Recent Changes - Search:


<< 1855 CE | 1851-1860 CE | 1857 CE >>


§South Africa

A 15-year-old orphan named Nongqawuse prophesied that if the Xhosa tribe slaughtered its own cattle, stopped planting crops and destroyed its grain stores, the British would leave and a period of prosperity would follow. Their plan failed. But the majority of Xhosa didn’t view the carnage and ask, “What were we thinking?” In fact, many concluded they hadn’t slaughtered enough cattle.

May 20 – David Livingstone arrives at Quelimane on the Indian Ocean having completed a 2-year transcontinental journey across Africa from Luanda.



The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China from 1856 to 1860.

March 24 – Taiping Rebellion: Suspecting treachery on the part of East King Yang Xiuqing, Shi Dakai garrisons Anhui and begins his march back to the Heavenly Capital, having defeated a strong Xiang Army detachment.

June 13 – Taiping Rebellion: Shi Dakai arrives at Nanjing.

September 2 – Taiping Rebellion: Wei Changhui and Qin Rigang assassinate Yang Xiuqing.

October 8 - Qing officials boarded the Arrow, a Chinese-owned ship (a lorcha) that had been registered in Hong Kong and was suspected of piracy and smuggling. Twelve Chinese subjects were arrested and imprisoned. The British officials in Guangzhou demanded the release of the sailors, claiming that because the ship had recently been British-registered, it was protected under the Treaty of Nanjing. Only when this was shown to be a weak argument did the British insist that the Arrow had been flying a British ensign and that the Qing soldiers had insulted the flag. As China insisted that it did not hang out the national flag at that time, negotiations eventually broke down, but not before all sailors had been returned to the British with a letter promising great care is taken that British ships are not boarded improperly. In fact, the registration of the nationality of the Arrow had expired in which case she did not have the right to fly the colours of the Crown at this time, and her crew's arrest by the Qing authorities was lawful in any case. Richard Cobden a British MP of the time describes the events conducted by the British under Sir John Bowring the day after the prisoners' release given in a speech to parliament:

"operations were commenced against the Barrier Forts on the Canton River. From the 23rd of October to the 13th of November, these naval and military operations were continuous. The Barrier Forts, the Bogue Forts, the Blenheim Forts, and the Dutch Folly Forts, and twenty-three Chinese junks, were all taken or destroyed. The suburbs of Canton were pulled, burnt, or battered down, that the ships might fire upon the walls of the town"

Faced with fighting the Taiping Rebellion, the Qing government was in no position to resist the West militarily. This came to be known as the Arrow Incident.

November 11 – Taiping Rebellion: Shi Dakai arrives at the Heavenly Capital once more with 100,000 men and demands that Wei Changhui and Qin Rigang be executed. Shi subsequently becomes head of the government.


March – Nepalese-Tibetan War: The signing of the Treaty of Thapathali concludes the war.


February 7 – The nawab of Oudh (Wajid Ali Shah) is exiled to Metiabruz and the state is annexed by the British East India Company.

§Central America

§Costa Rica

March 20 – Costa Rican troops rout Walker's soldiers.


A United States adventurer named William Walker declared himself president and began serving as an opposition president to Patricio Rivas until the government junta in 1857.


The first orchid hybrid, created from Calanthe masuca and Calanthe furcata, began to flower.


Augustinian Friar Gregor Mendel, who is known as the "father of modern genetics", was inspired by both his professors at the University of Olomouc (i.e. Friedrich Franz & Johann Karl Nestler) and his colleagues at the monastery (e.g., Franz Diebl) to study variation in plants, and he conducted his study in the monastery's 2 hectares (4.9 acres) experimental garden, which was originally planted by Napp in 1830.


March 31 – The Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the Crimean War.

April 16 – Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law abolishes privateering and regulates the relationship between neutral and belligerent and shipping on the high seas.

§Great Britain

January 29 - Queen Victoria institutes the Victoria Cross.

March 5 – Fire destroys the Covent Garden Theatre in London.

March 23 - Sir William Henry Perkin, an English chemist at the age of 18 accidentally discovered the first aniline dye, mauveine. It was the first synthetic color. This easy to synthesize purple dye was able to dye silk and replaced expensive and difficult to produce Tyrian purple, which was made from the glandular mucus of certain molluscs. Its extraction was variable and complicated. After the discovery of mauveine, many new aniline dyes appeared (some discovered by Perkin himself), and factories producing them were constructed across Europe.

