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§Austrian Empire

January 1 - The Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (the Austrian civil code) enters into force in the Austrian Empire.


February 12 - Napoleon authorizes the usage of Mesures usuelles, the basis of the Metric System.


The Brothers Grimm publish their first book of fairy tales, Tales of Children and the Home. In the very early 19th century, the time in which the Brothers Grimm lived, the Holy Roman Empire had recently dissolved, and the modern nation of Germany did not exist. In its place was a confederacy of 39 small- to medium-size German states, many of the states newly created by Napoleon when he reorganized Germany. The major unifying factor for the German people of the time was a common language. So part of what motivated the Brothers in their writings and in their lives was the desire to help create a German identity.

§Great Britain

February 27 - Poet Lord Byron gives his first address as a member of the House of Lords, in defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire.

March 15 - Luddites attack the wool processing factory of Frank Vickerman in West Yorkshire. Harsh measures are taken by the British government

May 11 - John Bellingham assassinates British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval in the lobby of the British House of Commons. This resulted in Lord Liverpool coming to power. Liverpool wanted a more practical relationship with the United States. He issued a repeal of the Orders in Council, but the United States was unaware of this, as it took three weeks for the news to cross the Atlantic.

Measures taken by the British government to suppress the movement included a mass trial at York in 1812 that resulted in many executions and penal transportations

November 10: A general election in the United Kingdom sees victory for the Tory Party under Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool.


After the unsuccessful attack on Moscow, Napolean tool leave of his army in Vilnius before returning to France.


March 12 - The Cádiz Cortes, in exile, create the first modern Spanish constitution.

July 22 - Peninsular War - Battle of Salamanca: British forces led by Lord Wellington defeat French troops near Salamanca in Spain.

August 12 - Peninsular War: The combined English and Portuguese army under the command of Wellington enters Madrid following the Battle of Salamanca.

§North America


July 12 - Americans invade Canada at Windsor, Ontario.

§United States

January 23 - 1500 UTC (9:00 a.m.); (M 7.3‑7.6) epicenter in the Missouri Bootheel. The meizoseismal area was characterized by general ground warping, ejections, fissuring, severe landslides, and caving of stream banks. Johnson and Schweig attributed this earthquake to a rupture on the New Madrid North Fault. This may have placed strain on the Reelfoot Fault.

February 2 - Russia establishes a fur trading colony at Fort Ross, California. Fort Ross, in what is now Sonoma County, California, was established by Ivan Kuskov of the Russian-American Company in 1812 as krepost' rus' as a Russian fur trading outpost. It was the most Southern reach of Russian America into what is now the continental United States.

February 7 - 0945 UTC (3:45 a.m.); (M 7.5‑8.0) epicenter near New Madrid, Missouri. New Madrid was destroyed. In St. Louis, Missouri, many houses were severely damaged, and their chimneys were toppled. This shock was definitively attributed to the Reelfoot Fault by Johnston and Schweig. Uplift along a segment of this reverse fault created temporary waterfalls on the Mississippi at Kentucky Bend, created waves that propagated upstream, and caused the formation of Reelfoot Lake by obstructing streams in what is now Lake County, Tennessee.

American John Cushing, under the employ of his uncles' business, James and Thomas H. Perkins Company of Boston, acquires his wealth from smuggling Turkish opium to Canton.

April 4 - U.S. President James Madison enacts a 90-day embargo on trade with the United Kingdom.

Robert Ayars established the first American canning factory in New York City in 1812, using improved tin-plated wrought-iron cans for preserving oysters, meats, fruits and vegetables

§U.S. War of 1812

June 1 - War of 1812: U.S. President James Madison asks the U.S. Congress to declare war on the United Kingdom.

Americans declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812, for a combination of reasons—outrage at the impressment (seizure) of thousands of American sailors, frustration at British restrictions on neutral trade while Britain warred with France, and anger at British military support for hostile tribes in the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan area. After war was declared Britain offered to withdraw the trade restrictions, but it was too late for the American "War Hawks", who turned the conflict into what they called a "second war for independence."

August 5 - War of 1812: Tecumseh's Indian force ambushes Thomas Van Horne's 200 Americans at Brownstone Creek, causing them to flee and retreat.

August 16 - War of 1812: American General William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit without a fight to the British Army.

August 19 - War of 1812: The USS Constitution defeats the British frigate Guerrière off the coast of Nova Scotia. The British shot is said to have bounced off the Constitution's sides, earning her the nickname "Old Ironsides".

October 9 - War of 1812: American naval forces under Lieutenant Jesse Duncan Elliott capture two British warships, HMS Detroit and HMS Caledonia.

October 13 - War of 1812 - Battle of Queenston Heights: As part of the Niagara campaign in Ontario, Canada, United States forces under General Stephen Van Rensselaer are repulsed from invading Canada by British and native troops led by Sir Isaac Brock (although he dies during the battle).

