19th Century History: Most Popular Articles
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, its background and significance.
Definition of Compromise of 1877
The 19th century was a time of tremendous change, and this comprehensive timeline will help you navigate through the decades of the 1800s.
Krakatoa's colossal eruption in 1883 became an early worldwide media event thanks to news traveling very quickly by telegraph.
HMS Beagle carried Charles Darwin around the world for five years and influenced his later thinking about how life evolved.
The timeline of the 1880s includes labor unrest, turmoil in Russia, warfare in Afghanistan, and celebrations for new landmarks in New York City.
Definition of Nullification Crisis
The term robber baron and the men it described in the late 19th century.
The Anaconda Plan was an early strategy to economically strangle the Confederacy, similar to how an anaconda snake would constrict its victims.
The Raj, as British India was known, was the jewel of the British Empire in the 1800s.
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 Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Revolt of 1857, shook British rule in India.
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
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.
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
The Haymarket Riot was ignited by an anarchist bombing, and set back the American labor union for years.
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.
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
A widespread weather disaster caused by a volcanic eruption made 1816 known as the Year Without a Summer.
The building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the greatest engineering of its era and one still used by thousands of commuters everyday.
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 19th century was known for literary figures. Read about authors of the 1800s, including Dickens, Whitman, Irving, Melville, Irving, and Poe.
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.
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.
Definition of Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
Definition of the Pendleton Act, which reformed the Civil Service in the 1880s
Definition of Radical Republicans.
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.
Lincoln's political skills brought him to the White House in one of the most important elections in American history.
President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute and dispatched the young U.S. Navy to battle the Barbary Pirates.
Jay Gould, a notorious robber baron, became famous for manipulating railroad stocks and trying to corner the market on gold.
The election of 1828 was perhaps the dirtiest in American history, as the Jackson and Adams campaigns threw scurrilous charges at each other.
Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as The Commodore, amassed a huge fortune in 19th century America after starting out with one boat in New York Harbor.
The election of 1800 was significant and controversial, and was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives when Thomas Jefferson defeated Aaron Burr.
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 Forty Acres and a Mule
A strike at a Pennsylvania steel mill turned shockingly violent as townspeople battled a small army of Pinkertons in 1892.
The causes for the War of 1812 included impressment of American sailors as well as other important issues.
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 Know-Nothing Party campaigned against immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s.
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.
Concise biography of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who organized the Olympic games in Athens in 1896.
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.
Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of Britain, was a German prince who came to wield great influence on British society.
The burning of Washington in 1814 by British troops was a humiliating episode in American history.
The deadlocked election of 1824 was decided in the House of Representatives with the outcome widely denounced as an act of high-level bribery.
The 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.
Learn about the spectacular exhibition--a technology milestone--organized by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's scientifically minded husband.
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 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 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.
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 Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
Definition of The Spoils System. 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.
Definition of Greenbacks. 19th Century History.
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 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 presidential election of 1876 was widely believed to have been stolen when a special deal was struck to declare Rutherford B. Hayes the winner.
Jim Fisk was a partner of business man Jay Gould, and the pair defined unethical Wall Street practices in the late 1860s.
Definition of Freedmen's Bureau. 19th Century History.
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing.
The cholera epidemic of 1832 afflicted major cities of Europe as well as North America, killing thousands and creating widespread panic.
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.
Jacob Riis brought attention to the plight of slum dwellers through his pioneering work as a journalist in New York City.
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.
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 Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a major American city, making it one of the great disasters of the 19th century.
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
The 19th century had its share of famous murders, including the Lizzie Borden murder case, the Lincoln assassination, and the murder of Helen Jewett.
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.
The Great Famine that ravaged the potato crop in Ireland in the 1840s caused widespread starvation, and prompted a wave of emigration to America.
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.
These six facts about Queen Victoria may change the way you think about the woman whose name defined the 19th Century.
Biography of Boss Tweed, legendary corrupt political boss of New York City in the era following the Civil War.
