Timeline of World History TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY



1800 - 1899
1800-09 1810-19 1820-29 1830-39 1840-49 1850-59 1860-69 1870-79 1880-89 1890-99
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
1802 1812 1822 1832 1842 1852 1862 1872 1882 1892
1803 1813 1823 1833 1843 1853 1863 1873 1883 1893
1804 1814 1824 1834 1844 1854 1864 1874 1884 1894
1805 1815 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1885 1895
1806 1816 1826 1836 1846 1856 1866 1876 1886 1896
1807 1817 1827 1837 1847 1857 1867 1877 1887 1897
1808 1818 1828 1838 1848 1858 1868 1878 1888 1898
1809 1819 1829 1839 1849 1859 1869 1879 1889 1899
  BACK-1859 Part V NEXT-1860 Part I    
1860 - 1869
History at a Glance
1860 Part I
Treaty of Turin
First Taranaki War
Convention of Peking
Secession of South Carolina
Poincare Raymond
The Church Union
1860 Part II
Barrie James Matthew
Boucicault Dion
Dion Boucicault: "The Colleen Bawn"
Collins Wilkie
Wilkie Collins: "The Woman in White"
Wilkie Collins 
"The Moonstone"
"The Woman in White"
George Eliot: "The Mill on the Floss"
Di Giacoma Salvatore
Labiche Eugene-Marin
Multatuli: "Max Havelaar"
Alexander Ostrovski: "The Storm"
Chekhov Anton
Anton Chekhov
"Uncle Vanya"
1860 Part III
Degas: "Spartan Boys and Girls Exercising"
Hunt: "Finding of the Saviour in the Temple"
Manet: "Spanish Guitar Player"
Ensor James
James Ensor
Mucha Alfons
Alfons Mucha
Levitan Isaak
Isaac Levitan
Steer Philip Wilson
Philip Wilson Steer
Mahler Gustav
Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
Gustav Mahler
Paderewski Ignace
Paderewski - Minuet
Ignace Paderewski
Suppe Franz
Franz von Suppe - Das Pensionat
Franz von Suppe
Wolf Hugo
Hugo Wolf - "Kennst du das Land"
Hugo Wolf
MacDowell Edward
MacDowell - Piano Sonata No. 1 "Tragica"
Edward MacDowell
Albeniz Isaac
Albeniz - Espana
Isaac Albeniz
1860 Part IV
Fechner Gustav Theodor
Lenoir Etienne
Walton Frederick
Across the Continent
Burke Robert O'Hara
Wills William John
Stuart John McDouall
Grant James Augustus
"The Cornhill Magazine"
"The Catholic Times"
Heenan John Camel
Sayers Tom
The Open Championship
Park William
1861 Part I
Confederate States of America
Davis Jefferson
First inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
American Civil War
First Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Hatteras
The American Civil War, 1861
1861 Part II
Siege of Gaeta
Emancipation Manifesto
Louis I
1861 Part III
Dal Vladimir
Steiner Rudolf
Whitehead Alfred North
Charles Dickens: "Great Expectations"
Dostoevsky: "The House of the Dead"
George Eliot: "Silas Marner"
Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Elsie Venner"
Tagore Rabindranath
Charles Reade: "The Cloister and the Hearth"
Wood Ellen
Mrs. Henry Wood: "East Lynne"
Spielhagen Friedrich
Friedrich Spielhagen: "Problematische Naturen"
1861 Part IV
Garnier Charles
Anquetin Louis
Louis Anquetin
Godward John William
John William Godward
Bourdelle Antoine
Antoine Bourdelle
Korovin Konstantin
Konstantin Korovin
Maillol Aristide
Aristide Maillol
Melba Nellie
Royal Academy of Music, London
The Paris version "Tannhauser"
1861 Part V
Thallium (Tl)
Hopkins Frederick Gowland
Mort Thomas Sutcliffe
Nansen Fridtjof
Fermentation theory
Baker Samuel
Baker Florence
The Bakers and the Nile
Beeton Isabella
Harden Maximilian
First horse-drawn trams in London
Order of the Star of India
Otis Elisha Graves
1862 Part I
Battle of Fort Henry
Second Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Fredericksburg
Grey Edward
Briand Aristide
The American Civil War, 1862
1862 Part II
Rawlinson George
Ogai Mori
Ivan Turgenev: "Fathers and Sons"
Flaubert: "Salammbo"
Victor Hugo: "Les Miserables"
Barres Maurice
Maeterlinck Maurice
Hauptmann Gerhart
Wharton Edith
Schnitzler Arthur
Uhland Ludwig
1862 Part III
Albert Memorial, London
Manet: "Lola de Valence"
Manet: "La Musique aux Tuileries"
Nesterov Mikhail
Mikhail Nesterov
Klimt Gustav
Gustav Klimt
Rysselberghe Theo
Theo van Rysselberghe
Berlioz: "Beatrice et Benedict"
Debussy Claude
Debussy - Preludes
Claude Debussy
Delius Frederick
Frederick Delius - On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
Frederick Delius
German Edward
Edward German - Melody in D flat major
Edward German
Kochel Ludwig
Kochel catalogue
Verdi: "La Forza del Destino"
1862 Part IV
Bragg William
Foucault Leon
Gatling Richard Jordan
Lamont Johann
Lenard Pnilipp
Sachs Julius
Palgrave William Gifford
The Arabian Desert
International Exhibition, London
1863 Part I
West Virginia
Emancipation Proclamation
Battle of Chancellorsville
Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"
The American Civil War, 1863
1863 Part II
Isma'il Pasha
January Uprising
George I of Greece
Dost Mohammad Khan
Christian IX  of Denmark
Chamberlain Austen
Lloyd George David
Second Taranaki War
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
1863 Part III
Huxley: "Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature"
Charles Lyell: "The Antiquity of Man"
Massachusetts Agricultural College
D'Annunzio Gabriele
Bahr Hermann
Dehmel Richard
Hale Edward Everett
Edward Everett Hale: "Man without a Country"
Hope Anthony
Charles Kingsley: "The Water Babies"
Longfellow: "Tales of a Wayside Inn"
Quiller-Couch Arthur
Stanislavsky Constantin
Stanislavsky system
1863 Part IV
Stuck Franz
Manet: "Dejeuner sur l'herbe"
Manet: "Olympia"
Meurent Victorine-Louise
The "Salon des Refuses" in Paris
Art in Revolt
Impressionism Timeline
Signac Paul
Paul Signac
Munch Edvard
Edvard Munch
Berlioz: "Les Troyens"
Bizet: "Les Pecheurs de perles"
Mascagni Pietro
Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana
Pietro Mascagni
Weingartner Felix
Felix von Weingartner: Symphony No 6
Felix Weingartner
1863 Part V
Billroth Theodor
Butterick Ebenezer
Ford Henry
Graham Thomas
National Academy of Sciences
Sorby Henry Clifton
The Football Association, London
Grand Prix de Paris
Hearst William Randolph
Yellow journalism
Pulitzer Joseph
History of photography
Alexandra of Denmark
Royce Henry
Cuthbert Ned
Coburn Joe
Mike McCoole
1864 Part I
Schleswig-Holstein Question
First Schleswig War
Second Schleswig War
Halleck Henry
Sherman William
Sand Creek massacre
Venizelos Eleutherios
Maximilian II of Bavaria
Louis II
First International Workingmen's Association
Confederate Army of Manhattan
The American Civil War, 1864
1864 Part II
Lombroso Cesare
Newman: "Apologia pro Vita Sua"
Syllabus of Errors
Dickens: "Our Mutual Friend"
Karlfeldt Erik Axel
Trollope: "The Small House at Allington"
Wedekind Frank
Zangwill Israel
1864 Part III
Stieglitz Alfred
History of photography
Dyce William
William Dyce
Jawlensky Alexey
Alexei von Jawlensky
Ranson Paul
Paul Ranson
Serusier Paul
Paul Serusier
Toulouse-Lautrec Henri
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
A More Tolerant Salon
Impressionism Timeline
Whistler: "Symphony in White, No. 2"
Roberts David
David Roberts "A Journey in the Holy Land"
D'Albert Eugen
Eugen d'Albert - Piano Concerto No.2
Eugen d’Albert
Foster Stephen
Stephen Foster - Beautiful Dreamer
Offenbach: "La Belle Helene"
Strauss Richard
Richard Strauss - Metamorphosen
Richard Strauss
Fry William Henry
William Henry Fry - Santa Claus Symphony
William Henry Fry - Niagara Symphony
1864 Part IV
Lake Albert
Bertrand Joseph
Nernst Walther
Wien Wilhelm
Rawat Nain Singh
The Surveyors
First Geneva Convention
Knights of Pythias
"Neue Freie Presse""
De Rossi Giovanni Battista
"In God We Trust"
Travers Stakes
Farragut David
1865 Part I
Union blockade in the American Civil War
Charleston, South Carolina in the American Civil War
Lee Robert Edward
Conclusion of the American Civil War
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Johnson Andrew
Causes of the Franco-Prussian War
Leopold II of Belgium
Harding Warren
George V of Great Britain
Ludendorff Erich
Free State–Basotho Wars
The American Civil War, 1865
1865 Part II
Baudrillart Henri
William Stanley Jevons: "The Coal Question"
Billings Josh
Belasco David
Campbell Patrick
Lewis Carroll: "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Dodge Mary Mapes
Mary Mapes Dodge: "Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates"
Kipling Rudyard
Rudyard Kipling
Merezhkovsky Dmitry
John Henry Newman: "Dream of Gerontius"
Mark Twain: "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"
Walt Whitman: "Drum-Taps"
Yeats William Butler
1865 Part III
Serov Valentin
Valentin Serov
Wiertz Antoine
Antoine Wiertz
Vallotton Felix
Felix Vallotton
"Olympia" - a Sensation
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Nielsen Carl
Carl Nielsen - Aladdin Suite
Carl Nielsen
Glazunov Alexander
Glazunov - The Seasons
Alexander Glazunov
Dukas Paul
Paul Dukas "L'Apprenti Sorcier"
Paul Dukas
Meyerbeer: "L'Africaine"
Sibelius Jean
Jean Sibelius - Finlandia
Jean Sibelius
Wagner: "Tristan und Isolde"
1865 Part IV
Plucker Julius
Hyatt John Wesley
Kekule: structure of benzene
Lowe Thaddeus
Mendelian inheritance
Sechenov Ivan
Whymper Edward
The High Andes
 Bingham Hiram
Rohlfs Friedrich Gerhard
Open hearth furnace
Martin Pierre-Emile
Ku Klux Klan
"The Nation"
Marquess of Queensberry Rules
"San Francisco Examiner"
"San Francisco Chronicle"
Mitchell Maria
1866 Part I
Cuza Alexandru
"Monstrous coalition"
Carol I
Austro-Prussian War
Battle of Custoza
Battle of Trautenau
Battle of Koniggratz
Battle of Lissa
Cretan Revolt of 1866–1869
MacDonald Ramsay
Sun Yat-sen
1866 Part II
Croce Benedetto
Soderblom Nathan
Larousse Pierre
Larousse: Great Universal Dictionary of the 19th Century
Friedrich Lange: "History of Materialism"
Benavente Jacinto
Dostoevsky: "Crime and Punishment"
Hamerling Robert
Ibsen: "Brand"
Kingsley: "Hereward the Wake"
Rolland Romain
Wells Herbert
H.G. Wells
"The War of the Worlds"