§U.S. Law

February 11 - Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry invents gerrymandering, redistricting for electoral purposes.

§U.S. Politics

November 5 - James Madison defeats DeWitt Clinton in the U.S. presidential election to become the fourth President of the United States.

§U.S. States

April 30 - Louisiana is admitted as the 18th U.S. state.

June 1 - President James Madison sent a message to the Congress recounting American grievances against Great Britain, though not specifically calling for a declaration of war. After Madison's message, the House of Representatives deliberated for four days behind closed doors before voting (79 to 49) the first declaration of war, and the Senate agreed by 19 to 13.

June 4 - Following Louisiana's admittance as a U.S. state, the territory by that name is renamed the Missouri Territory.

June 18 - The War of 1812 began formally when Madison signed the measure into law. This was the first time that the United States had declared war on another nation, and the Congressional vote would prove to be the closest vote to formally declare war in American history.

The United States was not prepared to prosecute a war, for Madison had assumed that the state militias would easily seize Canada and that negotiations would follow. In 1812, the regular army consisted of fewer than 12,000 men. Congress authorized the expansion of the army to 35,000 men, but the service was voluntary and unpopular; it offered poor pay, and there were few trained and experienced officers, at least initially. The militia objected to serving outside their home states, were not open to discipline, and performed poorly against British forces when outside their home states. American prosecution of the war suffered from its unpopularity, especially in New England, where anti-war speakers were vocal. "Two of the Massachusetts members [of Congress], Seaver and Widgery, were publicly insulted and hissed on Change in Boston; while another, Charles Turner, member for the Plymouth district, and Chief-Justice of the Court of Sessions for that county, was seized by a crowd on the evening of August 3, [1812] and kicked through the town." The United States had great difficulty financing its war. It had disbanded its national bank, and private bankers in the Northeast were opposed to the war. The failure of New England to provide militia units or financial support was a serious blow. Threats of secession by New England states were loud, as evidenced by the Hartford Convention. Britain exploited these divisions, blockading only southern ports for much of the war and encouraging smuggling.

July 12 - General William Hull led an invading American force of about 1,000 untrained, poorly-equipped militia across the Detroit River and occupied the Canadian town of Sandwich (now a neighbourhood of Windsor, Ontario).

By August, Hull and his troops (numbering 2,500 with the addition of 500 Canadians) retreated to Detroit, where they surrendered to a force of British regulars, Canadian militia and Native Americans, led by British Major General Isaac Brock and Shawnee leader Tecumseh. The surrender not only cost the United States the village of Detroit, but control over most of the Michigan territory. Several months later, the U.S. launched a second invasion of Canada, this time at the Niagara peninsula.

October 13 - United States forces were again defeated at the Battle of Queenston Heights, where General Brock was killed.

October - The capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States is permanently moved from Lancaster to Harrisburg.


May 28 - Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov signs the Treaty of Bucharest, ending the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812 and making Bessarabia a part of Imperial Russia.

June 24 - Napoleon's Grande Armée crosses the Niemen River and invades Russia. The French invasion of Russia of 1812 (also known as the Patriotic War of 1812, Russian: Отечественная война 1812 года) was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, which reduced the French and allied invasion forces (the Grande Armée) to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics, as it dramatically weakened the previously dominant French position on the continent. The campaign's sustained role in Russian culture may be seen in Tolstoy's War and Peace, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and the Soviet identification of it with the German invasion of 1941–45.

July 18 - Russia's Patriotic War - Battle of Klyastitsy: Kulnev defeats Oudinot but sustains a mortal wound.

The Battle of Borodino (Russian: Бородинская битва Borodinskaja bitva, French: Bataille de la Moskowa), fought on September 7, 1812, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties. The French Grande Armée under Emperor Napoleon I attacked the Imperial Russian army of General Mikhail Kutuzov near the village of Borodino, west of the town of Mozhaysk, and eventually captured the main positions on the battlefield, but failed to destroy the Russian army. About a third of Napoleon's soldiers were killed or wounded. The Russians losses were even heavier, but they could more easily replace them.

The battle itself ended in disengagement, but strategic considerations and the losses incurred forced the Russians to withdraw next day. The battle at Borodino was a pivotal point in the campaign, since it was the last offensive action fought by Napoleon in Russia. By withdrawing, the Russian army preserved its military potential and eventually forced Napoleon out of the country.

