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§Of World Interest

Known as the "Year Without A Summer" or "Eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death" in the northern hemisphere due to global cooling caused by the Mount Tambora volcanic eruption that had occurred in 1815. The unusual climatic aberrations of 1816 had the greatest effect on the northeastern United States, Atlantic Canada, and parts of western Europe. Typically, the late spring and summer of the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada are relatively stable: temperatures (average of both day and night) average about 68 °F (20 °C) and 77 °F (25 °C) and rarely fall below 41 °F (5 °C). Summer snow is an extreme rarity.

In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent "dry fog" was observed in the northeastern US. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight, such that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Neither wind nor rainfall dispersed the "fog". It has been characterized as a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil.

In May 1816, frost killed off most of the crops that had been planted, and on 4 June 1816, frosts were reported in Connecticut, and by the following day, most of New England was gripped by the cold front. On 6 June 1816, snow fell in Albany, New York, and Dennysville, Maine. Nearly 12 inches (30 cm) of snow was observed in Quebec City in early June, with consequent additional loss of crops—most summer-growing plants have cell walls which rupture even in a mild frost. The result was regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.

In July and August, lake and river ice were observed as far south as Pennsylvania. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings were common, with temperatures sometimes reverting from normal or above-normal summer temperatures as high as 95 °F (35 °C) to near-freezing within hours. Even though farmers south of New England did succeed in bringing some crops to maturity, maize and other grain prices rose dramatically. The price of that staple food, oats, for example, rose from 12¢ a bushel ($3.40/m³) in 1815, equal to $1.52 in today's purchasing power to 92¢ a bushel ($26/m³) in 1816, equal to $12.6 today. Those areas suffering local crop failures had to deal with the lack of roads in the early 19th century, preventing any easy importation of bulky food stuffs.

Cool temperatures and heavy rains resulted in failed harvests in Britain and Ireland as well. Families in Wales traveled long distances as refugees, begging for food. Famine was prevalent in north and southwest Ireland, following the failure of wheat, oats, and potato harvests. The crisis was severe in Germany, where food prices rose sharply. Due to the unknown cause of the problems, demonstrations in front of grain markets and bakeries, followed by riots, arson, and looting, took place in many European cities. It was the worst famine of the 19th century.

In China, the cold weather killed trees, rice crops, and even water buffalo, especially in northern China. Floods destroyed many remaining crops. Mount Tambora's eruption disrupted China's monsoon season, resulting in overwhelming floods in the Yangtze Valley in 1816. In India the delayed summer monsoon caused late torrential rains that aggravated the spread of cholera from a region near the River Ganges in Bengal to as far as Moscow.

In New York City, the temperature dropped to −26 °F (−32 °C) during the ensuing bitter winter of 1817. This resulted in a freezing of New York's Upper Bay deep enough for horse-drawn sleighs to be driven across Buttermilk Channel from Brooklyn to Governors Island.

The effects were widespread and lasted beyond the winter. In eastern Switzerland, the summers of 1816 and 1817 were so cool that an ice dam formed below a tongue of the Giétro Glacier high in the Val de Bagnes. In spite of the efforts of the engineer Ignaz Venetz to drain the growing lake, the ice dam collapsed catastrophically in June 1818.



The Bombardment of Algiers (August 27, 1816) was an attempt by Britain to end the slavery practices of the Dey of Algiers. An Anglo-Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Exmouth bombarded ships and the harbour defences of Algiers.

Although there was a continuing campaign by various European and the American navies to suppress the piracy against Europeans by the North African Barbary states, the specific aim of this expedition was to free Christian slaves and to stop the practice of enslaving Europeans. To this end, it was partially successful as the Dey of Algiers freed around 3,000 slaves following the bombardment and signed a treaty against slavery of Europeans. However, the cessation of slavery did not last long.

§Anjouan island (in the Comoros)

Abdallah bin Alawi was the Sultan (?Shirazi) of and on Anjouan island (in the Comoros) from 1816 to 1832


July 1 - French frigate Medusa wrecked; basis of Gericault's "Raft of the Medusa"

July 3 - French frigate "Medusa" runs aground off Cap Blanc. Gross incompetence kills 150 in calm seas

July 19 - Survivors of French frigate Medusa rescued off Senegal after 17 days



Tsultrim Gyatso becomes the 10th Dalai Lama.