"The Invisible Man"
"A Short History of the World"
1866 Part III
Bakst Leon
Leon Bakst
Fry Roger
Kandinsky Vassili
Vassili Kandinsky
A Defender Appears
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Busoni Ferruccio
Ferruccio Busoni - Berceuse Elegiaque
Ferruccio Busoni
Offenbach: "La Vie Parisienne"
Smetana: "The Bartered Bride"
Satie Eric
Erik Satie: Nocturnes
Eric Satie
1866 Part IV
Aeronautical Society of Great Britain
Morgan Thomas Hunt
Nicolle Charles
Werner Alfred
Whitehead Robert
Whitehead torpedo
Doudart de Lagree Ernest
Panic of 1866
Thomas Morris
MacGregor John
1867 Part I
Manchester Martyrs
Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867
Constitution Act, 1867
Alaska Purchase
North German Confederation
Reform Act of 1867
Battle of Mentana
Mary of Teck
Baldwin Stanley
Rathenau Walther
Pilsudski Joseph
1867 Part II
Bagehot Walter
Walter Bagehot: "The English Constitution"
Freeman Edward Augustus
Freeman: The History of the Norman Conquest of England
Marx: "Das Kapital"
Thoma Ludwig
Soseki Natsume
Russell George William
Reymont Wladislau
Bennett Arnold
Balmont Konstantin
Pirandello Luigi
Galsworthy John
Charles de Coster: "The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel"
Ouida: "Under Two Flags"
Trollope: "The Last Chronicle of Barset"
Turgenev: "Smoke"
Zola: "Therese Raquin"
Ibsen: "Peer Gynt"
1867 Part III
Delville Jean
Jean Delville
Kollwitz Kathe
Kathe Kollwitz
Nolde Emil
Emil Nolde
Bonnard Pierre
Pierre Bonnard
Manet's Personal Exhibition
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Bizet: "La Jolie Fille de Perth"
Gounod: "Romeo et Juliette"
Offenbach: "La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein"
Johann Strauss II: The "Blue Danube"
Toscanini Arturo
Verdi: "Don Carlos"
Granados Enrique
Enrique Granados - Spanish Dances
Enrique Granados
1867 Part IV
Curie Marie
Michaux Pierre
Monier Joseph
Brenner Railway
Mining industry of South Africa
Thurn and Taxis
Chambers John Graham
London Athletic Club
Barnardo Thomas John
1868 Part I
British Expedition to Abyssinia
Battle of Magdala
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Tenure of Office Act
Province of Hanover
Russian Turkestan
Mihailo Obrenovic III
Milan I of Serbia
Glorious Revolution
Horthy Nicholas
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
1868 Part II
International Alliance of Socialist Democracy
Charles Darwin: "The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication"
Louisa May Alcott: "Little Women"
Robert Browning: "The Ring and the Book"
Wilkie Collins: "The Moonstone"
Dostoevsky: "The Idiot"
George Stefan
Gorki Maxim
Rostand Edmond
Edmond Rostand
"Cyrano De Bergerac"
1868 Part III
Bernard Emile
Emile Bernard
Vollard Ambroise
Slevogt Max
Max Slevogt
Vuillard Edouard
Edouard Vuillard
The Realist Impulse
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Bantock Granville
Bantock "Overture The Frogs"
Granville Bantock
Brahms: "Ein deutsches Requiem"
Schillings Max
Max von Schillings: Mona Lisa
Max von Schillings
Wagner: "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg"
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1
1868 Part IV
Lartet Louis
Haber Fritz
Millikan Robert Andrews
Richards Theodore William
Scott Robert Falcon
Armour Philip Danforth
Badminton House
Garvin James Louis
Harmsworth Harold
Trades Union Congress
"Whitaker's Almanack"
Sholes Christopher Latham
1869 Part I
Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
French legislative election, 1869
Prohibition Party
Red River Rebellion
Chamberlain Neville
Gandhi Mahatma
1869 Part II
Matthew Arnold: "Culture and Anarchy"
Eduard Hartmann: "The Philosophy of the Unconscious"
Mill: "On The Subjection of Women"
First Vatican Council
Blackmore Richard Doddridge
Blackmore: "Lorna Doone"
Flaubert: "Sentimental Education"
Gide Andre
Gilbert: "Bab Ballads"
Halevy Ludovic
Bret Harte: "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"
Victor Hugo: "The Man Who Laughs"
Leacock Stephen
Mark Twain: "The Innocents Abroad"
Tolstoy: "War and Peace"
1869 Part III
Lutyens Edwin
Poelzig Hans
Carus Carl Gustav
Carl Gustav Carus
Somov Konstantin
Konstantin Somov
Matisse Henri
Henri Matisse
Manet Falls Foul of the Censor
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 0
Pfitzner Hans
Pfitzner - Nachts
Hans Pfitzner
Wagner Siegfried
Siegfried Wagner "Prelude to Sonnenflammen"
Richard Wagner: "Das Rheingold"
Roussel Albert
Albert Roussel - Bacchus et Ariane
Albert Roussel
Wood Henry
1869 Part IV
Francis Galton: "Hereditary Genius"
Periodic law
Nachtigal Gustav
Cincinnati Red Stockings
Girton College, Cambridge
1869 New Jersey vs. Rutgers football game
Co-operative Congress
Lesseps Ferdinand
Suez Canal

