Beginning Year:       Ending Year:      
1860
Law, Politics, Government, and WarScience, Medicine, Inventions, and TechnologyEducation, Arts and Letters, and IdeasLives of the First LadiesEconomics, Discovery, and Daily LifeSports and Popular CultureReligion, Social Issues, and Reform
Politics
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) of Illinois becomes the first Republican to win the United States Presidency; he becomes the 16th President and Hannibal Hamlin (1809-1891) of Maine is elected as the 15th Vice President.
Politics
South Carolina secedes from the Union followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.
Government
Stamps: By 1860, almost all countries have postage stamps.
Government
The U.S. Secret Service is established.
Science
The fact that the star Sirius is a double star is discovered.
Medicine
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) opens the world’s first school of nursing.
Inventions
The first practical gasoline engine is built.
Education
The first English language kindergarten is established in Boston by Elizabeth Peabody (1804-1894).
Education
Olympia Brown (1835-1926) becomes the first woman to study theology with men—at St. Lawrence University.
Arts and Letters
Literature: George Eliot(1819-1880) (Mary Ann Evans) publishes "The Mill on the Floss."
Arts and Letters
American Theatre: Dion Boucicault (1820-1890) begins promotion of "combination companies". The company and players would travel with scenery for 1 play.
Hayes, Lucy
Lucy Hayes’s (1831-1889) boys suffer from mumps, whooping cough, and measles.
Hayes, Lucy
Lucy Hayes (1831-1889) and her husband take a long trip, by riverboat, to Canada, by rail and boat to Boston, to New England and home by way of New York City. Total cost: $310.77.
Harrison, Caroline
Caroline Harrison (1832-1892) begins 30 years of serving on the board of managers of the Indianapolis Orphans’ Asylum.
Wilson, Ellen
Ellen Louise Axson (1860-1914), first wife of Woodrow Wilson, is born in Savannah, Georgia on May 15.
Harding, Florence
Florence Kling DeWolfe (1860-1924), wife of Warren G. Harding, is born in Marion, Ohio on August 15.
Arthur, Ellen
William Lewis Arthur (1860-1863), son of Chester Alan and Ellen Arthur, is born December 10.
Tyler, Julia
Pearl Tyler Ellis (1860-1947), daughter of John Tyler and his second wife Julia, is born June 20.
Economics
Slavery: Cotton shipments are at an all-time high (2 billion pounds a year), which gives the South extra incentives to keep slavery.
Economics
The first Pony Express riders make it from Missouri to California in 10 days.
Economics
Population: The population of the United States (1860) is 32 million.
Daily Life
Fashion: Bustles begin to take the place of hoop skirts in American women’s fashion.
Daily Life
History of Toys: A chemistry set for children is offered for sale for $5.00.
Sports
Boxing: The longest prizefight in American history is held in Maine; it lasts for 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Sports
Croquet is introduced to the U.S. from England; it becomes very popular.
Sports
Golf: The first British Open Golf Championship is held.
Popular Culture
Stephen Foster (1826-1864) composes “Old Black Joe.”
Religion
The Seventh Day Adventist church is founded by William Miller (1782-1849) and his followers.
Social Issues
Native Americans: The U.S. Army's Fort Definace in New Mexico is attacked by 1,000 Navaho Indians; the Indians lose.
Social Issues
Immigration: Poland’s religious and economic conditions prompt immigration of approximately two million Poles by 1914.
Reform
Women's Suffrage Movement: Elizabeth Cady Stanton speaks to a meeting of the New York State Legislature on behalf of women’s suffrage.
Reform
Women's Rights Movement: Women are allowed to collect their own wages, to sue, and to inherit their husbands’ property in New York State; married women are allowed to be guardians of their children
Reform
Labor Movement: Six thousand shoemakers go on strike in Lynn, MA for higher wages; the companies grant higher wages but refuse to recognize the union.
1861
Law, Politics, Government, and WarScience, Medicine, Inventions, and TechnologyEducation, Arts and Letters, and IdeasLives of the First LadiesEconomics, Discovery, and Daily LifeSports and Popular CultureReligion, Social Issues, and Reform
Politics
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) is elected President of the Confederate States of America.
Politics
Virginia secedes from the Union, followed within five weeks by Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, thus forming an eleven state Confederacy with a population of 9 million.
Government
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) is inaugurated as the 16th President and Hannibal Hamlin (1809-1891) is inaugurated as the 15th Vice President.
Government
New State: Kansas becomes the 34th state in the United States.
