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§Of World Interest

March 30 – Sir William Crookes announces his discovery of Thallium



March 10 – El Hadj Umar Tall seizes the city of Segou, destroying the Bambara Empire of Mali in West Africa.

§Eastern Europe


June 25 – Abd-ul-Mejid, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1839-1861) dies of tuberculosis (like his father) at the age of 39 in Istanbul and is succeeded by Abd-ul-Aziz (1861-1876).



February 18 - The deputies of the first Italian Parliament assembled in Turin.

March 17 – The Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel II as its king.

March 20 - The surrender of Civitella del Tronto ends the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

March 27 - Rome was declared Capital of the Kingdom of Italy. However, the Italian Government could not take its seat in Rome because a French garrison (who had overthrown the Roman Republic), maintained there by Napoleon III of France, commanded by general Christophe Léon Louis Juchault de Lamoricière, was defending Pope Pius IX.


August 21 - The first Mormon missionaries began preaching in the Netherlands.


January 2 - Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia dies and is succeeded by Wilhelm I.

February 27 – Russian troops fire upon a crowd in Warsaw protesting Russian rule over Poland, killing 5 protesters.


May 14 – The Canellas meteorite, an 859 gram chondrite type meteorite, strikes Earth near Barcelona, Spain.

§Middle East


June 9 – Lebanon is separated from Syrian administration and reunited under an Ottoman governor with the approval of the European powers.

§North America


October 25 - The Toronto Stock Exchange was created.


January 1 - Benito Juárez led the liberals, with the help of the U.S. under the controversial, and never approved McLane-Ocampo treaty, and captured Mexico City. Juárez was finally properly elected president in March for another four-year term, under the Constitution of 1857.

Faced with bankruptcy and a war-savaged economy, Juárez declared a moratorium June 15 on foreign debt payments. Spain, Great Britain, and France reacted with a joint seizure of the Veracruz customs house in December 1861

§United States

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.

Due to its isolation from the outside by the cold, strong, hazardous currents of the waters of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was used to house Civil War prisoners as early as 1861.

January 3 - American Civil War: Delaware votes not to secede from the Union.

January 9 - Mississippi becomes the second state to secede from the Union, preceding the American Civil War.

January 10 - American Civil War: Florida secedes from the Union.

January 11 - American Civil War: Alabama secedes from the Union.

January 18 - American Civil War: Georgia secedes from the Union.

January 21 - American Civil War: Jefferson Davis resigns from the United States Senate.

January 26 - American Civil War: Louisiana secedes from the Union.

January 29 - Kansas is admitted as the 34th U.S. state.

February 1 - American Civil War: Texas secedes from the Union.

February 4 - American Civil War: In Montgomery, Alabama the Confederate States of America is formed by representatives from six break-away United States.

February 8 - American Civil War: The Confederate States of America are formed.

February 9 - American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected the Provisional President of the Confederate States of America by the Weed Convention at Montgomery, Alabama.

February 11 - American Civil War: The U.S. House unanimously passes a resolution guaranteeing non-interference with slavery in any state.

February 15 - Ben McCulloch, Texas Ranger, began marching toward the Federal arsenal at San Antonio, Texas, with a cavalry force of about 550 men, about 150 of whom were Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) from six castles. As volunteers continued to join McCulloch the following day, the U.S. Army Gen. David E. Twiggs decided to surrender the arsenal peacefully to the secessionists.

February 18 - American Civil War: In Montgomery, Alabama, Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the provisional president of the Confederate States of America.

February 23 - President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C. after an assassination attempt in Baltimore, Maryland.

February 28 - Colorado is organized as a United States territory.

March 2 - Nevada is organized as a United States territory.

March 4 - President Abraham Lincoln takes office, succeeding James Buchanan.

March 4 - American Civil War: The Stars and Bars is adopted as the flag of the United Confederate States of America.

March 11 - American Civil War: The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is adopted.

April - Watchmaker Jonathan Dillon was repairing Lincoln's watch when he heard about the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and wrote a short message on the metal inside the watch. It says, "Jonathan Dillon, April 13-1861, Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon, April 13-1861, Washington, thank God we have a government, Jonth Dillon."

April 12 - The American Civil War begins at Fort Sumpter, South Carolina.

April 13 - Fort Sumpter surrenders to Southern forces. The New York Times reported, "War is innaugurated. The batteireis of Sullivan's Island, Morris Island, and other points were opened on Fort Sumpter at 4 o'clock this morning."

April 17 - The state of Virginia secedes from the Union.

April 20 - American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia.

April 25 - American Civil War: The Union Army arrives in Washington, D.C.

April 27 - American Civil War: President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus in the United States.

April 27 - American Civil War: West Virginia secedes from Virginia.