Battle of Wilson’s Creek
YEAR BY YEAR:  1800 - 1899
1860-1869  History at a Glance

In the US, Abraham Lincoln [1809-65] won the race for presidency as the candidate for the newly formed Republican party, which had been established to curtail the power of existing slave states and stop the creation of new ones. The Democrats had split and fielded two candidates.
1860 Pony Express Takes Off

Before the advent of coast-to-coast telegraphy in the United States there was, briefly, the Pony Express. Begun in April 1860 by the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express Company, the enterprise delivered mail between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, using a nonstop relay system of horses and riders. Riders covered more than 1,900 miles in ten days, on average, crossing the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. The rider changed every 75 to 100 miles, but the horses had to be swapped for fresh ones every 10 to 15 miles at more than 100 stations located along the route. Riders were young, for the most part, and lightweight, and included among their ranks William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and Robert "Pony Bob" Haslam.

Dashing and romantic, the fleet-footed mail service captured the public imagination even as it lost large sums of money. Some credit it for encouraging the state of California to remain in the Union. However, when the transcontinental telegraph was completed in October 1861, the Pony Express ceased to be necessary. The business folded, leaving its founders S200,000 in debt, but living on in the growing mythology of the Wild West.

FOOTNOTE A newspaper ad read: "The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the management of horses, as hostlers, or riders on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City. Wages $50 per month and food."

Pony Express mail carrier, takirig shortcut through Indian burial grounds, Indians in pursuit

The Confederate battery at Fort Moultrie firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor on April 12,1861. The attack triggered the Civil War, which devastated the US.

THE SPLIT IN THE US DEMOCRATIC PARTY ahead of the 1860 election precipitated a much larger, more dangerous fracture that came in 1861—the secession of Southern states to a confederacy. Many northerners, President Lincoln included, initially thought that slavery might just die out if it were not allowed in any new territories. But a gradual approach was not possible, since abolitionism kept growing, with more of the public supporting it over the 1850s.


The US was economically divided, which intensified the debate over slavery. The South wa5 mostly rural, and slave labor was used to grow cotton, tobacco, and rice. The more urban Northern states, in contrast, had a high population of immigrant workers.


