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Cambodia's Angkor Wat took 25,000 workers over thirty-seven years to complete, but after the fall of the Khmer Empire, the complex remained unknown to the outside world until 1860, when French botanist Henri Mouhot stumbled upon it deep in the jungle.


Taiping Rebellion

The Taiping were successful in taking Hangzhou and Suzhou to the east. An attempt to take Shanghai in August was repulsed by a force of Chinese troops and western officers under the command of Frederick Townsend Ward. This army would later become the "Ever Victorious Army", led by "Chinese" Gordon, and would be instrumental in the defeat of the Taiping rebels.

Conclusion of the Second Opium War

In the summer of 1860, a larger Anglo-French force (11,000 British under General James Hope Grant, 6,700 French under General Cousin-Montauban) with 173 ships sailed from Hong Kong and captured the port cities of Yantai and Dalian to seal the Bohai Gulf. Then they carried out a landing near at Bei Tang (also spelled Pei Tang), some 3 kilometres (2 mi) from the Dagu Fort on 3 August, which they captured after three weeks on 21 August. After taking Tienstin on 3 August, the Anglo-French forces marched inland toward Beijing. The Xianfeng Emperor then dispatched ministers to for peace talks, but relations broke down completely when a British diplomatic envoy, Harry Parkes, was arrested during negotiations on 18 September. He and his small entourage were imprisoned and tortured (some were murdered by the Chinese in a fashion that infuriated British leadership upon discovery in October). The Anglo-French invasion clashed with Sengge Rinchen's Mongolian cavalry on 18 September near Zhangjiawan before proceeding toward the outskirts of Beijing for a decisive battle in Tongzhou District.

On 21 September, at the Battle of Palikao, Sengge Rinchen's 10,000 troops including elite Mongolian cavalry were completely annihilated after several doomed frontal charges against concentrated firepower of the Anglo-French forces, which entered Beijing on 6 October.

Burning of the Summer Palaces

Looting of the Yuan Ming Yuan by Anglo-French forces in 1860. Ruins of the "Western style" Xiyanglou complex in the Old Summer Palace, burnt down by Anglo-French forces.

With the Qing army devastated, Emperor Xianfeng fled the capital, leaving his brother, Prince Gong, to be in charge of negotiations. Xianfeng first fled to the Chengde Summer Palace and then to Jehol in Manchuria. Anglo-French troops in Beijing began looting the New Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan) and Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan) immediately (it was full of valuable artwork). After Parkes and the surviving diplomatic prisoners were freed, Lord Elgin ordered the Summer Palaces destroyed starting on 18 October. Beijing was not occupied; the Anglo-French army remained outside the city. The Belvedere of the God of Literature, in the Old Summer Palace, one week before its destruction by Anglo-French troops.

The destruction of the Forbidden City was discussed, as proposed by Lord Elgin to discourage the Chinese from using kidnapping as a bargaining tool, and to exact revenge on the mistreatment of their prisoners. Elgin's decision was further motivated by the torture and murder of almost twenty Western prisoners, including two British envoys and a journalist for The Times. The Russian envoy Count Ignatiev and the French diplomat Baron Gros settled on the burning of the Summer Palaces instead, since it was "least objectionable" and would not jeopardize the treaty signing.

Chinese historians have argued that the destruction was a cover-up for widespread looting. That the Summer Palaces was looted before being destroyed is certain but it is not surprising. Elgin was acutely sensitive to the charge of looting, as it was his own father, Thomas Bruce (1776–1841), who, from 1799 to 1803, removed from the Acropolis in Greece what are now known as the Elgin Marbles to Britain, where they remain to this day, a subject of rancor between the Greek and British governments.


Qing flag seized by Anglo-French forces. The flag reads "親兵第五隊右營". Les Invalides.

After the Xianfeng emperor and his entourage fled Beijing, the June 1858 Treaty of Tianjin was finally ratified by the emperor's brother, Yixin, the Prince Gong, in the Convention of Peking on 18 October 1860, bringing The Second Opium War to an end.

The British, French and - thanks to the schemes of Ignatiev - the Russians were all granted a permanent diplomatic presence in Beijing (something the Qing resisted to the very end as it suggested equality between China and the European powers). The Chinese had to pay 8 million taels to Britain and France. Britain acquired Kowloon (next to Hong Kong). The opium trade was legalized and Christians were granted full civil rights, including the right to own property, and the right to evangelize.

