On This Day

What Happened in December 1848

Historical Events

  • Dec 2 Franz Josef I becomes Emperor of Austria & King of Hungary

InventionScientific Discovery

Dec 5 US President James K. Polk triggers Gold Rush of 1849 by confirming a gold discovery in California

11th US President James Knox Polk
11th US President
James Knox Polk
  • Dec 25 New Haven Railroad opens
  • Dec 26 1st gold seekers arrive in Panama en route to San Francisco
  • Dec 26 William & Ellen Craft escape from slavery in Georgia
  • Dec 26 The Phi Delta Theta fraternity is founded at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
  • Dec 29 Gas lights 1st installed at White House (Polk's administration)

Famous Birthdays

  • Dec 9 Joel Chandler Harris, American writer (created Uncle Remus stories), born in Eatonton, Georgia (d. 1908)
  • Dec 12 William Kissam Vanderbilt, American businessman, born in New Dorp, Staten Island, New York (d. 1920)
  • Dec 15 Edwin Blashfield, American painter who decorated the dome of Library of Congress, born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 1936)
  • Dec 17 Frederick Grant Gleason, American composer, born in Middletown, Connecticut (d. 1903)
  • Dec 18 Karl Schroder, composer
  • Dec 21 Edward Everett Rice, American musical composer & theater producer, born in Brighton, Boston (d. 1924)
  • Dec 30 Mary Frances Allitsen, British composer, born in London, England (d. 1912)

Famous Deaths

  • Dec 18 Bernard Bolzano, Bohemian mathematician and philosopher (b. 1781)
  • Dec 19 Frans Adam van der Duyn van Maasdam, Dutch governor (South Holland), dies at 77

Person of interestEmily Brontë

Dec 19 Emily Brontë, English novelist (Wuthering Heights), dies of tuberculosis at 30

  • Dec 25 Johan Erik Nordblom, Swedish composer, dies at 60
  • Dec 31 Oliver Shaw, early American composer, dies at 69