasons.
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.
The election of 1800 was significant and controversial, and was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives when Thomas Jefferson defeated Aaron Burr.
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 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 causes for the War of 1812 included impressment of American sailors as well as other important issues.
The real story of how Abe Lincoln's use of an ax became a political legend.
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.
The highly controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, intended as a compromise over slavery, actually inflamed tensions and hastened the Civil War.
Definition of Compromise of 1877
President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute and dispatched the young U.S. Navy to battle the Barbary Pirates.
Definition of Forty Acres and a Mule
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.
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.
Dramatic images of George Armstrong Custer during the Civil War, when he first became famous as a dashing cavalry commander.
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.
A summary of the financial panics which periodically devastated the American economy throughout the 19th century.
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.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West showed entertained millions while presenting an exaggerated version of life on American's western frontier.
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.
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
During the 19th Century New York City became America's economic powerhouse and home to unforgettable characters from Washington Irving to Boss Tweed.
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.
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing.
Scottish-born author Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the world's most famous characters, Sherlock Holmes.
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.
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 Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
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 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.
Images such as this, of the Brooklyn Bridge's temporary footbridge, fascinated the public in the 1870s. Page 5.
The term robber baron and the men it described in the late 19th century.
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 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 sinking of the steamship Arctic, one of the grandest ships afloat in the 1850s, was a disaster that stunned the world in September 1854.
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.
These six facts about Queen Victoria may change the way you think about the woman whose name defined the 19th Century.
Abraham Lincoln had specific goals in mind and took great care in crafting the Gettysburg Address.
The Haymarket Riot was ignited by an anarchist bombing, and set back the American labor union for years.
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.
Stepping onto this temporary wooden walkway connecting the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge required nerves of steel. Page 6.
Definition of Antebellum. 19th Century History.
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites.
With the Civil War in its third year, Lincoln felt compelled to offer a moral justification for the war.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a major American city, making it one of the great disasters of the 19th century.
This illustration from an illustrated newspaper shows how the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge was a cause of great celebration. . Page 9.
The Great Famine that ravaged the potato crop in Ireland in the 1840s caused widespread starvation, and prompted a wave of emigration to America.
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.
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, its background and significance.
Images of New York's famed Brooklyn Bridge fascinated the public while it was still under construction. No structure so large or brilliantly designed had ever been constructed, and the largest bridge on earth was a star even before its roadway was hung from its four massive suspension cables.
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.
Thaddeus Stevens, a Congressman from Pennsylvania, was a lifelong opponent of slavery and led the Radical Republicans during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
When George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry attacked an enormous Indian camp and were wiped out, the United States was stunned. Custer had been a famous personage since his days as a dashing young cavalry officer in the Civil War, and Americans were shocked and outraged that Custer and his entire command had been killed.
Wet plate collodion photography of the Civil War era required considerable expertise yet in the right hands it could produce remarkable results.
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?
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 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.
John Brown, a fanatical abolitionist, led a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry and moved the U.S. closer to Civil War.
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.
Definition of Anaconda Plan. 19th Century History.
Definition of the Pendleton Act, which reformed the Civil Service in the 1880s
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.
Gallery of vintage images of British India in the 19th century.
Britain's second war in Afghanistan, fought in the late 1870s, was marked by miscalculations and heroics, and ultimately succeeded in protecting the prize possession of the British Empire, India.
Concise biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most influential American writers of the 19th century and a leading Transcendentalist.
A strike at Homestead, Pennsylvania, turned shockingly violent as townspeople fought a small army of Pinkertons in 1892.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ireland was marked by a series of rebellions throughout the 1800s as the Irish fought against British rule.
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.
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.
A bloody 1851 incident when fugitive slaves in Pennsylvania resisted an attempt to arrest them and return them to slavery in Maryland.
The 1836 murder of Helen Jewett, a beautiful young New York prostitute, became a famous murder case and one of the first media sensations.
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.
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.
Definition of Greenbacks. 19th Century History.
Learn about the spectacular exhibition--a technology milestone--organized by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's scientifically minded husband.
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.
Definition of The Spoils System. 19th Century History.
The first National Park was Yellowstone, a magnificent wilderness set aside in 1872 to be preserved and protected.
This elaborate color lithograph of the bridge is titled "The Great East River Bridge." When the bridge
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi became an international celebrity even before he succeeded in uniting Italy.
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 Oregon Trail. 19th Century History.
People in the late 1800s strolled across the Brooklyn Bridge. Page 11.
The 19th century was a time of great progress but was also marked by major disasters.
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.
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.
The large cavalry clash at Gettysburg was one of the most dramatic components of the massive battle.
Christmas celebrations began in the 19th century,when Santa Claus and Christmas trees became popular, thanks to cartoonist Thomas Nast and others.
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.
Lizzie Borden was arrested for the ax murders of family members and her trial was a media sensation in the early 1890s.
The rumor that Mrs. O'Leary's cow started the great Chicago Fire in 1871 has persisted. But is it true?
Definition of Clipper Ship. 19th Century History.
This advertisement indicates how businesses wanted to associate themselves with the Brooklyn Bridge, which was considered the greatest engineering achievement of its time. Page 12.
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 Stump Speech: History of the term and its 19th century frontier origins.
The British nurse Florence Nightingale reformed medical care in the 19th century and was known to tending to soldiers during the Crimean War.
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
Andrew Carnegie ruthlessly dominated the American steel industry for a quarter-century before devoting himself to philanthropy.
Henry David Thoreau challenged popular thinking about life and society in works such as his book Walden and essay Civil Disobedience.
Definition of Radical Republicans.
She ruled Great Britain for six decades, and her life in some ways defined the 1800s.
Seven facts everyone should know about the legendary Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858.
The body of Col. Myles Keogh was buried on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn. Page 7.
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
Society in the 1800s was fascinated by Charles Sherwood Stratton, who was discovered by the famed showman Phineas Barnum and promoted as General Tom Thumb. In a career spanning 40 years, Tom Thumb performed across the US and Europe, met Queen Victoria and President Lincoln, and sold an estimated 20 million tickets.
Washington Irving popularized the terms Gotham and Knickerbocker as well as creating unforgettable characters like Rip Van Winkle.