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1866CE

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§Of World Interest

July 27 - The Atlantic Cable is successfully completed, allowing transatlantic telegraph communication for the first time.

§Europe

August 23 - The Treaty of Prague ends the Austro-Prussian War.

§Germany

The Battle of Langensalza was fought on June 15, 1866 near Bad Langensalza. The Hanoverians won the battle but were then surrounded by a massive army of 40,000, and, unable to link up with their Bavarian allies to the south, they surrendered.

July 3 - Battle of Königgratz: the Prussian army under King Wilhelm and Helmuth von Moltke defeats the Austrian army of Lajos Benedek, leading to a decisive Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War.

§Great Britain

May 11- Collapse of the great house of Overend, Guerney & Com計any (Limited), in London. The failure indeed occurred on the preceding day, but was not announced until Friday, the 11th.

August - Governor Eyre returned to Britain from Jamaica in the wake of the previous year's insurrection. His supporters held a banquet in his honour, while opponents at a protest meeting the same evening condemned him as a murderer. Opponents went on to establish the Jamaica Committee, which called for Eyre to be tried for his excesses in suppressing the "insurrection." More radical members of the Committee wanted him tried for the murder of British subjects under the rule of law. The Committee included English liberals, such as John Bright, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Huxley, Thomas Hughes and Herbert Spencer. An opposing committee, which included such Tories and Tory socialists as Thomas Carlyle, Rev. Charles Kingsley, Charles Dickens, and John Ruskin, sprang up in Eyre's defence. Twice Eyre was charged with murder, but the cases never proceeded.

While some historians have argued that the Morant Bay uprising was no more than a local riot, in its wake the Jamaica Assembly renounced its charter and Jamaica became a Crown Colony.

September - The Great Tea Race of 1866 ends in London, narrowly won by the clipper ship Taeping.

§Italy

In 1866 Italy signed an alliance with Prussia against Austria. During the ensuing Austro-Prussian War, Archduke Albert of Austria defeated Italian forces in the battle of Custoza; however, thanks to Prussian victory over Austria, Italy was able to gain Veneto in the peace that Austria and Italy signed in Vienna.

Veneto is the former heartland of the powerful maritime Republic of Venice, the economic and trading power that lasted from the 7th to the 18th century.

June 20 - The Kingdom of Italy declares war on Austria.

The Battle of Lissa took place on 20 July 1866 in the Adriatic Sea near the island of Vis (Italian: Lissa) and was a decisive victory for an outnumbered Austro-Hungarian force over a superior Italian force. It was the first major sea battle involving fleets using iron and steam, and one of the last to involve deliberate ramming.

The battle occurred as part of the Third Italian Independence War, in which Italy allied with Prussia in the course of the conflict against Austria. The major Italian objective was to capture Venice from Austria.

The fleets were composed of a mix of unarmoured sailing ships with steam engines, and armoured ironclads also combining sails and steam engines. The Italian fleet of 12 ironclads and 17 unarmoured ships outnumbered the Austrian fleet of 7 and 11 respectively. The Austrians were also severely outmatched in rifled guns (276 to 121) and total weight of metal (53,236 tons to 23,538 tons). A single turret ship took part in the action — the Italian Affondatore.

Piedmontese Count Carlo di Persano (60 years old) commanded the Italian fleet, while the Austrian fleet was commanded by Kontreadmiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff (39 years old). The Fort of Lissa was put under the authority of the Transsylvanian Romanian Oberst David Urs de Margina.

August 12 - In the aftermath of the Third Italian War of Independence, Italy gained Mantua and Venice. Now only Rome and its neighbourhood were missing to complete the territorial unity of the state.

December - The last French battalions embarked from Civitavecchia to France.

§Romania

July 1 - The first Constitution of Romania is issued.

§Switzerland

January - Ludwig installed Wagner at the villa Tribschen, beside Switzerland's Lake Lucerne.

§India

The Orissa famine of 1866 affected the east coast of India from Madras upwards, an area covering 180,000 miles and containing a population of 47,500,000; the impact of the famine, however, was greatest in Orissa, which at that time was quite isolated from the rest of India

Like all Indian famines of the 19th-century, the Orissa famine was preceded by a drought: the population of the region depended on the rice crop of the winter season for their sustenance; however, the monsoon of 1865 was scanty and stopped prematurely. In addition, the Bengal Board of Revenue made incorrect estimates of the number of people who would need help and was misled by fictitious price lists. Consequently, as the food reserves began to dwindle, the gravity of the situation was not grasped until the end of May 1866, and by then the monsoons had set in.

