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The territory of the Confederate States of America
Jefferson Davis 1861 Jefferson Davis is elected President of the Confederate States of America . February patent Franz Joseph I issued the February patent for the Austrian Empire .
Bombardment of Fort Sumter by Currier & Ives, hand-colored steel engravingThe American Civil War begins with the attack on Fort Sumter by the Confederate States Army .
1861 in other calendars
Armenian calendar 1309/10 (turn of the year July)
Ethiopian calendar 1853/54 (September 10-11)
Baha'i calendar 17/18 (March 20/21)
Bengali solar calendar 1266/67 (beginning of April 14th or 15th)
Buddhist calendar 2404/05 (southern Buddhism); 2403/04 (alternative calculation according to Buddha's Parinirvana )
Chinese calendar 75th (76th) cycle

Year of the metal rooster辛酉 ( at the beginning of the year metal monkey 庚申)

Chula Sakarat (Siam, Myanmar) / Dai calendar (Vietnam) 1223/24 (turn of the year April)
Dangun era (Korea) 4194/95 (October 2/3)
Iranian calendar 1239/40 (around March 21)
Islamic calendar 1277/78 (July 8/9)
Jewish calendar 5621/22 (September 4th / 5th)
Coptic Calendar 1577/78 (September 10-11)
Malayalam calendar 1036/37
Rumi Calendar (Ottoman Empire) 1276/77 (March 1)
Seleucid era Babylon: 2171/72 (turn of the year April)

Syria: 2172/73 (turn of the year October)

Vikram Sambat (Nepalese Calendar) 1917/18 (April)

In 1861 After: the global political attention shifts the Americas to election of Abraham Lincoln to the United States President several earlier this year in November last year to explain southern their withdrawal from the Union and establish a little later, the Confederate States of America . Jefferson Davis is elected President of the Confederation. With the attack on Fort Sumter , the American Civil War finally began on April 12, and both sides expect it to end soon within a year.

In Mexico , the civil war in favor of the constitutionally elected President Benito Juárez came to an end. But the war has brought the country to the brink of economic ruin. The declaration that the payment of national debts abroad will be stopped calls the European powers Great Britain, Spain and France on the scene. In December, a Spanish expeditionary force lands in Veracruz, the vanguard of the European invasion of Mexico.

In Europe, Wilhelm I becomes the new King of Prussia , Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria issues the February patent and the Protestant patent and Tsar Alexander II cancels serfdom in the Russian Empire . After the successful unification struggle , the Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed under Victor Emanuel II and Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza proclaims the new Principality of Romania .


Politics and world events

January 1st

Switzerland : Josef Martin Knüsel becomes Federal President .

January 2nd

Wilhelm I becomes King of Prussia .

January 9th

United States : Mississippi is the second of the southern states to declare its exit from the Union .

10. January

United States: Florida declares its exit from the Union.

11th January

United States: Georgia declares its exit from the Union.

January 14th

Bolivia : José María Achá overthrows President José María Linares .

January 19th

United States: Alabama withdraws from the Union.

January 26th

United States: Louisiana withdraws from the Union.

January 29th

United States: Kansas joins the Union as a state.

February 1st

United States: Texas adopts its declaration of exit from the Union.

February 4th

Establishment of the Confederate States of America .

13th February

Italy : Francis II of Naples and Sicily surrenders to the troops of the Kingdom of Sardinia .

February 18

Jefferson Davis is sworn in as President of the Confederate States of America .

February 26th

Austrian Empire : Franz Joseph I issues the February patent .

February 28

United States : The Colorado Territory is established.

2nd March

United States : Dakota Territory and Nevada Territory are established.

4th of March

Abraham Lincoln is sworn in as President of the United States of America .

March 11

The Constitution of the Confederate States is adopted.

17. March

Victor Emmanuel II proclaims the Kingdom of Italy .

2nd of April

Gabriel García Moreno becomes President of Ecuador .

April 8th

Austrian Empire : Franz Joseph I issues the Protestant patent .

12./13. April

Attack on Fort Sumter , the Civil War begins.

17th April

United States: Virginia adopts its declaration of exit from the Union.

May 3rd

Winfield Scott puts forward his anaconda plan against the Confederation.

May 6th

United States: Arkansas and Tennessee declare their exit from the Union.

May 7th

Virginia joins the Confederate States.

May 16

Tennessee joins the Confederate States.

May 18

Arkansas joins the Confederate States.

May 20th

United States: North Carolina withdraws from the Union and joins the Confederation.


Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera conquers Santa Fé de Bogotá and becomes President of the Granada Confederation .

3rd of June

Civil War: Battle of Philippi

8th June

United States: Tennessee's exit from the Union is confirmed by referendum.

the 10th of June

Civil War: Battle at Big Bethel

25th June

Abdülaziz becomes Sultan of the Ottoman Empire .

2nd July

Civil War: Battle at Hoke Run

17th of September

Argentine Federation : Battle of Pavón

September 18

José Joaquín Pérez becomes President of Chile .

November 1st

George B. McClellan replaces Winfield Scott as Commander-in-Chief of Union Forces.

December 8th

Mexico : A Spanish expeditionary force lands in Veracruz.

Ongoing events
Federal War in Venezuela (since 1859)
Civil War in Colombia (since 1860)
Prussian constitutional conflict (since 1860) during the New Era (since 1858)
Rotativismo in Portugal (since 1856)
Nian Uprising (since 1853) and Taiping Uprising (since 1850) against the Qing Dynasty in China (since 1644)
Bakumatsu (since 1853) of the Edo period in Japan (since 1603)
Second French Empire in France (since 1852)
Founding days in Germany and Austria (since around 1840)
Tanzimat reforms in the Ottoman Empire (since 1839)
Victorian Age in Great Britain (since 1837)

North America

Civil War

After Abraham Lincoln , who is known for his strict principles on the slave issue, was elected President of the United States last year , the state of South Carolina declared its withdrawal from the Union on December 20 . Although Lincoln, whose hands were tied until his inauguration on March 4th, urged his predecessor James Buchanan to act, he remained inactive with the argument that, from his point of view, the secession was illegal, but that he had no constitutional power. to intervene militarily. Encouraged by this inaction, more southern states turn their backs on the United States at the beginning of the year .

