Timeline: 1851 to 1860

1851  Thousands rush to gold in Australia, including Chinese prospectors and prospectors from California. There are tent cities with populations as large as 40,000. Food growers have a greater market for their produce, stimulating Australia's economy. An agricultural revolution is beginning using a mechanical harvester, called Ridley's Stripper, that had been invented in Australia.

1851  In Siam, King Mongkut ascends the throne. He invites European diplomats to his coronation. He becomes known for speaking English, French and Latin.

1851  Herman Melville's Moby-Dick has been published. He would like to see people lower their conceit and look for happiness and meaning in the small things that make a life well-lived. (See "Navigating Past Nihilism," New York Times, Dec 5, 2010)

1852  The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. In the South complaints arise that the novel is exaggeration. In the South, owning a copy of the book is made illegal.

1852  The British arrive in lower Burma and bring opium from India for sale to the Burmese.

1852  In the United States, Francis Wolle invents and patents a machine that makes paper bags.

1852  Britain recognizes the right of Boers to administer their own affairs beyond its Cape Colony border so long as the Boers end slavery. 

1852  Louis-Napoleon (Bonaparte's nephew), President of France's Second Republic, has consolidated conservative support and dissolves parliament. He crushes an uprising, establishes a dictatorship and holds a plebiscite to justify his move. Peasants and the religiously devout give him the votes he wants.

1853  Louis-Napoleon is declared Emperor Napoleon III.  He would like to create a dynasty. France is no longer a republic. It is called the Second Empire.

1853  The Frenchman Joseph Gobineau has two volumes of his work published, a work about the fall of civilizations that he believes is based on science. Degeneration he claims came with conquerors mixing with those they had conquered, polluting the purity of the conquerors' race. Jews he holds had once been biologically pure but they had become "bestialized" and a threat by having mixed with Africans. 

1853  Commodore Matthew Perry arrives in Japan with 967 men on four ships, including two steam-powered vessels, which intimidates the Japanese. He demands that Japan open its ports to trade with the United States. He declares that he will return the following year to receive Japan's response.

1853  Tsar Nicholas I of Russia goes to war against the Ottoman Turks over what he sees as his right to defend Orthodox Christians in Turkey and in Jerusalem (then under the authority of the Ottoman Empire).

1854  The Japanese government signs a treaty with the United States that offers "peace and friendship," the opening to two ports (Shimoda and Hakodate), help for US ships wrecked off Japan's coast, protection for shipwrecked persons, and permission for US ships to buy provisions.

1854   In London, construction of the Clock Tower (Big Ben) is finished. Urbanization and the new industrial age have been producing a new era of tick, tick, tick.

a network of abolitionist Quakers, Unitarians, Transcendentalists and Underground Railroad organizers. This vanguard of whites and blacks embraced nonviolent civil disobedience, the philosophy of ...Theodore Parker,

1854  Imperial Britain and France are afraid of Russian expansion. At a Turkish port on the Black Sea, the Russian navy, using exploding shells for the first time, sets a Turkish fleet afire. The British respond with horror to the devastation. The British declare war, and Queen Victoria writes of "the great sinfulness" of Russia having "brought about this War" – the Crimean War. 

1854  Pope Pius IX addresses a question about differences between Jesus Christ and others. He proclaims the infallible doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (virgin birth) of Jesus Christ, that Jesus was born exempt from all stain of original sin. 

1854  Elisha Graves Otis has invented an elevator brake and has started a company to manufacture elevators that will hoist freight. He demonstrates the elevator at the World's Fair in New York City.

1854  The scientist John Snow had been claiming that cholera was carried in water or food and could be ingested. Colleagues have dismissed his idea. A cholera epidemic has broken out in London, in an area around a water pump. Snow takes a sample of the water from the pump and through a microscope finds it contaminated. He removes the pump's handle and the cholera comes to a quick end. 

1855  Much of Japan's capital, Edo (Tokyo), is destroyed by earthquake, tsunami and fire.

1855  King Mongkut of Siam signs a trade agreement with Britain. He builds roads, sets up printing presses, creates a currency and sets out to reform slavery.

1855  Chicago adopts a plan for the first comprehensive city sewer in United States.

1856  The first railway bridge across the Mississippi River is completed – from Rock Island, Illinois, to three miles away at Davenport, Iowa.

1856  Tsar Nicholas I of Russia dies. His son, Alexander II,  makes peace with Britain and France. The Crimean War ends. Russia's humiliation inspires Alexander's desire for reform. 

1856  A ship owned by a Chinese, registered with the British in Hong Kong, and docked at Guangzhou (Canton), is searched by Manchu government agents looking for a notorious pirate. The British send an expedition of ships seeking redress and are joined by the French, who want to avenge the Manchu execution of a French missionary. There is also dissatisfaction with Chinese compliance to agreements made at the end of the first Opium War. The Second Opium War begins. 

1857  Elisha Graves Otis installs the first passenger-safe elevator in a department store in New York City. 

1857  Giuseppe Garibaldi has been in New York for five years. He founds the Italian National Association to fight for the unification of Italy.

1857  In France, the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is partially published. It is about a woman who has adulterous affairs and it creates a scandal. Flaubert has to go to court to have the entire novel published.

1857  The Supreme Court of the United States, in the Dred Scott case, rules that African Americans, free or slave, are not citizens and have no recourse in federal courts.

1858  The Second Opium War ends. China is forced to pay Britain and France indemnities and to open more ports. The opium trade is legalized. Christians are to be allowed to proselytize and guaranteed protection, and Westerners are to be allowed to hold property in China. Russia and the United States rush in to gain benefit from the British and French victory.

1858  In Vietnam, a French and Spanish expedition seizes the port city of Tourane (today Da Nang). The French are interested in ending Vietnamese persecution of Christian missionaries and interested in trade.

1859  In Vietnam, the French take over Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City.) 

1859  John Brown wants to begin a war for the liberation of all slaves in the United States. An armed rising by him and his eighteen supporters is crushed. Brown is tried, convicted and hanged.

1859  Charles Darwin has been sitting on his Origin of the Species for 21 years. He has it published.

1859  British scientist John Tyndall describes carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor trapping heat in the atmosphere. And he suggests that change in the concentration of gases could bring climate change.

1859  The first successful oil well in the United States is drilled, in northern Pennsylvania. 

1859  Rabbits are brought to Australia, which will produce an ecology disaster.

1860  Taiping rebels fail to take Shanghai, repelled by a force led by an Englishman, Frederick Townsend Ward.

1860  In the United States, George Crum has created what is to be known as the potato chip. He opens his own restaurant, featuring potato chips in a basket placed on every table.

1860  J.J.E. Lenoir of France develops an internal, non-compression, combustion engine. 

1860  Jews in Britain are allowed to vote.

1860  International trade has been increasing. World exports are 4.53 times what they were in 1800.

1860  A network of abolitionist Quakers, Unitarians, Transcendentalists and Underground Railroad organizers have been practicing nonviolent civil disobedience for about ten years (many decades before Gandhi's non-violent civil disobendience). They have been working against the capture of fugitive slaves. Prominent among them has been the Unitarian Theodore Parker.

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