Government
The United States introduces the passport system.
Government
Congress passes the first income tax in the U.S. to support the war.
War
Civil War: The Union Army under Gen. Irvin McDowell (1818-1885) suffers a defeat at Bull Run 25 miles southwest of Washington.
War
Civil War: Pierre Beauregard (1813-1893) opens fire with 50 cannons upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War begins.
War
Confederates invade New Mexico from Texas.The Confederate Territory of Arizona is declared with the capital at La Mesilla.
War
Civil War; National Capital: The U.S. Capitol houses Union soldiers, providing medical attention and a place to sleep.
Inventions
Elisha Otis (1811-1861) patents elevator safety brakes, creating a safer elevator.
Inventions
Linus Yale (1821-1868) invents the Yale lock or cylinder lock.
Education
The first American doctor of philosophy degree is awarded by Yale University.
Education
Women's Colleges: Vassar College for women is founded in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Arts and Letters
Poetry: George Eliot (1819-1880) (Mary Ann Evans) writes "Silas Marner."
Arts and Letters
Literature: Charles Dickens (1812-1870) writes "Great Expectations."
Lincoln, Mary
The Lincolns (Abraham: 1809-1865 and Mary Todd: 1818-1882) move into the White House in March of 1861.
Hayes, Lucy
Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) joins the 23rd Ohio Volunteer infantry as a Major.
Hayes, Lucy
Lucy and Rutherford Hayes’s fourth son, Joseph Thompson (1861-1863), is born on December 21 in Cincinnati.
Harrison, Caroline
Caroline (1832-1892) and Benjamin (1831-1901) Harrison’s third child and second daughter dies at birth.
Roosevelt, Edith
Edith Kermit Carow (1861-1948), wife of Theodore Roosevelt, is born in Norwich, Connecticut on August 6.
Taft, Helen
Helen Herron Taft (1861-1943), wife of William Howard Taft [1909-1913] is born in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 2.
Economics
American Money: Gold payments are suspended; greenbacks become the national currency.
Economics
Transportation: Railroad History: Leland Stanford (1824-1893) hires Chinese laborers to help build the western part of the Central Pacific Railroad.
Economics
Transportation: Railroad History: There are 30,000 miles of railroad track in the U.S.
Economics
Telegraph wires are strung between San Francisco and New York.
Economics
Pencils are mass-produced in New York by Eberhard Faber.
Economics
American Money: Congress authorizes the United States Treasury to issue paper money for the first time in the form of non-interest bearing Treasury Notes called Demand Notes.
Daily Life
Daily weather forecasts are begun in Britain.
Popular Culture
Hot Air Balloons: A record balloon trip is made between Cincinnati, Ohio and the South Carolina coast is made in 9 hours.
Popular Culture
Wartime Music: “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is written during the Civil War by Julia War Howe for the Union.
Popular Culture
Wartime Music: “Battle Cry of Freedom” is written during the Civil War by George F. Root for the Union.
Popular Culture
Wartime Music: “Dixie Land” is written during the Civil War by Daniel Emmett for the Confederate.
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1862
Law, Politics, Government, and WarScience, Medicine, Inventions, and TechnologyEducation, Arts and Letters, and IdeasLives of the First LadiesEconomics, Discovery, and Daily LifeSports and Popular CultureReligion, Social Issues, and Reform
Government
The Homestead Act is passed, decreeing that any American may have 160 acres of land in the west free, if he lives on it for five years.
Government
President Lincoln (1809-1865) issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves "henceforth and forever free."
Government
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is created by Congress.
Government
The Medal of Honor is authorized by Congress.
Government
Railroad History: President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) signs the Pacific Railway Act, which authorizes the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.
Government
American Money: The Secretary of the Treasury is empowered by Congress to have notes engraved and printed, which is done by private banknote companies.
War
Civil War: The bloodiest battle of the Civil War occurs at Antietam; over 23,000 are killed or wounded.
War
Civil War: The Confederate Ironclad 'Merrimac' sinks two wooden Union ships then battles the Union Ironclad 'Monitor' to a draw. Naval warfare is thus changed forever, making wooden ships obsolete.
War
Civil War: Confederate surprise attack on Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's (1822-1885) unprepared troops at Shiloh on the Tennessee River results in a bitter struggle with 13,000 Union killed and wounded and 10,000 Confederates.
War
Civil War: 75,000 Federals under Gen. John Pope (1874-1937) are defeated by 55,000 Confederates under Gen. Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863) and Gen. James Longstreet (1821-1904) at the second battle of Bull Run in northern Virginia.