August 24 - Henry Bessemer first described the process of manufacturing cheap steel for ordnance production to a meeting of the British Association in Cheltenham which he titled "The Manufacture of Iron Without Fuel." It was published in full in The Times. The Bessemer process involved using oxygen in air blown through molten pig iron to burn off the impurities and thus create steel. James Nasmyth had been working on a similar idea for some time prior to this. A reluctant patentor, and in this instance still working through some problems in his method, Nasmyth abandoned the project after hearing Bessemer at the meeting. Bessemer acknowledged the efforts of Nasmyth by offering him a one-third share of the value of his patent. Nasmyth turned it down as he was about to retire

November 1 – Anglo-Persian War: War is declared between Great Britain and Persia.

December 1 – Under the County and Borough Police Act, in any county or area of England and Wales where a police force has not already been established, the Justices of the Peace must from this date take steps to create one according to nationally defined standards.

December 2 – National Portrait Gallery, London, established


November 27 – The Coup of 1856 leads to Luxembourg's unilateral adoption of a new, reactionary constitution, as King-Grand Duke William III signs the new constitution without the Chamber of Deputies' consent.


July 14–15 – General Leopoldo O'Donnell takes control of the government, bringing an end to the bienio progresista.

§Middle East

§Persia (Iran)

November 1 – Anglo-Persian War: War is declared between Great Britain and Persia.

Two courses of action were available to the British, to mount an overland expedition through Afghanistan or attack the Persian empire from the south through the Persian Gulf; the aim being both punitive, and to force the Shah to ask for terms. The British Government decided to attack in the general area of Bushire, a small city near the southern coast of Persia and ordered the Government in India to launch a maritime expeditionary force. In the aftermath of the disastrous First Afghan War, the British were reluctant to send a force through Afghanistan to relieve Herat directly. Instead, they elected to attack the Persians on the Persian Gulf coast.

Initially a division, under Major General Foster Stalker, was organised comprising 2300 British soldiers and 3400 Indian sepoys of the Bombay Presidency army which landed in Persia in early December 1856. This included two companies of the Bombay Sappers & Miners. These were:

  • The 2nd Company, under Captain C.T. Haig, (Bombay Engineers)
  • The 4th Company, under Captain J. Le Mesurier, (Bombay Engineers)

The two companies were accompanied by the headquarters of the Corps of Bombay Sappers and Miners, under Captain W.R. Dickinson, (Bombay Engineers). Major J. Hill, the erstwhile Commandant of the Bombay Sappers and Miners, who had handed the Corps over to Dickinson, was appointed as the Commanding Engineer for this expedition. After the expedition he resumed the post of Commandant of the Bombay Sappers once again.

Soon after the induction of the force, it was considered to be inadequate for the task and a second division under Brigadier General Henry Havelock was formed and the entire expedition placed under command of Major General Sir James Outram. This force inducted in January 1857.

During the hostilities, 'B' Company of the Madras Sappers & Miners under Brevet-Major A.M. Boileau, Madras Engineers, embarked at Coconada on 19 January and reached the force just in time for participating in operations in Southern Mesopotamia.

The first division under Stalker set sail from Bombay in November after the declaration of war, on a squadron or flotilla of seven steamships under Commodore Young, towing thirty sailing vessels. The British landed a force and captured the island of Kharag on 4 December and landed ashore on 9 December on the coast a few miles south of Persia's primary port of Bushire. Battle of Bushire

The first division of the expedition disembarked in the neighbourhood of the city of Bushire on 5 December 1856. They stormed the old fort at Reshire (also called Rishahr or Rashir) and after a short naval bombardment went on to capture the city on 10 December, ably assisted by the two companies of Bombay Sappers & Miners. There was then a delay as the British waited for reinforcements.

§North America

§United States

January 8 – Borax deposits are discovered in large quantities in Tuscan Springs, California by John Veatch.

January 24 – U.S. President Franklin Pierce declares the new Free-State Topeka government in Bleeding Kansas to be in rebellion.

January 26 – First Battle of Seattle: Marines from the USS Decatur (1839) drive off American Indian attackers after an all day battle with settlers.

January 29 - The 223-mile North Carolina Railroad is completed from Goldsboro through Raleigh and Salisbury to Charlotte.

February – The Tintic War breaks out in Utah.

February 1 – Auburn University is first chartered as the East Alabama Male College.

February 2 – Dallas, Texas is incorporated as a city.

March 6 – Maryland Agricultural College (present-day University of Maryland, College Park) is chartered.

March 9 – National Fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon is founded at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

April 10 – The Theta Chi Fraternity is founded at Norwich University, Vermont.