Alabama independence flag

Within a few days, Mississippi (January 9th), Florida (January 10th), Alabama (January 11th) and Georgia (January 19th) declared their exit from the United States, followed by Louisiana on January 26th. On February 4 , a Provisional Congress is constituted in Montgomery , Alabama, made up of representatives of the states that have resigned until then and which are now forming the Confederate States of America . Congress, which is to draft a constitution and elect a president, elects Robert Woodward Barnwell of South Carolina as interim chairman on the proposal of William Parish Chilton , who however passes the office on to Howell Cobb of Georgia that same day .

Inauguration of Jefferson Davis

A provisional constitution is passed on February 8th, on the basis of which Jefferson Davis is elected provisional president of the Confederate States of America the next day . Davis is sworn in on February 18. During February, Congress decided to set up a Confederate States Navy and a Confederate States Army , and at the end of March a Confederate States Marine Corps .

Texas , whose resignation declaration decided on February 1 at a convention in Austin , will be approved by referendum on February 23 and will therefore come into effect on March 2, is the last state that existed before Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4 and Start of the war of secession from the Union and join the Confederate States. However, Governor Sam Houston , hero of the Texas War of Independence, refuses to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederation and resigns. He will be succeeded on March 18 by Edward Clark .

Lincoln's inauguration

On March 4, Abraham Lincoln took office as the 16th President of the United States with Vice President Hannibal Hamlin . In his inauguration speech, Lincoln adopted a conciliatory tone. He promises not to be the first to resort to violent measures, but at the same time makes it clear that his oath of office obliges him to definitely oppose a split in the Union.

The Stars and Bars

Exactly on the day of Lincoln's inauguration, The Stars and Bars will be introduced in the south as the first flag of the Confederate States of America , and on March 11th the Provisional Confederate Congress will adopt the final version of the Confederate States Constitution , which will become the February 8th Provisional Constitution replaces. The new constitution is essentially the same as that of the United States . Significant differences between the two constitutional texts exist only with regard to the view of slavery, the rights of the member states and parliamentary budget and taxation controls.

Charleston Bay before the attack

On April 12th, Fort Sumter was attacked . The front Charleston location Fort is also after the secession of South Carolina remained under the control of pro-Union troops. When supply ships from the north appear in Charleston Bay, Jefferson Davis orders the capture of the fort, which Commander Robert Anderson finally hands over to Southern General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard after a day of bombardment . There are no victims in the attack on the fort, but the Union artilleryman Daniel Hough is killed when the Union flag is saluted, one of the conditions of surrender. He is considered to be the first to die in the American Civil War .

Further political and strategic development
Union soldiers on the Potomac River across from Georgetown University , where Union troops were temporarily quartered

In this looming conflict, the north is far superior to the south in terms of population and economic strength. Above all, however, the Union cannot immediately take advantage of its numerical military superiority: At the beginning of the war, the US army consisted of around 16,000 men and most of the garrisons are in the west and along the Canadian border.

The south has the strategic advantage that the upper class of the southern states has a more pronounced military tradition than that of the north, which means that the Confederation has a relatively larger number of capable military personnel at its disposal. Above all, however, it does not have to wage a war of conquest to achieve its war goals , but can rely on the Union's exhaustion from war and on possible economic intervention by other powers if the war drags on.

Caricature of Scott's plan from 1861

Both sides expect the war to last for a short time. The militiamen called up by Abraham Lincoln to reinforce the active units are only hired for three months, the militiamen of the South for a year. The campaign plan against the Confederation, presented in two versions by George B. McClellan to the Union's Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Winfield Scott , assumes such a short duration of the war. Scott himself presented a plan to the Lincoln Cabinet on May 3rd, designed for a long-term war. The campaign plan , later known as the Anaconda Plan , immediately met with severe criticism and on November 1, Scott resigned as Commander-in-Chief in favor of McClellan. The Anaconda Plan, however, will prove to be decisive for the war in its later implementation. On July 22nd, the Congress finally approved a volunteer army of 500,000 men for the Union Army .

While a certain war mood is slowly emerging in the north, the beginning of the war moves four other southern states , Virginia , Tennessee , Arkansas and North Carolina to declare their exit from the Union and to join the confederation, in some cases this is also accompanied by referendums. Other slave-holding states such as Maryland , on the other hand, opt to remain in the Union. Shortly after Virginia's accession, the Confederation capital moves from Montgomery , Alabama, to Richmond , Virginia. In spite of this revaluation it comes in this state of all things to the "secession from secession": Several western counties split off on April 27th and declare their re-entry into the Union and in Wheeling on June 11th the Restored Government of Virginia meets and declares the Virginia's exit from the Union is invalid.

Eastern theater of war

Blockade of Chesapeake Bay

  • Between May 7th and June 5th there were several small skirmishes, none of which resulted in a clear decision.
The Skirmish at Big Bethel (Alfred R. Waud)

Operations in western Virginia

Battles in what is now West Virginia

Manassas campaign

Operations in Northern Virginia
  • July 21: The Confederates win the First Battle of Bull Run and destroy the hopes of the north to march quickly on the Confederate capital Richmond and thus put a quick end to the war. General Irvin McDowell was subsequently deposed as Commander in Chief of the Army of Northeastern Virginia and replaced by Major General George B. McClellan , who increased the strength of the army to 150,000 men and had it trained well.