Science
The speed of light is successfully measured.
Medicine
The first children’s clinic is opened in New York City.
Inventions
The Gatling (a 10 barrel, automatic firing) gun is invented by R.J. Gatling (1818-1903).
Inventions
A timepiece for split-second timing—the chronograph—is invented.
Inventions
Alexander Parkes (1813-1890) invents the first man-made plastic.
Inventions
Jean Lenoir (1822-1900) makes a gasoline engine automobile.
Education
Children’s Books: Christina Rossetti''s (1830-1894) long fantasy, "Goblin Market," about two sisters'' struggle to resist the tempting fruits of the goblin men, was long categorized as a children''s fairy tale, but is increasingly reread as a major poem of its period.
Education
Women's Firsts: In Ohio, Mary Jane Patterson receives a degree from Oberlin, becoming the first black woman to graduate from an American college.
Education
African American Education: One of the earliest and longest-lived freedmen’s schools, the Penn School on St. Helena Island, NC, is founded by Laura Matilda Towne (1825-1901).
Education
Women's Firsts: Geologist Florence Bascom (1862-1945) becomes the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University; she goes on to teach at Bryn Mawr.
Education
The Morrill Land-Grant Act endows colleges of agriculture and industry.
Arts and Letters
Literature; Victor Hugo (1802-1885) writes "Les Misérables."
Lincoln, Mary
The Lincolns’ son William Wallace (1850-1862) dies of typhoid fever at age 11 on February 20.
Harrison, Caroline
Benjamin Harrison (1831-1901) raises a regiment for the Union in the Civil War (1,000 men from Indiana) known as the 70th Indiana Regiment.
Van Buren, Hannah
Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), 8th President of the U.S., dies in Kinderhook, New York.
Tyler, Julia
John Tyler (1790-1862), 10th President of the U.S., dies in Richmond, Virginia.
Economics
1,000 guns a day are being produced by the Colt factory.
Economics
The first automobile with an internal combustion engine is constructed.
Economics
A process for concentrating fruit juice is patented.
Economics
American Money: Demand Notes are replaced by United States Notes.
Popular Culture
Julia Ward Howe's (1819-1910) poem, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is published and later set to music. The music for "Taps" is also composed.
1863
Law, Politics, Government, and WarScience, Medicine, Inventions, and TechnologyEducation, Arts and Letters, and IdeasLives of the First LadiesEconomics, Discovery, and Daily LifeSports and Popular CultureReligion, Social Issues, and Reform
Government
President Lincoln (1809-1865) issues the final Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by Confederates and emphasizes the enlisting of black soldiers in the Union Army.
Government
National Capital: The "Statue of Freedom" is place on top of the Capitol building and becomes the crowning feature of the dome.
Government
New Mexico is divided in half, creating the Territory of Arizona.
Government
Congress establishes free mail delivery in cities.
Government
New State: West Virginia becomes the 35th state in the United States.
Government
President Lincoln (1809-1865) delivers the Gettysburg Address.
War
Civil War: The tide of war turns against the South as the Confederates are defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
War
Civil War: The Union institutes a draft to recruit soldiers for the Civil War.
War
Civil War: The Battle of Gettysburg takes place.
Science
The National Academy of Sciences is founded in Washington, DC.
Education
Children’s Books: The Rev. Charles Kingsley’s (1819-1875) fairy tale "The Water-Babies" combines many of these enthusiasms in a tale of how a little chimney-sweep goes backward in evolution when he is wicked, and forwards when he does as he would be done by.
Arts and Letters
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) adopts the pen-name, Mark Twain.
Arts and Letters
Poetry: Henry Wordsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) publishes the poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
Pierce, Jane
Jane Means Appleton Pierce (1806-1863), wife of Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), dies of tuberculosis in Andover, Massachusetts on December 2 at the age of 57.
Johnson, Eliza
Charles Johnson (1830-1863), son of Andrew and Eliza Johnson, dies April 4 in a horse accident.
Hayes, Lucy
Lucy Hayes (1831-1889), her four sons, and her mother go to West Virginia to be with Rutherford (1822-1893) and his regiment.
Arthur, Ellen
William Lewis Arthur (1860-1863), son of Chester Alan and Ellen Arthur, dies July 7.
Hayes, Lucy
Lucy and Rutherford Hayes’s fourth son, Joseph (1861-1863), dies of dysentery at the age of two on June 24.
