Recent Changes - Search:


<< | 1881-1890 CE | 1882 CE >>



October 10 - Catholic Bishop and missionary, Daniel Comboni dies in Khartoum from illness at the age of 50.


May 12 - In North Africa, Tunisia becomes a French protectorate.


January 25 - Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company to sell telephones in Greece, Turkey, South Africa, India, Japan, China, and other Asian countries.


§Great Britain

July 1 - General Order 70, the culmination of the Cardwell-Childers reforms of the British Army's organization, comes into effect which created a network of multi-battalion regiments

A power transformer developed by Lucien Gaulard of France and John Dixon Gibbs of England was demonstrated in London. This transformer caught the attention of American industrialist, George Westinghouse, who saw how it could be used to transmit power over long distances by using high-voltage, then stepping the voltage down for use in the home.


January 24 - William Edward Forster, the chief secretary for Ireland, introduces his Coercion Bill; it goes through a long debate before it is accepted February 2.

§Middle East


The mummy of Thutmoses III is discovered.

§North America

§United States

February 2 - The Parkfield Earthquake occurs. Parkfield Earthquake is a name given to various large earthquakes that occurred in the vicinity of the little town of Parkfield, California, in the United States. The San Andreas fault runs through this town, and six successive magnitude 6 earthquakes occurred on the fault at unusually regular intervals, between 21 and 24 years apart (with an average of every 22 years), between 1857 and 1966.

February 19 - Kansas becomes the first U.S. state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.

April 28 - Billy the Kid escapes from his 2 jailers at the Lincoln County Jail in Mesilla, New Mexico, killing James Bell and Robert Ollinger before stealing a horse and riding out of town.

May 21 - The American Red Cross is established by Clara Barton.

July 14 - Billy the Kid is reputedly shot and killed by Pat Garrett outside Fort Sumner at Pete Maxwell's house. William Henry Roberts, Brushy Bill, was most likely Billy the Kid who had moved to Globe Arizona and had two kids. His image matched Billy the Kid's using FBI facial recognition software. He also had the same scars and those who knew Billie who later met Brushy Bill said that he was indeed Billie the Kid. Garrett lied when he realized he had shot the wrong person. Garrett's career came to an end.

July 20 - Indian Wars: Sioux chief Sitting Bull leads the last of his fugitive people in surrender to United States troops at Fort Buford in Montana.

August 13- Guadalupe Canyon Massacre: Mexican Commandant Felipe Neri dispatched troops to the border. It has been theorized that Mexican Rurales led by Captain Alfredo Carrillo, who had survived the Skeleton Canyon Massacre in 1879, led the ambush of cowboys. The Mexicans found "Old Man" Clanton and six others bedded down for the night in Guadalupe Canyon with a herd of cattle. The Mexicans waited until dawn and killed five of the Cowboys.

The dead included Old Man Clanton; Charley Snow, a ranch hand who thought he had heard a bear and was the first killed; Jim Crane, who was wanted for a March, 1881 stagecoach robbery near Tombstone during which two men had been murdered; Dick Gray, son of Col. Mike Gray; and Billy Lang, a cattle rancher. Clanton, Crane, and Gray were either still in their bedrolls or in the act of getting dressed when killed. Lang was the only one who had a chance to fight back. Harry Ernshaw, a milk farmer, was grazed by a bullet on the nose; Billy Byers feigned death until the perpetrators left.

Ernshaw found his way to the ranch of John Pleasant Gray (Dick's brother), who enlisted help from a mining camp 20 miles (32 km) away. At Guadalupe Canyon they found the dead men stripped naked and a dazed Billy Byers five miles away. Snow was buried where he fell due to decomposition. The others were taken back by wagon and buried about ten miles east of Cloverdale, New Mexico.

August 27 - A hurricane hits Florida and the Carolinas, killing about 700.

September 5 - The Thumb Fire in the U.S. state of Michigan destroys over a million acres (4,000 km²) and kills 282 people.

