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Years: 1856 1857 1858 - 1859 - 1860 1861 1862
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1859 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1859

Ab urbe condita 2612
Armenian calendar 1308
Bahá'í calendar 15 – 16
Buddhist calendar 2403
Coptic calendar 1575 – 1576
Ethiopian calendar 1851 – 1852
Hebrew calendar 5619 5620
Hindu calendars
 - Vikram Samvat 1914 – 1915
 - Shaka Samvat 1781 – 1782
 - Kali Yuga 4960 – 4961
Holocene calendar 11859
Iranian calendar 1237 – 1238
Islamic calendar 1275 – 1276
Japanese calendar Ansei 6

(安政 6年)

 - Imperial Year Kōki 2519
Julian calendar 1904
Korean calendar 4192
Thai solar calendar 2402
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Year 1859 (MDCCCLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar.



  • January 24Wallachia and Moldavia are united under Alexander John Cuza under the name Romania (see December 1, 1918 for the final unification, Transylvania and other regions are still missing at that time).
  • January 28 – The city of Olympia is incorporated in the Territory of Washington in the United States of America.
  • February 14Oregon is admitted as the 33rd U.S. state.
  • February 18French forces under Charles Rigault de Genouilly capture Sai Gon in Vietnam.
  • February 27U.S. Congressman Daniel Sickles shoots Philip Barton Key for having an affair with his wife.
  • March 9 – The army of Piedmont-Sardinia mobilizes against Austria, beginning the crisis which will lead to the Austro-Sardinian War.
  • March 21 – The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issues the charter establishing the Zoological Society of Philadelphia, the first organization of its kind in the United States and founder of the nation's first zoo.
  • March 26 – A French amateur astronomer claims to have noticed a planet closer to the Sun than Mercury – later named Vulcan.


  • April 20A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is published.
  • April 25 – Ground is broken for the Suez Canal.
  • April 26Austro-Sardinian War: Giuseppe Garibaldi's Hunters of the Alps confront Austrian forces led by Field Marshal-Lieutenant Carl Baron Urban at Varese.
  • April 28 – The Pomona is wrecked off the English coast, with 424 dead.
  • April 29Austrian troops begin to cross the Ticino River to Piedmont.
  • May 4 – The Cornwall Railway opens across the Royal Albert Bridge, linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall in England.
  • May 5 – Border Treaty between Brazil and Venezuela: The two countries agree their borders should be traced at the water divide between the Amazon and the Orinoco basins.[1]
  • May 22Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies is succeeded by his 23-year-old son Francis II of the Two Sicilies.
  • May 26 & June 2Geologist Joseph Prestwich and amateur archaeologist John Evans report (to the Royal Society and Society of Antiquaries of London, respectively) the results of their investigations of gravel-pits in the Somme valley and elsewhere, extending human history back to what will become known as the Paleolithic Era.[2][3]
  • May 30Battle of Palestro: The Sardinians defeat the Austrian army.
  • May 31 – The Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster, London was started, and its bells ring for the very first time.
  • June 4Austro-Sardinian WarBattle of Magenta: The French and Sardinians defeat the Austrians.
  • June 6 – The British Crown colony of Queensland in Australia is created by devolving part of the territory of New South Wales (Queensland Day).
  • June 8 – The discovery of the Comstock Lode in the western Utah Territory setting off the Rush to Washoe
  • June 15 – The so-called Pig War border dispute between the Americans and the British on the San Juan Islands begins by the death of the namesake pig.
  • June 17 – The only recorded Simoom ever in North America hit Goleta, California and Santa Barbara, CA.
  • June 18Aletschhorn, second summit of the Bernese Alps, is first ascended.
  • June 24Battle of Solferino: The Kingdom of Sardinia and the armies of Napoleon III of France defeat Franz Josef I of Austria in northern Italy; the battle inspires Henri Dunant to found the Red Cross.
  • June 30Charles Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope for the first time.


  • July
    • Count Camillo Benso di Cavour resigns.
    • Pike's Peak Gold Rush begins in the Colorado Territory.
  • July 1 – The first intercollegiate baseball game is played, between Amherst and Williams Colleges.
  • July 8
    • Charles XV succeeds his father Oscar I of Sweden and Norway (as Charles IV).
    • An armistice is declared between Austria and others.
  • July 11 – The chimes of Big Ben ring for the first time in London.
  • July 11 – By the preliminary treaty signed at Villafranca, Italy, Lombardy is ceded to the French (who immediately cede it to Sardinia), while the Austrians keep Venetia and the French promise to restore the Central Italian rulers expelled in the course of the war. This brings the Austro-Sardinian War effectively to a close.
  • July 30Grand Combin, one of the highest summits in the Alps, is first ascended.
  • August 16 – The Tuscan National Assembly formally deposes the House of Habsburg-Lorraine; ending an ascendancy of 109 years.
  • August 27Edwin Drake drills the first oil well in the United States, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, starting the Pennsylvanian oil rush.
  • August 28September 2 – The solar storm of 1859, the largest geomagnetic solar storm on record, causes the Northern lights to be visible as far south as Cuba and knocks out telegraph communication. (This is also called the Carrington event).
  • September 17 – In San Francisco, California, Joshua Norton proclaims himself to be His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, "Emperor of the United States" and "Protector of Mexico".