McClellan's operations in Northern Virginia

Western theater of war
Western Theater of War and Trans-Mississippi 1861
  • May 20: Kentucky , home state of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, initially tries to remain neutral in the conflict. However, neutrality is not observed by any of the warring parties.
  • September 3: Confederates under Leonidas Polk invade southern Kentucky, whereupon Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant march in. There were several smaller skirmishes, including at Barbourville .
  • September: The congress in Frankfort declares - against the will of the governor sympathizing with the confederation - the state to belong to the Union. On November 20, there is a declaration of independence by supporters of the Confederation in Bowling Green and a Confederate government of Kentucky is established . As a result, the state remains divided.
  • November 3rd: Construction of Fort Knox begins under the name of Fort Duffield and will be completed in two months.
Trans Mississippi
The New Mexico Territory and the Confederate Arizona Territory
Western United States Territories
United States 01/02 1861
William Gilpin

With the admission of the eastern part of the previous Kansas Territory under the name of Kansas as a federal state on January 29, the federal government of the United States de facto recognized the eastern border of the Jefferson Territory, which was founded in 1859 and has been independently organized since then . At the time of admission, no information is given about what to do with the western half of the Kansas Territory, which amounts to recognition of the entire Jefferson Territory that has claimed that part of the Territory. However, the federal government bypasses formal recognition by organizing the Colorado Territory within the boundaries of the Jefferson Territory on February 28 . William Gilpin becomes governor, the newly established Colorado City is raised to the place of the previous capital Golden , the territory motto is Nil sine numine . Ten days earlier, the Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples ceded most of their territories to the United States. However, the Pike's Peak Gold Rush is slowly subsiding, not least because many gold seekers continue to move to British Columbia, where a new gold rush has broken out.

Dakota Territory

From parts of the Minnesota Territory and the Nebraska Territory , the Dakota Territory will be merged as the Territory of the United States on March 2 . The territorial capital of the area, which in addition to the present-day US states South and North Dakota also includes large parts of Montana and Wyoming , is Yankton , and William Jayne is appointed as the first governor .

The Nevada Territory with the Utah and New Mexico Territories

On the same day, the western part of the Utah Territory is also separated and reorganized as the Nevada Territory . Governor is James W. Nye appointed. The capital, originally in Genoa , will soon be relocated to Carson City . The separation of the territory takes place, among other things, because of the strong tensions between the Mormons in the east of the previous Utah Territory and members of other Christian currents in the west.

British North America

Than is known that in the last two years in the Cariboo region in British Columbia has come to gold finds that begins Cariboo Gold Rush . In order to get the flow of gold prospectors under control, which is made up of disappointments from the Fraser Canyon gold rush that has just subsided , but which also includes many newcomers from Europe, the Royal Engineers begin building the Cariboo Road , which will be completed in 1865 .


The liberal troops of the elected President Benito Juárez conquer Mexico City , the capital of the Conservatives, in January and win the Mexican Civil War, which has been going on since 1858 . The elected liberal government will then move from Veracruz to Mexico City and Juárez will be able to take up his constitutional term as president.

But the civil war has drained the country financially. On July 17th, the government decided to stop paying Mexico's foreign debt for two years. The national bankruptcy calls Mexico's main creditors France , Great Britain and Spain on the scene. These three countries sign the London Treaty on October 31st , which stipulates that the signing nations will collectively collect the outstanding debts by whatever means necessary. On December 8th, Spanish troops landed in Veracruz as the first expeditionary force for a European intervention . Among the allied great powers, the French Emperor Napoleon III persecuted . however own plans.

South America

José María Achá

In a coup on January 14th, Minister of War José María Achá overthrew the Bolivian president and “dictator for life” José María Linares , who had come to power in a coup four years earlier. Linares goes into exile in Chile, where he dies that same year. Bolivia receives a new constitution on August 5th.

Gabriel García Moreno

The conservative Gabriel García Moreno , who took power in Ecuador with the support of Juan José Flores last year , is calling a national assembly in the capital Quito in January . He is elected almost unanimously as the new President and takes up his official term on April 2nd. He restitutes and initially strengthens the rights of the Catholic Church in Ecuador. In addition, he reached a compromise with Peru after relations had suffered over the past few years, among other things because Peru took in President Guillermo Franco Herrero , who was overthrown by Moreno , and who is said to have signed a treaty annexing the province of Guayaquil to Peru, to gain support.

Interim President Bartolomé Calvo

The constitutional term of office of President Mariano Ospina Rodríguez , who has hardly any control of the country due to the civil war between conservatives and liberals , ends in the Granada Confederation , which later became Colombia , which emerged from the Republic of New Granada in 1858 . Since it is impossible for this reason to hold presidential elections, the previous General Procurator Bartolomé Calvo will take over the presidency on an interim basis from April 1st. In the presidential elections in June, Julio Arboleda Pombo was elected as the new president. But just a few days later, the capital Santa Fé de Bogotá was taken by the liberal General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera , who captured Calvo and Pombo and took over the office of President himself. During his tenure, a new constitution was drafted that led to the establishment of the United States of Colombia in 1863 .

José Joaquín Pérez

The 60-year-old diplomat José Joaquín Pérez was proclaimed by influential circles in Chile as a candidate “by all and for all” for the upcoming presidential elections and subsequently won all 216 electoral votes. According to the constitution, he took office on September 18 and tried right from the start to separate his reign from the years under his predecessor Manuel Montt Torres . His first official act is an amnesty for political prisoners, a little later he also restores freedom of assembly and the freedom of the press.

Bartolomé Miter , governor of the province of Buenos Aires , which was forcibly incorporated into the Argentine Federation in 1859 , defeated the Argentine army under the former president Justo José de Urquiza in the battle of Pavón on September 17th . The constitutional President Santiago Derqui then resigns and will be replaced on 5 November by the previous Vice President Juan Esteban Pedernera , who is holding presidential elections for the coming year. General Urquiza retires as governor in the province of Entre Ríos .


Due to ongoing military attacks by neighboring Haiti , the President of the Dominican Republic , Pedro Santana , asks Spain for military intervention and renewed administration of the Caribbean state . However, Spain , which sees an opportunity to reclaim its former colony , goes beyond taking over management. On March 18, the annexation is proclaimed, which leads to nationwide unrest. Pedro Santana, who is appointed governor general and captain general in Santo Domingo , soon realizes that important decisions are only made in Spain.