Lincoln's presidential victory was the last straw for Southern slave owners, and by December 1860 South Carolina had seceded from the Union. Over the next few months, it was followed by Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and FLorida. These states formed the Confederacy and elected Jefferson Davis (1808-89) as their president. They were soon joined by Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina in the spring, although the slave-holding states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware did not secede. One of the underlying causes of secession, besides slavery, was the issue of the states' rights versus that of federal government. South Carolina and the other Confederate states argued that states held the right to own slaves and to Leave the Union.


The Southern Confederacy equated to a new nation, and as such, needed a flag.

The national flag of the Confederacy, known as the "Stars and Bars," closely resembed the northern states' Union flag.

To avoid confusion on the battlefield, a new battle flag  was adopted, first by the Army of Northern Virginia, and later, by all Southern forces.

The situation grew increasingly tense. The continued presence of Union forces at Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South CaroLina, made many people there feel that their new sovereignty was being compromised. So, at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, Brigadier-General P. G. T. Beauregard gave the order to fire on the soldiers stationed there. These would be the opening shots of the American Civil War.


Meanwhile, the second Italian War of Independence, which began in 1859 and was part of the wider struggle for unification of the Italian states, was coming to a close. France and Piedmont-Sardinia had formed an alliance to drive out Austrian ruLe in Italy, which they achieved through a series of victories in 1859. But during negotiations of the Peace of Zurich, Napoleon III of France allowed Austria to retain Venetia [mostly Venice], causing uproar among supporters of ItaLian independence. In the south, Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), an Italian military commander, attacked the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, seizing Palermo in 1860. With most of the Italian kingdoms in a degree of upheaval, Victor Emmanuel II (1820-78) of Piedmont-Sardinia was declared "king of Italy." The struggle was not yet over, however, as France occupied Rome while Venice was under Austrian rule. Garibaldi's attempt to liberate the PapaL States [Rome] in 1862 at the BattLe of Aspromonte on August 29 ended in defeat, leaving the project of unification still incomplete.


In Russia, serfdom was abolished in wide-reaching changes by Russian emperor Alexander II (1818-81) who, after defeat in the Crimean War, wanted to reform the country, starting with labor. He set out the Edict of Emancipation in 1861, despite opposition from landowners. Earlier attempts to abolish serfdom had been made around 1818. but with little success. Some 10 million people were freed on February 19 and were promised their own land.


Alexander II
Alexander was the emperor of Russia from 1855-81.
He freed the serfs and reformed the judicial and education systems.




Czar Alexander II of Russia
1861 Alexander II Frees Serfs

Russia's defeat in the Crimean War galvanized its new tsar, Alexander II. It was clear that his country must modernize in order to survive. The industrial and social revolutions sweeping through Europe and North America had barely touched Russia, which was dependent on an agricultural economy run by landowning aristocrats. Farming the land of those aristocrats was a population of serfs 20 million strong, virtual slaves who owed dues and labor to the landed gentry.

By the 1850s, progressive elements among nobility and peasants alike were agitating for emancipation, and as Alexander II commented, "It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait until the serfs begin to liberate themselves from below." In March 1861 he signed an emancipation edict freeing the serfs. Like the U.S. emancipation proclamation two years later, the document was hedged about with political compromise. The government allotted land to the freed serfs in return for redemption payments spread out across 49 years. The system would not only compensate landowners for their property, it would also tie the former serfs to the land; preventing them from turning into a free-floating army of disaffection.

This compromise frustrated many former serfs, who did not have enough land to make their payments, and the payment system was eventually abolished in 1907. Nevertheless, the emancipation of the serfs was the first and most visible step in a series of Russian reforms in the 1860s and 1870s that expanded banking, established local parliamentary bodies, brought in railroads, and modernized the army.
1861 Broca Dissects the Brain

French physician Pierre Paul Broca published the results of an autopsy he had conducted on the brain of a 51-year-old patient. The man, known as "Tan" because that was the only syllable he could produce, had been without the power of speech for some 30 years. Broca's autopsy revealed a lesion on the man's left frontal lobe: This case and other observations led the doctor to believe that the brain possessed a particular area {in the left frontal lobe) devoted to articulate speech—a region now known as Broca's area. It was the first proof that different regions of the brain are devoted to different functions.

Broca's work was supported by that of German neurologist Carl Wernicke, who in 1874 discovered the region of the temporal lobe responsible for speech comprehension—now called Wernicke's area.

Broca identified brain's speech center.
1861 Telegraph Ties East and West

Dozens of telegraph companies competed for American business in the 1850s, sending messages throughout the eastern half of the U.S. The Western Union Telegraph Company consolidated several of these companies in
1856 and embarked on an ambitious project to connect the end of the lines, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Carson City, Nevada. Starting from the eastern and western ends and stringing lines toward the midpoint of Salt Lake City, Utah, workers completed the telegraph in October 1861. Stephen Field, the chief justice of California, sent a message to Abraham Lincoln stating that the line "will be the means of strengthening the attachment which binds both the East and the West to the Union."

A young boy operates a telegraph machine in the early 20th century

Otto von Bismarck in a remark to Meyei von Waldeck, August 11,1867




One of Prussia's most influential leaders, Otto von Bismarck came into power as prime minister in 1862 and he masterminded the unification of Germany.

Bismarck built up the army and also tried to develop a German national identity; he fought against the Catholic Church and tried to stem the growth of socialism.
IN MEXICO, AN EXPEDITION OF British, French, and Spanish forces arrived to collect payment on the money they were owed. After the War of the Reform President Benito Juarez had declared in 1861 that he was placing a moratorium on the payment of interest on foreign debt for two years. The lending countries disputed his decision, and soon resorted to armed conflict. France sent in troops, which faced a defeat early on, but reinforcements eventually reached Mexico City. Napoleon III saw an opportunity to establish an empire in Mexico.
1862 Mexican Victory at Puebla

In 1861, while America's attentions were focused on its Civil War, the forces of France, Spain, and Britain invaded Mexico, seeking repayment of loans they had issued to the cash-strapped government of President Benito Juarez. Spain and Britain, at odds with France, soon withdrew from the country, but French troops pushed forward toward Mexico City.

