Historical Events in 1840

  • Jan 1 1st recorded bowling match in US, Knickerbocker Alleys, NYC
  • Jan 3 1st deep sea sounding by James Clark Ross in south Atlantic at 2425 fathoms (14,450 feet)
  • Jan 5 Records show 95,820 licensed public houses in England on this date

A Day's Pay – The Cost of Sending a Letter

Jan 10 Uniform Penny Post mail system starts throughout the United Kingdom an idea championed by Rowland Hill to increase the volume of mail and its availability to poorer classes

  • Jan 13 The steamship Lexington burns and sinks four miles off the coast of Long Island with the loss of 139 lives
  • Jan 18 The Electro-Magnet, and Mechanics Intelligencer, 1st US electrical journal, appears
  • Jan 20 Dumont D'Urville discovers Adélie Land, Antarctica
  • Jan 20 Dutch King Willem II crowned
  • Jan 22 New Zealand Company settlers arrive aboard the Aurora at Te Whanganui a Tara, which becomes Port Nicholson, Wellington

Historic Expedition

Jan 25 American naval expedition under Charles Wilkes is first to identify Antarctica as a new continent

Treaty of Waitangi

Jan 29 First Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi Captain William Hobson arrives in the Bay of Islands, NZ

  • Feb 1 Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, 1st in US, incorporated
  • Feb 6 The Treaty of Waitangi is signed between 40 Māori Chiefs (later signed by 500) and representatives of the British crown in Waitangi, New Zealand. The treaty was designed to share sovereignty between the two groups.
  • Feb 11 Gaetano Donizetti's opéra comique "La Fille du Regiment" (The Daughter of the Regiment) premieres at the Salle de la Bourse in Paris, France
  • Feb 12 Housatonic Railroad opens, running from Bridgeport, Connecticut, north to the Massachusetts state line
  • Feb 16 American Charles Wilkes discovers Shackleton Ice Shelf, Antarctica
  • Mar 1 Adolphe Thiers becomes prime minister of France
  • Mar 5 2nd Grand National: Bartholomew Bretherton wins aboard 16/1 Jerry; a then smallest field of 13
  • Mar 14 Jose Zorilla's romantic drama "El Zapatero y el Rey" premieres in Madrid
  • Mar 23 John William Draper takes 1st successful photo in US of the Moon (daguerreotype), in New York City
  • Apr 13 William Henry Lane ("Juda") perfects tap dance

Palace of Westminster

Apr 27 Foundation stone for new Palace of Westminster, London, laid by Sarah Barry wife of its architect Charles Barry

Penny Black

May 1 "Penny Black", the world's first adhesive postage stamp issued by Great Britain

The Hero as Divinity

May 5 Thomas Carlyle begins his famous lecture series "The Hero as Divinity", later collected in his book "On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History"

  • May 6 World's first adhesive postage stamp, the "Penny Black", is first used in Great Britain
  • May 7 Tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi, kills 317
  • May 8 Alexander Wolcott patents Photographic Process
  • May 20 York Minster badly damaged by fire
  • May 21 Captain William Hobson proclaims British sovereignty over New Zealand; the North Island by treaty and the South Island by 'discovery'
  • May 22 The transporting of British convicts to the New South Wales colony is abolished
  • Jun 12 Meteorite hits Uden, Netherlands

Morse Telegraph

Jun 20 American inventor Samuel Morse patents his telegraph

  • Jul 4 The Cunard Line's 700 ton wooden paddle steamer RMS Britannia departs from Liverpool bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia on the first transatlantic crossing with a scheduled end
  • Jul 6 Christian Hebbel's "Judith" premieres in Berlin
  • Jul 15 Great Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia sign Quadruple Alliance
  • Jul 23 Union Act passed by British Parliament, uniting Upper & Lower Canada
  • Aug 18 American Society of Dental Surgeons founded (NY)
  • Aug 18 French colony established in Akaroa, South Island of New Zealand
  • Aug 28 Nine Jewish prisoners are released from Damascus jails
  • Oct 7 Willem I resigns as king of Netherlands
  • Oct 8 "Ke Kumukānāwai a me nā Kānāwai o ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻĀina, Honolulu, 1840", the 1st written Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom enacted by King Kamehameha III and Kuhina Nui (Prime Minister) Kekāuluohi
  • Oct 8 First Hawaiian constitution proclaimed
  • Oct 14 Maronite leader Bashir II surrenders to the British forces and goes into exile in Malta.
  • Nov 16 New Zealand officially becomes a British colony
  • Dec 2 Gaetano Donizetti's opera "La Favorita" premieres in Paris

Election of Interest

Dec 2 William Henry Harrison elected the 9th President of the United States of America

Event of Interest

Dec 15 Napoleon Bonaparte receives a French state funeral in Paris 19 years after his death