Wilhelm I.
  • January 2: After lying in a coma for almost two months, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia dies of a stroke at Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam . His successor will be his brother Wilhelm I. In the appeal to my people on January 8th, he affirmed his loyalty to the oath on the constitution, which he had already taken in 1858 as Prince Regent.
  • June 6: Liberal MPs around Max von Forckenbeck found the German Progressive Party , the first modern political party in Germany, which also claims to be an all-German party. The faction of the old liberals around Georg von Vincke is clearly weakened. In its founding program, the DFP primarily advocates reforms to the rule of law. She calls for independent judges and equal access for all citizens to the courts, as well as the reintroduction of jury courts . Further demands include the responsibility of the government towards parliament, the strengthening of local self-government and equal rights for all religious communities while at the same time separating church and state.
  • July 14th: In Baden-Baden , King Wilhelm I of Prussia is slightly injured in an assassination attempt by the student Oskar Becker . Becker's shot grazes the king on the neck, but causes only an insignificant bruise there. The assassin allows himself to be arrested without resistance by the Prussian diplomat Albert von Flemming , who accompanied the king on his walk.
The enthronement in Königsberg, Adolph Menzel does not represent the actual coronation, but the oath of the new king

Empire of Austria

The February patent
Archduke Rainer, lithograph by Eduard Kaiser, 1860

Archduke Rainer Ferdinand Maria Johann Evangelist Franz Ignaz of Austria replaces Anton von Schmerling as Prime Minister in the Austrian Empire . However, Schmerling was appointed Minister of State by Emperor Franz Joseph I and remained the most influential politician in the empire. On February 26, Emperor Franz Joseph I issued the February patent designed by Schmerling for the entire monarchy . The October diploma from the previous year, which met fierce resistance from both the German liberals and the Magyars in the Reichsrat , is thus canceled. The law creates, among other things, the state of Vorarlberg with its own state parliament and state committee, but as an administrative unit with the Fürsteten Grafschaft Tirol .

The February constitution regulates legislation between the emperor and the two chambers of the Imperial Council. The Reichsrat, which meets for the first time on April 29, thus becomes a real parliament, which, along with the emperor, who has the right of veto, is also responsible for deciding on imperial legislation. The House of Representatives of the Reichsrat is to be elected by the state parliaments. This regulation is also criticized mainly by the Hungarian MPs because of its centralized orientation.

Deák Ferenc
Tisza Kálmán

In Pest , the Hungarian state parliament meets on April 6th on the basis of the February patent, which soon splits into two parties. The address party under Ferenc Deák , which wants to address the Hungarian position on the February constitution in an address to the monarch and thus enter the path of negotiations, finally, after long debates, sat down on June 5 with 155 votes to 152 against the decision- making party under Kálmán Tisza who wants to declare the legal validity of the 1848 laws by simple resolution. The demand to reduce the Austrian influence on Hungary to a personal union with Austria is answered by the emperor on July 8th with the demand to revise the March laws from the Hungarian Revolution beforehand .

When the Hungarian state parliament then referred to the pragmatic sanction and the laws of 1848 as the only acceptable basis that made Franz Joseph's coronation dependent on the reunification of the neighboring countries with Hungary, rejected the appointment of the Reichsrat in Vienna and against any resolution of the same protests, the Vienna government under Minister of State Anton von Schmerling breaks off all further negotiations and dissolves the state parliament on August 21.

Further regional political developments

The Kingdom of Dalmatia is separated from the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia and has its own parliament . This regulation will also be laid down in the February constitution after a lengthy discussion . Lazarus Baron von Mamula becomes imperial governor in the crown land of Dalmatia . On October 9, the Slav National Party unsuccessfully demands the restoration of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia in Sabor .

With the February patent, the previously centrally ruled crown land of Austrian Silesia will also have its own parliament , which will meet for the first time on April 3rd. One of the MPs is the later Conservative Minister of State Richard Graf Belcredi .

Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik found the Hrvatska stranka prava ( Croatian Legal Party ). The aim of the new party is the extensive political independence of Croatia , which is to become a constitutional monarchy linked only through a personal union with the Austrian Empire .

The lawyer and previous Vice-President of the City Council Andreas Zelinka becomes the new Mayor of Vienna after the re-election of Johann Kaspar Freiherr von Seiller , who has ruled since 1851, has refused. In the first elections after the end of neo-absolutism , the liberals win.

Switzerland / France

Josef Martin Knüsel
Monaco since 1861

In a contract with the French Emperor Napoleon III. resigns Prince Charles III. from Monaco on February 2nd to the cities of Menton and Roquebrune . For the loss of 80% of his national territory, he received four million francs from France. At the same time, France recognizes the independence of the principality under the sole sovereignty of the prince. For the first time in its history, the principality is no longer tied to a protective power . France and Monaco also agree to establish a customs union , and France agrees to build a coastal road between Menton and Nice , and on the Nice-Genoa railway , jointly operated by the Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée to be built with Italian railway companies to set up a train station in Monaco.

The Aeschentor (watercolor, around 1850)

Risorgimento in Italy

Flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 1860/61

Francis II , King of Naples and Sicily , who retired to the fortress of Gaeta after the lost battle on Volturno last year , signed the surrender there on February 13th to the army of King Victor Emanuel . He hands his kingdom so that the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and goes into exile in the Papal States to Rome.

Victor Emmanuel II around 1861

The previous King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II, proclaimed the Kingdom of Italy with the capital Turin a month later, on March 17th . Camillo Benso von Cavour is appointed Prime Minister of the new state , an activity he carried out until his death on June 6th. He is succeeded by Bettino Ricasoli .

The Risorgimento , which was so successful last year , was replaced in the following years by irredentism , the call for the liberation of the “still unredeemed Italian territories”. Especially in the south of the country, however, so-called briganti such as Carmine Crocco , Giuseppe Garibaldi's former campaigner , who are disappointed with the new state of Italy and with promises, are still fighting for a re-establishment of the rule of the Bourbons .

Russian Empire

Burial of victims of the 1861 demonstrations in Warsaw

Other events in Europe

Ottoman Empire

Tughra of Sultan Abdülaziz

The 31-year-old Abdülaziz succeeds his brother Abdülmecid I , who died on June 25, as the 32nd Sultan on the throne of the Ottoman Empire . Under the influence of the Grand Viziers Mehmed Emin Ali Pascha and Mehmed Fuad Pascha, he continued the course of domestic reform and rapprochement with Europe. On his accession to the throne, he donated the Osmanje Order and commissioned the Armenian architect Sarkis Balyan to build the Beylerbeyi Palace on the Asian side of Istanbul . The building, which replaces a 16th century wooden palace located there, was completed in 1865.