On May 5, 1862, Frenchman Gen. Charles Latrille Laurencez led his 6,000 troops against a motley collection of some 4,000 Mexican soldiers under Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza at the city of Puebla. Brashly attacking the center of the Mexican lines, Laurencez was unable to dislodge the defenders and was eventually forced to surrender the field and retreat toward the coast.

The Mexican victory at Puebla was hardly the end of the war. French forces eventually succeeded in capturing Mexico City, where Napoleon III installed a puppet ruler, Maximilian of Austria. Only in 1867 did the Mexican Army under Gen. Porfirio Diaz retake the capital and restore Mexican rule. The Battle of Puebla is commemorated today by the holiday of Cinco de Mayo.
Farther north, in the American Civil War, Union troops attempted, but failed, to capture the Confederate capital, Richmond, by advancing up the peninsula east of Yorktown. This was followed by the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28-30), which saw 70,000 Union troops defeated by 55,000 Confederates. A few weeks Later, on September 17, one of the bloodiest battles of the war took place at Antietam, in Maryland, where Union troops suffered around 12,000 casualties and the Confederates around 11,000. Farther west, Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant [1822-85] won a crucial victory at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee.
In Japan, the Tokugawa regime had become increasingly suspicious of foreigners, taking measures that included the passing of anti-foreigner acts and efforts to expel people. This precipitated attacks on ships from the US, Britain, France, and the Netherlands. In retaliation, in 1863 the US fired on two Japanese ships and French warships fired on—and subsequently burned down—a small village. The following year, France, Britain, the Netherlands, and the US sailed into the Straits of Shimonosekei and destroyed Japanese batteries along its coast. They eventually secured a treaty giving them free passage and the right to trade.
THE SITUATION IN MEXICO became more complex as conservative Mexicans, still angry about their defeat in the War of the Reform, capitalized on the fighting between French and Mexican troops and conspired with Napoleon III to overthrow the government. As a result, Austrian archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph (1832-67) was invited to become emperor of Mexico. He accepted, thinking that he had been voted in by the people, and became Maximilian I the following year.
In the US, Abraham Lincoln tried to persuade Confederate states to return to the Union by giving them
the option of abolishing slavery gradually, rather than immediately. Not one state took up his offer, so on January 1, he followed through with his plan and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the South.

Emancipation proclamation

Abraham Lincoln reads the Emancipation Proclamation before
his cabinet members. The decree abolished slavery in the US.
1863 Emancipation Proclamation

Although the abolition of slavery was one of the Union's goals in the American Civil War, it was nevertheless a controversial subject in both North and South. It was not until July 1862, more than a year into the war, that President Abraham Lincoln started drafting an emancipation proclamation. After meeting several times during the year with his Cabinet in order to polish the document, Lincoln issued it formally as the next year was born. It began:

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free....

The proclamation was not a blanket abolition of slavery. It applied only to slaves in rebellious states, leaving those in loyal border states untouched. It also exempted Confederate states that had already fallen under Union military control. Only when a Union victory was complete would all slaves become free.

Despite its limitations, the proclamation had considerable moral and political force. It dissuaded Great Britain from entering the war on the side of the Confederacy, even though it meant Britain had to give up the cotton it depended upon from the South. And hundreds of thousands of black soldiers were allowed for the first time to enroll in the Union Army, where they played a heroic role.

A lithograph created in 1888 celebrates the composition
of the Emancipation Proclamation.
On the battlefields, Union troops were making serious gains in the south, as General Grant captured the Mississippi port of Vicksburg in July, giving Union forces control over key parts of the Mississippi River. The Union Navy, meanwhile, had captured the port of New Orleans, and occupation of the city followed. Farther north, Confederate defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from July 1-3, had marked a turning point in the war.

A Currier & Ives rendering of the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania
1863 Battle of Gettysburg

Until the summer of 1863, the outnumbered Confederate troops had more than held their own against the Union Army in the American Civil War. By July 1, the Army of Northern Virginia under the brilliant Gen. Robert E. Lee had frightened the North by advancing into Pennsylvania. There, in the town of Gettysburg, they were met by the Army of the Potomac under Gen. George Meade.

Meade's 88,000 men held the high ground south of town, and this as much as anything ensured their eventual victory. Lee, with 75.000 men, tried but failed to outflank Meade's position on July 2. On July 3, Gen, George E. Pickett led his 15,000 Confederate men across an open field in a gallant but virtually suicidal attempt to break through the center of the Union line. Less than an hour later, only 5,000 remained. On July 4, Lee retreated, having lost more than one-third of his troops. The defeat was the high-tide mark of the South's advance and the beginning of the end for the Confederate Army.

FOOTNOTE Gettysburg National Cemetery was dedicated four months after the battle. Statesman Edward Everett's oration lasted two hours. President Abraham Lincoln, a last-minute addition, spoke for two minutes.

The Battle of Gettysburg, by Thure de Thulstrup
In Britain, Londoners were thrilled by the opening of the Metropolitan Railway, which ran underground, from Farringdon Street to Paddington. This was the first part of what would eventually become the London Underground, also known as the Tube. Other train companies soon followed suit.

Workers hurry to catch their morning train at the Gower Street station on the Metropolitan
(underground) railroad in London.
IN THE ONGOING AMERICAN CIVIL WAR, President Lincoln made General Grant commander-in-chief of the Union forces. A few months later, Union general William T. Sherman (1820-91), began his "march to the sea." Sherman pursued a "scorched earth" policy, destroying rail lines and setting towns on fire from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia.
Relations between Denmark and Prussia, part of the German Confederation, had soured. A brief war was the result of a revolt by the Germans in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which were living under Danish rule.

Prussia and Denmark went to war over Schleswig and Hotstein.
Prussian troops occupied the territory and by August I, Denmark gave up rights to the duchies, which were to be placed under joint Austrian and Prussian rule—a situation that would become a future source of conflict.
1864 Pasteur Debunks Theory

The idea that life can arise via spontaneous generation— appearing without precursors from nonliving matter—had survived repeated attacks for a good 200 years by the time French scientist Louis Pasteur confronted it in the 1860s. In January 1860, the French Academy of Sciences offered a prize to anyone who could disprove the theory.