Economics
Transportation: The world''''s first underground railway service, London''''s Metropolitan line between Paddington and Farringdon, is opened.
Economics
Traveler’s Insurance Company is founded in Hartford, CT.
Economics
American Money: The design of U.S. currency incorporates a Treasury seal, the fine line engraving necessary for the difficult-to-counterfeit itaglio printing, intricate geometric lathe work patterns, and distinctive linen paper with embedded red and blue fibers.
Daily Life
Holidays: The first national Thanksgiving Day is proclaimed by President Lincoln (1809-1865) to be the fourth Thursday of November.
Daily Life
The first paper dress patterns are developed by Ebenezer Butterick (1826-1903).
Sports
The four-wheeled roller skate is patented by James Plimpton of New York.
Sports
Horse Racing: The Grand Prix horse race is first held in Paris.
Popular Culture
Stephen Foster (1826-1864) composes “Beautiful Dreamer.”
Religion
Olympia Brown (1835-1926) is ordained a minister by the Northern Universalists in Weymouth, MA.
Social Issues
Native Americans: Kit Carson (1809-1868) begins resettling Navajo and Apache Indians on reservations by force.
Social Issues
Slavery: The Emancipation Proclamation delivered by President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) decrees that all slaves in Rebel territory are free on January 1, 1863.
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1864
Law, Politics, Government, and WarScience, Medicine, Inventions, and TechnologyEducation, Arts and Letters, and IdeasLives of the First LadiesEconomics, Discovery, and Daily LifeSports and Popular CultureReligion, Social Issues, and Reform
Law
Chief Justices: President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) nominates Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; he is confirmed by the Senate on the same day, and holds the position for eight years, until his death in 1873.
Politics
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) is reelected for a second term as President of the United States, and Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) is elected as the nation's 16th Vice President.
Government
New State: Nevada becomes the 36th state in the United States.
Government
The territory of Montana is organized.
Government
Twenty-six nations sign the Geneva Conventions, an agreement to respect humanitarian rules of war with respect to prisoners, sick soldiers, Red Cross neutrality, and civilians in war zones.
Government
American Money: Congress authorizes the inscription, "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins.
War
Civil War: General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) marches his Union army through Georgia, captures Atlanta and Savannah, and leaves a 300 mile path of destruction, 60 miles wide, all the way to the sea.
Medicine
Women's Firsts: Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919) is appointed assistant surgeon in the Union Army.
Inventions
African American Inventors: Inventor Norbert Rillieux (1806-1894) patents a process for refining sugar that is used by sugar processing plants all over the world.
Technology
Airplanes: Count Ferdinand d’Esterno, France, publishes the first scientific observations of the effects of the wind on a wing in his pamphlet, "Du Vol des Oiseaux."
Education
Women’s Firsts: Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1846-1922) becomes the first black woman to receive an M.D. degree. She graduated from the New England Female Medical College.
Education
Public Education: Native Americans: Indian Education: Congress makes it illegal for Native Americans to be taught in their native languages. Native children as young as four years old are taken from their parents and sent to Bureau of Indian Affairs off-reservation boarding schools, whose goal, as one BIA official put it, is to "kill the Indian to save the man."
Arts and Letters
Literature: Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) begins writing his epic, "War and Peace."
Arts and Letters
Literature: Jules Verne (1828-1905) publishes "A Journey to the Center of the Earth."
Harrison, Anna
Anna Tuthill Symmes (1775-1864) Harrison dies on February 25 in North Bend, Ohio, at the age of eighty-eight.
Hayes, Lucy
Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) runs for Congress from Ohio and wins without ever leaving his troops.
Hayes, Lucy
Lucy and Rutherford Hayes’s fifth son, George Crook (1864-1866) is born on September 29 in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Cleveland, Frances
Frances Folsom (1864-1947), wife of Grover Cleveland (1837-1906), is born in Buffalo, New York, on July 21.
Economics
Transportation: Railroad History: The Pennsylvania Railroad begins using steel for its rails.
Daily Life
Taking pictures that will be become famous as a record of the Civil War, New York photographer Matthew Brady (1822-1896) travels through the nation's battlefields.
Daily Life
Newspapers: In Louisiana, the New Orleans Tribune begins publication. It is one of the first African-American-run daily newspapers.
Social Issues
Immigration: European immigration to the U.S. increases, due in large part to the Homestead Act and also because immigrants are excluded from the draft.
Social Issues
Native Americans: Many Navahos die as they make the "Long March" through New Mexico to their grim reservation at Bosque Redondo.