Moldova and Wallachia when they were united in 1859/61, (Transylvania is part of the Habsburg Monarchy)

After the two Danube principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia elected him prince of their respective states in 1859, Alexandru Ioan Cuza proclaimed the new united principality of Romania under Ottoman suzerainty on December 24th . Iași will be the capital for the time being .

Arabian Peninsula

Empire of China

Emperor Tongzhi

Almost a year after China's devastating defeat in the Second Opium War against the European powers, the thirty-year-old Emperor Xianfeng dies on August 22nd in the Imperial Summer Palace in Chengde , where he has retired. As his successor, his five-year-old son Tongzhi ascended the imperial throne on November 11th .

Cixi as regent

His mother Cixi , one of the concubines of the previous emperor, took over the reign of the minor as the "empress widow " against the initial resistance of a Regency Council. Together with officer Zeng Guofan , she will initiate the Tongzhi Restoration over the next few years . Citing China's superiority over the West in ideological and moral matters, it calls for a return to its Confucian traditions, but recognizes the country's need to catch up in economic, military and technological areas. Cixi becomes the most powerful person in the country for the next half century. For now, however, the Qing Dynasty continues to struggle with two dangerous revolutions, the Taiping Uprising and the Nian Uprising .

Prussian East Asia Expedition

Charles Wirgman : The attack on Heusken
  • January 14th: Hendrick Heusken , interpreter for the American Consulate in Japan, who supports the Prussian East Asia Expedition in its negotiations with the Shogun, is attacked by anti-Western Rōnin des Satsuma - han on his way home in the evening and wounded despite the protection given to him. He succumbs to his injuries the following day.
  • January 24th: German-Japanese relations : Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi concludes the Prussian-Japanese friendship, trade and shipping treaty in Edo after five months of negotiations with the Prussian East Asia Expedition under Friedrich zu Eulenburg . His indulgence towards foreign countries leads to resistance in the ranks of the samurai and promotes the Bakumatsu , the end of the shogunate in Japan . The Eulenburg expedition then makes its way to China, where it also signs a contract on September 2nd. While the first contract is only valid between Japan and Prussia, the contract with China applies to the entire German Customs Union . The expedition arrives in Bangkok on September 22nd.


Portuguese Timor

  • The pulling of the population to do forced labor on public projects in Portuguese Timor triggers independent rebellions in the spring in the Mambai empire of Laclo and in the Tetum empire of Ulmera . Governor Afonso de Castro returns from his vacation in Java on April 6 and begins to suppress the uprising.
  • June 10: Governor Castro declares a state of emergency and distributes weapons to civilians and the Chinese population of Dilis .
  • August 26th: The Laclo rebellion is put down.
  • September 18: The uprising in Ulmera is put down, the chief taken prisoner.


Burke and Wills' expedition
  • February 9: Burke and Wills' expedition reaches the Little Bynoe River , a tributary in the Flinders River delta , where they find that they cannot reach the sea because the mangrove swamps in front of them are impassable. After another unsuccessful attempt, they make their way back to Cooper Creek . On the way back, the expedition ends in a catastrophe. Only one member of the expedition returns to Melbourne alive.
  • April 17th: The expedition member Charles Gray dies in the Polygonum Swamp on the Ruhr.
  • April 21: The three remaining members of the expedition reach the depot on Cooper Creek and find it abandoned. William Brahé's team left the site just a few hours earlier.
  • June 26: The Victorian Contingent Party , led by Alfred Howitt, is the first to search for Burke and Wills.
The Dig Tree with the memorial stone for Burke
  • June 28th: Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills die on Cooper Creek .
  • August 24: The Queensland Relief Expedition under William Landsborough departs from Brisbane . Starting in November, she will primarily search the area around the Gulf of Carpentaria .
  • September 15: Alfred Howitt finds John King , the only survivor of the expedition, with an Aboriginal tribe . Then he also finds the bodies of Burke and Wills and buries them.
  • October: The South Australian Burke Relief Expedition under John McKinlay finds several bodies in the Polygonum Swamp and therefore assumes a massacre of Burkes and Wills expedition.
  • December 4th: The Victorian Burke and Wills Relief Expedition under Frederick Walker, which set out on September 7th, massacres a group of Aborigines.
  • December 9: The Victorian Exploring Party , led by Alfred Howitt, sets out to recover the bodies of Burke and Wills and bring them to Melbourne for an honorable funeral.
Other events
  • September: John McDouall Stuart returns to inhabited areas from his expedition. In October he goes on another research trip.
The banner "ROLL UP - ROLL UP - NO CHINESE" is considered the first racist symbol of Australia. It was carried to the Lambing Flat Riot.

New Zealand

George Edward Gray

After a successful motion of censure against Edward Stafford , William Fox will become Prime Minister of New Zealand for the second time on July 12th . In the same year Thomas Gore Browne is replaced by George Edward Gray as Governor of New Zealand .


  • March 10: With the capture of the capital Ségou by Muslim fighters from the ranks of the Tukulör and subsequent pressures against the population to convert to Islam , the African empire Bambara in the area of ​​today's Mali ends after around 150 years .
  • August 6th: Britain annexes Lagos .
  • August 16: Radama II succeeds his late mother Ranavalona I to the throne of Madagascar . He begins to reopen the island and to establish contacts with foreign countries.
  • August 18: After Jonker Afrikaner's death , his son Christian Afrikaner becomes Kaptein der Orlam -Afrikaner and thus comes into conflict with his half-brother Jan Jonker Afrikaner . Around the same time, Maharero becomes chief of another Herero tribe through the death of his father Tjamuaha , who know how to use this conflict for themselves.