Pasteur, experimenting with flasks of sugared yeast solutions, showed that the contents of flasks whose necks opened straight into the air would become spoiled with microorganisms, while those whose contents were protected by cotton plugs or bent necks did not. Clearly, the source of life in the flasks had come from the outside. In 1864, he claimed the French Academy's prize, and took biology further down the path to recognizing the germ origin of disease.
1864 Verne Advances Science Fiction

With its publication, Jules Verne's novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth became the first modern ''novel of imagination." The journey of Professor Liedenbrock and his nephew Axel across Iceland and deep into the earth takes them into prehistory and the origins of humanity. Verne's blend of adventure and science—the book was filled with geological facts—proved popular in novel after novel and set the standard for the new genre of science fiction.

Jules Verne. A Journey to the Center of the Earth
1864 Steel Gets a Boost

The rapidly expanding steel industry of the 19th century got another boost with the advent of open-hearth technology. Carl Siemens, a German-born British engineer, devised a way to heat the waste air
in the steelmaking furnace to extraordinarily high levels by passing it back and forth through a brick chamber. Pierre and Emile Martin of France then became the first to use the technique in 1864.

The Siemens-Martin open-hearth process was slower than the Bessemer system, but less wasteful and more flexible, able to use scrap iron, cold pig iron, and iron ore to make steel. The open-hearth method and the Bessemer process were both used widely around the world well into the 20th century, when they were replaced in more developed countries by basic oxygen steelmaking.

FOOTNOTE Pig iron took its name from the way it was formed: molten cast iron ran from the blast furnace into a trough of sand, from which extended a number of smaller, perpendicular troughs, looking like a litter of nursing piglets.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR DREW TO A CLOSE. By the spring, Union troops had captured the Confederate capital, of Richmond, and after several other defeats, Confederate general Robert E. Lee (1807-70) saw no other option but to surrender on April 9, signaling the end to the bloodiest conflict the US had seen. The war had left the US intact, but more than 600,000 men had been killed and half a million wounded. The new peace was soon marred: only a few days after the Union's victory, President Lincoln attended Ford's Theater in Washington, DC. There, Confederate John Wilkes Booth crept into the state box and shot him. Lincoln died the following morning on April 15.

Lincoln's death

This painting by Alonzo Cbappel. depicts the death of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.
The American Civil War was over, but the situation in Mexico remained complicated. US troops were deployed there because the US government under Andrew Johnson (1808-75) objected to French intervention in Mexican affairs.
Farther south, a war had erupted between Paraguay and its neighbors Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Brazil invaded Uruguay in 1864 to assist in the overthrow of the ruling party. In response, the president of Paraguay, Francisco Solano Lopez [1827-70], declared war on Brazil, and shortly after, on Argentina. Uruguay aligned itself with Brazil and the War of the Triple Alliance (also Paraguayan War) began. Lopez was killed in battle on March 1,1870, and a peace treaty was negotiated. The war devastated Paraguay, reducing the population of 525,000 to 221,000.

The War of the Triple Alliance devastated Paraguay. This painting by Candido Lopez depicts the arrival of the Allied Army at Itapiru, Paraguay.
In Jamaica, a group of peasants who had been denied government land for planting stormed the courthouse in Morant Bay during a meeting of the parish council, and 19 white people died in the altercation, in retaliation, governor Edward Eyre led a ruthless attack on the black community, declaring martial law, and killing hundreds of people while imprisoning hundreds more. When news of this reached Britain there was a public outcry and Eyre was recalled to England.
IN 1866, PERU DECLARED WAR ON SPAIN, JOINED BY CHILE. The cause of the war dated back to the Talambo Affair in 1862, when Spanish immigrants were attacked by Peruvian workers on the Talambo estate in northern Peru. Spain's demand for compensation was ignored, so it seized the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru in 1864. These were valuable as a source of guano, used as fertilizer. Spain demanded 3 million pesos in exchange for the islands in 1865.
Peru's General Mariano Ignacio Prado declared war on Spain in January 1866. Chile, fearful of a renewed Spanish presence in South America, joined Peru. They tried to close their ports, but Spain managed to bombard Valparaiso in Chile on March 31 and Callao in Peru on May 2 before a ceasefire the following week. This was the last attempt by Spain to recapture South American territory.

Battle of Callao
Spanish ships exchange fire with Peruvian coastal defenses at the Battle of Callao.
1866 Nationalism in Music

Composers in Russia, Bohemia (now the Czech Republicj, and Scandinavia, tired of German domination of their music, began in the 1860s to create works that reflected their own national heritage and folk traditions. Leading the way in musical nationalism was The Bartered Bride, a comic opera by Bedrich Smetana that had its premiere in Prague in 1866.

The rollicking opera, involving Bohemian villagers, an arranged marriage, and a man in a bear suit, employed the syncopated rhythms and melodies of Bohemian folk music to great effect.

Smetana was joined in his quest for national expression by his countryman Antonin Dvorak, in Russia by the composers Cesar Cui, Mily Balakirev, Aleksandr Borodin, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov—known as "the Five"—and in Scandinavia by Edvard Grieg, Carl Nielsen, and Jean Sibelius. Their important works on national themes include Mussorgsky's Boris Gudonov (1874), Dvoraks Slavonic Dances (1878), and Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite (1876).

FOOTNOTE One of the shortest and most popular pieces of music inspired by nationalism is Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" from The Tale of Tsar Saltan, in which the young hero is turned into a bumblebee to visit his father.
1866 Crime and Punishment

The year 1866 saw the publication of one of the great works of modern literature, Fyodor Dostoyevskys Crime and Punishment. The tale of a young intellectual, Raskolnikov, who kills an old woman for a complex variety of reasons, was
a psychological tour de force. Dostoyevsky's portraits of characters tormented by guilt and hidden desires, and his antihero's contention that "superior" people have the right to transgress moral laws, anticipated many of the philosophical and psychological debates of the late 19th century. His novels heavily influenced such thinkers as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Sigmund Freud, as well as paving the way for the dystopian novels of writers such as George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge. He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.

This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but anyone at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lie—no, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.

The heat in the street was terrible: and the airlessness, the bustle and the plaster, scaffolding, bricks, and dust all about him, and that special Petersburg stench, so familiar to all who are unable to get out of town in summer—all worked painfully upon the young man's already overwrought nerves....

FRANCES ATTEMPT TO GAIN CONTROL OF MEXICO seemed doomed with the arrival of US reinforcements. France abandoned Mexico's emperor, Maximilian I, who had been installed at their behest as well as that of Mexican monarchists. He was captured by liberal forces, court-martialed, and executed on June 19. Benito Juarez then returned to his post as president.