April 17 – The Chicago Historical Society museum is established at 1601 N. Clark Street, Chicago.

May 14 – A committee of Vigilance is founded in San Francisco, California. It lynches two gangsters, arrests most Democratic Party officials and disbands itself on August 18.

May 21 – Lawrence, Kansas is captured and burned by pro-slavery forces (the "Sacking of Lawrence").

May 22 – Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the United States Senate, for a speech Sumner had made attacking Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas ("Bleeding Kansas"). Sumner is unable to return to duty for 3 years while he recovers; Brooks becomes a hero across the South.

May 24 – Pottawatomie Massacre: A group of followers of radical abolitionist John Brown kill 5 homesteaders in Franklin County, Kansas. It is suspected they took five pro-slavery settlers – James Doyle, William Doyle, Drury Doyle, Allen Wilkinson, and William Sherman – from their cabins on Pottawatomie Creek and hacked them to death with broadswords. Brown later claimed he did not participate in the killings, however he did say he approved of them.

June 2 – Battle of Black Jack: Antislavery forces, led by John Brown, defeat proslavery forces in Bleeding Kansas.

July 17 – The Great Train Wreck (the worst railroad calamity in the world to date) occurs near Philadelphia, PA.

August 10 – A hurricane destroys Last Island, Louisiana, leaving 400 dead. The whole island is broken up into several smaller islands by the storm.

August 30 – Battle of Osawatomie: A company of over three hundred Missourians under the command of Major General John W. Reid crossed into Kansas and headed towards Osawatomie, Kansas, intending to destroy the Free State settlements there, and then march on Topeka and Lawrence. On the morning of August 30, 1856, they shot and killed Brown's son Frederick and his neighbor David Garrison on the outskirts of Osawatomie.

Brown, outnumbered more than seven to one, arranged his 38 men behind natural defenses along the road. Firing from cover, they managed to kill at least 20 of Reid's men and wounded 40 more. Reid regrouped, ordering his men to dismount and charge into the woods. Brown's small group scattered and fled across the Marais des Cygnes River. One of Brown's men was killed during the retreat and four were captured. While Brown and his surviving men hid in the woods nearby, the Missourians plundered and burned Osawatomie. Despite being defeated, Brown's bravery and military shrewdness in the face of overwhelming odds brought him national attention and made him a hero to many Northern abolitionists, who gave him the nickname "Osawatomie Brown".

September 1 – Seton Hall University is founded by Archdiocese of Newark Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, a cousin of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and nephew of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

September 7 - John Brown entered Lawrence to meet with Free State leaders and help fortify against a feared assault.

September 14 - At least 2,700 pro-slavery Missourians were once again invading Kansas. They skirmished near Lawrence. Brown prepared for battle, but serious violence was averted when the new governor of Kansas, John W. Geary, ordered the warring parties to disarm and disband, and offered clemency to former fighters on both sides. Brown, taking advantage of the fragile peace, left Kansas with three of his sons to raise money from supporters in the north.

November 17 – American Old West: On the Sonoita River in present-day southern Arizona, the United States Army establishes Fort Buchanan in order to help control new land acquired in the Gadsden Purchase.

November 21 – Niagara University is founded in Niagara Falls, New York.

§U.S. Politics

February 18 – The American Party (Know-Nothings) convene in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to nominate their first Presidential candidate, former President Millard Fillmore.

November 4 – U.S. presidential election, 1856: Democrat James Buchanan defeats former President Millard Fillmore, representing a coalition of "Know-Nothings" and Whigs, and John C. Frémont of the fledgling Republican Party, to become the 15th President of the United States.

§U.S. Religion

June 9 – 500 Mormons leave Iowa City, Iowa and head west for Salt Lake City, Utah, carrying all their possessions in two-wheeled handcarts.

§South Pacific

§New Zealand

April 7 – Nelson College is founded in Nelson, New Zealand.


May 1 – Isabela Province is created in the Philippines in honor of Queen Isabela II of Spain.


