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<< | 1841-1850 CE | 1842 CE >>


§South Africa

July – Scottish missionary David Livingstone arrives at Kuruman in the Northern Cape, his first posting in Africa.


January 27 – The active volcano Mount Erebus in Antarctica is discovered and named by James Clark Ross



On January 1841, Captain Charles Elliot of the Royal Navy proposed to Qishan, the Governor of Guangdong Province, that a convention be signed to end hostilities during the Opium war. Since the meeting took place close to Bocca Tigris at Shajiao Fort (沙角炮台), which is also called Chuanbi fort in Chinese, the convention is commonly known as the "The Convention of Chuenpeh."


Under the terms of the convention, the Qing government would cede Hong Kong Island to the United Kingdom and China would also pay an indemnity of $6 million and let the British have free access to the port of Guangzhou. The convention specifically allowed the Qing government to continue collecting tax at Hong Kong, which was the main "clogging" point that led to the disagreement according to Lord Palmerston.


Although Qishan intended to sign the treaty, he never got formal approval from the Daoguang emperor and never signed the treaty. When the emperor found out about the contents of the treaty he dismissed Qishan from his position. The British government was also dissatisfied with the contents of the treaty and dismissed Elliot from his position as a consequence of the treaty.

Many of the contents of the treaty, such as the cession of Hong Kong, were included in the Treaty of Nanking, which was signed in 1842.

§Hong Kong

January 26 – Britain occupies Hong Kong. Later in the year, the first census of the island records a population of about 7,500

July 12 - 22 - A typhoon caused over a thousand deaths from drowning in Hong Kong harbor


May - The Sino-Sikh War began and was fought from May to August 1842 between the Qing Empire and the Sikh forces under the Governor-General of Jammu Gulab Singh of Jammu, after he invaded western Tibet. The army was routed and the Qing counterattacked but were defeated in Ladakh. The Treaty of Chushul was signed in 1842 maintaining the status quo ante bellum.

§Central America


Pablo Buitrago y Benavent (4 March 1841 - 1 April 1843) became the Head of State.



June 12 - A 66 lbs. meteorite fell at Chateau-Renard after a fireball.


June 30 - A heavy fall of pike, perch, roach, etc. during a storm in North Germany

§Great Britain

January 8 - 17° F. in London June 6 - United Kingdom Census held, the first to record names and approximate ages of every household member and to be administered nationally.

June 6 - Marian Hughes becomes the first woman to take religious vows in communion with the Anglican Province of Canterbury since the Reformation, making them privately to E. B. Pusey in Oxford.

July 5 – Thomas Cook arranges his first railway excursion, in England

July 8 - ‘Enormous numbers’ of fish, frogs and ice fell at Derby.

July 17 – First edition of the humorous magazine Punch published in London

October 30 – A fire at the Tower of London destroys its Grand Armoury and causes a quarter of a million pounds worth of damage

November 13 – Scottish surgeon James Braid first sees a demonstration of animal magnetism by Charles Lafontaine in Manchester, which leads to his study of the phenomenon that he (Braid) eventually calls hypnotism.


James Braid, a Scottish neurosurgeon, coined the term and invented the procedure known as hypnotism. Braid became interested in mesmerism in November 1841, when he observed demonstrations given by a traveling mesmerist named Charles Lafontaine (1803 - 1892). Convinced that he had discovered the key to understanding these phenomena, Braid began giving lectures the following month.


February 20 – The Governor Fenner, carrying emigrants to the United States, sinks off Holyhead (Wales) with the loss of 123 lives.


June - The first Mormon missionary to the Netherlands was Orson Hyde. He had been called on a mission to Jerusalem in April of 1840. He journeyed through the Netherlands. While in Rotterdam he visited a Jewish rabbi to whom he explained the object of his trip to the holy land. He created a tract and had it translated into Dutch. "An Address to the Hebrews" became the first non-English Mormon tract.


July 18 – The sixth bishop of Calcutta, Daniel Wilson, and Dr. James Taylor, Civil Surgeon at Dhaka, establish the first modern educational institution in the Indian subcontinent, Dhaka College.

Nanga Parva, Himalayas Earthquake caused a landslide that caused a natural dam of the Indus River.

When the dam broke it caused the largest flood in modern recorded history, in terms of discharge, occurred in 1841 on the Indus River. It was caused by a landslide that had blocked the river, resulting in a natural dam. The water behind the dam mounted until the dam failed, causing a torrent which rushed through at an estimated 540,000 cubic meters per second.

