1859 in History

Events in History

  • Jan 5 1st steamboat sails, Red River
  • Jan 22 Brahms' 1st piano concerto (in D minor) premieres in Hanover
  • 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
  • Feb 4 The Codex Sinaiticus is discovered in Egypt
  • Feb 5 Wallachia and Moldavia are united under Alexander John Cuza as the United Principalities
  • Feb 10 General Horsford defeats Begum of Oude and Nana Sahib in Indian Mutiny
  • 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
  • Feb 25 1st use of "insanity plea" to prove innocence
  • Feb 26 Paul Morphy's chess match vs Augustus Mongredien begins; Morphy wins
  • Feb 28 Arkansas legislature requires free blacks to choose exile or slavery
  • Mar 1 Present seal of San Francisco adopted (its 2nd)
  • Mar 18 Vera Cruz besieged by Miramon (Cons) in Mexican War of Reform
  • 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
  • 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

Event of interestEvent of Interest

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
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
  • 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
  • Jun 6 Australia: Queensland is established as a separate colony from New South Wales (Queensland Day).
  • Jun 11 Comstock silver load discovered near Virginia City, Nevada
  • Jun 12 Comstock Silver Lode in Nevada discovered
  • 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 Sardinian Army under Victor Emmanuel II overcame the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz Joseph I

King of Sardinia and Italy Victor Emmanuel II
King of Sardinia and Italy
Victor Emmanuel II
  • Jun 28 1st dog show held (Newcastle-on-Tyne, England)
  • Jun 30 French acrobat Charles Blondin is 1st to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope
  • 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 12 Paper bag manufacturing machine patents by William Goodale, Mass
  • Jul 22 V E Walker takes 10-74 in an innings for England v Surrey
  • Aug 9 Otis Tuft 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, Penn 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 solar flare
  • Sep 1 A solar superstorm affects electrical telegraph service.
  • 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
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 John Brown leads 21 in raid on federal arsenal, Harper's Ferry, Va

Abolitionist John Brown
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 12 Jules Leotard performs 1st Flying Trapeze circus act (Paris) He also designed garment that bears his name
  • Nov 16 Aleksandr Ostrovsky's "Groza" premieres in Moscow

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Nov 24 English naturalist Charles Darwin publishes "On the Origin of Species"

Naturalist Charles Darwin
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 5 Dion Boucicault's "Octaroon" premieres in NYC
  • Dec 15 GR Kirchoff describes chemical composition of Sun
  • Dec 18 South Carolina declared an "independent commonwealth"
  • Dec 19 Grading started for Market Street RR
  • Dec 31 Dutch colony in Dutch Indies counts 4,800 slaves

Birthdays in History

  • Jan 5 DeWitt B Brace, inventor (spectrophotometer)
  • Jan 6 Samuel Alexander, English philosopher (Moral order & progress)
  • Jan 9 Carrie Chapman Catt, Ripon, Wisconsin, American women's suffrage leader and founder (League of Women Voters)
  • Jan 9 Frederik Pijper, Dutch vicar/church historian (The Monasteries)
  • Jan 11 [Gerard] Jan Ligthart, Dutch educator (Nog bij mother, Ot & Sien)
  • Jan 13 Karl Bleibtreu, German author (Revolution of Literature)
  • Jan 13 Kostis Palamas, Greek poet (d. 1943)
  • Jan 15 Archibald Peake, Premier of South Australia (d. 1920)
  • Jan 19 Alice Eastwood, botanist (Handbook of Trees of California), born in Toronto, Ontario

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Jan 27 Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia (1888-1918), born in Berlin (d. 1941)

German Emperor and King of Prussia Wilhelm II
German Emperor and King of Prussia
Wilhelm II
  • Feb 2 Havelock Ellis, US physician/sexologist (Psychology of Sex)
  • Feb 3 Hugo Junkers, German aircraft designer (d. 1935)
  • Feb 4 Timofei Mikhailov, Russian revolutionary, member of Narodnaya Volya (d. 1881)
  • Feb 8 John H Been, town's archivist of Brielle (Baasje & Witkop)
  • Feb 10 Alexandre Millerand, French President (d. 1943)
  • Feb 13 Frank van de Goes, Dutch writer/marxist theorist
  • Feb 13 William Strang, Scottish painter/engraver
  • Feb 14 George Washington Gale Ferris, engineer/inventor (Ferris Wheel)
  • Feb 18 Sholem Aleichem, [Solomon Rabinowitz], author (Fiddler on the Roof)
  • Feb 19 Svante August Arhenius, Swedish physicist/chemist (Nobel 1903)
  • Mar 8 Kenneth Grahame, Scottish author (The Wind in the Willows), born in Edinburgh (d. 1932)
  • Mar 12 Abraham H. Cannon, Mormon apostle (d. 1896)
  • Mar 16 Alexander Stepanovich Popov, Russian physicist (d. 1906)
  • Mar 26 A[lfred] E[dward] Housman, England, poet (Shropshire Lad)
  • Mar 26 Adolf Hurwitz, German mathematician (d. 1919)
  • Apr 8 Edmund Husserl, German philosopher (founded Phenomenology)
  • Apr 16 Winifred Cochrane, Countess of Dundonald, philanthropist (d. 1924)
  • Apr 18 Eduard G H H Cuypers, architect (Sanatorium High-Laren)
  • May 1 Willem J Leyds, Dutch/South Africa lawyer/politician/diplomat
  • May 2 Jerome Klapka Jerome, English writer (d. 1927)
  • May 3 Andy Adams, American writer (Log of a Cowboy)
  • May 6 Luis Maria Drago, Argentina, statesman, anti-interventionist
  • May 6 Willem J T Kloos, Dutch poet (Act of Simple Justice)
  • May 8 Johan Jensen, Danish mathematician (d. 1925)
  • May 15 Pierre Curie, French physicist (Nobel 1903) and husband of Marie Curie, born in Paris, France (d. 1906)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