  • October 16John Brown raids the Harpers Ferry Armory in Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in an unsuccessful bid to spark a general slave rebellion.
  • October 18 – Troops under Colonel Robert E. Lee overpower Brown at the Federal arsenal.
  • October 26 – The steamship Royal Charter is wrecked on the coast of Anglesey, Wales with 454 dead.
  • November 1 – The current Cape Lookout, North Carolina, lighthouse is lighted for the first time (its first-order Fresnel lens can be seen for 19 miles).
  • November 10 – The Treaty of Zürich, reaffirming the terms of Villafranca, brings the Austro-Sardinian War to an official close.
  • November 24 – The French Navy's La Gloire ("Glory"), the first ocean-going ironclad warship in history, is launched.
  • November 24British naturalist Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species, a book which argues that species gradually evolve through natural selection (it immediately sells out its initial print run).
  • December 2 – Militant abolitionist leader John Brown is hanged for his October 16 raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
  • December 4 – The Mekteb-i Mülkiye School is founded in the Ottoman Empire.
  • December 10Queensland separated from New South Wales
  • December 10 – The Ateneo Municipal de Manila is founded.

Date unknown[]

  • District nursing begins in Liverpool, England, when philanthropist William Rathbone employs Mary Robinson to nurse the sick poor in their own homes.
  • The island of Timor is divided between Portugal and the Netherlands.
  • The Rancho Rincon de Los Esteros Land Grant is confirmed to Rafael Alvisa, (part of the present Santa Clara County, California).
  • The Codex Sinaiticus is found by Constantin von Tischendorf on his third visit to Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.
  • Bernhard Riemann formulates the Riemann hypothesis, one of the most important open problems of contemporary mathematics.
  • Brisbane is declared the capital of newly separated colony Queensland, Australia.
  • The University of Michigan Law School is founded.
  • Marx publishes A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.
  • Mary Institute is founded.




  • July 6Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1940)
  • July 11 (June 29 O.S.) – Peter Verigin, Doukhobor leader (d. 1924)
  • August 4Knut Hamsun, Norwegian author, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1952)
  • August 18Anna Ancher, Dansk painter (d. 1935)
  • September 3Jean Jaurès, French socialist (d. 1914)
  • September 16Yuan Shikai, Chinese dictator (d. 1916)
  • September 18Lincoln Loy McCandless, Hawaiian politician and rancher (d. 1940)
  • September 21Francesc Macià i Llussà, Catalan politician (d. 1933)
  • October 9Alfred Dreyfus, French military officer (d. 1935)
  • October 18Henri Bergson, French philosopher, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (d. 1941)
  • October 20John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist, and educator (d. 1952)
  • October 21Francesc Macià, President of the Catalan Generalitat (d. 1933)
  • November 14Alexandru Averescu, Romanian soldier and politician (d. 1938)
  • November 19Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, Russian composer (d. 1935)
  • November 23Billy the Kid, American outlaw (d. 1881)
  • December 2Georges Seurat, French painter (d. 1891)
  • December 5John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe, British admiral (d. 1935)
  • December 15L. L. Zamenhof, Russo-Polish initiator of Esperanto (d. 1917)
  • December 17Paul César Helleu, French artist (d. 1927)

Date unknown[]

  • William Bliss Baker, American painter (d. 1886)




Date unknown[]

  • Abderrahmane, Sultan of Morocco (b. 1778)


  1. ^ Problemas Limítrofes de Venezuela (In Spanish)
  2. ^ Prestwich, Joseph (January 1860). "On the Occurrence of Flint-implements, associated with the Remains of Animals of Extinct Species in Beds of a late Geological Period, in France at Amiens and Abbeville, and in England at Hoxne". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 150: 277–317. DOI:10.1098/rstl.1860.0018. Retrieved on 2012-02-24. 
  3. ^ Evans, John (January 1860). "On the Occurrence of Flint Implements in undisturbed Beds of Gravel, Sand, and Clay". Archaeologia 38: 280–307. Retrieved on 2012-02-24. 

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