May - Members of the Knight of the Golden Circle and Confederate Rangers attacked a building which housed a pro-Union newspaper, the Alamo Express, owned by J. P. Newcomb, and burned it down.

May 6 - American Civil War: Arkansas secedes from the Union.

May 7 - American Civil War: Tennessee secedes from the Union.

May 8 - American Civil War: Richmond, Virginia is named the capital of the Confederate States of America.

May 13 - American Civil War: Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a "proclamation of neutrality" which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.

May 20 - American Civil War: Kentucky proclaims its neutrality which lasts until September 3, when Confederate forces enter the state. North Carolina secedes from the Union.

May 23 - The beginning to the end of slavery in America Three young black men, Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory and James Townsend, rowed across the James River in Virginia in a stolen boat and claimed asylum in th Union-held citadel at Fort Monroe, Virginia. It was coincidentally the exact same spot where the first slaves landed in 1619. “What’s to Be Done With the Blacks?” asked a headline in The Chicago Tribune. That was the question now facing the Lincoln administration. Within days after the three fugitive slaves crossed the river, their exploits — and their fate — were being discussed throughout the nation. At first the newspapers played it more or less as a comic sketch in a minstrel show: a Yankee shyster outwits a drawling Southern aristocrat. But Lincoln saw things in a more serious light. The president realized he might now be forced to make a signal verdict about matters he previously tried to avoid: slavery, race and emancipation.

Lincoln and his cabinet gathered to address Butler’s decision — and ended up punting. While reminding Butler that “the business you are sent upon . . . is war, not emancipation,” they left the general to decide what to do with fugitive slaves — including whether or not to continue declaring them contraband of war. Unfortunately, no detailed account of the deliberations survives. But a letter from one cabinet secretary, Montgomery Blair, suggests they were driven by a motive as common in Washington then as it is now: “a desire to escape responsibility for acting at all at this time.” By that point, the administration had already received a second dispatch from Butler, describing the influx of women and children. With this in mind, Blair — a member of a slaveholding Maryland family — suggested one pragmatic “modification” to Butler’s policy. “You can . . . take your pick of the lot and let the rest go so as not to be required to feed unproductive laborers or indeed any that you do not require,” he urged. As to the slaves’ eventual fate, Blair wrote, of course no one was suggesting that they be set free. Perhaps at the end of the war, those who belonged to men convicted of treason could be legally confiscated and sent off to Haiti or Central America. (The New York Herald, meanwhile, proposed that the federal government should wait until the war ended and sell all the slaves back to their owners, at half-price, to finance its cost.)

Butler realized what Blair did not: events were unfolding far too quickly for any of that. Despite the counsels from Washington, Butler was not turning away “unproductive” fugitives. He replied: “If I take the able-bodied only, the young must die. If I take the mother, must I not take the child?” By early June, some 500 fugitives were within the Union lines at Fort Monroe.

General Butler grew ever more adamant in the defense of “his” contrabands, to a degree that must have shocked his old associates. By July, he began pressing the Lincoln administration to admit that the contrabands were not really contraband: that they had become free. Indeed, that they were — in a legal sense — no longer things but people: “Have they not by their master’s acts, and the state of war, assumed the condition, which we hold to be the normal one, of those made in God’s image? . . . I confess that my own mind is compelled by this reasoning to look upon them as men and women.”

July 13 - American Civil War: he Battle of Corrick's Ford takes place in western Virginia.

July 21 - American Civil War - First Battle of Bull Run: At Manassas Junction, Virginia, the first major battle of the war ends in a Confederate victory.

July 25 - American Civil War: The Crittenden-Johnson Resolution is passed by the U.S. Congress, stating that the war is being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery.

July 26 - American Civil War: George B. McClellan assumes command of the Army of the Potomac following a disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.

August 5 - American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government issues the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872). Most Americans made far less than $800 - the average annual income that year was $150 - so the vast majority did not have to pay the tax. Interest on mortgages was made deductible ... Congress attempted to increase tax fairness further, as well as obtain additional revenues, by including in the bill an inheritance tax - the first in U.S. history - on estates in excess of $1,000.

"To improve tax collection, Congress adopted another practice from Britain called 'collection of revenues at the source.' ... It required federal agencies to withhold taxes from the pay of civilian and military employees and railroad and financial institutions to withhold taxes before distributing dividend and interest payments to investors."

August 5 - American Civil War: The U.S. Army abolishes flogging.

September 3 - American Civil War: Confederate General Leonidas Polk invades neutral Kentucky, prompting the state legislature to ask for Union assistance.

September 6 - American Civil War: Forces under Union General Ulysses S. Grant bloodlessly capture Paducah, Kentucky, which gives the Union control the mouth of the Tennessee River.

October 9 - American Civil War - Battle of Santa Rosa Island: Confederate forces are defeated in their effort to take the island.

