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Timeline: 1791 to 1800

1791 An American brigantine, Lady Washington, is the first American ship to dock in Japan. Britain's North American possession divides into Upper and Lower Canada.

1791  Louis has been troubled by government intrusions into church matters. People become suspicious about his loyalty to the revolution. Louis XVI attempts to flee from France. He, his queen, Marie Antoinette, and their children are arrested at Varennes and brought back to Paris. The Constituent National Assembly suspends the king's authority until further notice. The new constitution takes effect, with the National Assembly replaced by a newly elected parliament – the Legislative Assembly – mostly youthful lawyers of moderate wealth.

1791  In Domingue, white vigilantes defeat a small army of gens de couleur. Twenty-two of the gens de couleur are hanged, as is a priest who had joined them. Slaves revolt. Plantations are burned and around a thousand whites slaughtered. Paris sends soldiers to the colony to restore order.

1791  Nepalese Gurhkas invade Tibet again. They seize the city of Shigatse (about 390 kilometers northeast of Kathmandu), and they destroy the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

1792  A Russian ship lands at Japan's northern Island – today Hokkaido. The Japanese allow the Russians to spend the winter but not to establish trade.

1792  In France, amnesty has been offered those who fled the country and the revolution. Few return and parliament votes in favor of declaring all émigres as plotting against the revolution – a capital offense. An ultimatum is sent to Austria, demanding the expulsion of those Frenchmen hostile to the revolution. The brother of Marie-Antoinette, Leopold II of Austria, does not cooperate. France declares war. Prussia joins Austria against France and captures Verdun just inside France. In France is war fever and people are afraid of the German invasion. Parisians go on a five-day rampage, to monasteries and from prison to prison, killing political prisoners, priests and nobles. The dead are counted at around 1,500.

1792-3  The Qing emperor, Qianlong, issues a 29-point decree to tighten his control over Tibet. A Qing (Manchu) army assisted by Tibetan troops drive the Gurkha Nepalese troops back into Nepal, to within 20 kilometers of Kathmandu. The Gurkhas return the treasure they plundered.

1793  The Guatemalan poet Rafael Landivar (born in 1731) dies at the age of sixty-two. He was one of the Jesuits expelled from the Americas by Spain. He had been part of the Enlightenment that had spread to Spain's American colonies. He had written:

Now, those of you whom subtle genius has raised above the common herd, put off the custom of yesterday, and clothe yourselves with the new.

1793  Louis XVI, accused of conspiring against the nation, is executed. France is proclaimed a republic. The British, Dutch and Spanish go to war against the French Revolution. In the United States, Thomas Jefferson supports France, Alexander Hamilton supports England and President Washington chooses neutrality. Jean Paul Marat, who believed in the redistribution of wealth, a dictatorship representing the poor, and a passionate supporter of terror against enemies of the revolution, is assassinated by Charlotte Corday. She believes that in killing Marat she is saving the revolution. Instead, the assassination intensifies passions and fears.

1793  Catherine the Great of Russia, Joseph of Austria, and Frederick William II of Prussia take advantage of the turmoil in France to confiscate more Polish lands, in what was called the Second Partition of Poland.

1793  At France's colonial possession St. Domingue (Haiti), the black leader Toussaint L'Ouverture decrees all slaves emancipated, and many slaves join his rebel army. The British, at war with France, land a force in the south of the colony.

1794  On a charge of treason, ultra-leftists in Paris behead a famous scientist, the founder of modern chemistry, Antoine Lavoisier – just one of many being executed in what will be known as a reign of terror The ultra-leftists consider revolutionaries less fervent and more tolerant than they, disloyal. Fear swings  with legislators against those leading the "terror." The executioners – Robespierre and associates – are themselves executed.

1794  The Russians crush a nationalist uprising by Poles.

1795  Russia, Austria and Prussia participate in the Third Partition of Poland.

1795  The first graphite pencils are introduced.

1795  In France, moderate revolutionaries want order and stability. Hunger and rioting reoccur. The rioters are crushed. A new constitution supports property rights, but properties confiscated from the Church and from émigres are not to be returned.

1796  The war between France and other European powers continues. In Italy with his French army, Napoleon occupies Venice. City-states are no longer world powers. Some Europeans have been expecting liberation by the French, but Napoleon has been turning conquests into empire.   

1796   Inoculation is tested by Edward Jenner during a smallpox epidemic in London. Jenner does not understand how the immunity system works, but he has taken scientists a step in that direction.

1797   The Treaty of Tripoli is signed by US President John Adams. It establishes friendship between the US and Tripolitania (on North Africa's Mediterranean coast). It includes the following clause:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion ... has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion , or tranquility , of Mussulmen [Muslims] ... it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

1798  Napoleon invades Egypt with a plan to cut Britain's trade route to India (although the Suez Canal has yet to be been built). A British naval force, led by Admiral Horatio Nelson, smashes the French navy at anchor at Abu Qir bay, near Alexandria, Egypt – the French losing 6,200 men as casualties and prisoners.

1799  George Washington is an old man at 67. He has little more than five months to live. In his will and testament he gives directions for freeing his more than 100 slaves after his wife Martha's death. She has more than 100 slaves of her own. She will free George's slaves on January 1, 1801 and die in May 1802.

1799  George Washington wakes up while having difficulty breathing. He orders an employee to bleed him. A doctor arrives and bleeds him again. The theory is that bleeding releases the bad blood that causes whatever ails – a theory from ancient times that William Harvey (who discovered blood circulation in 1628) disliked. Washington orders no further bleeding but is bled again. He dies. The bad blood theory and bloodletting would still be used by a few (who loved their analogies rather than good science) into the 20th century.

1799  The Dutch join the war against France. The French are losing everywhere but in Egypt. Monarchists in France rise in revolt, expecting the arrival of foreign armies. Napoleon abandons his army in Egypt and returns to France. A military hero, much of the country rallies around him, as do politicians seeking to protect the revolution. In the guise of an emergency to save France from a leftist coup a three-man provisional government is created, one of whom is Napoleon as First Consul. The new order is approved by plebiscite. .

1800  In a secret treaty with Spain, the Treaty of San Ildefonso, France regains Louisiana. 

1800  England's population, around 5.25 million in 1720, has increased to around 9 million. World population has risen from between 600 and 680 million in 1700 to one billion, roughly calculated. The most populous cities in 1800 are:

Guangzhou, China: 1.5 million. Hangchow, China: 1,000,000 Kingtehchen, China: 1,000,000 NanJing, China: 1,000,000 Edo (Tokyo), Japan 1,000,000 London, England: 865,000 Beijing, China: 700,000 Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey: 598,000 Paris, France: 548,000 Kyoto, Japan:530,000

1800  Mexico City has a population of 250,000. New York City: 60,000. Population remains sparse in areas occupied by hunter-gatherers – in Africa and the plains of North America. Areas occupied by pastoral nomads are also sparse.

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