Historical Events in 1881

  • Jan 1st Dr John H Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes
  • Jan 2nd Camille Saint-Saëns' 3rd Concerto in B, premieres
  • Jan 4th Johannes Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture" premieres in Breslau
  • Jan 22nd Ancient Egyptian obelisk "Cleopatra's Needle" erected in Central Park, New York

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Jan 25th Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company.

  • Jan 26th Union of Baptists Communities forms in Foxholl
  • Jan 28th Battle at Laing's Neck Natal: Boers beat superior powered British
  • Feb 1st US Assay Office in St Louis, Missouri authorized
  • Feb 5th Phoenix, Az incorporates
  • Feb 7th Battle at Ingogo, Transvaal: Boers beat superior British forces
  • Feb 10th Jacques Offenbach's opera "Les Contes d'Hoffman" premieres in Paris
  • Feb 13th The feminist newspaper La Citoyenne is first published in Paris by the activist Hubertine Auclert.
  • Feb 19th Kansas becomes 1st state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages
  • Feb 24th De Lesseps' Company begins work on Panama Canal
  • Feb 24th China and Russia sign the Sino-Russian Ili Treaty.
  • Feb 26th -27] Natal: British troops under Major General Colley occupy Majuba Hill
  • Feb 26th SS Ceylon begins 1st round-the-world cruise from Liverpool
  • Feb 27th Battle at Amajuba: South African Boers vs British army under Gen Colley
  • Mar 4th California becomes 1st state to pass plant quarantine legislation
  • Mar 4th Holmes & Watson begin "A Study in Scarlet", 1st case together

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Mar 4th James A. Garfield inaugurated as the 20th President of the United States of America

20th US President James Garfield
20th US President
James Garfield
  • Mar 4th South African president Kruger accepts ceasefire
  • Mar 12th Andrew Watson makes his Scotland debut as the world's first black international football player and captain.
  • Mar 16th Barnum & Bailey Circus debuts
  • Mar 18th Barnum & Bailey's "Greatest Show on Earth" opens (Madison Square Garden)
  • Mar 23rd Boers & Britain sign peace accord; end 1st Boer war
  • Mar 23rd Gas lamp sets fire to Nice France opera house; 70 die
  • Mar 25th 43rd Grand National: Mr Tommy Beasley IRE aboard Woodbrook wins
  • Mar 26th Thessaly is freed and becomes part of Greece again.
  • Mar 27th Rioting takes place in Basingstoke, Hampshire, in protest against the daily vociferous promotion of rigid Temperance by the Salvation Army.
  • Mar 28th "Greatest Show On Earth" was formed by PT Barnum & James A Bailey
  • Apr 1st Anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem
  • Apr 1st Kingdom post office in Netherlands opens
  • Apr 5th Transvaal regains independence under British suzerainty
  • Apr 11th River ferry "Princess Victoria" sinks in Thames River, Ontario, 180 die
  • Apr 11th Spelman College founded
  • Apr 14th The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight in El Paso, Texas.
  • Apr 16th In Dodge City, Kansas, Bat Masterson fights his last gun battle.
  • Apr 18th Natural History Museum opens in South Kensington, England

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Apr 18th Billy the Kid escapes from the Lincoln County jail in Mesilla, New Mexico.

Frontier Outlaw Billy the Kid
Frontier Outlaw
Billy the Kid
  • Apr 23rd Gilbert & Sullivan's opera "Patience" produced in London
  • Apr 25th 250,000 Germans petition to bar foreign Jews from entering Germany
  • Apr 25th French troops occupy Algeria & Tunisia
  • Apr 27th Pogroms against Russian Jews start in Elisabethgrad
  • May 5th Anit-Jewish rioting in Kiev Ukraine
  • May 8th Henry Morton Stanley signs the first of many contracts with the Congolian monarch
  • May 10th Lighthouse on Ameland begins operation
  • May 11th Bedrich Smetana's opera "Libusa" premieres in Prague
  • May 12th Treaty of Bardo, Tunisia becomes a French protectorate
  • May 16th World's 1st electric tram enters service in Lichterfelder (near Berlin)
  • May 17th 7th Kentucky Derby: Jim McLaughlin aboard Hindoo wins in 2:40

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May 17th Frederick Douglass appointed recorder of deeds for Wash DC

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
  • May 17th Revised version of New Testament

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May 21st American Red Cross founded by Clara Barton

