Timeline: 1841 to 1850

1841  Britain makes New Zealand a colony.

1841  The US Supreme Court decides that the Africans who had been aboard the ship Amistad are free to return to Africa, that they are not legally slaves.

1841  The President of the Republic of Texas sends an army into New Mexico, hoping to annex it and other territory, including California. A Mexican force drives the invaders back to Texas.

1841  Britain's political resident at Kabul is hacked to death and an uprising in the city leaves 300 of a British detachment dead.

1841  Naval guns have been firing unexploding cannonballs. A time-delay mechanism invented by the French navy now allows exploding shells to be fired safely by high-powered, flat trajectory guns. The navies of Britain, the United States and Russia will have such guns before the decade ends.

Fort Ross, California

Fort Ross, in northern California

1842  The Russians withdraw from Fort Ross in Northern California.

1842  The British are forced to withdraw from Afghanistan.

1843  Britain and France announce their recognition of the Hawaii Islands as an independent state.

1843  England outlaws gibbeting – displaying bodies of the executed for the purpose of deterring crime – the last of this having occurred in 1832.

1843  In the United States, Charles Thurber advances an effort that began in the early 1700s in Britain. He invents a typewriter.

1844  In New Zealand the Maori rebel.

1844  In Australia, a "Protection of Children Act" allows Church missionaries to kidnap aboriginal children in order to "civilize" them – a policy that is to last to the 1960s. (aboriginal children australia)

1845  The Congress of the United States approves the annexation of Texas. Mexico breaks relations with the United States. President Polk sends troops to Texas.

1845  The faster shipment of potatoes from the Americas across the Atlantic to Europe allows the survival of mold arriving with the potatoes. The mold creates potato crop failures across Europe and starvation in Ireland.

1846  Poles in Krakow revolt against Russian rule. Austrian and Russian troops enter Krakow and Austria annexes the city.

1846  Pope Gregory XVI dies and is replaced by Pius IX, who deviates from Gregory's policies by introducing railways and gas streetlights to the Papal States. Gregory had thought them departures from God's intentions. 

1846  In India the British are appearing weak after their Afghanistan debacle. A coalition of Sikhs attack the British. In three months of fighting the British forces prevail and the Sikhs sign a treaty obliging them to disband most of their military.

1846  ┬áThe ruler of Tunisia, Ahmad Bey, promulgates a decree that abolishes slavery in his country. Black slaves had been tied to domestic work. No other part of the economy was tied to or dependent upon slavery.

1846  In the United States, Elias Howe invents a "lock-stitch" sewing machine.

1846  A patient in Boston is given ether as an anesthetic, a revolution in surgical practice.

1846  In Belgium, Adolphe Sax invents the saxaphone.

1846  In Italy, Ascanio Soberero discovers how to make nitroglycerin.

1846  Cholesterol is discovered in blood. It will be more than a hundred years before it is a widespread concern.

1847 (Jan 10)  Mexicans lose Los Angeles to the United States Marines. The war in California is essentially over.

1847  Members of the Donner Party are starving in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, and they turn to cannibalism.

1847 (Jun 2)  In London, dozens of working class rebels hold a meeting. They are largely from Germany, driven to England by German and French monarchical governments. Today they change their name from "The League of the Just" to the "Communist League," and they change their slogan from "All Men Are Brothers" to "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!."

1847 (Jul 1) Britain's parliament passes the "Ten Hours Bill," which limits to sixty-three the hours of work per week for women and children.

1847 (Jul 26) Liberia becomes an independent republic.

1847  Three years of fighting in Tahiti ends with the French crushing Tahitian resistance to French domination. 

1848  (Feb 2) The war between Mexico and the United States ends with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The United States wins recognition of its possession of Alto California, New Mexico and Texas to the Rio Grande. Mexico is given a guarantee of rights for the people who had been living in these areas and loyal to Mexico.

1848  (Feb 21) With Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx writes a theory of political development contrary to those who claim that everyone within a society have no fundamental conflicting interests. Marx sides with the proletariat, which he believes is exploited by capitalists. The first sentence of his little book reads: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." His little book is The Communist Manifesto.

1848  The economies of Europe have been suffering from a recent economic downturn. In France and Germany there has been a longer range decline in income as measured by what income can buy (real wages). Karl Marx is going to use figures from such decline to theorize about capitalism making working people more and more miserable and about capitalism's decline and eventual overthrow.

1848  In Milan there is taxation without representation. In January, sixty-one people are killed protesting against a rise in taxes by Austria's authorities. In January in Palermo, Sicily, people riot. In February in Paris people go to the barricades. The monarchy quits and the Second Republic is born. Revolution in Paris inspires uprisings in Germany and Austria. And Hungarians demand independence.

1848  In the summer, economic recovery begins across Europe.

1848  Revolutionaries in Paris, upset by elections that did not go in their favor, stage another uprising, and they are crushed. The middle class in Germany joins the aristocracy against disorder, and revolution there is crushed. The political left in Vienna has alienated the liberal center and reaction there replaces revolution.  Austria crushes Czech and Italian nationalism. With help from Russia, Austria crushes Hungarian resistance to its rule.

1848  Switzerland's civil war ends. Federalism and unity win against the separatism wanted by the Catholic Church and Austria.

1848  A gold rush begins in Central California.

1848  At a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, a call is made for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.

Neaderthal woman

Neanderthal woman

1848  In the Hawaiian Islands until now land has not been privately owned. This changes with the great Mahele (land division). Ownership of land in the Hawaiian Islands is individualized, seen by Hawaii's leaders as advantageous for Hawaiians as well as enabling foreigners to buy land.

1848  An ancient human-like skull is discovered in a quarry on the island of Gibraltar that in eight years will be identified as Neanderthal.

1849  Karl Marx is ordered out of Paris and goes to London.

1849  Conservative rule in Prussia is devoted to improving education and science, seen there as contributing to the nation's power.

1849  The British have defeated a second Sikh rising. The British formally annex the Punjab and territory to Peshawar and the Khyber Pass.

1849  In New York, Walter Hunt invents a safety pin. Poor sanitation in New York City creates a cholera epidemic, killing 5,000 people, most of them poor and Irish. Some believe the epidemic is God's punishment.

1850  A Chinese Christian in China sees himself as the son of God ordered to save the world. He has started a movement for sharing wealth, land distribution and the Ten Commandments. He favors chastity and an end to foot-binding for women and opposes opium smoking. He creates what is to be known as the Taiping Rebellion. It sweeps across central-eastern China, intending to drive away  "Manchu demons" and rival faiths.

1850  In Prussia, new freedoms won by peasants are maintained, and a decree moves 640,000 peasants to free farming.

1850  In the United States, Congress passes another Fugitive Slave Act, which mandates government support for the capture of escaped slaves. Protests occur in the northern states.

1850  In Britain the Public Libraries Act has passed.

1850  Five percent of British ships are now powered by steam rather than sail.

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