French painter Edouard Manet's The execution of Maximilian I.

Farther north, the size of the US received a huge boost with the purchase of the vast Alaska territory from Russia. For the price of $7.2 million, the US received 663,268 sq miles (1,717,856 sq km) of territory.

1867 U.S. Buys Alaska

On March 30, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward purchased the territory of Alaska from Russia. At 7.2 million dollars for 586,412 square miles of land, the price amounted to a thrifty two cents per acre; nevertheless, a derisive public labeled the territory the "polar bear garden," "Seward's icebox," and "Seward's folly." The mockery would vanish in the 1890s with the discovery of gold in the region.

FOOTNOTE The purchase of Alaska increased American territory by 20 percent but American population by very little. By the 1880 census, Alaska's population numbered a little over 33,000, almost all native inhabitants.
In Europe, Karl Marx had published the first of three volumes in what would become one of his most influential works, Das Kapital. The book, through an examination of the capitalist system, tried to address larger economic and historical questions about the nature of class and social relations.



Karl Marx, from the Communist Manifesto, 1848

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, political economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, and communist revolutionary, whose ideas played a significant role in the development of modern communism and socialism-theories collectively known as Marxism. His critique of capitalism, Das Kapital, remains influential today.
In Prussia, tensions with Austria had led to the Seven Weeks' War the previous year. Under the resulting Treaty of Prague, Prussia received Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Nassau, and Frankfurt, allowing it to organize the North German Confederation. The king of Prussia, William I (1797-1888) was at its helm, backed by Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck. Austria also gave up control of the Venetia (Venice), allowing the region to be unified with Italy.
1867 Antiseptic Surgery

British surgeon Joseph Lister, operating on accident victims in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the 1860s, was dismayed to find that 45 to 50 percent of patients undergoing amputations died afterward of sepsis—infection of the bloodstream. Learning of Pasteur s theories about the transmission of germs, Lister decided that microorganisms in the air were infecting the patients' open wounds. In 1867, he began to spray the operating room air and wash his hands, surgical instruments, and catgut with carbolic acid, an antiseptic formerly used in sewage treatment. He also insisted on clean aprons for operating room personnel and on keeping open wounds protected from the air. With these precautions, the mortality rate in his operations dropped to 15 percent.

Lister's methods caught on quickly around the world, particularly in military hospitals. Together with the work of Ignaz Semmelweiss, Louis Pasteur, and Robert Koch, his contributions to antisepsis saved untold thousands of lives.
1867 Dynamite Invented

Swedish physicist Alfred Nobel, looking for a more stable alternative to nitroglycerine, invented the blasting explosive dynamite in 1867. Nobel found that he could make the explosive by stabilizing nitroglycerine in a mixture with kieselguhr, a powdery rock made primarily of silica. He also invented a blasting cap, filled with gunpowder and ignited by a fuse, that could be used to detonate the explosion. The invention greatly reduced the cost of construction work
around the world. Nobet became a rich man and a philanthropist whose will established the funds for five Nobel Prizes.
1867 Canada Pulls Together

Wary of the United States' increasing military and economic power, and eager to secure the northwest for expansion, leaders of Canada's disparate colonies agreed to form a union. In 1867, the British North America Act joined Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada East and West (now Quebec and Ontario) into the Dominion of Canada. The new central government had a British-style parliamentary system; it guaranteed the legal rights of French-speaking Quebec and divided powers between the federal government and the former colonies, now provinces. In 1869, the Northwest Territories were added to the mix, and in 1871 British Columbia also joined the union.
WITH THE FALL IN 1868 OF THE TOKUGAWA SHOGUNATE in Japan and the rise of the emperor Meiji Tenno (1852-1912). the island reversed its policy of isolationism and began a program of Westernization, with the aim of being able to stand up to the Western powers that were demanding access to Japan.

This period, known as the Meiji Restoration, was a time of long-lasting fundamental social reforms, such as the ending of feudalism, formation of a national army, and implementation of tax systems, with a constitutional government being convened by 1890. There was a boom in infrastructure modernization throughout this period, with the arrival of railroads and the telegraph.

Meiji vase
A Japanese Satsuma cabinet vase from the Meiji period.
Art was well supported by the Japanese government during this period.

1868 Japan Installs Meiji Emperor

The shocking appearance of Commodore Perry's four warships in Edo Bay in 1853 shook the foundations of Japan's isolationist government. For centuries, Japan had been ruled by a military aristocracy headed by a shogun, powerful regional lords—daimyos—and the samurai, formerly a warrior class. The emperor had become a figurehead. With the advent of Western forces on their shores, Japanese bureaucrats and military rulers began an internal struggle between those who wanted to open to the West and modernize and those who clung to the status quo. In 1866, some samurai even armed themselves with American Civil War cannon to fight forces of the shogunate. Eventually, in 1867, the last shogun, Yoshinobu, resigned. In 1868 the reformers installed a new emperor, Mutsuhito, who was called Meiji—"the Enlightened One."
A centralized government replaced the old shogun system and the capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo (formerly known as Edo). Further reforms would follow, including the abolishment of feudalism and the samurai class, industrialization, modernization of the military, and the beginnings of compulsory education.
In Cuba, discontent with the Spanish regime had been growing. When Queen Isabella II [1830-1904] was deposed by a miLitary rebellion in Spain, Cubans seeking independence took the opportunity to launch a war against the Spanish rulers on their island. Led by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, this uprising, known as El Grito de Vara (The Cry of Yara), resulted in The Ten Years' War [1868-78], a campaign of guerilla warfare that ended in failure for the Cuban rebels.

In the same year, there was also an uprising against Spanish rule in Puerto Rico. The Lares uprising, or El Grito de Lares, was shortlived and, like the Cuban uprising, also ended in failure.

This painting shows battleships in the Ten Years' War (1868-78),
which was part of the long-running struggle for Cuba's independence from Spain.

In South Africa, British control was spreading. Boer settlers had moved away from the Cape Colony, taking land from local tribes, including the neighboring Basutoland. Sotho leader Moshoeshoe I [c. 1786-1870] asked Britain for help against further incursions into Sotho territory, and the result was that the kingdom was annexed to the British Crown in 1868. becoming a protectorate. On Moshoeshoe s death in 1870, it was made part of the Cape Colony region without consulting the Sotho people.