Money economy and taxes

Lipman's Postal Card
  • February 27: Law passed in the United States allowing privately printed cards to be mailed, the first state authorization to use postcards . On December 17th, John P. Charlton took advantage of the new US postcard law and had the postcard protected by copyright. He sells his idea to Hyman L. Lipman, who produces cards labeled “Lipman's Postal Card”. A patent on the idea, however, is not allowed.
5 and 100 CSA dollar bills



Empress Elisabeth Bridge near Passau, watercolor ca.1862
Wiener Westbahnhof from: Lloyd's travel guide From Vienna to Munich , Trieste 1861
The German railway network in 1861
First railway bridge over the Rhine
Central train station Basel 1861
Remsbahn timetable from 1861

Business start-ups


The Danish geologist and Greenland researcher Hinrich Johannes Rink founds Atuagagdliutit ( Readable ), the first Greenland newspaper. It has had a major impact on the development of the modern Greenlandic written language and the promotion of Greenlandic culture and identity. In addition to practical advice on seal hunting and fishing, the contents of this period include, above all, political reports, which are intended to motivate Greenlanders to participate in politics. The newspaper provides children with suitable literature in their language for the first time. The Atuagagdliutit also contains illustrations by local artists such as Aron von Kangeq and thus contributes significantly to the support of Greenlandic art. In line with its goal of political education and the emancipation of Greenlanders, the newspaper is free for Greenlanders, only Danes have to pay for it. Due to the difficult transport routes, the Atuagagdliutit initially only appears twice a year.

The Národní listy ( People's Papers ) was launched on the initiative of František Ladislav Rieger . The organ of the Czech national party Národní strana with its publisher Julius Grégr developed into the most influential political daily newspaper in the Kingdom of Bohemia over the next few years .


  • May 17th: Thomas Cook organizes the first foreign package tour with accommodation and meals. British workers travel to Paris by ship and rail.
5 dollar demand note
Construction of the first transcontinental telegraph line and a Pony Express rider

science and technology

Africa research

Thomas Baines: Baobab Tree , Watercolor, December 29, 1861

Thomas Baines , together with James Chapman , undertakes an expedition through the area of ​​today's Botswana and Namibia and paints a group of baobabs that still exist today and are called Baines Baobabs in the area of ​​today's Nxai-Pan National Park .

Theodor von Heuglin is continuing the expedition he started the previous year , which aims to clarify the fate of the African explorer Eduard Vogel , who has been missing since 1855 . On June 17th the expedition reached Massaua and stayed in the high Bogos countries during the rainy season , but then did not go directly to Khartoum , but made a long detour through Abyssinia to beyond Gonder , whereupon Werner Munzinger and Gottlob Kinzelbach , on July 1st encountered in Massawa to the expedition to part on 11 November of Heuglin and make the futile attempt on Darfur in Wadai penetrate.

Together with the geologist Richard Thornton, Karl Klaus von der Betten is the second European to reach Kilimanjaro , confirming the discovery of Johannes Rebmann 13 years earlier , whose reports of ice and snow near the equator have found no faith for years. The two of them explore the mountain on this expedition up to a height of around 1,580 m.

Based on an extended hunting trip to Egypt and the Sudan, the Briton takes Samuel Baker his first expedition to Central Africa , the source of the Nile to discover, in the hope of a meeting with the East African expedition under Captains Speke and Grant somewhere on Victoria -See .

The adventurer Alexandrine Tinné travels via Syria and Palestine to Cairo, where she settles. From here she made her way south in early 1862.

Richard Francis Burton and Gustav Mann are the first Europeans to climb the Cameroon Mountain .



Lisbon Astronomical Observatory

The foundation stone for the observatory founded by King Pedro V will be laid in Lisbon on March 11th . The blueprints designed by the French architect Jean Colson are inspired by the construction of the observatory in Pulkovo , Russia. Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve , Director of the Pulkowo Observatory , offers his services to the Portuguese government and will become the most important and influential advisor over the next few years. The first astronomical observations begin in 1867.

In Leipzig, after around a year of construction, the new observatory planned by Director Karl Christian Bruhns will open in Johannistal on November 8th , and a new observatory will also be built in Leiden under the direction of Director Frederik Kaiser .

The Great Comet of 1861
The Great Comet of 1861

Australian astronomer John Tebbutt discovered the Great Comet of 1861 on May 13 from New South Wales , now cataloged as C / 1861 J1 . The perihelion of the comet is on June 11th, and from June 29th it is also visible in the northern hemisphere . It is visible to the naked eye until mid-August. The brightness of the comet is so great that objects cast shadows in its light at night and the comet remains visible in the daytime sky .

Further astronomical research
List of asteroids discovered in 1861
No. and name Diameter
Date of discovery Explorer
(63) Ausonia 103.1 February 10th Annibale de Gasparis
(64) Angelina 98 4th of March Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Temple
(65) Cybele 237.3 8th of March Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Temple
(66) Maya 71.8 9th April Horace Parnell Tuttle
(67) Asia 58.1 17th April Norman Robert Pogson
(68) Leto 122.6 April 29 Karl Theodor Robert Luther
(69) Hesperia 138.1 26th of April Giovanni Schiaparelli
(70) Panopaea 122.2 5th of May Hermann Mayer Salomon Goldschmidt
(71) Niobe 83.4 13 August Karl Theodor Robert Luther
(72) Feronia 85.9 May 29th Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters

Biology and paleobiology

Human biology

The French anthropologist and doctor Paul Broca discovered the Broca area , a region in the cerebral cortex that is probably primarily responsible for the grammatical aspects of languages. Children up to around three years of age train their language in this center. Second languages learned later are stored separately in neighboring brain areas near Broca's area. Recent studies have shown that the Broca Center is responsible for speech motor skills, sound formation, sound analysis, articulation and the formation of abstract words.

Replica of the London Archeopteryx

The imprint of a feather found in the Solnhofen limestone in the previous year serves the paleontologist Hermann von Meyer as the basis for his first description of the "primeval bird" referred to by the generic name Archeopteryx ( old feather ). In the meantime, an almost complete skeleton of the Archaeopterix lithographica has been found in Langenaltheim near Solnhofen, although it is only mentioned briefly in Meyer's work. Whether the two finds actually belong to the same genus is controversial today. The second example is sold to the British Museum in London a few months after its discovery . The driving force behind the purchase is the British naturalist Richard Owen , head of the natural history collection at the British Museum and a declared opponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution . Richard Owen also wrote the first description of the "London copy", meticulously avoiding any reference to the possible interpretation as a mediating link between reptiles and birds.

Sympetrum madidum

The German entomologist Hermann August Hagen describes for the first time numerous dragonflies - genera such as Celithemis , Erythemis , Orthemis , Pantala , Perithemis and Tramea as well as the species Erythrodiplax funerea , Sympetrum madidum .