September 13 - [Moscow city leader Fedor] Rostopchin still averred that it would stand, but even as he spoke, the order had been given to pack and evacuate the city's historic treasures. Jewels, icons and gold from the Kremlin were carted south and east to the Volga and Vladimir; other items, including parts of the Chudov Monastery archive, were interred underneath the Kremlin walls. But there was very little time. On 13 September, as some of his aides were preparing to engage with the French again, [Russian military leader Prince Mikhail] Kutuzov announced his decision to abandon the old capital. 'Moscow is not the whole of Russia,' he explained. 'To save Russia we need an army; to save the army we must give up the idea of defending Moscow.'

"Among [Rostopchin's] final acts was an order to withdraw the fire-brigade and sink the city's fleet of fire-boats. He also had the prison-gates unlocked, and the upshot was a night of looting, the scale of which remains unknowable.

September 14 - Napoleon's troops enter Moscow, which was deliberately set on fire by Muscovites on orders of Fyodor Rostopchin.

September 15 - "For some hours, the emperor stayed in his palace suite, pacing the wooden floors and watching through each window as he passed. The longed-for treasure shrivelled up before his eyes; he cursed the Russians for their barbarism. Despite entreaties from his aides, however, he refused to make an early move. By the night of 15 September, as one of his officers recalled, the firestorm was so bright outside that it was possible to read by its light without the need for oil lamps. But the next day was the worst of all. Even Napoleon could not hold out when the Krernin arsenal finally caught fire. A decision was taken to withdraw, to make for the Petrovsky Palace on the Petersburg road. By this time, however, the citadel, as Ségur wrote, was 'besieged by an ocean of fire'.

"The French elite escaped that day, helped by a local man who knew the routes, but thousands of others remained trapped, condemned to the most cruel death.

September 18 - "Napoleon moved back to the [Kremlin] on 18 September. His mood had soured.

September 20 - "Napoleon's bulletin announced that 'Moscow, one of the most beautiful and wealthy cities of the world, exists no more.'

Despite that loss, however, the Corsican persisted with a doomed attempt to build some kind of life among the ruins. Though almost none of the local population supported it, a Moscow government was decreed, with orders to collect the corpses and maintain the peace. Theatrical performances were commissioned, and concerts, featuring an Italian soloist with piano accompaniment, were held in the Kremlin palace to help pass the nights.The decision to indulge in makeshift luxury, bizarre enough at any time, turned out to be one of the most disastrous of Napoleon's entire career. As the milder days of autumn faded, so did the last options for the French. Napoleon could surely not have hoped to feed and lodge his army in this city through the winter. There was almost no fodder for the vast stable of horses, either. A retreat was inevitable, and the sooner it began, as Napoleon himself later conceded, the better his army's chances would have been. For now, however, the general sulked, spending long hours over his food and settling his stout frame along a damask-covered chaise, novel in hand, throughout the heavy interval of afternoon."

October 18-October 20 - Second Battle of Polotsk - Russia

October 19 - Napoleon begins his retreat from Moscow.

October 24 - Napoleonic Wars - Battle of Maloyaroslavets: An inconclusive encounter between the French vanguard and a Russian force leads Napoleon to decide to retreat along the same line as his advance, with disastrous results.

November 7 - Napoleonic Wars - Battle of Vyazma: Napoleon's retreating army is defeated. The campaign itself was marked by extreme savagery and by the fact that both sides claimed victory in every engagement; however, if the military engagements proved less decisive than before, by the end of 1812, the French defeat was clear, even though the Russians could hardly be said to have won. It did however weaken the French hegemony in Europe to such an extent that the former allies of the French Empire, at first Prussia, then Austria were encouraged to break their alliance with France and switch camps, which would trigger the War of the Sixth Coalition



The capital of Finland is moved from Turku to Helsinki.


The British imposed a blockade on supply lines between Norway and Denmark during the Napoleonic War in the Skagerrak sound, except for Norwegian ships transporting lumber to Britain. Although this affected the supply of grain to Norway, the Norwegians preferred to limit military operations to coastal defence. Nevertheless, what was left of the Dano-Norwegian fleet after the Battle of Copenhagen (1807) fleet was committed to breaking the blockade.

After years of skirmishes, the Dano-Norwegian fleet was reduced to one major ship, the frigate Najaden 42, finished in 1811, in part with parts salvaged from a ship-of-the-line destroyed in earlier battles. Eyeing an opportunity to enforce the blockade and break the back of Dano-Norwegian seapower, the British deployed the Third Rate ship-of-the-line HMS Dictator 64 and three brigs, the 18-gun Cruizer class brig-sloop Calypso, 14-gun brig-sloop Podargus and the 14-gun gun brig Flamer. Three brigs - Kiel, Lolland and Samsøe - accompanied Najaden.