Thomas Garrett, American abolitionist, on the passing of the 15th Amendment

AS RECONSTRUCTION CONTINUED in the war-torn southern US, Congress enacted an amendment to the Constitution—ratified by the states in February 1869—that extended the right to vote to all black men, whether they had been enslaved or not. The Fifteenth Amendment declared that "the rights of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude".
Meanwhile, westward expansion in the US continued to grow, aided by the arrival of railroads. By 1869, the first transcontinental railroad had been completed by the Central Pacific Railroad. The project was supported by government bonds. Part of the track was started from Sacramento, California, heading east and joining with existing lines in Promontory, Utah, on May 10. 1869. Much of the work on this stretch of railroad was done by more than 10.000 Chinese immigrant laborers. The construction of this line allowed rapid coast-to-coast travel in the US, further facilitating western settlement.
1869 Railroad Connects Coasts

For much of the 19th century, the U.S. government and private entrepreneurs alike had dreamed of a transcontinental railroad connecting the western United States to the established rail lines of the East. In 1862, their wishes began to be fulfilled when the Pacific Railway Bill established two railroads—the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific—to work together to build a railroad from Council Bluffs, Iowa, where eastern lines left off, to Sacramento, California. To support the immense undertaking, the federal government gave the two companies 24 million acres of public land and loans totaling 64 million dollars.

The Central Pacific built eastward, the Union Pacific westward. Every machine, locomotive, and piece of rail had to be shipped over the Isthmus of Panama or around Cape Horn. The vast number of workers involved eventually included 12,000 Chinese immigrants, who proved to be an extraordinarily hard-working group despite suffering from lower wages and the prejudices of the other workers. Together the two companies laid some 1,700 miles of track across mountain, prairie, and desert, finally meeting at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869. The railroad became a major factor in bringing settlers to the West—and contributed as well to the removal of American Indians to reservations and to the demise of the great bison herds of the Plains.
Another feat of engineering also opened around the same time— the Suez Canal. After a decade of construction, this canal linked the Mediterranean and Red seas, and provided a much quicker passage to the Indian Ocean.

Grand opening

The opening of the Suez Canal, Port Said, Egypt. The project took a decade to complete but its impact on global trade was immediate.

1869 Canal Connects Europe, Asia

In August, Egyptian and European laborers completed work on one of the engineering marvels of the modern world: the Suez Canal. Spanning 101 miles of the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt, the canal connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas, providing a shipping route between Europe, East Africa, and Asia.
Engineers of various nationalities had speculated for centuries about building a canal across the desert isthmus. In 1854, the viceroy of Egypt, Sa'id Pasha, granted an act of concession to French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, authorizing him to construct the canal. A second concession, in 1859, gave the mostly French-owned Suez Canal Company the right to operate the canal for 99 years. De Lesseps himself
dug the first hole in 1859, but it took tens of thousands of Egyptian laborers., unwillingly drafted, to finish the route ten years later. The canal greatly boosted international commerce and tourism between Europe and points east and provided a route as well for European colonial ventures in Asia and East Africa.

FOOTNOTE In July 1956, Egypt seized control of the canal from its European owners; after battling Israeli, British, and French forces and sinking 40 ships to block the canal, the country negotiated a final purchase of the waterway in 1958.

Ships moored at Port Said, entry to the Suez Canal, circa I860
In South Africa, diamonds had been discovered in the Northern Cape province in 1866, and soon a rush was on between the Boers, British, and native people to mine them. The British swiftly stepped in to annex the territory while thousands of prospectors arrived to try their luck.
1869 Grand Canyon Explored

John Wesley Powell, geologist and ethnologist, was a Civil War veteran who went on to study both the geology of the West and American Indian languages.

In 1869 he led the Powell Geographic Expedition, which traveled by boat through the Grand Canyon.

He heralded the hazardous trip in his diary: "We have an unknown distance yet to run; an unknown river yet to explore.

What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls rise over the river, we know not.

Ah, well!" Powell's surveys and expeditions provided vital information about the land and people of the West to the U.S. government.

FOOTNOTE Powell was the first to use the name "Grand Canyon" in published writings about the area. Local Paiutes called the canyon's plateau Kaibab, meaning "mountain lying down."
John Wesley Powell, explorer and ethnologist
of the American West
1869 Periodic Table Laid Out

Throughout the 1800s, chemists had been new adding elements to the list of those already known: iodine, lithium, aluminum, and so on, until by I860 about 60 or 70 had been identified. The symbols for denoting elements that John Dalton had devised in his work had been replaced by the one- or two-letter system in use today, but scientists in different countries called the elements by different names, and they could not agree on the atomic weights of many of them or on how to write out formulas or depict molecules. In 1860, the First International Chemical Conference, in Karlsruhe, Germany, clarified many of these issues, resulting in a general agreement on how to order the elements according to atomic weight. It took the work of Siberian chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev, however, to reveal a deeper relationship among the elements. A devoted solitaire player, Mendeleyev wrote the names, atomic weights, and properties of all the elements on cards arid then arranged them according to atomic weight. As he moved the cards about, he realized that elements with similar properties would occur at regular intervals, or periods. (British chemist John Newlands had made a similar observation in 1864 but was widely ridiculed at the time.) Mendeleyev rearranged the cards into columns of similar elements: the first periodic table, published in 1869. He was so confident of his conclusions that he even left gaps in the table where he predicted (correctly) new elements would appear. Although Mendeleyev's idea was not accepted immediately, over the next two decades he was vindicated. Today, the periodic table has well over 100 elements but retains Mendeleyev's organization.
1869 Plastic Invented

John Wesley Hyatt, an American printer and inventor, was searching for an affordable substitute for ivory in the making of billiard balls when he invented the first plastic, celluloid,
in 1869. He knew that English chemist Alexander Parkes had managed to convert the explosive chemical nitrocellulose into a nonexplosive, malleable substance. Hyatt's successful variation on this invention combined cellulose nitrate and camphor to produce a strong, moldable, versatile material—celluloid—that was made not only into billiard balls, but into an almost infinite variety of items ranging from combs and collars to film and dental plates. Though not explosive, Hyatt's invention was nevertheless flammable, and eventually newer and safer forms of plastic came to dominate the market.

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