On This Day

Historical Events in 1859

  • Jan 5 1st steamboat the North Star sails up the northern Red River, America

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Jan 22 Johannes Brahms' 1st piano concerto (in D minor) premieres in Hanover

Composer and Conductor Johannes Brahms
Composer and Conductor
Johannes Brahms
  • Jan 23 Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii begins an eruption that lasts 300 days
  • Jan 24 Political union of Moldavia and Wallachia; Alexandru Ioan Cuza is elected as ruler

Historic Publication4th Century Bible Discovered

Feb 4 One of the oldest known copies of the Bible, "The Codex Sinaiticus" (Sinai Bible), is seen in Egypt by Constantin von Tischendorf who takes the manuscript home with him

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A page from the Codex Sinaiticus, displaying the Lord's Prayer. The first few letters are part of Matthew 6:4; the first new paragraph denotes Matthew 6:5. The last full sentence is Matthew 6:24; the last incomplete sentence on this page is Matthew 6:25.
A page from the Codex Sinaiticus, displaying the Lord's Prayer. The first few letters are part of Matthew 6:4; the first new paragraph denotes Matthew 6:5. The last full sentence is Matthew 6:24; the last incomplete sentence on this page is Matthew 6:25.
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  • Feb 5 Wallachia and Moldavia are united under Alexander John Cuza as the United Principalities

Battle of InterestThe Indian Mutiny

Feb 10 General Horsford defeats Begum of Oude and Nana Sahib in Indian Mutiny

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Mutineers are executed by the Bengal Horse Artillery, in a painting by Orlando Noire
Mutineers are executed by the Bengal Horse Artillery, in a painting by Orlando Noire
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  • Feb 14 Oregon admitted as 33rd state of the Union
  • Feb 16 The French Government passes a law to set the A-note above middle C to a frequency of 435 Hz, in an attempt to standardize the pitch

Music releaseMusic Premiere

Feb 17 Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Un Ballo in maschera" premieres in Napoli

Composer Giuseppe Verdi
Composer
Giuseppe Verdi
  • Feb 25 1st use of "insanity plea" to prove innocence

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Feb 26 Paul Morphy's chess match vs Augustus Mongredien begins; Morphy wins

Chess Player Paul Morphy
Chess Player
Paul Morphy
  • Feb 28 Arkansas legislature requires free blacks to choose exile or slavery
  • Mar 1 Present seal of San Francisco adopted (its 2nd)
  • Mar 2 21st Grand National: Chris Green aboard 7/1 Half Caste wins by only a short neck from Jean Du Quesne
  • Mar 18 Vera Cruz besieged by Miramon (Cons) in Mexican War of Reform

  • Mar 19 Opera "Faust" by Charles Gounod premieres in Paris
  • Mar 21 Scottish National Gallery opens in Edinburgh
  • Mar 21 Zoological Society of Philadelphia, 1st in US, incorporated
  • Mar 26 1st supposed sighting of Vulcan, a planet thought to orbit inside Mercury; it doesn't exist
  • Mar 28 1st performance of Johannes Brahms' 1st Serenade for orchestra
  • Apr 4 Opera "Dinorah" is produced in Paris
  • Apr 4 Bryant's Minstrels debut "Dixie" in New York City in the finale of a blackface minstrel show
  • Apr 6 US recognizes Liberal government in Mexico's War of Reform
  • Apr 12 Hibernia Savings & Loan Society of San Francisco incorporates
  • Apr 25 Ground broken for Suez Canal
  • Apr 26 Dan Sickles is acquitted of murder on grounds of temporary insanity - 1st time this defense used successfully in the US
  • Apr 27 "Pomona" sinks in North Atlantic drowning all 400 aboard

Book releaseHistoric Publication

Apr 30 Charles Dickens' "A Tale Of Two Cities" is first published in literary periodical "All the Year Round" (weekly installments until Nov 26)

Novelist Charles Dickens
Novelist
Charles Dickens
  • Apr 30 Paul Morphy returns from 10-month chess tour of Europe, retires
  • May 4 The Cornwall Railway opens across the Royal Albert Bridge linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall in England.
  • May 17 Australian Rules Football first 'laws of the game' published
  • May 31 Philadelphia A's organize to play "town ball" became baseball 20 years later

Victory in battleVictory in Battle

Jun 4 Second Italian War of Independence: Battle of Magenta, results in a French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III over the Austrians under Marshal Ferencz Gyulai

Emperor of France Napoleon III
Emperor of France
Napoleon III
  • Jun 6 Australia: Queensland is established as a separate colony from New South Wales (Queensland Day).
  • Jun 12 Comstock Silver Lode in Nevada discovered, first major silver discovery in the US