Anything downstream of this deluge would have been completely washed away. In fact, a Sikh army, fighting in the Sino-Sikh War, was reportedly drowned by these waters as far as 300 miles downstream from the original breach.

§Middle East


Between April and October 1841, disaffected Afghan tribes were flocking to support Dost Mohammad's son, Akbar Khan, in Bamiyan and other areas north of the Hindu Kush mountains, organised into an effective resistance by chiefs such as Mir Masjidi Khan and others. In November 1841, a senior British officer, Sir Alexander 'Sekundar' Burnes, and his aides were killed by a mob in Kabul. The British forces took no action in response to the incident, which encouraged further revolt. The British situation soon deteriorated when Afghans stormed the poorly defended supply fort inside Kabul on November 9.

December 23 – First Anglo-Afghan War: At a meeting with the Afghan general Akbar Khan, the British diplomat Sir William Hay Macnaghten is shot dead at close quarters. Sir William Hay Macnaghten, an Anglo-Indian diplomat, and the three officers accompanying him were seized and assassinated on December 23rd. His murder by Akbar Khan, his disastrous retreat from Kabul and the massacre of the British army in the Kurd Kabul Pass marked a turning point in the British government's approach to governing India.

§North America


February 10 – Act of Union (1840) proclaimed in Canada.

February 11 – The two colonies of The Canadas are merged into the United Province of Canada.

October 16 – Queen's University is founded in Kingston, Ontario, by Rev. Thomas Liddell, who carries a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria and becomes the school's first principal

§Puerto Rico

January 30 – A fire ruins and destroys two-thirds of the then villa (now city) of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

§United States

March 12 – SS President under the command of the legendary captain Richard Roberts founders in rough seas with all passengers and crew lost. She encountered a gale and was seen on her second day out laboring in heavy seas in the dangerous area between Nantucket Shoals and Georges Bank. She was not seen again. Among the passengers was the Rev. George Grimston Cookman, who had served as Britain's Chaplain of the Senate, and the popular Irish comic actor Tyrone Power (1795–1841), who was the ancestor of the film star of the same name. The late ship deathwatch stretched out for months. Queen Victoria asked that a special messenger be sent to her if there was news about the ship

July - August - Still depressed from Joshua Speeds departure from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln visited Speed in Kentucky. Speed welcomed Lincoln to his paternal house where the latter spent a month regaining his perspective and his health. During his stay in Farmington, Lincoln rode into Louisville almost daily to discuss legal matters of the day with attorney James Speed- Joshua's older brother.

July 20 – The Mercantile Agency (ancestor of Dun & Bradstreet is founded in New York City by Lewis Tappan.

August 11 - Frederick Douglass spoke in front of the Anti-Slavery Covention in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

September 11 - John Goffe Rand patented the artist paint tube making possible for the first time to have a paint box you could take with you. The Patent was called, Improvement in the Construction of Vessels or Apparatus for Preserving Paint, & c., 1841 Sept. 11 Renoir said “Without tubes of paint, there would have been no Impressionism."

The city of Dallas, Texas is founded by John Neely Bryan.

Fordham University is founded in The Bronx by the Society of Jesus. Its name at its founding is St. John's College.

The Scroll and Key secret society of Yale University is established.

August 17 - In Tennessee, drops of ‘blood’ and foul-smelling matter fell from a red cloud.

§U.S. Economy

Joshua Bates, head of American trade at Barings Bank in London, confided to the bank's agent in Boston in December 1841 that British investors 'in their anguish are crying out against all American stocks, and we shall never be able to sell any more .... I have come to the conclusion (which had best be concealed perhaps) not to sell any more American stocks. . . . I believe it will only be wasting our time to have anything to do with them.' Barings' principal competitor, the House of Rothschild, was even cooler on American securities. Anthony de Rothschild, a partner in the London branch of the family's bank, urged his brothers to sell all U.S. investments. 'Let us get rid of that blasted country -- as much as we profitably can. It is the most blasted & the most stinking country in the world -- & we must get rid of it.' "

§U.S. Law

The Amistad, 40 U.S. (15 Pet.) 518 (1841), was a United States Supreme Court case resulting from the rebellion of slaves on board the Spanish schooner Amistad in 1839.

