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April 9 - Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia massacres at least 197, perhaps more, of his own people at Magdala. These were prisoners who had been, for the most part, incarcerated for very trivial offenses, and were killed for asking for bread and water.

April 10 - A British-Indian task force inflicts 700 deaths and a crushing defeat on the army of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia in the Battle of Magdala. The British and Indians suffer 30 wounded, 2 of whom die subsequently.

April 13 - The Napier Expedition ends with the suicide of Tewodros and the capture of Magdala by the British-Indian task force.



August 22 - Yangzhou riot in China targets station of the China Inland Mission and nearly leads to war between Britain and China.


January 10 - Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu declares emperor's declaration "illegal" and attacks Kyoto. Pro-Emperor forces drive his troops away. Shogun surrenders in May. Meiji Restoration marked a return of Japan to previous moral conditions from which military rule had presumably been a deviation. This also marked the beginning of Japan's rapid transition to a modern society. Meiji was also the name posthumously given to the reigning emperor of the time. When the new imperial government was established at Edo, it was renamed Tokyo.



March The geologist Louis Lartet discovered the first five skeletons in the Cro-Magnon rock shelter at Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France.


May 29 - The North German Confederation eliminated debtors' prisons.

§Great Britain

May 26 - Last public hanging in Britain - Fenian bomber Michael Barrett

July 5 - Preacher William Booth establishes the Christian Mission, predecessor of the Salvation Army, in the East End of London.


late September - Queen Isabella II of Spain is effectively deposed and sent into exile; she will formally abdicate June 25, 1870.

§North America


May 31 - Thomas Spence declares himself president of the Republic of Manitoba. He soon alienates the locals.


October 10 - Carlos Manuel de Céspedes declared a revolt against Spanish rule in Cuba in an event known as El Grito de Yara, initiating a war that lasted ten years. Cuba would ultimately lose the war at a cost of 400,000 lives and widespread destruction.


There was an armed native rebellion, led by the Tzotzil Maya as well as Tzeltal, Tojolabal, and Ch'ol in Chiapas, Mexico. It nearly succeeded in taking San Cristóbal, then the state capital, before it was suppressed by the Mexican army.

§Puerto Rico

September 23 - Rebels in the town of Lares declare Puerto Rico independent. Local militia defeats them a week later.

§United States

"The Railroad" is coming. Workers, some imported from China, worked diligently to build the railroad that would cross America. Large and sometimes violent land grabs were taking place to secure the route.

February 16 - In New York City the Jolly Corks organization is renamed the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE).

February 24 - The first parade to have floats occurs at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In March 1868, the residents of Seymour formed a vigilante group with the aim of killing the Reno gang. In response, the gang fled west to Iowa where they robbed the Harrison County treasury of $14,000. The next day, they robbed Mills County treasury of $12,000. The Pinkerton detectives quickly located the men and arrested them at Council Bluffs, Iowa. On April 1, the gang escaped from their Iowa jail and returned to Indiana.

The Reno Gang then robbed its fourth train on May 22. Twelve men boarded a Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad train as it stopped at the train depot in Marshfield, Indiana, a now defunct community in Scott County,Indiana. As the train pulled away, the gang overpowered the engineer and uncoupled the passenger cars, allowing the engine to speed away. After breaking into the express car and throwing express messenger Thomas Harkins off the train (causing fatal injuries), the gang broke open the safe, netting an estimated $96,000. This robbery gained national attention and was published in many major papers. The Pinkertons pursued, but the gang broke up and fled throughout the Midwest.

May 30 - Memorial Day is observed in the United States for the first time (it was proclaimed on May 5 by General John A. Logan).

Memorial Day Order The 30th day of May, 1868,is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and Marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hinds slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective.

The settlement of 8,000 to 9,000 Navajo in 1864 to Bosque Redondo during what was known as the Long Walk had such catastrophic consequences in death and disease and was so disastrously expensive that the U.S. returned them to a reservation in their original homeland in a second "Long Walk" in June 1868.

The Reno gang attempted to rob another train on July 9. Pinkerton detectives had learned of the plan and ten agents were waiting aboard the train. When the gang broke in, the agents opened fire, wounding two of the gang. Everyone was able to escape except Volney Elliot, who outed the other members of the gang in exchange for leniency. Using the information, the detectives arrested two more members of the gang the next day in Rockport

All three men were taken by train to jail. However, on July 10, 1868, three miles outside Seymour, Indiana, the prisoners were taken off the train by a group of masked men calling itself the Jackson County Vigilance Committee and hanged by the neck from a nearby tree. Three other gang members, Henry Jerrell, Frank Sparks, and John Moore, were captured shortly after in Illinois and returned to Seymour. In a grisly repeat, they too fell into the hands of vigilantes and were hanged from the same tree. The site became known as Hangman Crossing, Indiana.

On July 27, 1868, the Pinkertons captured William and Simeon Reno in Indianapolis. The men were jailed at the Scott County Jail in Lexington. They were tried and convicted of robbing the Marshfield train, but because of the threat of vigilantes, they were moved to the more secure Floyd County Jail. The day after their removal from Lexington, the vigilantes broke into the vacated jail, hoping to catch and lynch the men.

Frank Reno, the gang's leader, and Charlie Anderson were tracked down to a Canadian border town of Windsor, Ontario. With the help of United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, the men were extradited in October under the provisions of the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty. Both men were sent to New Albany to join the other prisoners

Thomas Edison applied for his first patent, the electric vote recorder, on October 28th.