October 26 - The Gunfight near the O.K. Corral occurs in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a gunfight that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, of the United States and which is generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in the history of the American Old West. The gunfight, believed to have lasted only about thirty seconds, was fought between the outlaw Cowboys Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and his brother Frank McLaury, and the opposing lawmen Virgil Earp and his brothers Morgan and Wyatt Earp, aided by Doc Holliday acting as a temporary deputy of Virgil. Cowboys Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight, unharmed, but Ike's brother Billy Clanton, along with both McLaurys, were killed. Lawmen Holliday, and Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded. Only Wyatt Earp came through the fight unharmed. The fight has come to represent a time in American history when the frontier was open range for outlaws opposed by law enforcement that was spread thin over vast territories, leaving some areas unprotected.

December 28 - Virgil Earp is ambushed in Tombstone and loses the use of his left arm.

§U.S. Industry

The street letter drop mailbox with a hinged door that closed to protect the mail was invented by Philip B. Downing. Downing, an African-American inventor, patented his new device on October 27, 1891

§U.S. Politics

President Garfield became the 20th President of the United States (1881) and the second U.S. President to be assassinated (Abraham Lincoln was the first). His term was the second shortest in U.S. history, after William Henry Harrison's. Holding office from March to September of 1881, President Garfield was in office for a total of six months and fifteen days.

Garfield was shot by disappointed office seeker Charles Julius Guiteau on July 2, 1881, at 9:30 a.m., less than four months after taking office. The President had been walking through the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad (a predecessor of the Pennsylvania Railroad) in Washington, D.C., on his way to a college reunion, accompanied by Secretary of State James G. Blaine and his sons, James and Harry. As he was being arrested after the shooting, Guiteau excitedly said, "I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts! I did it and I want to be arrested! Arthur is President now," which briefly led to unfounded suspicions that Arthur or his supporters had put Guiteau up to the crime. (The Stalwarts strongly opposed Garfield's Half-Breeds; like many Vice Presidents, Arthur was chosen for political advantage, to placate his faction, rather than for skills or loyalty to his running-mate. It was thus conceivable that he might have been involved in the assassination). Guiteau was upset because of the rejection of his repeated attempts to be appointed as the United States consul in Paris—a position for which he had absolutely no qualifications—and was mentally ill. Garfield's assassination was instrumental to the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act on January 16, 1883.

One bullet went through Garfield's shoulder and out his back, just missing an artery; the second bullet lodged in his chest and could not be found, although scientists today think that the bullet is near his lung. Alexander Graham Bell devised a metal detector in an attempt to find the bullet, but the metal bedframe Garfield was lying on made the instrument malfunction. Because metal bedframes were relatively rare, the cause of the instrument's deviation was unknown at the time. Garfield became increasingly ill over a period of several weeks due to infection, which caused his heart to weaken. He died of a massive heart attack or a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm, following blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia, at 10:35 p.m. on Monday, September 19, 1881, in Elberon, New Jersey, exactly two months before his 50th birthday. The ailing President had been moved to Elberon, a seaside community, in the vain hope that the fresh air and quiet there might aid his recovery.

Most historians and medical experts now believe that Garfield probably would have survived his wound had the doctors attending him been more capable. Several inserted their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, and one doctor punctured Garfield's liver in doing so.

Guiteau was found guilty of assassinating Garfield, despite his lawyers raising an insanity defense. He insisted that incompetent medical care had really killed the President. Although historians generally agree that while poor medical care was a contributing factor, it was not a legal defense. Guiteau was sentenced to death, and was executed by hanging on June 30, 1882, in Washington, D.C.

Chester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886) became the twenty-first President of the United States. Arthur was a member of the Republican Party and worked as a lawyer before becoming the 20th vice president under James Garfield. While Garfield was mortally wounded by Charles Guiteau July 2, he did not die until September 19, at which time Arthur was sworn in as president, serving until March 4, 1885.

Before entering politics, Arthur had been Collector of Customs for the Port of New York. He was appointed by Ulysses S. Grant but was fired by Rutherford B. Hayes under false suspicion of bribery and corruption. A political protégé of Roscoe Conkling, his notable achievements in office as President included civil service reform and the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. The passage of this legislation earned Arthur the moniker "The Father of Civil Service."