Battle plans

Captain Steward's plan was to chase down Najaden and destroy it, thereby giving Britain supremacy over the trade routes across the Skagerrak between Norway and Denmark, and effectively ending Danish involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. In a pitched battle, his ship-of-the-line would easily defeat the frigate. As a consequence, Steward, a Scotsman known in the Royal Navy as "Mad Jim", was simply looking for a confrontation. Holm never intended to engage the British ships. He relied on his superior knowledge of the local waters to evade Steward's pursuit.


Najaden had anchored near the island of Sandøya near Tvedestrand, where the captain felt secure. His premise was that no British ship would risk running ashore in the unfamiliar and craggy archipelago. He accepted an invitation to dine with the captain of the Samsøe and even went ashore on the island after his meal. From the hills above, he saw that the British ships were inside the archipelago and headed in his direction.

Rushing back to his ships, he ordered the ships along an inner route northeast, toward Lyngør. Podargus led the British chase, apparently with a pilot onboard who was familiar with the waters. Podargus ran aground at Buskskjærsteinen, and Steward ordered Flamer to stay behind and assist. Several smaller Danish and Norwegian boats Najaden immediately attacked the two British vessels. Among them were Lieutenant Parnemann with the canon caloupe Kiøge Bugt, canon boat No.3 (Ltn Ring), og Digernes batteri, subsequently reinforced also with four additional canon boats from the Arendal Division, commanded by Captaine-Lieutenant Dietrichson. Although they sustained considerable damage, the British ships were eventually able to join Dictator after the main battle was over.

Najaden went into the narrow sound of Lyngør where she anchored in the small sound between Holmen and Odden, detaching most of her supporting vessels to fight Podargus and Flamer. Steward sailed into the sound, threw anchor behind him, and deliberately ran ashore with his broadside perpendicular to the sound. Using his anchor line for leverage, he positioned Dictator to set its broadside against Najaden at 35-40 meters range. Unable to turn, Najaden had its broadside pointing away from the opposing ship and was dead in the water. At about 9:30 pm, HMS Dictator unleashed a 15-minute barrage against the Danish frigate that amounted to four tons of ordinance, breaking its main mast almost immediately and causing a fire on the ship and the Danish brigs anchored nearby. Within 45 minutes, Najaden was sunk with 133 dead and 82 wounded. Holm survived, only to drown in an accident a few months later.

The battle resumed as the Norwegian gunboats found their way into Lyngør. At 2 a.m. on July 7, Dictator was finally pulled off and fled, chased out of Norwegian waters by Norwegian gunboats.

The British took Laaland and Kiel as prizes but had to abandon them after the two vessels grounded. The British did not set fire to either as they Norwegian vessels still had their crews and wounded aboard. The action cost Dictator five killed and 24 wounded, Calypso three killed, one wounded and two missing, and Flamer one killed and one wounded. Overall, the Danes acknowledged losing 300 men killed or wounded. Captain Weir of Calypso was immediately, and Captain Robilliard of Podargus in the ensuing December, promoted to post-rank; Dictator's first lieutenant, William Buchanan, was made a commander.


The battle of Lyngør effectively ended Denmark's involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. In the Treaty of Kiel, Denmark ceded dominion over Norway, setting the stage for Norway's independence movement, which was not to be fully realized until 1905. It also freed up British naval resources to fight France's navy in the Napoleonic Wars.

§South America


February 13, The first Chilean newspaper La Aurora de Chile is started dealing with political philosophy and standing in favor of the new national government. It was in print from February 13, 1812 to April 1, 1813, at which point it became El Monitor Araucano. The paper had four printed pages with two columns each, and was published weekly, every Thursday.

The paper's first issue was published under the direction of Camilo Henríquez González, who was not only the first editor of Chile's first periodical, but also the first that had seriously argued for Chilean independence. It was the first widespread publication to introduce its readers in Chile to the Enlightenment philosophies—Rousseau, Voltaire, and others—which informed Henríquez's writings. In writings authored by Manuel de Salas, Juan Egaña, Manuel José Gandarillas, and the Guatemalan Antonio José de Irisarri, the Aurora de Chile gave expression to the principles of popular sovereignty, self-governance and election of officials, separation of powers. The paper was also the vehicle for the sharp wit and timely commentaries by Camilo Henríquez on the happenings of the monarchy. The American influence was a major factor for Chile's liberal revolutionary intelligentsia, and the Aurora republished speeches by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and other American revolutionaries, who became heroes in the Chilean press.


March 26 - An earthquake destroys Caracas, Venezuela.

May 25 - Caracas, Venezuela is hit by a massive earthquake.

§South Pacific


The conversion of Pōmare II to Protestantism in 1812 marks the point when Protestantism truly took off on the island.

§Ongoing events

  • Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815)-Peninsular War/Sixth Coalition/Patriotic War of 1812
  • War of 1812 (1812-1815)


  • Josefa Goya, wife of painter Francisco Goya


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Page last modified on July 27, 2016, at 11:24 PM