Washington Irving popularized the terms Gotham and Knickerbocker as well as creating unforgettable characters like Rip Van Winkle.
The Crimean War of 1854-56 was waged by allies Britain and France against Russia, and was provoked over obscure reasons.
Definition of American System. 19th Century History.
The attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 began the American Civil War.
The 1820s were a decade of exciting changes. October 26, 1825: The entire length of the Erie Canal was officially opened across New York.
This stereograph card shows the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge before the four massive suspension cables were strung between them. Page 4.
The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of 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.
Andrew Carnegie ruthlessly dominated the American steel industry for a quarter-century before devoting himself to philanthropy.
Definition of Transcendentalist. 19th Century History.
Abraham Lincoln had specific goals in mind and took great care in crafting the Gettysburg Address.
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 highly controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, intended as a compromise over slavery, actually inflamed tensions and hastened the Civil War.
America was shocked in 1862 by Alexander Gardner's photographs taken on the battlefield at Antietam.
Definition of Tariff of Abominations
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.
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
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.
Definition of Reconstruction. 19th Century History.
A British Army was massacred in January 1842 while retreating from Kabul, Afghanistan and only one man survived to tell the horrifying story.
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites.
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.
Coxey's Army was a protest consisting of hundreds of unemployed workers who marched to Washington in 1894. Learn about the protest's leader and their cause.
Definition of Homestead Act. 19th Century History.
Wet plate collodion photography of the Civil War era required considerable expertise yet in the right hands it could produce remarkable results.
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 abolitionist. 19th Century History.
Definition of Era of Good Feelings
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
With the Civil War in its third year, Lincoln felt compelled to offer a moral justification for the war.
The rumor that Mrs. O'Leary's cow started the great Chicago Fire in 1871 has persisted. But is it true?
Christmas celebrations began in the 19th century,when Santa Claus and Christmas trees became popular, thanks to cartoonist Thomas Nast and others.
Scottish-born author Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the world's most famous characters, Sherlock Holmes.
Definition of Bleeding Kansas. 19th Century History.
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.
Flags were enormously important in the American Civil War for both practical and symbolic reasons.
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 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.
Henry J. Raymond founded the New York Times and brought about a new era of American journalism devoted to reliable reporting.
Definition of Penny Press. 19th Century History.
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist publisher of The Liberator, was an ardent crusader against slavery.
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.
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.
This illustration from an illustrated newspaper shows how the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge was a cause of great celebration. . Page 9.
Definition of Clipper Ship. 19th Century History.
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.
John D. Rockefeller's ruthless business practices branded him as a notorious robber baron, yet he gave away hundreds of millions of dollars.
The first National Park was Yellowstone, a magnificent wilderness set aside in 1872 to be preserved and protected.
Definition and history of the Knights of Labor, the first major American labor union, formed in secrecy in Philadelphia in 1869.
Seven facts everyone should know about the legendary Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858.
Images such as this, of the Brooklyn Bridge's temporary footbridge, fascinated the public in the 1870s. Page 5.
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Ireland was marked by a series of rebellions throughout the 1800s as the Irish fought against British rule.
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.
Definition of Adams-Onis Treaty. 19th Century History.
The basic facts one should know about George Washington, military hero and first president of the United States.
Definition of Antebellum. 19th Century History.
Scottish-born John Muir was a strong advocate for the US National Parks in the 19th century.
Brief biography of Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, who was controversial in her own time and remains a largely misunderstood figure today.
The facts one needs to know about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of 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.
Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln is often remembered as being mentally ill, but is that perception of her accurate?
The real story of how Abe Lincoln's use of an ax became a political legend.
Definition of Impressment of Sailors
The 1836 murder of Helen Jewett, a beautiful young New York prostitute, became a famous murder case and one of the first media sensations.
Stepping onto this temporary wooden walkway connecting the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge required nerves of steel. Page 6.
Unscrupulous financier Jay Gould tried to corner the market on gold, and caused the Black Friday panic of September 24, 1869.