Arthur, perhaps more than any other man, recognized that the factions and rivalries of the Republican Party, as well as the tangent controversy of cronyism versus civil service reform, had contributed to Garfield's murder. Entering the presidency under suspicion of conspiring to assassinate his predecessor, Arthur believed that the only way to garner the nation's approval — and to heal the breaches in American politics that had killed a President — was to be independent from both factions. Arthur determined to go his own way once in the White House.

He became a man of fashion in his manner of dress and in his associates; he was often seen with the elite of Washington, D.C., New York, and Newport. To the indignation of the Stalwarts, the onetime Collector of the Port of New York became, as President, a champion of civil service reform. Avoiding old political cronies and alienating his old mentor Conkling, public pressure, heightened by the assassination of Garfield, forced an unwieldy Congress to heed the President.

In 1883, Congress passed the Pendleton Act, which established a bipartisan Civil Service Commission which stopped big businesses from giving out rebates and pooling with other companies, forbade levying political assessments against officeholders, and provided for a "classified system" that made certain government positions obtainable only through competitive written examinations. The system protected employees against removal for political reasons.

Acting independently of party dogma, Arthur also tried to lower tariff rates so the government would not be embarrassed by annual surpluses of revenue. Congress raised about as many rates as it trimmed, but Arthur signed the Tariff Act of 1883 anyway. Aggrieved Westerners and Southerners looked to the Democratic Party for redress, and the tariff began to emerge as a major political issue between the two parties.

The Arthur Administration enacted the first general Federal immigration law. Arthur approved a measure in 1882 excluding paupers, criminals, and the mentally ill. Congress also suspended Chinese immigration for ten years with the Chinese Exclusion Act, later making the restriction permanent.

In 1884, the International Meridian Conference was held in Washington at President Arthur's behest. This established the Greenwich Meridian which is still in use today.

President Arthur demonstrated that he was above not only factions within the Republican Party, but possibly the party itself. Perhaps, in part, he felt able to do this because of the well-kept secret he had known since a year after he succeeded to the Presidency, that he was suffering from Bright's Disease, a fatal kidney disease.

Arthur ran in the Republican Presidential Primary in 1884 but lost the party's nomination to former Speaker of the House and Secretary of State James G. Blaine of Maine.

§U.S. Religion

Jehovah Witness Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to disseminate tracts, papers, doctrinal treatises and Bibles.

October 2 - First meeting of the Knights of Columbus. A group of men met in the basement of St. Mary’s Church on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, CT. Called together by their 29-year-old parish priest, Father Michael J. McGivney.


March 13 - Alexander II of Russia is killed near his palace when a bomb is thrown at him. He is succeeded by his son, Alexander III.

Anti-Semitic pogroms in Southern Russia start.


January 16-January 24 - Siege of Geok Tepe: Russian troops under General Mikhail Skobelev defeat the Turkomans.

§South Pacific

§Hawaiian Islands

King Kalākaua left Hawaiʻi on a trip around the world to study the matter of immigration and to improve foreign relations. He also wanted to study how other rulers ruled. In his absence, his sister and heir, Princess Liliʻuokalani, ruled as regent. The King first traveled to San Francisco where he was given a royal welcome. Then he sailed to the Empire of Japan where he met with the Meiji Emperor. He continued through Qing Dynasty China, Siam, Burma, British Raj India, Egypt, Italy, Belgium, the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, the French Third Republic, Spain under the Restoration, Portugal, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and back through the United States before returning to Hawaiʻi. During this trip, he met with many other crowned heads of state, including Pope Leo XIII, Umberto I of Italy, and Victoria of the United Kingdom. In this, he became the first king to travel around the world.

Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii erupted.

“By the 25th of March the lava was within seven miles of Hilo, and steadily advancing. Until this time we had hoped that Hilo would not be threatened. But the stream pursued its way. By the 1st of June it was within five miles of us, and its advance, though slow, was persistent.”

§New Caledonia

There was a serious native insurrection put down after much bloodshed.


On the 14th July, among cries of “Vive la République!” the crowds celebrated the fact that Polynesia now belonged to France; this was the first celebration of the Tiurai (national and popular festival).


<< | 1881-1890 CE | 1882 CE >>

Edit - History - Print - Recent Changes - Search
Page last modified on May 26, 2017, at 11:09 PM