The German ornithologist Jean Cabanis wrote the first description of the bird species Sooty Thrush ( Turdus nigrescens ), Fiery-Billed Aracari ( Pteroglossus frantzii ), fire-warbler ( Parula gutturalis ) and monochrome hooked beak ( Diglossa plumbea ).

The German zoologist Albert Günther describes several fish species for the first time, including the circular thorn surgeonfish , the moonlight threadfish and several types of wrasse .


When examining Dürkheimer mineral water by means of spectral analysis at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg , Robert Wilhelm Bunsen and Gustav Robert Kirchhoff discover two previously unknown lines in the blue spectral range . As a result, they succeed in isolating the newly found alkali metals cesium and rubidium in the form of cesium and rubidium chloride . At the meeting on May 10th, the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna will be informed of this discovery. These studies also make it possible to explain the Fraunhofer lines in the solar spectrum and thus lay an essential basis for modern astronomy .


Ignaz Semmelweis 1860, pen drawing by Jenő Dopy

Ignaz Semmelweis , Professor of Obstetrics at the University of Pest , publishes the work The Etiology, the Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever , in which he describes the death of many women who have recently given birth to iatrogenic infections due to poor cleanliness , based on a study he carried out in 1847/48 and disinfection . His theses meet with incomprehension and resistance from the majority of his colleagues, as hygiene in particular is viewed as a waste of time. His behavior in defending his work, in which he repeatedly called colleagues “murderers”, did nothing to diminish their reaction , which was called the Semmelweis reflex almost a hundred years later .

Philosophy / Political Science

The English philosopher John Stuart Mill publishes the democratic theoretical work Considerations on Representative Government .

Research and Teaching

Title page of the first English edition

After the English natural scientist Michael Faraday held a six-part series of lectures on the natural history of a candle at the turn of the year , the first edition of the popular scientific work will appear in April under the full title A Course of Six Lectures on the Chemical History of a Candle: To Which is Added a Lecture on Platinum by Griffin, Bohn & Co. in press.

Following the example of German- and French-speaking polytechnic universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA, is set up on April 10 as a tripartite institution consisting of “a society of arts, a museum of arts [industrial arts], and a school of industrial science “was founded. Founder William Barton Rogers , a well-known naturalist, wants to create an independent university geared towards the needs of an increasingly industrialized America. However, due to the civil war, the first students could not be accepted until 1865.

In Seattle in the Washington Territory , after overcoming numerous obstacles, the University of Washington begins teaching on November 4th . The establishment of a university was originally planned in Lewis County , but no suitable property could be found there. Finally, the politician Arthur A. Denny and two fellow pioneers provide a suitable piece of land in what is now the center of Seattle. The new university has been struggling with problems such as the lack of students and lack of money from the start.

Halil Bey , Ottoman Ambassador to Saint Petersburg, and Mehmet Tahir Münif , who later became Minister of Education, found the Ottoman Scientific Society . Members of the learned society are civil servants, dignitaries and scholars. One of her goals is to organize public lectures and courses in rooms made available to her by the Ottoman government, the Sublime Porte . The company publishes the first Turkish scientific journal Mecmūʿa-yi Fünūn /مجموعه فنون / 'Journal of the [secular] sciences'.

Technical achievements

First color photo in the world: illustration of a tartan ribbon
Minard's graphic about Napoleon's Russian campaign




Visual arts

The Hogarth Club of the Pre-Raphaelites held from February to May in 6 Waterloo Place , London, his last exhibition. In September - after a discussion as to whether the demand for entrance fees is admissible - the dissolution of the non-profit association is decided by the members due to financial problems and carried out in December.

1. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, painting by Ernst Friedrich Zwirner 1861

In Cologne, the new Wallraf-Richartz-Museum , donated by Johann Heinrich Richartz for Ferdinand Franz Wallraf's art collections and built according to plans by Josef Felten and Julius Carl Raschdorff in the English-Neo-Gothic style , opens on July 1st after a five-year construction period.

Paul Cézanne 1861

Paul Cézanne is coming to Paris from his hometown of Aix-en-Provence in April . After being rejected from the École des Beaux-Arts , he enrolls at the Académie Suisse . There he meets, among others, Armand Guillaumin , Achille Emperaire and Camille Pissarro, who is ten years his senior . However, he does not feel at home in Paris and is returning to Aix-en-Provence in September to work in his father's bank.


Title page of the first edition

Music and theater


Napoleon's crypt in the Invalides


Wild Bill Hickok about 1861
David C. McCanles


L'Osservatore Romano , the official organ of the Vatican, will appear for the first time in Rome on July 1st with the subtitle giornale politico morale ( political-moral newspaper ) . The first issues of the newspaper, launched by the deputy “minister of the interior” of the papal government, Marcantonio Pacelli , are four pages long. At the end of the year the subtitle will be abandoned. The motto still used today appears under the head of the newspaper for the first time: "Unicuique suum - non praevalebunt" ("To each his own - they will not overwhelm you"; cf. Mt. 16, 18). The Papal State under Pope Pius IX. , who feels that his independence is threatened by the Risorgimento in particular , uses the newspaper as a fighting organ against anti-clerical forces.


Shipping disasters

In the dark and in heavy snowstorms, the steamer Stadt Zürich collides with the steamer Ludwig on Lake Constance, which sinks within a short time. 13 of the 16 people on board are killed. In the city ​​of Zurich , which soon became known as the “devil's ship” because by 1864 it sank more German ships than the entire Danish navy , the only thing you notice of the events is that the bowsprit has broken off and water is entering the ship.

The Canadian passenger steamer Canadian of Allan Line , which was only put into service last year , leaves Québec on June 1 and sets course for Liverpool. Although she only makes five knots due to the heavy ice accumulation and sometimes stops at all, she runs onto an iceberg on June 4th at 11:50 am in the Belle Isle Strait off Newfoundland and sinks within half an hour. During this time, everyone on board can be accommodated in lifeboats , but one of them capsizes, killing 35 people. The remaining 266 survivors are rescued by four fishing boats and brought ashore in the port city of Quirpon.


The Corvette Amazone of the Prussian Navy , which has been in service since 1843, goes down with its entire crew in a hurricane off the Dutch coast on a training voyage to Portugal on November 14th. The information on the number of victims fluctuates between 114 and 143. After the sinking there are rumors that the Amazon was - possibly deliberately - rammed by another ship.