May 2 - Leopold of Sayxe-Coburg (later King of the Belgians) marries Charlotte Augusta, but she dies the next year.


January 12 - France decrees Bonaparte family excluded from the country forever

René Laennec, a French physician invented the stethoscope as an indirect way to "look" into the chest.


March 6 - Jews are expelled from Free city of Lubeck Germany

March 25 – Friedrich Karl Ludwig, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck dies and is succeeded by the later Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, his son and founder of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

The lyrics to Silent Night were written by Josef Mohr. The music would be written in 1818 CE by Franz X. Gruber.


February 5 - Rossini's Opera "Barber of Seville," premieres in Rome

February 13 - Teatro San Carlo in Naples destroyed by fire


This tiny European territory of about 3.5 km² (1.4 mi²) existed from 1816 to 1919. Its two large neighbors, The Netherlands and Prussia, could not agree on who should own it, deciding therefore to make it a neutral territory where both would share control equally. It was located some 7 km (4 mi) southwest of Aachen, directly south of where the borders of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands intersect on the Vaalserberg.

On 26 June 1816 a compromise was reached: the mairie of Moresnet would be divided into three parts. The village of Moresnet itself would become Dutch, Neu-Moresnet would become part of Prussia, and the mine and the adjacent village of Kelmis (La Calamine in French) would, for the mean time, become neutral territory with both nations establishing a joint administration for the area.


The international dispute between the US and the Barbary States was effectively ended by Great Britain and the Netherlands.

May 10 - English steamship "Defiance" arrives at Rotterdam harbor


  • Monarch: John VI King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves from 1816 to 1822


Robert Stirling patents his engine.

§North America


June 19 - Battle of Seven Oaks: The Hudson's Bay Company is defeated by the North West Fur-Trading Company, near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

§United States

John Jacob Astor of New York City joins the opium smuggling trade. His American Fur Company purchases ten tons of Turkish opium then ships the contraband item to Canton on the Macedonian. Astor would later leave the China opium trade and sell solely to England.

June 6 - 10" snowfall in New England, "year without a summer", from the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia

June 11 - Gas Light Co of Baltimore founded

July 27 - U.S. troops destroy Ft. Apalachicola, a Seminole fort, to punish Indians for harboring runaway slaves

§U.S. Law

March 20 - U.S. Supreme Court affirms its right to review state court decisions

§U.S. Politics

April 10 - Madison signed the law creating the Second Bank of the United States appointed William Jones as its president.

November - James Monroe defeats Rufus King in the U.S. presidential election.

§U.S. Religion

April 11 - In Philadelphia, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is established by Richard Allen and other African-American Methodists, the first such denomination completely independent of White churches.

May 5 - American Bible Society organized in New York. It was officially formed on May 11.

§U.S. States

August 24 - The Treaty of St. Louis is signed in St. Louis, Missouri between the U.S. and Native Americans.

December 11 - Indiana is admitted as the 19th U.S. state.


January 1 - Tsar Alexander I of Russia signs an order for the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Russian Empire.


March 23 – Estonia emancipates its peasants from serfdom.



The Senate of Finland is established.

§South America


July 9 - Argentina gains independence from Spain.


Queen Maria died at a Carmelite convent in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 81 (the Prince Regent succeeded her as King John VI of Portugal and Brazil). Her body was returned to Lisbon, and interned in a mausoleum in the Church of Estrela (Portuguese: Igreja da Estrela), that she had helped found.


February 27 - Dutch regain Suriname

§South Pacific


John Palmer Parker married Chiefess Kipikane, the daughter of a high-ranking chief, who took the Christian name Rachel.