The content of the Convention of Peking included:

  1. China's recognition of the validity of the Treaty of Tianjin
  2. Opening Tianjin as a trade port
  3. Cede No.1 District of Kowloon (south of present day Boundary Street) to Britain
  4. Freedom of religion established in China
  5. British ships were allowed to carry indentured Chinese to the Americas
  6. Indemnity to Britain and France increasing to 8 million taels of silver a piece
  7. Legalization of the opium trade

Two weeks later, Ignatiev convinced the Manchu to sign a "Supplementary Treaty of Peking", in which the Manchu signed away some 300,000 to 400,000 square miles (777,000–1,036,000 km²) of land to the Russians. The defeat of the Imperial army by a small Anglo-French military force (outnumbered at least 10 to 1 by the Manchu army) coupled with the flight (and subsequent death) of the Emperor and the burning of the Summer Palace was a shocking blow to the once powerful Qing Dynasty. "Beyond a doubt, by 1860 the ancient civilization that was China had been thoroughly defeated and humiliated by the West."

§Central America


After writing an account of his Central American campaign (published in 1860 as War in Nicaragua), former self-appointed president of Nicaragua, William Walker once again returned to the region. British colonists in Roatán, in the Bay Islands, fearing that the government of Honduras would move to assert its control over them, approached Walker with an offer to help him in establishing a separate, English-speaking government over the islands. Walker disembarked in the port city of Trujillo, but soon fell into the custody of Captain Nowell Salmon (later Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon) of the British Royal Navy. The British government controlled the neighboring regions of British Honduras (now Belize) and the Mosquito Coast (now part of Nicaragua) and had considerable strategic and economic interest in the construction of an inter-oceanic canal through Central America. It therefore regarded Walker as a menace to its own affairs in the region.

Rather than return him to the US, Salmon delivered Walker to the Honduran authorities in Trujillo, who executed him near the site of the present-day hospital by firing squad on September 12, 1860. Walker was 36 years old.


The "Mosquito Coast" was transferred to Nicaragua, though it remained autonomous until 1894.



Sir Joseph Swan, an English physicist, experimented with carbon paper filament in an attempt to create a light source. He found that they burned up rather quickly. It was in this year that Swan received a patent for a carbon filament incandescent lamp, which operated in a partial vacuum. It was the partial vacuum, thus lack of oxygen, that kept his carbon filament from instantly burning up. After filing his patent he continued his research and after eighteen years, in 1878, he demonstrated his new electric lamp in Newcastle, England.


On April 9th, a 10-second recording of a singer singing the folk song “Au Clair de la Lune” was made by a phonautograph, inscribing sound onto paper, by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer who went to his grave convinced that credit for his breakthroughs had been improperly bestowed on Edison.

There was no playback mechanism at the time. Not even Scott heard his own recording. Devices made to decipher the soot blackened paper recording were not heard until the year 2008 CE. Phonautograph recordings were made as early as 1853 CE but this was the first on record that contained an audible quality recording.

§Middle East


Following a rapid invasion under the control of Druze by Kurdish and Turkoman jihadists in Syrian Christian communities, the Maronites directly engaged the Druze. Believing French intervention was a shallow threat, the Sultans used the Maronite reaction as a pretext to justify another genocide of the Christian community. Leading a wide range campaign of raids, terror, and environmental destruction, Islamic armies devastated the Middle Eastern Christian communities particularly the Maronites and their forested communities in the mountains. Most of the Maronite communities outside of Mount Lebanon were destroyed as entire towns were massacred and the survivors fled to Europe and America. It was only after a French led naval force was dispatched to Lebanon and threats were made at the Sultan's Porte that the jihadis were pulled back.

§North America

§United States

April 3 - The Pony Express begins its first run from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.

The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the North American continent from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, from April 1860 to October 1861. It became the nation's most direct means of east-west communication before the telegraph and was vital for tying California closely with the Union just before the American Civil War.

July 13 - Albert W. Hicks was hung. His death was notable because he was the last person to be executed for the crime of Piracy in the United States (though the execution of the slaver Nathaniel Gordon in 1862 was under the terms of the Piracy Law).

The United States Census of 1860 was the eighth Census conducted in the United States. It determined the population of the United States to be 31,443,321 — an increase of 35.4 percent over the 23,191,875 persons enumerated during the 1850 Census. The total population included 3,953,761 slaves.