  • January 11 – Christian Sinding, Norwegian composer (d. 1941)
  • January 12 – John Singer Sargent, American-born artist (d. 1925)
  • February 2 – Frederick William Vanderbilt, American railway mag nate (d. 1938)
  • February 12 – Eduard von Böhm-Ermolli, Austrian general and German field marshal (d. 1941)
  • February 14 – Frank Harris, Irish author and editor (d. 1931)
  • February 21 or February 28 – Maurycy Gottlieb, Ukrainian painter (d. 1879)
  • March 4 - Alfred William Rich, English watercolour painter and author (d. 1921)
  • March 4 - Julius Drewe, English businessman, retailer and entrepreneur (d. 1931)
  • March 8 - Bramwell Booth, Salvation Army general (d. 1929)
  • March 8 - Tom Roberts, Australian artist (d. 1931)
  • March 16 – Napoléon Eugène Louis John Joseph, Prince Imperial, son of French Emperor Napoleon III (d. 1879)
  • March 20 - Sir John Lavery, Irish artist (d. 1941)
  • March 20 - Frederick Winslow Taylor, American inventor and efficiency expert (d. 1915)
  • April 5 – Booker T. Washington, American educator (d. 1915)
  • April 12 – William Martin Conway, British art critic and mountaineer (d. 1937)
  • April 23 – Granville T. Woods, African-American inventor (d. 1910)
  • April 24 – Henri Philippe Pétain, French soldier and statesman (d. 1951)
  • April 26 – Sir Joseph Ward, 17th Prime Minister of New Zealand (d. 1930)
  • April 27 – Tongzhi Emperor of China (d. 1875)
  • May 6 - Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist (d. 1939)
  • May 6 - Robert Peary, American Arctic explorer (d. 1920)
  • May 15 – L. Frank Baum, American author, poet, playwright, actor and independent filmmaker (The Wizard of Oz) (d. 1919)
  • June 14 – Andrey Markov, Russian mathematician (d. 1922)
  • July 23 – Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Indian political activist (d. 1920)
  • July 10 – Nikola Tesla, Serbian inventor (d. 1943)
  • July 11 – Georgiana Drew, American stage actress, married Maurice Barrymore in 1876, (d. 1893)
  • July 26 – George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1950)
  • August 10 – William Willett, promoter of Daylight Saving Time (d. 1915)
  • August 13 – Alfred Deakin, second Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1919)
  • August 15 – Ivan Franko, Ukrainian poet, critic, journalist and political activist (d. 1916)
  • September 1 – Sergei Winogradsky, Russian scientist (d. 1953)
  • September 3 – Louis Sullivan, American architect (d. 1924)
  • September 18 – Wilhelm von Gloeden, German photographer (d. 1931)
  • October 16, Writer, Oscar Wilde, was born in Dublin, Ireland.
  • October 30 – Charles Leroux, American balloonist and parachutist (d. 1889)
  • November 13 – Louis Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (d. 1941)
  • November 21 – William Emerson Ritter, American biologist (d. 1944)
  • November 22 – Heber J. Grant, seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (d. 1945)
  • November 24 – Bat Masterson, American lawman (d. 1921)
  • November 29 – Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1921)
  • December 11 - Edward John Bevan, English chemist, and partner of Charles Frederick Cross (d. 1921)
  • December 11 - Georgi Plekhanov, Russian revolutionary and Marxist theoretician (d. 1918)
  • December 13 – Svetozar Boroević, Austrian field marshal (d. 1920)
  • December 18 – J.J. Thomson, English physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1940)
  • December 22 – Frank B. Kellogg, United States Secretary of State, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1937)
  • December 25 – Hans von Bartels, German painter (d. 1913)
  • December 28 – Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1924)
  • Anna Sterky – Swedish politician, feminist and trade unionist


  • January 14 – Janko Drašković, Croatian politician and reformer (b. 1770)
  • January 16 – Thaddeus William Harris, American naturalist (b. 1795)
  • January 31 – Khedrup Gyatso, 11th Dalai Lama (b. 1838)
  • February 4 – Anna Gottlieb, operatic soprano (b. 1774)
  • February 17 – Heinrich Heine, German writer (b. 1797)
  • May 3 – Adolphe Charles Adam, French composer (b. 1803)
  • June 23 – Ivan Kireevsky, Russian literary critic and philosopher (b. 1806)
  • July 9 – Amedeo Avogadro, Italian chemist (b. 1776)
  • July 11 – Norberto Ramírez, Central American politician
  • July 29 - Karel Havlíček Borovský, Czech politician and writer (b. 1821)
  • July 29 - Robert Schumann, German composer and pianist
  • October 19 - William Sprague III, American politician from Rhode Island (b. 1799)
  • October 19 - Said bin Sultan, Sultan of Muscat and Oman
  • December 20 – Francesco Bentivegna, Italian revolutionary (b. 1820)


<< 1855 CE | 1851-1860 CE | 1857 CE >>

Edit - History - Print - Recent Changes - Search
Page last modified on August 26, 2016, at 01:46 PM