October 21 - American Civil War- Battle of Ball's Bluff: Union forces under Colonel Edward Baker are defeated by Confederate troops in the second major battle of the war. Baker, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, is killed in the fighting.

October 24 - The HMS Warrior, the world's first ocean-going (all) iron-hulled armored battleship, is completed and commissioned.

October 28 - The Missouri legislature takes up a bill for Missouri's secession from the Union.

October 30 -The bill is passed for Missouri's secession from the Union.

October 31 - The Missouri's secession from the Union bill is signed by Governor Jackson.

October 31 - American Civil War: Citing failing health, Union General Winfield Scott resigns as Commander of the United States Army.

November 1 - American Civil War: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln appoints George B. McClellan as commander of the Union Army, replacing the aged General Winfield Scott.

November 2 - American Civil War: Western Department Union General John C. Fremont is relieved of command and replaced by David Hunter.

November 6 - American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected president of the Confederate States of America.

November 5 - The first Australian Melbourne Cup horse race is held.

November 7 - American Civil War - Battle of Belmont: In Belmont, Missouri, Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant overrun a Confederate camp but are forced to retreat when Confederate reinforcements arrive.

November 8 - American Civil War - Trent Affair: The USS San Jacinto stops the United Kingdom mail ship Trent and arrests two Confederate envoys, James Mason and John Slidell, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the U.K. and U.S.

November 21 - American Civil War: Confederate President Jefferson Davis appoints Judah Benjamin Secretary of War.

November 28 - Acting on the ordinance passed by the Jackson government, the Confederate Congress admits Missouri as the 12th Confederate state.

December 10 - American Civil War: Kentucky is accepted into the Confederate States of America.

§U.S. Politics

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was elected the 16th President of the United States (serving from 1861 to 1865), and was the first president from the Republican Party.

Today, he is best known for ending slavery and preserving the Union through his supervision of the Federal (i.e., Northern) forces during the American Civil War. He selected the generals and approved their strategy; selected senior civilian officials; supervised diplomacy, patronage, and party operations; and rallied public opinion through messages and speeches. Lincoln's influence was magnified by his powerful rhetoric as an orator; his Gettysburg Address rededicated the nation to freedom and democracy and remains a core component of the American value system.

Abrahm Lincoln appointed James Doty the position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Utah Territory. Doty was successful in this position. He was later appointed governor after the removal of Stephen Selwyn Harding.

Abraham Lincoln named John Dawson governor of Utah Territory in 1861, but he left the territory and his post as governor after only three weeks due to tensions with the Mormon residents. Dawson had made "grossly improper proposals" to the Mormon widow Albina Merrill Williams, who responded by thrashing him with a fire shovel. When he offered her $3,000 for her silence, she rebuked him and he quickly abandoned Salt Lake City on New Year's Eve 1861.

Taking a mail coach eastward, he arrived at Ephraim Hanks' Pony Express station at Mountain Dell, Utah. There, Hanks assured Dawson he was now safe. However a group of young Mormon vigilantes named Jason Luce, Matthew Luce, Wilford Luce, Wood Reynolds, Moroni Clawson, Lot Hungtington, and Isaac Neibaur followed the retreating governor, and during a night of drinking, they plundered the governor's baggage, and attacked him, beating and kicking Dawon about the head, chest, and groin (and allegedly castrating one of his testicles). The thugs later claimed they were acting under direct orders of the Salt Lake Police Chief. Four of the youths were captured but the other three were gunned down trying to escape from police and sheriffs.


February 19 – Serfdom is abolished in Russia.

March 3 – The emancipation of the serfs is formalized in Imperial Russia.

§South America


March 20 - An earthquake completely destroys Mendoza, Argentina.

§South Pacific

§New Zealand

March 19 – The First Taranaki War ends in New Zealand. The war was fought by more than 3,500 imperial troops brought in from Australia, as well as volunteer soldiers and militia, against Māori forces that fluctuated between a few hundred and about 1,500. Total losses among the imperial, volunteer and militia troops are estimated to have been 238, while Māori casualties totalled about 200, although the proportion of Māori casualties was higher. Wirimu Kingi who led the Taranaki rebellion made a very clever move by gifting the disputed land to The Maori king at a time when local Maori forces were hard pressed by the British soldiers. The war ended in a ceasefire, with neither side explicitly accepting the peace terms of the other. Though there were claims by the British that they had won the war, there were widely-held views at the time they had suffered an unfavourable and humiliating result. Historians have also been divided on the result. Historian James Belich has claimed that Māori succeeded in thwarting the British bid to impose sovereignty over them, and had therefore been victorious. But he said the Māori victory was a hollow one, leading to the invasion of the Waikato.


April 26 – Giovanni Schiaparelli discovered the asteroid 69 Hesperia.

§Ongoing events

  • American Civil War (1861-1865)
  • Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864)


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