  • Jun 15 Pig War: Ambiguity in the Oregon Treaty leads to the "Northwestern Boundary Dispute" between U.S. and British/Canadian settlers

Victory in battleVictory in Battle

Jun 24 Battle of Solferino, Northern Italy: a French Army under Napoleon III and a Sardinian Army under Victor Emmanuel II overcomes the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz Joseph I

King of Sardinia and Italy Victor Emmanuel II
King of Sardinia and Italy
Victor Emmanuel II
Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I
Austro-Hungarian Emperor
Franz Joseph I
Emperor of France Napoleon III
Emperor of France
Napoleon III
  • Jun 28 1st dog show held, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England
  • Jun 30 French acrobat Charles Blondin is 1st to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope
  • Jul 1 1st intercollegiate baseball game, Amherst beats Williams 66-32 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
  • Jul 1 Balloon covers a record 809 miles over St Louis
  • Jul 5 Capt N C Brooks discovers Midway Islands
  • Jul 8 King Charles XV/Carl IV accedes to the throne of Sweden-Norway
  • Jul 11 Big Ben's second and current bell first chimes from inside the Clock Tower [1]
  • Jul 12 Paper bag manufacturing machine patents by William Goodale, Massachusetts
  • Jul 22 Underarm slow right arm bowler V E Walker takes 10-74 in 1st innings for an All-England Cricket XI v Surrey CCC at The Oval in London
  • Aug 9 Otis Tufts patents the first passenger elevator in the US
  • Aug 17 1st air mail (in a balloon) took off from Lafayette, Indiana
  • Aug 27 1st successful oil well drilled, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, by Edwin Drake
  • Aug 28 A geomagnetic storm causes the Aurora Borealis to shine so brightly that it is seen clearly over parts of USA, Europe, and even as far afield as Japan
  • Sep 1 1st Pullman sleeping car in service
  • Sep 1 R C Carrington & R Hodgson make 1st observation of a solar flare
  • Sep 2 Gas lighting introduced to Hawaii
  • Sep 2 A solar super storm affects electrical telegraph service.

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Sep 16 Lake Nyasa, which forms Malawi's boundary with Tanzania & Mozambique discovered by British explorer David Livingstone

Physician and Explorer David Livingstone
Physician and Explorer
David Livingstone

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Sep 17 Joshua Abraham Norton, English-born resident of San Francisco, proclaims himself his Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, Emperor of the United States of America

Emperor of the USA Emperor Norton
Emperor of the USA
Emperor Norton

MurderMurder of Interest

Sep 17 James Donnelly is sentenced to hang for murdering Patrick Farrell, but a petition for clemency reduces his sentence to 7 years in Kingston Penitentiary

Squatter James Donnelly
Squatter
James Donnelly
  • Sep 20 George Simpson patents electric range
  • Sep 29 Great auroral display in US
  • Oct 12 Self-proclaimed Emperor of the USA, Emperor Norton issues edict abolishing the US Congress

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Oct 16 Abolitionist John Brown leads 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia

Abolitionist John Brown
Abolitionist
John Brown
  • Oct 19 Wilhelm Tempel discovers diffuse nebula around Pleid star Merope
  • Oct 25 Merchant vessel Royal Charter runs aground at Liverpool, 459 die
  • Oct 26 The steam clipper Royal Charter is wrecked on the coast of Anglesey, north Wales with 459 dead
  • Oct 29 Spain declares war on Morocco
  • Nov 1 The current Cape Lookout, North Carolina, lighthouse was lit for the first time. Its first-order Fresnel lens can be seen for about 19 miles (30 kilometers), in good conditions.
  • Nov 2 American abolitionist John Brown found guilty of murder, inciting slaves to revolt, and treason against the Virginia Territory during his raid of Harpers Ferry Armory, and sentenced to hang
  • Nov 12 Jules Leotard performs 1st Flying Trapeze circus act (Paris) He also designed garment that bears his name
  • Nov 16 Aleksandr Ostrovsky's play "Groza" (The Storm) premieres in Moscow

Book releaseHistoric Publication

Nov 24 English naturalist Charles Darwin publishes "On the Origin of Species" radically changing the view of evolution and laying the foundation for evolutionary biology

Naturalist Charles Darwin
Naturalist
Charles Darwin
  • Nov 26 Last weekly installment of Charles Dickens' "A Tale Of Two Cities" is published in literary periodical "All the Year Round"
  • Dec 2 Abolitionist John Brown hanged for murder, treason, and conspiring slaves to revolt at Charles Town, Virginia
  • Dec 5 Dion Boucicault's play "Octaroon" premieres in NYC
  • Dec 15 GR Kirchoff describes chemical composition of the Sun
  • Dec 19 Grading started for Market Street RR in San Francisco
  • Dec 31 Dutch colony in Dutch Indies counts 4,800 slaves