November 27 - Indian Wars: Battle of Washita River - In the early morning, United States Army Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer leads an attack on a band of Cheyenne living on reservation land with Chief Black Kettle, killing 103 Cheyenne.

On the night of December 11, about 65 hooded men traveled by train to New Albany. The men marched four abreast from the station to the Floyd County Jail where, just after midnight, the men forced their way into the jail and the sheriff's home. After they beat the sheriff and shot him in the arm for refusing to turn over the keys, his wife surrendered them to the mob. Frank Reno was the first to be dragged from his cell to be lynched. He was followed by brothers William and Simeon. Another gang member, Charlie Anderson, was the fourth and last to be murdered, at around 4:30 a.m on December 12. It was rumored that the vigilantes were part of the group known as the Scarlet Mask Society or Jackson County Vigilance Committee. No one was ever charged, named or officially investigated in any of the lynchings. Many local newspapers, such as the New Albany Weekly Ledger, stated that "Judge Lynch" had spoken.

Frank Reno and Charlie Anderson were technically in federal custody when they were lynched. This is believed to be the only time in U.S. history that a federal prisoner had ever been lynched by a mob before a trial. Secretary of State Seward wrote a formal letter of apology as a result. A new bill was later introduced into the U.S. Congress that clarified the responsibility for the safety of extradited prisoners.

Alcatraz was officially designated a long-term detention facility for military prisoners

§U.S. Industry

June 23 - Christopher Latham Sholes was granted a patent on the typewriter

§U.S. Law

April 29 - The Treaty of Fort Laramie (also called the Sioux Treaty of 1868) was an agreement between the United States and the Oglala, Miniconjou, and Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota, and Arapaho Nation signed in 1868 at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory, guaranteeing to the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills, and further land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Powder River Country was to be henceforth closed to all whites. The treaty ended Red Cloud's War.

July 28 - The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is adopted guaranteeing African Americans full citizenship and all persons in the United States due process of law.

§U.S. Politics

February 24 - After Andrew Johnson tried to dismiss United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, he becomes the first President of the United States to be impeached by the United States House of Representatives. Johnson would later be acquitted by the United States Senate.

March 5 - A court of impeachment is organized in the United States Senate to hear charges against President Andrew Johnson.

May 16 - President Andrew Johnson is acquitted during his impeachment trial, by one vote in the United States Senate.

November - Ulysses S. Grant defeats Horatio Seymour in the U.S. Presidential election.

December 25 - US President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all Civil War rebels.

§U.S. Religion

February 2 - Brigham Young married his 26th wife, 22 year old Mary Van Cott, number 26.

April 6 - Sixty-six year old Brigham Young married 23 year old Ann Eliza Webb his 27th and final wife. She was the only one of his wives to divorce him which happened in 1876.

§U.S. Statehood

July 25 - Wyoming becomes a United States territory.



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


August 13 - A massive wave struck Chile, carrying ships as far as three miles inland at Arica. Deaths totaled 25,000 or more.


January 5 - War of the Triple Alliance: Brazilian Army commander Luís Alves de Lima e Silva enters Asunción, Paraguay's capital. Some days later he declares the war is over. Nevertheless, Francisco Solano López, Paraguay's president, prepares guerrillas to fight in the countryside.

December 6 - Battle of Itororó or Ytororó. Field-Marshall Luís Alves de Lima e Silva leads 13,000 Brazilian troops against a Paraguayan fortified position of 5,000 troops. War of the Triple Alliance

§South Pacific

§Hawaiian Islands

April 2 - A locally generated tsunami swept over the tops of palm trees and claimed 81 lives in Hawaii. An eruption from Mauna Loa caused the largest earthquake in Hawaii, registering as a magnitude 8 by modern methods.

§New Zealand

Titokowaru's War

Titokowaru's War was a military conflict that took place in the South Taranaki region of New Zealand's North Island from June 1868 to March 1869 between the Ngāti Ruanui Māori tribe and the New Zealand Government. The conflict, near the conclusion of the New Zealand land wars, was a revival of hostilities of the Second Taranaki War as Riwha Titokowaru, chief of the Ngāti Ruanui's Ngaruahine hapu (sub-tribe), responded to the continued surveying and settlement of confiscated land with well-planned and effective attacks on settlers and government troops in an effort to block the occupation of Māori land.

The war, coinciding with a violent raid on a European settlement on the East Coast by fugitive guerrilla fighter Te Kooti, shattered what European colonists regarded as a new era of peace and prosperity, creating fears of a "general uprising of hostile Māoris", but once Titokowaru was defeated and the East Coast threat minimized, the alienation of Māori land, as well as the political subjugation of Māori, continued at an even more rapid pace.

November 2 - New Zealand officially adopts nationally observed standard time, and was perhaps the first country to do so.


  • Philip Torchio (d. 1942), future inventor of the reactance coil, reactor, ground and fault detector for electric distribution systems, automatic circuit breakers, protective device for busbar circuits, protective device for electric cable joints, electric cable joints (oil-filled joints) and insulating covering for cables was born in Italy.
  • Paul Otlet, Belgian entrepreneur and visionary information technologist. His vision for the Mundaneum in 1934 foreshadowed the development of the World Wide Web.


  • Titokowaru's War in New Zealand


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