Social Issues
Native Americans: The massacre of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians at Sand Creek, CO occurs.
Reform
Labor Movement: The first International Workingmen's Association is founded by Karl Marx (1818-1883) in London and New York.
1865
Law, Politics, Government, and WarScience, Medicine, Inventions, and TechnologyEducation, Arts and Letters, and IdeasLives of the First LadiesEconomics, Discovery, and Daily LifeSports and Popular CultureReligion, Social Issues, and Reform
Law
Civil Rights Movement: The Thirteenth Amendment, forbidding slavery, is passed by the Congress, ratified by two-thirds of the states and added to the Constitution.
Government
Warren G. Harding (1865-1923), 29th President of the United States, is born near Marion, Ohio.
Government
Following the assassination of President Lincoln, his Vice-President, Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), becomes the 17th President of the United States. No new Vice President is selected.
Government
American Money: Gold Certificates are issued by the Department of the Treasury against gold coin and buillion deposits and are circulated until 1933.
Government
American Money: The Department of the Treasury establishes the United States Secret Service to control counterfeit money.
War
Indian Wars: Escalation of the Plains War between the U.S. military and the Sioux and Cheyenne.
War
Civil War: Gen. Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia; the Civil War ends.
Science
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) proposes the laws of heredity.
Medicine
Antiseptic surgery is initiated by Joseph Lister (1827-1912) using carbolic acid.
Medicine
The Chicago Hospital for Women and Children is established, in part, by Dr. Mary Harris Thompson, one of the best-known surgeons of her era.
Medicine
Women's Firsts: Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919) becomes the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor, for her service during the Civil War.
Inventions
The coffee percolator is invented.
Education
Higher Education: The Universities of Maine and Kentucky, Purdue University and Cornell University are all founded.
Education
Higher Education: Yale University opens the first Department of Fine Arts in the U.S.
Education
Higher Education: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is founded.
Education
Women's Colleges: Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) is the first woman appointed as a professor of astronomy, at Vassar College.
Education
Children''s Books: Lewis Carroll''s (1832-1898) "Alice in Wonderland" is published.
Education
Children''s Books: "Hans Brinker," or "The Silver Skates" is written by Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905).
Education
Public Education (1865-1877): African Americans mobilize to bring public education to the South for the first time. After the Civil War, and with the legal end of slavery, African Americans in the South make alliances with white Republicans to push for many political changes, including for the first time rewriting state constitutions to guarantee free public education. In practice, white children benefit more than Black children.
Arts and Letters
Opera: Wagner’s (1813-1883) opera "Tristan and Isolde," premiers in Munich.
Arts and Letters
Literature: Jules Verne (1828-1905) writes "From the Earth to the Moon."
Jackson, Rachel
Andrew Jackson Jr. (1808-1865), Andrew and Rachel Jackson's adopted son (he was one of the pair of twins born to a sibling of Rachel Jackson), dies.
Lincoln, Mary
Assassination: President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) is assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC.
Johnson, Eliza
Eliza McCardle Johnson (1810-1876) is the first First Lady to teach her husband, Andrew Johnson, to read and write.
Lincoln, Mary
Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882) and her family move to Chicago.
Hayes, Lucy
Rutherford (1822-1893) and Lucy (1831-1889) Hayes go to Washington for his first term in Congress. The children stay in Chillicothe with their grandmother.
Harrison, Caroline
General Benjamin Harrison (1831-1901) and the 70th Indiana are mustered out of Federal service on June 8, 1865.
Economics
The Atlantic cable is completed.
Economics
The first oil pipeline is laid in Pennsylvania (6 miles).
Economics
The Union Stockyards open in Chicago.
Daily Life
The first carpet sweeper comes into popular use.
Daily Life
Transportation: George Pullman''s (1831-1897) railroad sleeping cars appear in the U.S.
Daily Life
The first fire department with paid firefighters is founded in New York City.
Sports
Billiard balls made out of a composition material replace balls made of ivory.
Sports
Boxing: Boxing's Queensbury Rules are laid out.
Sports
Women in Sports: Matthew Vassar opens Vassar College with a special School of Physical Training with classes in riding, gardening, swimming, boating, skating and "other physical accomplishments suitable for ladies to acquire ... bodily strength and grace."
Popular Culture
Another popular favorite published this year is Mark Twain's (1835-1910) short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."
Social Issues
Hate Groups: The Ku Klux Kan is founded in Tennessee.
Social Issues
Poverty: The Salvation Army is founded in England by William Booth (1829-1912).
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