May 22 Arthur Conan Doyle, British author who brought Sherlock Holmes to life twice, born in Edinburgh, Scotland (d. 1930)

  • May 26 Alfred Edward Housman, Bromsgrove England, poet (A Buried Life)
  • May 30 Pierre Marie Felix Janet, French psychologist/neurologist
  • Jun 8 Smith Wigglesworth, British religious figure (d. 1947)
  • Jun 10 Jacques F H Perk, Dutch poet (Iris, Wood Song)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Jun 12 Thomas J. Walsh, United States Senator (Montana), born in Two Rivers, Wisconsin

Lawyer and Politician Thomas J. Walsh
Lawyer and Politician
Thomas J. Walsh
  • Jun 21 Henry O Tanner, artist
  • Jun 23 Florentinus M Wibaut, Amsterdams social alderman (building of houses)
  • Jul 6 Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish poet/novelist (Charles Men, Nobel 1916)
  • Jul 13 Sydney Webb, England, writer/husband of Beatrice Potter
  • Jul 17 Luis Munoz Rivera, Puerto Rico, journalist (founded Federalist Party)
  • Jul 30 Henry Simpson Lunn, English humanitarian (d. 1939)
  • Jul 30 Henry Louis Smith, American physicist who made the first X-ray photograph, born in Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Aug 4 Knut Hamsun, Norwegian writer (Nobel Prize 1920), born in Lom, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway (d. 1952)
  • Aug 6 J Arthur S Berson, Austria meteorologist (Balloon flights, Amazon)
  • Aug 12 Katharine Lee Bates, American author (America the Beautiful)
  • Aug 19 Hippolyte Delehaye, Flemish historian/hagiographer
  • Sep 3 AAJ Jean Jaurès, French socialist (L'Humanité, Les Preuves)
  • Sep 11 Vjenceslav Novak, Croatian writer (d. 1905)
  • Sep 17 Frank D Adams, Canada geologist/educator
  • Sep 18 John L. Bates, 41st Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1946)
  • Sep 18 Lincoln Loy McCandless, American cattle rancher (d. 1940)
  • Sep 20 Yuan She-k'ai, Chinese general/president/dictator
  • Sep 21 Cyriel Buysse, Flemish baron/writer (Sursum Corda, Ace Knave)
  • Oct 9 Alfred Dreyfus, French Jewish artillery officer (Dreyfus Affair), born in Mulhouse, France (d. 1935)
  • Oct 15 Jaime de Magalhes Lima, Portuguese author/poet (Salmos do Prisoneiro)
  • Oct 18 Henri Bergson, French philosopher (Creative Evolution-Nobel 1927)
  • Oct 18 Paolo Orsi, Rovereto, Italian Archaeologist (Sicilian excavations)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Oct 20 John Dewey, American philosopher, educational theorist and writer (learn by doing), born in Burlington, Vermont (d. 1952)

Philosopher, Psychologist, Writer John Dewey
Philosopher, Psychologist, Writer
John Dewey
  • Oct 25 Hélène Swarth, Dutch author (Lonely Flowers), born in Amsterdam (d. 1941)
  • Oct 29 Charles Ebbets, (namesake of Ebbets Field, Brooklyn)
  • Nov 1 Charles Brantley Aycock, (Gov-NC)
  • Nov 13 Georg Knorr, German engineer (brake system trains), born in Ruda bei Neumark, West Prussia (d. 1911)
  • Nov 15 Christopher Hornsrud, Prime Minister of Norway (d. 1960)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Nov 23 Billy the Kid [William H Bonney], American frontier outlaw, born in NYC, New York (d. 1881)

Frontier Outlaw Billy the Kid
Frontier Outlaw
Billy the Kid
  • Nov 24 Cass Gilbert, American architect (d. 1934)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Dec 2 Georges Seurat, French post-impressionist painter (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte), born in Paris, France (d. 1891)

Post-Impressionist Painter Georges Seurat
Post-Impressionist Painter
Georges Seurat

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Dec 5 John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe, British Admiral of the Fleet, born in Southampton (d. 1935)

British Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe
British Admiral of the Fleet
John Rushworth Jellicoe
  • Dec 12 Maurice Donnay, French playwright (Lovers)
  • Dec 15 Ludwik L Zamenhof, Russian Poland, physician/linguist (Esperanto)
  • Dec 17 Paul César Helleu, French artist (d. 1927)
  • Dec 20 Antonius J Derkinderen, Dutch painter/etcher
  • Dec 21 Gustave Kahn, French poet (claimed to have invented vers libre)
  • Dec 26 Johan F van Bemmelen, Dutch zoologist
  • Dec 26 William Stephens, U.S. political figure (d. 1944)
  • Dec 28 John W Fortescue, military historian
  • Dec 29 Venustiano Carranza, Mexican revolutionary and President of Mexico (1915-20), born in Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila, Mexico (d. 1920)

Weddings in History

HeartWedding of Interest

Jun 13 Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (37) weds Mary Cleveland

Landscape Architect and Writer Frederick Law Olmsted
Landscape Architect and Writer
Frederick Law Olmsted

HeartWedding of Interest

Oct 25 US President Chester A. Arthur (30) weds Ellen Herndon (22) at Calvary Episcopal Church in NYC, New York

21st US President Chester A. Arthur
21st US President
Chester A. Arthur

Deaths in History

  • Jan 8 Antoine GB Schayes, Belgian historian/archaeologist, dies at 50
  • Jan 18 Alfred Vail, American inventor and early telegraph pioneer, dies at 51
  • Jan 20 B v Arnim, writer, dies at 73
  • Jan 27 Carl A Agardh, Swedish botanist/bishop of Karlstad, dies at 74
  • Jan 28 Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1782)
  • Jan 29 Seth Thomas, American Manufacturer and pioneer in the mass production of clocks, dies at 73
  • Feb 23 Zygmunt Krasiński, Polish Romantic poet (b. 1812)
  • Apr 12 John Emde, German evangelist, dies at about 84
  • Apr 16 Alexis de Tocqueville, French historian (b. 1805)
  • Apr 30 Sergei T Aksakov, Russian writer (Bagrova-vnuka), dies at 67
  • May 2 Eliza Courtney, English illegitimate daughter of Charles Grey and Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, dies at 67
  • May 4 Joseph Diaz Gergonne, French mathematician (b. 1771)
  • May 5 Peter G L Dirichlet, German mathematician, dies at 53
  • May 6 Friedrich Heinrich Alexander, explorer/scientist, dies

Person of interestPerson of Interest

May 6 Alexander von Humboldt, German naturalist, dies at 89

Naturalist and Explorer Alexander von Humboldt
Naturalist and Explorer
Alexander von Humboldt
  • May 10 John Archduke of Austria, dies
  • May 22 Ferdinand II, [Re Bomba], Dutch King of Sicily, dies at 49
  • Jun 7 David Cox, English artist (b. 1783)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Jun 8 Walter Hunt, American inventor (safety pin, sewing machine), dies at 62

Inventor Walter Hunt
Walter Hunt
  • Jun 27 Jean Chrétien Baud, Dutch gov-gen of Dutch-Indies (1834-36), dies at 69
  • Jul 5 Charles Cagniard de la Tour, French physicist (b. 1777)
  • Jul 8 F J Oscar I, King of Sweden/Norway (1844-59), dies at 60
  • Jul 20 Hans E Schack, Danish politician/writer (Fantasy), dies

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Aug 2 Horace Mann, American education advocate, dies at 63

Father of American Education Horace Mann
Father of American Education
Horace Mann
  • Aug 4 Jean Vianney, French parish priest (b. 1786)
  • Aug 10 George Staunton, writer
  • Sep 5 W Friedrich Olivier, German landscape painter, dies at 68
  • Sep 13 Cornelis J van Axes, lawyer, dies at 71
  • Sep 15 John LA Luyten, Catholic Member of Dutch 2nd parliament, dies at 72
  • Sep 15 Isambard Kingdom Brunel, British engineer (b. 1806)
  • Sep 19 John Pringle Nichol, Scottish Astronomer and educator, dies at 55
  • Sep 28 Rinse Posthumus, Fries writer, dies
  • Oct 4 Karl Baedeker, German tour guide (Die Schweiz), dies at 57

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Nov 28 Washington Irving, American author (Legend of Sleepy Hollow), dies of a heart attack at 76


Dec 2 John Brown, American abolitionist and revolutionary (Harpers Ferry), hanged at 59

Abolitionist John Brown
John Brown
  • Dec 5 Louis Poinsot, French mathematician/instrument maker, dies at 82
  • Dec 8 Thomas De Quincey, English writer (Confessions of English Opium Eater), dies at 74

Person of interestPerson of Interest

Dec 16 Wilhelm Grimm, writer, dies at 73

  • Dec 21 Nicolaas C Kist, Dutch church historian/archivist, dies at 66
  • Dec 28 Thomas Babington Macaulay, English poet and historian (Ivry, Naaseby), dies at 59