Millennium: 2nd millennium
Centuries: 18th century · 19th century · 20th century
Decades: 1800s 1810s 1820s 1830s 1840s
1850s 1860s 1870s 1880s 1890s
Categories: BirthsDeaths


Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire became the world's leading power, controlling one quarter of the world's population and one third of the land area. It enforced a Pax Britannica, encouraged trade, and battled rampant piracy.

Slavery was greatly reduced around the world. Following a successful slave revolt in Haiti, Britain forced the Barbary pirates to halt their practice of kidnapping and enslaving Europeans, banned slavery throughout its domain, and charged its navy with ending the global slave trade. Britain abolished slavery in 1834, America's Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War would end slavery in 1863, and in Brazil slavery ended in 1888(see Abolitionism). Similarly, serfdom was abolished in Russia.

Electricity, steel and petroleum fuelled a Second Industrial Revolution which enabled the German Empire, Japan, and the United States to become great powers that raced to create empires of their own. However, Russia and Qing Dynasty China failed to keep pace with the other world powers which led to massive social unrest in both empires.


Map of the world from 1897. The British Empire (marked in pink) was the superpower of the 19th century.



1816: Shaka rises to power over the Zulu kingdom



Samuel Morse



The Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War


The first vessels sail through the Suez Canal


Alexander Graham Bell speaking into prototype model of the telephone

Thomas Edison in 1878



A 1954 U.S. stamp featuring George Eastman.

Significant people[]

Franz Boas one of the pioneers of modern anthropology



Liberty Leading the People (1830, Louvre)

Monet's Impression, which gave the name to Impressionism

The Realism and Romanticism of the early 19th century gave way to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the later half of the century, with Paris being the dominant art capital of the world. 19th century painters included:


Ludwig van Beethoven

Sonata form matured during the Classical era to become the primary form of instrumental compositions throughout the 19th century. Much of the music from the nineteenth century was referred to as being in the Romantic style. Many great composers lived through this era such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Richard Wagner. Others included:


Charles Dickens

Mark Twain in 1894

Jane Austen

Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe

On the literary front the new century opens with Romanticism, a movement that spread throughout Europe in reaction to 18th-century rationalism, and it develops more or less along the lines of the Industrial Revolution, with a design to react against the dramatic changes wrought on nature by the steam engine and the railway. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are considered the initiators of the new school in England, while in the continent the German Sturm und Drang spreads its influence as far as Italy and Spain.

French arts had been hampered by the Napoleonic Wars but subsequently developed rapidly. Modernism began.

The Goncourts and Emile Zola in France and Giovanni Verga in Italy produce some of the finest naturalist novels. Italian naturalist novels are especially important in that they give a social map of the new unified Italy to a people that until then had been scarcely aware of its ethnic and cultural diversity. On February 21, 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto.

There was a huge literary output during the 19th century. Some of the most famous writers included the Russians Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekov and Fyodor Dostoevsky; the English Charles Dickens, John Keats, and Jane Austen; the Scottish Sir Walter Scott; the Irish Oscar Wilde; the Americans Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain; and the French Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Jules Verne and Charles Baudelaire. Some others of note included:


Charles Darwin

The 19th century saw the birth of science as a profession; the term scientist was coined in 1833 by William Whewell. Among the most influential ideas of the 19th century were those of Charles Darwin, who in 1859 published the book The Origin of Species, which introduced the idea of evolution by natural selection. Louis Pasteur made the first vaccine against rabies, and also made many discoveries in the field of chemistry, including the asymmetry of crystals. Thomas Alva Edison gave the world light with his invention of the lightbulb. Karl Weierstrass and other mathematicians also carried out the arithmetization of analysis. Other important 19th century scientists included:

Philosophy and religion[]

Karl Marx

Friedrich Nietzsche

Otto Von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor

File:Tokugawa Yoshinobu.JPG

The last shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu in French military uniform

One of the first photographs, produced in 1826 by Nicéphore Niépce

The 19th century was host to a variety of religious and philosophical thinkers, including:


See also[]

Decades and years[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at 19th century. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.