More disasters

The western Argentine city of Mendoza was largely destroyed in an earthquake on March 21, killing around 6,000 people, around a third of the population.

The fire in Glarus began on May 10 and could only be brought under control the next day. Eight to ten people are killed, around 600 buildings fall victim to the fire, 2257 people, at this point 47% of the city's population, become homeless.

On August 25, 23 people died and 176 were injured in the railway accident in the Clayton Tunnel near Brighton . At the time, it was the worst railway accident in British history.

Minor accidents are listed in the sub-articles of Disaster .

nature and environment

Fontainbleau Forest , etching by Karl Bodmer around 1850

The French Emperor Napoleon III. creates a first nature reserve in the forest of Fontainebleau to preserve the forest. The forest , located around 50 km south of Paris in the vicinity of the municipality of Fontainebleau , is still one of the largest contiguous forest areas in Western Europe.


Sports chronology
22nd of January The Frankfurt gymnastics community is founded.
19th of February The Kronach gymnastics club is founded.
May 20th The Trysilgutten ski club is founded in Trysil , Norway .
8-11 July First all-German shooting festival in Gotha .
July 11th The German Schützenbund is founded in Gotha .
July 13th The Thuringian Schützenbund is founded in Gotha .
July 18th The Montevideo Cricket Club is founded.
July 19th The MTV Eintracht Hildesheim is founded.
10-12 August The second German Gymnastics Festival will be held in Berlin .
4th of October The Mont Pourri in the Vanoise massif is climbed by Michel Croz single-handedly for the first time.

Cricket, soccer, gymnastics, fencing

The boom in gymnastics that began in Germany the previous year continued in 1861 . Numerous gymnastics clubs are founded, including the Frankfurt gymnastics community , the Kronach gymnastics club and the Gifhorn men's gymnastics club . 73 previous members of the MTV von 1848 Hildesheim founded the gymnastics club MTV Eintracht Hildesheim on July 19 , which also includes its own fencing department . The 2nd German Gymnastics and Jubilation Festival will be held in Berlin in August . The reason for this is the establishment of the first German gymnasium 50 years earlier and the laying of the foundation stone for the Jahndenkmal in the Hasenheide .

Outside Europe, there will be ups of sports clubs: On 18 July, in Montevideo from British in Uruguay of Montevideo Cricket Club established with an associated football department. And Boston students found the Oneida Football Club as the first football club in the United States, which only lasted five years but did not lose a single football game during that time .


Old Tom Morris around 1860

After The Open Championship in golf was held in Prestwick for the first time last year under his influence , the Scottish greenkeeper Tom Morris wins this event for the first time.


Oxford wins the 18th Boat Race against Cambridge in a time of 23'03 ".


The first congress of the West German Chess Federation (WDSB) will be held in Düsseldorf. However, no master is played out yet.


The following mountains were climbed for the first time in 1861:

Name of the mountain Height
region Date of first ascent First climber
Schreckhorn 4,078 Bernese Alps August 16 Peter and Christian Michel, Leslie Stephen and Ulrich Kaufmann
Weisshorn 4,505 Valais Alps August 19th John Tyndall , Johann Joseph Brennen and Ulrich Wenger
Liskamm 4,527 Valais Alps August 19th William Edward Hall, Jean-Pierre Cachat, Peter Perren, Josef-Marie Perren and others
Castor 4.223 Aosta Valley , Valais Alps 26th of August FW Jacomb and William Mathews / leaders Michel Croz
Northrend 4,609 Monte Rosa massif , Valais Alps 26th of August TF and Edward N. Buxton and JJ Cowell with Michel Payot
Monte Viso 3,841 Cottian Alps August 30th Michel Croz , Jean Baptiste Croz, William Mathews and Frederik Jacomb
Mont Pourri 3,779 Vanoise massif , Graian Alps 4th of October Michel Croz
Albertspitze 4,095 Cameroon , Central Africa ? Richard Francis Burton and Gustav Mann
Grays Peak 4,350 Rocky Mountains , Colorado ? Charles Christopher Parry
Torrey's Peak 4,349 Rocky Mountains, Colorado ? Charles Christopher Parry


January February

Bjarnat Krawc

March April

May June

Anna Pappritz 1904

July August

September October

  • 0September 1: Lazăr Edeleanu , Romanian chemist († 1941)
  • 0September 3: James Hartness , American politician († 1934)
  • 0September 3: Cyrus Woods , American lawyer, politician and diplomat († 1938)
  • 0September 7: Besarion Chelaia , Georgian clergyman († 1927)
  • September 11th: Juhani Aho , Finnish writer and journalist († 1921)
  • September 11: Erich von Falkenhayn , German officer and military politician († 1922)
  • September 13: Frederick Judd Waugh , American painter, illustrator and author († 1940)
  • September 15: Henry Appia , Swiss Protestant clergyman († 1901)
  • September 16: Franz Matsch , Austrian painter († 1942)
  • September 17th: Carlo Minoretti , Italian clergyman, Archbishop of Genoa and Cardinal († 1938)
  • September 18: Eduard Riggenbach , Swiss Protestant theologian and university professor († 1927)
  • September 18: Walter Schott , German sculptor († 1938)
  • September 20: Herbert Putnam , American librarian († 1955)
  • September 21: Josef Scheiner , Czech lawyer, journalist and politician and member of the Czech gymnastics movement Sokol († 1932)
  • September 21: Alfredo Zayas y Alfonso , President of Cuba 1921–1925 († 1934)
  • September 23: Adelheid von Bennigsen , German women's rights activist († 1938)
Robert Bosch, 1888
  • September 23: Robert Bosch , German industrialist and philanthropist († 1942)
  • September 24: Walter Simons , German lawyer and politician († 1937)
Carl Duisberg, around 1930
Fridtjof Nansen, 1897

November December

Exact date of birth unknown


First quarter

Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, 1847

Second quarter

Elisha Graves Otis

Third quarter

Fourth Quarter

Friedrich Carl von Savigny
Ernst Anschütz

Web links

Commons : 1861  - Collection of Images, Videos, and Audio Files