§Middle East

§Lebanon

Youssef Karam led a Maronite uprising in Mount Lebanon against governor Dawood Pasha. A European fleet arrived in Lebanon and following a swift bombardment and marine invasion Dawood Pasha went into exile to Algeria.

§North America

§United States

The first daylight bank robbery in United States history during peacetime takes place in Liberty, Missouri. This is considered to be the first robbery committed by Jesse James and his gang, although James's role is disputed on February 13th.

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was formed as a secret society by a few ex-Confederate soldiers in Pulaski, Tennessee. Their intentions were neither violent nor overtly racist, although they were interested in preserving Southern culture as more black faces moved to town. Their leadership titles were intentionally goofy: grand cyclops, grand magi, grand turk, grand scribe. Members were called Ghouls. The name Ku Klux Klan derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle.

July 15 - Work on Fort Philip Kearny began. A horse-drawn sawmill was brought in and set up that same day. The soldiers camped in tents until the fort was built.

July 24 - Reconstruction: Tennessee becomes the first U.S. state to be readmitted to the Union following the American Civil War.

July 25 - The U.S. Congress passes legislation authorizing the rank of General of the Army (now called "5-star general"); Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant becomes the first to have this rank.

July 28 - The Metric Act of 1866 becomes law and legalizes the standardization of weights and measures in the United States.

October 6 - The Reno Gang, the first "Brotherhood of Outlaws" in the United States, planned to rob their first train near Seymour; the town was an important rail hub at that time. In the evening John Reno, Sim Reno, and Frank Sparkes boarded an Ohio and Mississippi Railway train as it started to leave the Seymour depot. They broke into the express car, restrained the guard, and broke open a safe containing approximately $16,000. From the moving train, the three men pushed a larger safe over the side, where the rest of the gang was waiting. Unable to open the second safe, the gang fled as a large posse approached.

Later, passenger George Kinney stepped forward to identify two of the robbers. The three men were arrested, but were released on bail. When Kinney was shot and killed, the other passengers refused to testify and all charges had to be dropped. However, the robbery would ultimately lead to the gang's downfall. The contents of the safe were insured by the Adams Express Company, which hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to track down and capture the gang.

§U.S. Politics

July - Attorney General James Speed's conflict with President Andrew Johnson over the attorney general's tough views on reconstruction and Johnson's veto of Freedmen's Bill led to his resignation.

§U.S. Religion

February 4 - Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, after a fall in Lynn, Massachusetts caused a spinal injury, she turned to God. She is quoted saying:

“On the third day thereafter, I called for my Bible, and opened it at Matthew, 9:2 [And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.(King James Bible) ]. As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense; and the result was that I arose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed. That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit; this Life being the sole reality of existence.”

However, she later filed a claim for money from the city of Lynn for her injury on the grounds that she was "still suffering from the effects of that fall" (though she afterwards withdrew the lawsuit). Mary's attending physician Alvin M. Cushing, a homeopath, testified under oath that he "did not at any time declare, or believe, that there was no hope for Mrs. Patterson's (she was married to Daniel Patterson) recovery, or that she was in critical condition.

§Russia

April 4 - Alexander II of Russia narrowly escapes an assassination attempt in the city of Kiev. A design for a city gate to commemorate his escape is the inspiration for Mussorgsky's The Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an Exhibition.

§Scandinavia

§Finland

The Famine of 1866–1868 was the last famine in Finland and northern Sweden, and the last major naturally caused famine in Europe. In Finland the famine is known as "the great hunger years", or suuret nälkävuodet. About 15% of the entire population died; in the hardest-hit areas up to 20%. The total death toll was 270,000 in three years, about 150,000 in excess of normal mortality. The worst-hit areas were Satakunta, Tavastia, Ostrobothnia, and North Karelia.

§South America

§Chile

February 7, Battle of Abtao: A Spanish naval squadron fights a combined Peruvian-Chilean fleet, at the island of Abtao in the Chiloé Archipelago of central Chile.

§Southeast Asia

§Cambodia

Phnom Penh was divided into three villages:

  • Catholic Village: North of the city, Russey Keo vicinity, for Vietnamese.
  • Chen Village: Middle of the city, along Sap river, For Chinese.
  • Khmer Village: South of the city, around the royal palace and Wat Unalaom for Khmers (Cambodians).

§Ongoing

  • East Cape War in New Zealand

§Sources

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