The rebellion broke out when the schooner, traveling along the coast of Cuba, was taken over by a group of captives who had earlier been kidnapped in Africa and sold into slavery. The Africans were later apprehended on the vessel near Long Island, New York by the United States Navy and taken into custody. The ensuing widely publicized court cases in the United States helped the abolitionist movement. In 1840, a federal trial court found that the initial transport of the Africans across the Atlantic (which did not involve the Amistad) had been illegal and that they were not legally slaves but free. The Supreme Court affirmed this finding on March 9, 1841, and the Africans travelled home in 1842.

§U.S. Politics

February 18 – The first ongoing filibuster in the United States Senate begins and lasts until March 11.

March 4 – Martin Van Buren is succeeded as President of the United States by William Henry Harrison.

William Henry Harrison replaced Martin Van Buren to become the ninth President of the United States. He was an American military leader, and a politician. He served as the first Governor of the Indiana Territory and later as a U.S. Representative and Senator from Ohio. Harrison first gained national fame as a war hero, defeating American Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and earning the nickname "Tippecanoe" (or "Old Tippecanoe"). As a general in the subsequent War of 1812, his most notable contribution was a victory at the Battle of the Thames, which brought the war in his region to a successful conclusion.

When Harrison took office in 1841 at the age of 68, he was the oldest man to be elected President; a record that stood for 140 years, until Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 at the age of 69. Harrison died thirty days into his term — the briefest presidency in the history of the office. He was also the first U.S. president to die while in office. His death threw the country into a constitutional crisis.

When Harrison arrived in Washington, he focused on showing that he was still the steadfast hero of Tippecanoe. He took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, an extremely cold and windy day. Nevertheless, he faced the weather without his overcoat and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history. At 8,445 words, it took nearly two hours to read (even after his friend and fellow Whig, Daniel Webster, had edited it for length). He then rode through the streets in the inaugural parade, and later caught a cold, which then developed into pneumonia and pleurisy. In 2014 medical scientists revisited his diagnosis and now believes that he most likely died of a bacterial infection caught from the White House water supply, which was near the marsh where human waste was dumped. Other presidents also suffered from gastroenteritis.

He sought to rest in the White House, but could not find a quiet room, as he was deluged with people seeking his favor in the hope that he would appoint them to the numerous offices the president then had at his disposal. In addition, his position and new arrival in Washington obligated Harrison to keep an extremely busy social schedule, making any rest time scarce.

His doctors tried everything to cure him, applying opium, castor oil, Virginia snakeweed, and even actual snakes. But the treatments only made Harrison worse and he went into delirium. He died a month later, at 12:30 a.m., on April 4, 1841, of right lower lobe pneumonia, jaundice, and overwhelming septicemia, and likely gastroenteritis becoming the first American president to die in office. His last words were "Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more." Harrison served the shortest term of any American president: only 30 days, 11 hours and 30 minutes.

Harrison only had time for one official act: calling Congress into a special session, which he set to begin on May 31, 1841. He and Whig leader Henry Clay had disagreed over the necessity of the special session (which Harrison opposed, but Clay desired in order to immediately get his economic agenda underway), but Clay's powerful position in both the legislature and the Whig Party quickly forced Harrison to give in. He thus proclaimed the special session in the interests of "the condition of the revenue and finance of the country." Most of his business during his monthlong presidency, however, involved receiving office seekers. Harrison and Clay had also disagreed about government patronage, which was entirely given at the discretion of the President. Harrison had tried to end the dispute by promising in his inaugural address not to use the power to enhance his own standing in the government; however, the very fact of his appointment power sent scores of people to line up at the doors of the White House. The stress of these interviews and petitions is often thought to have further weakened the already-ill Harrison.

John Tyler, Jr., became the first Vice President to assume the office of President upon the death of his predecessor, Harrison. He was the tenth (1841-1845) President of the United States. A long-time Democrat, he was elected Vice President on the Whig ticket and on becoming president, in 1841, he broke with that party. His most famous achievement was the annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845. He was the first president born after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

On August 16th, President Tyler vetoed a bill which called for the re-establishment of the Second Bank of the United States. Enraged Whig Party members rioted outside the White House in the most violent demonstration on White House grounds in U.S. history.

§U.S. Religion


In February 1841, Nauvoo received a charter from the state of Illinois that granted the Latter Day Saints a considerable degree of autonomy. Smith threw himself enthusiastically into the work of building a new city. The charter authorized independent municipal courts, the establishment of a university, and the creation of a militia unit known as the "Nauvoo Legion." Joseph dreamed of industrial projects and even received a revelation commanding the building of a hotel, "that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein."

