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19th Century History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
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.
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.
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.
How Most 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.
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.
The Uprising That Shook British India
The Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Revolt of 1857, shook British rule in India.
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.
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.
5 Reasons the Battle of Gettysburg Mattered
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
Charles Darwin's Five Years Circling the Globe...
HMS Beagle carried Charles Darwin around the world for five years and influenced his later thinking about how life evolved.
The Text of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Was...
With the Civil War in its third year, Lincoln felt compelled to offer a moral justification for the war.
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.
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 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?
Anti-Immigrant Know-Nothing Party Became a...
The Know-Nothing Party campaigned against immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s.
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.
The Spoils Sytem, Where It Came From and What...
Definition of The Spoils System. 19th Century History.
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.
Robber Barons: How They Got That Name
The term robber baron and the men it described in the late 19th century.
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.
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
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.
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.
How Five Points Became New York's Most...
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
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.
Definition of abolitionist. 19th Century History.
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.
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.
The Causes of the War of 1812 Extended Beyond...
When President James Madison declared war against Britain in 1812 he was encouraged by a number of strategic and political considerations.
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 Tammany Hall Essentially Ran New York City
Tammany Hall was political machine that ran New York City through a system of political patronage, and it was the epitome of corrupt politics in the 1800s.
The 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.
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.
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.
Missouri Compromise, First Major 19th Century...
The Missouri Compromise, reached in 1820, was the first great compromise over slavery in the decades before the Civil War.
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.
What Lincoln Wanted to Accomplish With His...
Abraham Lincoln had specific goals in mind and took great care in crafting the Gettysburg Address.
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.
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 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?
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.
What Products Were Produced from Whales?
Whaling in the 1800s is often remembered for tales of adventure, but men actually risked their lives throwing harpoons at huge animals because many useful products were obtained from the bodies of whales.
Timeline 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.
Henry Clay: Most Powerful American Politician...
Henry Clay was perhaps the most powerful American who never served as president, though he ran for the office several times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tariff of Abominations
Definition of Tariff of Abominations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
Era of Good Feelings
Definition of Era of Good Feelings
Timeline: Major Events of the 1840s
The decade of the 1840s was marked by the Mexican War, the discovery of gold in California, and the launch of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.
Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor
The great Prussian diplomat and political strategist Otto von Bismarck provoked several wars while engaging in his life's work of unifying Germany in the late 1800s.
How the British Burned the White House and...
The burning of Washington in 1814 by British troops was a humiliating episode in American history.
Former Slave Frederick Douglass Became a Fiery...
Concise biography of Frederick Douglass, whose life was emblematic of the struggle of slaves and former slaves in 19th century America.
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.
Though Quiet and Studious, Charles Darwin Shook...
Charles Darwin lived a fairly quiet and studious life, yet became one of the most controversial figures of the 19th century.
Leading Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison...
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist publisher of The Liberator, was an ardent crusader against slavery.
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.
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.
How a Professor's Christmas Poem For His...
Clement Clarke Moore wrote a classic children's poem known as The Night Before Christmas, though some contend he was not the real author.
Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
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.
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
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.
Compromise of 1877 Ended Reconstruction,...
Definition of Compromise of 1877
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.
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.
A Look at Some Classic Slave Narratives
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing.
The Poem That Gave Deeper Meaning To The Statue...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The sonnet "The
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What Was the Monroe Doctrine?
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
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.
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.
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.
Violent Precursor to the Civil War Was Fought...
Bleeding Kansas was the term that described violent upheaval over slavery that was essentially a precursor to the Civil War.
How Germany's Christmas Trees Became American...
The history of Christmas trees shows that decorated trees had appeared in America even before Prince Albert and Queen Victoria made them fashionable.
The National Road, First Federal Highway, Was...
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.
Early Economic Program Advanced by Henry Clay...
The American System was an economic program advocated by powerful political Henry Clay in the early 1800s.
Tecumseh, Native American leader who stood up...
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites.
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.
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.
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.
Ruthless Steel Magnate Andrew Carnegie Became a...
Andrew Carnegie ruthlessly dominated the American steel industry for a quarter-century before devoting himself to philanthropy.
Seven Facts You Should Know About the...
Seven facts everyone should know about the legendary Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858.
The Hanging of Abolitionist John Brown Helped...
John Brown, a fanatical abolitionist, led a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry and moved the U.S. closer to Civil War.
Financial Panics of the 19th Century
A summary of the financial panics which periodically devastated the American economy throughout the 19th century.
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.
The Attack That Started the Civil War
The attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 began the American Civil War.