By the time the 1860 census returns were ready for tabulation, the nation was sinking into the American Civil War. As a result, Census Superintendent Joseph C. G. Kennedy and his staff produced only an abbreviated set of reports, which included no graphic or cartographic representations. This includes a new round of statistics did allow the Census staff to produce a cartographic display, including preparing maps of Southern states for Union field commanders. These maps displayed militarily vital topics, including white population, slave population, predominant agricultural products (by county), and rail and post-road transportation routes.

December 20 - South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the United States Union.

§Nevada (Not yet a State)

May - August - The Paiute War, also known as the Pyramid Lake War, Washoe Indian War and the Pah Ute War, was an armed conflict between Northern Paiutes allied with the Shoshone and the Bannock against intruding settlers from the United States, supported by military forces. It took place in May 1860 in the vicinity of Pyramid Lake in the Utah Territory, now in the northwest corner of present US state of Nevada. The war was preceded by a series of increasingly violent incidents, culminating in two pitched battles in which approximately eighty settlers were killed. The number of Paiutes killed in action is unrecorded. Smaller raids and skirmishes continued until a cease-fire was agreed to in August 1860; there was no treaty.

§U.S. Politics

Mexican-American relations were a primary topic of the 1860 State of the Union address by President Buchanan.

May 9 - The U.S. Constitutional Union Party holds its convention and nominates John Bell for President of the United States.

May 18 - Abraham Lincoln is selected as the U.S. presidential candidate for the Republican Party.

§U.S. Religion

Ellen White formed the Seventh Day Adventists in New Hampshire.

§South Atlantic

§Island of St. Helena

The String Tree from the island of St Helena becomes extinct because of habitat destruction.

§South Pacific

§New Zealand

March - Beginning of the First Taranaki War, an armed conflict over land ownership and sovereignty that took place between Māori and the New Zealand Government in the Taranaki district of New Zealand's North Island from March 1860 to March 1861. At the start of the war New Zealand's military and naval forces were tiny following the withdrawal of the British 58th regiment in 1858, leaving only one regiment in New Zealand. At the time both New Zealand and Australia governments were aware of an increase in French forces in New Caledonia following the uproar going on in Europe. The New Zealand government was determined that there should be no excuse for French interference in New Zealand. The New Zealand government was keen to increase the number of British troops as security against any external threat. In 1859 there were only 1,000 soldiers in New Zealand with only 192 in New Plymouth, the nearest town to the disputed land at Waitara. This was built up to 360 in February 1860 and by July this rose to 1,700, of which only 1,100 were professional soldiers.

Because New Plymouth had been threatened many of the troops were used to guard against a surprise attack and only 331 soldiers were used in the first concerted attack on July 27 against a pā. The attacking forces were divided into 3 groups. This attack resulted in a complete defeat with heavy loses of 30 killed or missing and 32 wounded. Following this disaster dispatches were sent to Australia which resulted in a rapid rise in troops. By August 1860 there were 2,320 troops in Taranaki of which 860 were local militia or volunteers. Because of the nature of the threat the forces were divide to protect the settlers scattered around the "blocks "ie Waitara 467, Bell Block 165, Omata 49, Waireka 246 and New Plymouth 1,403. However, effectives were much lower than this, e.g. the militia force—on paper 425—had only 100 active soldiers. One of the main concerns for the government was the 1,700 women and children at New Plymouth. On the plus side many Maori actively helped the settlers. Also missionaries in the Waikato kept up a regular correspondence with the government as to the mood and intentions of the Kingites in the Waikato. In this way the government became aware of the increasing support in the form of material (lead shot, powder, blankets) and food (potatoes were planted in fall back positions in the hinterland). Settler families left their farms leading to a shortage of food but this was offset by plantings close to settlements guarded and patrolled by troops. A Maori gardening corps was set up to clear the land for the farmers. One ongoing problem, faced by the settlers and soldiers alike, was the exposed Taranki coastline without a protected harbour. Goods could only be unloaded at New Plymouth in good weather, which meant that partly-unloaded ships often had to stand out to sea for a week or more until settled weather returned. During one storm, the ship George Henderson was wrecked. By October 9, 1860, the field force available for active operations in New Plymouth was 837 men plus 150 loyal Maori who fought under the leadership of Mr Parris, assistant Native Secretary.


  • September 12 - William Walker, American Adventurer, former President of Nicaragua, by firing squad in Honduras


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