In February , Baranov sent the Otkrytie with lieutenant Podushkin in command as military reinforcements. The orders given to Podushkin stressed the importance of a peaceable solution but failing that it called for an invasion of Kauai: "In such an event, the whole island of Kauai should be taken in the name of our Sovereign Emperor of the Russias and become part of his possessions." The Otkrytie reached the island of Hawaii on April 1 and later entered Honolulu Harbor on April 11 Another Russian ship, Ilmen (occasionally incorrectly rendered as Il'mena), unexpectedly showed up for repairs at the same time. Schäffer remained in command of all Russian forces in the area, including the two ships. A final meeting with Kamehameha was arranged, but he again resisted making any settlements. Immediately setting sail on-board the Otkrytie for Kauai on May 2, Schäffer and Podushkin reached the island three days later.

Diplomatic talks with Kaumualii quickly commenced and appeared favorable to Schäffer. The Kauain ruler "must have noticed that no representatives of Kamehameha accompanied the Russians." This embolden him to pledge as "the King of the Sandwich Islands in the North Pacific Ocean, Kauai and Niihau, and hereditary prince of the islands Oahu, Maui, Lanai" allegiance to the Tsar of Russia five days after Schäffer arrived. The Hawaiian chieftain further agreed to reimburse the RAC for the losses of 1815 and grant it a monopoly in sandalwood trade. Dressed in an Imperial Russian Naval staff officer uniform, Kaumualii hoisted the Russian-American Company flag over Kauai. Another treaty, signed on June 19, provided the Russians with 500 local soldiers for the conquest of Oahu, Lanai, Maui and Molokai: "The King (Kaumualii) provides Doctor Schäffer carte blanche for this expedition and all assistance in constructing the fortresses on all islands..." and additionally promised to "refuse to trade with citizens of the United States." Schäffer was given command of over three hundred Hawaiians, to begin construction of the forts and trade stations specified in the treaty. Built in the traditional European star-shaped fortress out of stone and adobe, Fort Elizabeth was practically complete and armed with cannons by the end of 1817. Schäffer also laid down two small earthen forts, Alexander and Barclay-de-Tolly, without Hawaiian assistance. Enthusiastically Schäffer sent messages to Baranov and to imperial authorities in Saint Petersburg, requesting a naval expedition to protect what a contemporary called "his almost lunatic schemes." He soon purchased two ships from Americans for use by Kaumualii. The Avon cost 200,000 Spanish dollars and its captain sailed to New Archangel to receive compensation from Baranov for his vessel. Schäffer spent the summer of 1816 exploring Kauai and giving Russian names to local landforms, naming the Hanalei River valley in particular Schäfferthal and the Hanapepe river after the Don River.

However, Kaumualii had no intention to forfeit his possessions; he manipulated Schäffer into "losing all touch with reality" and used the Russians for his own benefit in his standoff with Kamehameha, planning to conquer more islands. Early historians, starting with Otto von Kotzebue, suggested that Kaumualii's revolt was prompted or even led by Schäffer but, according to Mills, the chief "sought to align himself with any foreign power that could help him". During the War of 1812 he sided with the Americans, but by 1815 this alliance fell apart and Schäffer's arrival conveniently filled the empty slot in Kaumualii's plans. Baranov wasn't inclined to finance such a war; he denied payment for the purchase of Avon and warned Schäffer against further political and business blunders.

Breakup of Schäffer's "empire" began in September 1816 when he had to evacuate the colony in Oahu, yielding to the threat of violence. In December 1816 Schäffer received an unexpected "reinforcement": the Russian military brig Rurick captained by Otto von Kotzebue dropped anchor at Hawaii in the middle of a circumnavigation. Kamehameha, unaware of Kotzebue's true disposition, manned the coast with 400 soldiers and militia volunteers, ready to repel the expected landing. Kotzebue managed to persuade the king of his peaceful intentions, and made it clear that the Imperial government has nothing to do with Schäffer's delusions; he left without ever visiting his compatriots on Kauai.

The standoff between Kaumualii and Kamehameha continued, with the Americans allegedly promising five ships to be used against Kaumualii and his Russian allies. On September 12 the American merchant vessel O'Cain landed on Kauai with the American merchants, Alexander Adams, Nathan Winship, and Richard Ebbets arriving with the intention to remove the Russian flag hoisted on the island


August 19 - Java again in Dutch hands


  • March 20 - Queen Maria I of Portugal (b. 1734)


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