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19th Century History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
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.
5 Reasons the Battle of Gettysburg Mattered
Five reasons why the Battle of Gettysburg mattered.
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 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.
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.
The Uprising That Shook British India
The Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Revolt of 1857, shook British rule in India.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Compromise of 1877 Ended Reconstruction,...
Definition of Compromise of 1877
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.
Memorial Day Began as Decoration Day Following...
Decoration Day was the precursor of the holiday Memorial Day, and was first observed in 1868, following the carnage of the Civil War.
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 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?
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.
Abolitionist
Definition of abolitionist. 19th Century History.
The Reasons for the War of 1812 Extended Beyond...
The causes for the War of 1812 included impressment of American sailors as well as other important issues.
How Five Points Became New York's Most...
Learn about the Five Points, a notorious neighborhood in New York City in the 1800s.
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.
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.
The Spoils Sytem, Where It Came From and What...
Definition of The Spoils System. 19th Century History.
Robber Barons: How They Got That Name
The term robber baron and the men it described in the late 19th century.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Sharecropping
Definition of Sharecropping. 19th Century History.
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.
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.
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.
John Sutter Owned Land Where California Gold...
John Sutter owned the land that kicked off the California Gold Rush in 1848, but did not share in any of its riches.
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.
What Lincoln Wanted to Accomplish With His...
Abraham Lincoln had specific goals in mind and took great care in crafting the Gettysburg Address.
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.
Anti-Immigrant Know-Nothing Party Became a...
The Know-Nothing Party campaigned against immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s.
Radical Republicans
Definition of Radical Republicans.
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.
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.
President of Confederacy Might Have Become...
The facts one needs to know about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
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 Jefferson Fought the Barbary Pirates
President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute and dispatched the young U.S. Navy to battle the Barbary Pirates.
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.
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.
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.
The Attack That Started the Civil War
The attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 began the American Civil War.
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.
Bloodiest Day in American History: The Battle...
The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the Civil War.
Tariff of Abominations
Definition of Tariff of Abominations
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.
Bleeding Kansas
Definition of Bleeding Kansas. 19th Century History.
Era of Good Feelings
Definition of Era of Good Feelings
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 Reason Flags Mattered So Much In the Civil...
Flags were enormously important in the American Civil War for both practical and symbolic reasons.
How a Civil War General and a Brigade Bugler...
The story of how a general and a private composed the bugle call Taps.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arlington National Cemetery Is Rooted In the...
Arlington National Cemetery was founded during the Civil War, on the site of Robert E. Lee's former home.
What Was the Point of the Lewis and Clark...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Question: Why
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.
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.
Garibaldi, Revolutionary Who United Italy
The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi became an international celebrity even before he succeeded in uniting Italy.
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 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?
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.
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.
How the British Burned the White House and...
The burning of Washington in 1814 by British troops was a humiliating episode in American history.
Financial Panics of the 19th Century
A summary of the financial panics which periodically devastated the American economy throughout the 19th century.
Clipper Ship
Definition of Clipper Ship. 19th Century History.
A Look at Some Classic Slave Narratives
A handful of accounts written by former slaves have been hailed as classics of American writing.
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.
Leading Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison...
William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist publisher of The Liberator, was an ardent crusader against slavery.
George Washington: What You Should Know About...
The basic facts one should know about George Washington, military hero and first president of the United States.
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?
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.
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.
Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.
Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg: High-Water Mark...
Pickett's Charge was an infantry attack that became the climax of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Background and Significance of the Emancipation...
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, its background and significance.
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 Great Victorian Novelist: Charles Dickens
Concise illustrated biography of Charles Dickens, the great Victorian novelist.
The Failed Presidential Assassinations of the...
Read about how President Andrew Jackson not only survived an assassination attempt but savagely attacked the man who tried to shoot him.
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.
What Was the Monroe Doctrine?
Definition of the Monroe Doctrine, an American foreign policy statement from 1823 which had enduring consequences.
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.
Meet the Man Behind Sherlock Holmes
Scottish-born author Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the world's most famous characters, Sherlock Holmes.
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.
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.
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.
Did Lincoln Really Swing a Mean Ax?
The real story of how Abe Lincoln's use of an ax became a political legend.
Seven Facts You Should Know About the...
Seven facts everyone should know about the legendary Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858.
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 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.
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 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.
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
Ruthless Steel Magnate Andrew Carnegie Became a...
Andrew Carnegie ruthlessly dominated the American steel industry for a quarter-century before devoting himself to philanthropy.
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.
Reconstruction
Definition of Reconstruction. 19th Century History.
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?
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.
Andrew Jackson: What You Should Know About the...
The facts one should know about Andrew Jackson, one of the most significant 19th century presidents.
Victoria: The Queen Whose Name Defined an Age
She ruled Great Britain for six decades, and her life in some ways defined the 1800s.
Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 Showed the...
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.
Constructing the Cables on the Brooklyn Bridge...
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.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: One of the Most Influentia...
Concise biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most influential American writers of the 19th century and a leading Transcendentalist.
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.
Boss Tweed, New York's Legendary Corrupt...
Biography of Boss Tweed, legendary corrupt political boss of New York City in the era following the Civil War.
Forty Acres and a Mule: The Civil War's Famous...
Forty Acres and a Mule was a promise made, but never kept, to freed slaves at the end of the 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.
Editor Horace Greeley Shaped American Public...
Concise biography of legendary 19th century newspaper editor Horace Greeley.
American System (Economic Ideas Advanced by...
Definition of American System. 19th Century History.
Lowell Mill Girls
A look at Francis Cabot Lowell's innovative and adventurous Lowell Girls textile factory work program of the early 19th century.
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.
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?
The Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge Was a Time...
This illustration from an illustrated newspaper shows how the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge was a cause of great celebration. . Page 9.
Pendleton Act
Definition of the Pendleton Act, which reformed the Civil Service in the 1880s
Gigantic Anchorage Structures Held the Four...
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.
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.
The Brooklyn Bridge's Temporary Footbridge...
Images such as this, of the Brooklyn Bridge's temporary footbridge, fascinated the public in the 1870s. Page 5.
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.
Women and Children Were Last: Scandal of the...
The sinking of the steamship Arctic, one of the grandest liners afloat, was a disaster that stunned the world in September 1854.
With Walden, Henry David Thoreau Challenged...
Henry David Thoreau challenged popular thinking about life and society in works such as his book Walden and essay Civil Disobedience.
The Reality of the Underground Railroad
Concise history of the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped fugitive slaves.
One Victorian Engineer Designed Three...
Steamships Great Western, Great Britain, and Great Eastern were the revolutionary vessels designed by the brilliant Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
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.
How Defenders of Baltimore Defeated a British...
The Battle of Baltimore in September 1814 saved the city from falling into British hands during the War of 1812.
Stepping Onto the Temporary Footbridge of the...
Stepping onto this temporary wooden walkway connecting the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge required nerves of steel. Page 6.
Brilliant and Ever Combative, John C. Calhoun...
John C. Calhoun, father of nullification and member of the Great Triumvirate of senators, was a political force and advocate for the South.
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.
The Star-Spangled Banner As It First Appeared...
The British bombardment of Fort McHenry was an important military event, but it lived on in memory because
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.
Newspaper Sensationalism Named For the Ink In...
Definition of Yellow Journalism. 19th Century History.
Images of British India
Gallery of vintage images of British India in the 19th century.
Tecumseh, Native American leader who stood up...
The Indian chief Tecumseh led a confederation of Indian tribes against encroachment by whites.
Quirky Gift and Political Legend, Andrew...
The true story of Andrew Jackson's big block of cheese.

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