Lecompton Constitution
Lecompton Constitution. 19th Century History.
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.
Mary Todd Lincoln Generated Controversy and...
Brief biography of Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, who was controversial in her own time and remains a largely misunderstood figure today.
What Was the Point of the Lewis and Clark...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Question: Why
American Colonization Society
Definition of the American Colonization Society
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.
Frederick Douglass: What Could July 4th Mean to...
An eloquent 1852 speech by Frederick Douglass asked what the meaning of July 4th could be for the American slave.
A Forgotten Political Party Held the First...
The first national political convention in America was held in 1831 by a long-forgotten group, the Anti-Masonic Party.
Did Mrs. O'Leary's Cow Really Start the Chicago...
The rumor that Mrs. O'Leary's cow started the great Chicago Fire in 1871 has persisted. But is it true?
Famous Murders of the 19th Century
The 19th century had its share of famous murders, including the Lizzie Borden murder case, the Lincoln assassination, and the murder of Helen Jewett.
The Great Stolen Election of 1876
The presidential election of 1876 was widely believed to have been stolen when a special deal was struck to declare Rutherford B. Hayes the winner.
Definition of Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Definition of The Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Herman Melville, Moby Dick's Frustrated Author
Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, was frustrated by the public reaction to his masterpiece and withdrew from literary life into self-imposed obscurity.
Heroics at Little Round Top Influenced Outcome...
The fight for Little Round Top, a strategic hill at Gettysburg, was one of the most significant and dramatic actions of the entire Civil War.
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.
Ten Legitimate and Verified Lincoln Quotes You...
Ten quotes by Abraham Lincoln everyone should know, with verified sources and notes on why the quotes matter.
Wall Street Schemer Jim Fisk Met a Violent End...
Jim Fisk was a partner of business man Jay Gould, and the pair defined unethical Wall Street practices in the late 1860s.
The Reality of the Underground Railroad
Concise history of the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped fugitive slaves.
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?
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.
South Carolina Ladies Turned Fierce Abolitionis...
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.
Britain's Second War in Afghanistan Was Marked...
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.
Lincoln's Overlooked Visit to America's Most...
Abraham Lincoln, an a visit to New York City in early 1860, visited the Five Points, the country's most notorious slum.
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
Washington Irving Gave Us Gotham, Knickerbocker...
Washington Irving popularized the terms Gotham and Knickerbocker as well as creating unforgettable characters like Rip Van Winkle.
Wendell Phillips
Biography of Wendell Phillips, leading abolitionist orator.
Election of 1840: The Log Cabin and Hard Cider...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The election of
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.
Why Civil War Flags Were So Important
Flags were enormously important in the American Civil War for both practical and symbolic reasons.
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.
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.
Britain Waged a Pair of Wars Against China,...
The Opium Wars were waged by Britain against China, ostensibly over the important of a notorious narcotic.
Clipper Ship
Definition of Clipper Ship. 19th Century History.
Superpower Clash of the 1800s: The Crimean War
The Crimean War of 1854-56 was waged by allies Britain and France against Russia, and was provoked over obscure reasons.
Bloodiest Day in American History: The Battle...
The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the Civil War.
Harriet Tubman's Courageous Work of Leading...
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery and repeatedly risked her life to help others travel northward on the Underground Railroad.
Garibaldi, Revolutionary Who United Italy
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi became an international celebrity even before he succeeded in uniting Italy.
Timeline Showing How the Railroads Changed the...
Timeline Showing How the Railroads Grew Throughout the 19th Century
The Facts to Know About Abraham Lincoln
The basic facts everyone should know about Abraham Lincoln, one of the great American presidents.
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.
The Timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition...
A timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, from the voyage's planning in 1803 until its conclusion in 1806.
Civil War Drummers: Five Things You Should Know
Civil War drummers were a critical part of the army. Here are five things you should know about them.
Coxey's Army Battled Income Inequality In the...
Coxey's Army was a protest consisting of hundreds of unemployed workers who marched to Washington in 1894.
Lowell Mill Girls
A look at Francis Cabot Lowell's innovative and adventurous Lowell Girls textile factory work program of the early 19th century.
Evil Genius or Simply Misunderstood: The...
Aaron Burr was constantly drawn to controversy, and his shooting of Alexander Hamilton in a duel is only part of his peculiar life story.
Thomas Jefferson: What You Should Know About...
The basic facts one should know about Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence.
Victoria: The Queen Whose Name Defined an Age
She ruled Great Britain for six decades, and her life in some ways defined the 1800s.
Startling Price Cut to a Penny Made Newspapers...
Definition of Penny Press. 19th Century History.

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