Humanitarian Clara Barton
Clara Barton
  • May 21st US Nation Lawn Tennis Association forms
  • May 24th Canadian ferry Princess Victoria sinks near London Ontario, 200 die
  • May 24th Turkey cedes Thessaly and Arta back to Greece.
  • May 27th 9th Preakness: T Costello aboard Saunterer wins in 2:40.5
  • Jun 1st Bell Phone opens 1st Dutch telephone exchange
  • Jun 2nd Haarlem-Zandvoort Railway opens
  • Jun 7th 15th Belmont: T Costello aboard Saunterer wins in 2:47
  • Jun 12th The USS Jeannette, under the command of George Washington De Long, is crushed by Arctic ice after 21 months of ice-bound drifting
  • Jun 13th The USS Jeannette, under the command of George Washington De Long, sinks in the Arctic circle following 21 months of drifting after becoming trapped in the ice
  • Jun 14th Player piano patented by John McTammany Jr (Cambridge, Mass)
  • Jun 16th Austria-Hungary & Serbia sign military treaty
  • Jun 19th Muhammad Ahmad becomes Mahdi of Sudan
  • Jun 24th 200 drown as train runs off bridge near Cuautla, Mexico
  • Jun 29th Pope Leo XIII publishes encyclical Diuturnum illud
  • Jun 30th Henry Highland Garnet named minister to Liberia
  • Jul 1st 1st international telephone conversation, Calais, ME-St Stephen, NB
  • Jul 1st US Assay Office in St Louis, Missouri opens
  • Jul 1st General Order 70, the culmination of the Cardwell-Childers reforms of the British Army's organisation, comes into effect.
  • Jul 2nd US President James Garfield shot by Charles J. Guiteau a disappointed office-seeker; Garfield died 79 days later

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Jul 4th Booker T. Washington establishes Tuskegee Institute (Alabama)

Education Pioneer Booker T. Washington
Education Pioneer
Booker T. Washington
  • Jul 13th 5th Wimbledon Men's Tennis: William Renshaw beats J Hartley (6-0 6-1 6-1)

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Jul 20th Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull, surrenders to US federal troops

Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull
Lakota Sioux Chief
Sitting Bull
  • Jul 26th French marines occupy Tunisian harbor city Sfax
  • Aug 1st US Quarantine Station authorized for Angel Island, SF Bay
  • Aug 3rd Boers signs Convention of Pretoria: Transvaal semi-autonomous
  • Aug 3rd US National Lawn Tennis Association removes "National" from its name
  • Aug 4th 122°F (50°C), Seville, Spain (European record)
  • Aug 27th Hurricane hits Florida & Carolinas; about 700 die
  • Aug 31st 1st US men's single tennis championships (Newport, RI)
  • Sep 3rd Anton Bruckner completes his 6th Symphony
  • Sep 3rd 1st U.S. Men's National Championship: Richard Sears beats William E. Glyn (6-0, 6-3, 6-2)
  • Sep 9th Egyptian military coup under colonel Arab "El Wahid"
  • Sep 11th Triple landslides bury Elm Switz
  • Sep 13th Lewis Latimer invents & patents electric lamp with a carbon filament
  • Sep 18th Chicago Tribune reports on a televideo experiment

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Sep 20th Chester A. Arthur sworn in as 21st president

21st US President Chester A. Arthur
21st US President
Chester A. Arthur
  • Sep 27th Chicago Cubs beat Troy 10-8 before record small "crowd" of 12
  • Oct 4th Edward Leveaux patents automatic player piano
  • Oct 11th David Houston patents roll film for cameras
  • Oct 12th Henry M Stanley signs contract with Congo monarch
  • Oct 13th Revival of Hebrew language as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda & friends agree to use Hebrew exclusively in their conversations
  • Oct 14th 21st British Golf Open: Bob Ferguson shoots a 170 at Prestwick Golf Club
  • Oct 15th 1st American fishing magazine, American Angler published
  • Oct 22nd Boston Symphony Orchestra gives its first concert
  • Oct 24th Levi P Morton, US ambasador to France drives first rivet in Statue of Liberty

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Oct 26th Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday & Clanton involved in gunfight at OK Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona

OK Corral Sheriff Wyatt Earp
OK Corral Sheriff
Wyatt Earp
Gunfighter in the American Old West Doc Holliday
Gunfighter in the American Old West
Doc Holliday
  • Oct 29th Judge (U.S. magazine) first published.
  • Oct 31st Metropolitan club plays its last game of its non-league season They win 80 of 151 games (18-43 versus NL teams)
  • Nov 2nd Dutch New-Malthusiaanse Union forms
  • Nov 5th French government-Ferry resigns
  • Nov 5th 1,600 police and volunteers attack Māori settlement at Parihaka in western Taranaki which had become the symbol of protest against the confiscation of Māori land, New Zealand


Nov 14th Charles J. Guiteau put on trial for the assassination of US President Garfield

  • Nov 14th Leon Gambetta forms French government
  • Nov 15th American Federation of Labor (AFL) founded (Pittsburgh)
  • Nov 19th A meteorite lands near the village of Großliebenthal, southwest of Odessa, Ukraine.
  • Dec 3rd Henry Morton Stanley founds Leopoldville (now Kinshasa)
  • Dec 4th The first edition of the Los Angeles Times is published.
  • Dec 5th 47th Congress (1881-83) convenes
  • Dec 8th Vienna's Ring Theater destroyed by fire, kills between 640-850
  • Dec 19th Opera "Hérodiade" is produced (Brussels)