While burdened with the temporal business of creating a city, Joseph also elaborated on the cosmology of the new religion. According to Richard Bushman, Smith now moved from "a traditional Christian belief in God as pure spirit to a belief in His corporeality." Smith saw that the joining of spirit and body that God provided to his children as the way to attaining a fullness of joy. In other words, Joseph declared that God had a body.

Instead of affirming that there was an eternal God who had created matter, Smith taught that matter was eternal and that it was God who had developed through time and space. God only assembled the earth from preexisting materials and then had drawn on "a cohort of spirits from the pool of eternal intelligences to place upon it." Another striking doctrine that Joseph developed after 1840 was baptism for the dead," an attempt to join "the generation of humanity from start to finish" by bringing "saving ordinances to the millions who had died without their benefits." During the same period, Joseph published the Book of Abraham, Smith's "translation" of what later turned out to be an ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead that he had purchased from a traveling exhibitor in 1835. The Book of Abraham, canonized by the LDS Church after Smith's death, also emphasized the plurality of gods, pre-mortal existence, and the concept that the earth had been organized out of preexisting matter.

These doctrinal expansions culminated in a renewed effort to build another temple. Joseph chose a site on a bluff in Nauvoo where he blessed the cornerstones in a public ceremony on April 6, 1841.

The early years in Nauvoo had been a time of comparative peace and economic prosperity, but by mid-1842, Joseph was entangled in the conflicts that ended with his death two years later. A year previous, Missouri courts had once again tried to extradite him on old charges that stemmed from the Mormon War. Although Stephen Douglas, then a member of the Illinois State Supreme Court, declared the writ of extradition void on a technicality, Joseph "realized that popular opinion was turning against the Saints after two years of sympathy." Not surprisingly, Smith's praise for the Democrat Douglas first provoked opposition to the Mormons in a Whig newspaper, the Warsaw Signal, whose young editor, Thomas C. Sharp, Joseph then arrogantly and unwisely offended.

Emma Hale Smith. Although Joseph Smith probably married at least twenty-seven other women, throughout her life, and even on her deathbed, Emma Smith denied that her husband had ever practiced polygamy.

Of all Joseph's innovations during the years immediately preceding his death, Richard Bushman has called his practice of plural marriage "the most disturbing." In April 1841, Smith secretly wed Louisa Beaman as a plural wife, and during the next two and a half years, he may have married about thirty additional women, ten of them already married to other men. About a third of Smith's plural wives were teenagers, including two fourteen-year-old girls. Joseph was "a charismatic, handsome man," and in Remini's words, he "seemed cheerful and gracious" to all. Because many husbands and fathers knew about these plural marriages, Smith must have convinced them that "they and their families would benefit spiritually from a close tie to the Prophet." Smith told one prospective wife that her submission would insure the eternal salvation of her father's household. Furthermore, once sealed for eternity by priesthood authority, Joseph revealed that such couples would continue to procreate in the next life, becoming "enlarged" and, in effect, gods.

As Bushman has written, Joseph surely "must have realized that plural marriage would inflict terrible damage, that he ran the risk of wrecking his marriage and alienating his followers." And for those in the larger world, plural marriage "would confirm all their worst fears" about Mormonism. "Sexual excess was considered that all too common fruit of pretended revelation."

Although Emma believed in Joseph's prophetic calling, she was displeased with Joseph's multiple marriages, especially since five of the women lived in the Smith household when he married them. Emma may have temporarily approved of Joseph's marriage to two sisters, Eliza and Emily Partridge, but even they were an "awkward selection" because Joseph had already married the sisters two months previous, and he had to go through another ceremony for Emma's benefit. Nevertheless, "from that hour," Emily later wrote, "Emma was our bitter enemy," and they had to leave the household. According to Joseph's scribe, William Clayton, Joseph's brother Hyrum encouraged him to write down his revelation on plural marriage to present to Emma, and Joseph did so. When Hyrum presented Emma with the revelation, she abused him. Clayton reported that when Joseph reproved Emma for demanding from one plural wife a watch Joseph had given her, Joseph "had to use harsh measures to put a stop to [Emma's] abuse."

Throughout her life and on her deathbed, Emma Smith frequently denied that her husband had ever taken additional wives.Even when her sons Joseph III and Alexander presented her with specific written questions about polygamy, she continued to deny that their father had been a polygamist.



January 10 - Ice on Denmark Sound supported sledges until March 24.

§South Pacific

§New Zealand

May 3 – New Zealand becomes a British colony


  • First Opium War (1839–1842)
  • First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842)


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