Timeline: 1871 to 1880

1871  The war between Prussia and France officially ends with the Treaty of Frankfurt. Bismarck's success has enhanced respect among Germans for his authoritarianism as opposed to the liberalism of his critics. Bavaria agrees to unify with Prussia. France cedes to Germany Alsace and Lorraine, and it is not popular among the people there. French forces crush the Paris Commune, and as many as 30,000 "Communards" and innocent Parisians are summarily executed.

1871  The Meiji government sends a few men to Europe and to the US, hoping to secure abolition of the Unequal Treaties and to examine Western technology, banking and agricultural techniques – the Iwakura Mission.

1871  Life expectancy at birth in England has risen from 36 years in 1700 to 41 years. (Calculated in a study in the 1980s by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure.)

1872  In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Charles Taze Russell begins what will become the Jehovah's Witnesses.

1872   Speaking to Union Leaders in Holland, Karl Marx speaks of the possibility of victory for the working class through electoral politics.  He says, "We do not deny that there are countries like England and America... where labour may attain its goal by peaceful means." (18 September)

1872  All former Confederate States have returned to the Union (the United States). An Amnesty Act restores the vote to those whites in the South who have been denied it.

1873  Japan's mission to Europe and the United States returns hopeful that Japan can catch up with the West in modernization. The Meiji government declares religious freedom and ends Confucianism as official state ideology.

1873  Russia's government orders students in Switzerland to return to Russia. The returning students launch a "To the People" movement, which they hope will revolutionize society.

1874  Germany is suffering a small pox epidemic. Vaccination becomes mandatory.

1874  In the United States, barbed wire has been invented. It is sold to farmers to keep passing herds of cattle off their land.

1874  Billy the Kid's mother, a charming immigrant and hardworking immigrant from Ireland, dies at 43 from tuberucolis in Silver City New Mexico, September 16. 

1874  Britain makes a colony of coastal territory 100 kilometers deep and 400 kilometers wide in what today is Ghana. During fighting there a British commander has his troops wear brown jackets and khaki trousers rather than the traditional red coats – a move toward camouflage.  

1875  In Canada the light bulb is invented. Thomas Edison buys the patent.

1875  Britain has bought into part ownership of the Suez Canal enterprise.

1875  Southern Africa has became the largest diamond producing area in the world.

1875  Prospectors discover gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota, an area that the US government has promised the Sioux would be theirs forever.

1875  An attempt by Ottoman agents to collect taxes in Herzegovina leads to a popular uprising, and the rebellion spreads to Bosnia. 

1876  Rebellion against Ottoman rule has spread to Bulgaria. A reformist group in Turkey deposes Sultan Abd al-Aziz. Murad V becomes sultan but is declared insane. Abd al-Hamid becomes sultan and he accepts the new constitution.

1876  Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.

1876  In the former Confederate states, conservatives have gained power and are running what they call "redeemed" governments. Some of these governments are inventing ways to limit voting by blacks: complicated ballot boxes, literacy tests and poll taxes.

1876  The Russians have conquered all of Uzbekistan and occupy the northern part of Kyrgyzstan.

1876  German physician Robert Koch establishes a procedure that proves the germ theory of disease and boosts microbiology and the identification of microorganisms. Soon there will be a substantial shift among many people from concern with the devil to concern with germs.

1876  Colorado becomes a state.  Sioux and Cheyenne warriors annihilate Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and 210 or so of his Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn River. White Americans are outraged and demand retribution. The US government redraws Indian reservation boundaries.

1876  A three-year-old Niño-caused drought has devastated India, China and Brazil, causing as many as 30 million deaths from starvation and disease.

1876  Japan forces the Koreans to accept a trade agreement similar to Commodore Perry's demands to the Japanese government back in 1853.

1877  A punitive expedition under Colonel Nelson Miles defeats the Sioux and Cheyenne. The Crow and Blackfoot Indians are ejected from their reservations. In Colorado, holdings of the Ute Indians are confiscated and opened to settlement. Gold is discovered on the Salmon River in Idaho, and whites begin invading territory that was promised to the peaceful Nez Perce Indians. War erupts, and the US Army defeats the Nez Perce.

1877  The US economy has been on a down swing, and labor unrest has spread across the country. Three million men, roughly 27 percent of the working population are unemployed. In San Francisco there is bitterness over wealthy people hiring Chinese. A popular orator, Denis Kearney, is haranguing the crowds with his slogan, "The Chinese must go." 

1877  Thomas Edison develops the gramophone and phonograph.

1877  The last of union troops are withdrawn from former Confederates states.

1877  In Japan, agrarian and samurai revolts against government reforms have been defeated militarily, the largest being the Satsuma Rebellion, involving several thousand men. A society is founded similar to the Red Cross. The fighting drains the national treasury and leads to inflation.

1877  The British intend to protect the Boers (Afrikaners of Dutch, French and German descent) from the Zulus and to repair the Boer Republic financially. They suppose that a majority of Boers favor British rule and they annex the republic. 

1877  Supporting their fellow Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, the Russians are marching toward Constantinople.

1878  The defeated Nez Perce nation is sent to a reservation in Oklahoma.

1878  Sultan Abd al-Hamid has dismissed the new liberal constitution and reformist politicians. The first attempt in modern times to graft western political ideas onto Islamic society has failed. All opposition is suppressed and all governmental power transferred to the Sultan's palace.

1878  The British fear Russia's expansion southward. The word jingoism is on the way, rising from a popular song in Britain that begins: "We don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do We've got the ships, we've got the men and got the money too!"

1878  European powers get together in Berlin to settle problems regarding revolts and war against the Ottoman Empire. They create problems for the future that will lead to the disastrous Great War of 1914. They settle matters to some degree in accordance with national determination, recognizing Bulgarian and Romanian independence and giving independence to Montenegro and Serbia, but they also defer to old fashioned empire: the Habsburg monarchy in Vienna is given approval of its takeover in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vienna's army, carrying symbols of Roman Catholicism, is crushing Orthodox Serb resistance. 

1878  Cyprus transfers from Ottoman to British control.

1878  Fearing Russia's advances into Turkistan and Samarqand, the British occupy Kabul. The "Second Afghan War" has begun.

1878  Vera Zasulich, a member of the youthful radical group "Land and Liberty," seeks revenge for the beating that one of her activist friends has received in prison. She shoots and wounds the military governor of St. Petersburg and is tried by a jury, which fails to convict her. The government responds by ending jury trials for people charged with politically motivated crimes. The government also steps up its arrest and exile of persons suspected of supporting terrorism. 

1878  The British order the King of the Zulus, Cetshwayo, to disband his army of four to six thousand. He refuses. The Zulus defeat the British at Isandhwana, killing 800 British and capturing 1,000 rifles, with ammunition.

1879  With the help of Gatling guns, the British overpower the Zulus, at the Battle of Ulundi. Queen Victoria urges "kind and generous treatment of Cetshwayo," who is exiled to Cape Town. By now the hand-cranked Gatling gun could fire 1,200 rounds per minute – 400 rounds per minute said to be more reasonable. 

1879  A yellow-fever epidemic begins in New Orleans.

1879  A territorial dispute between Bolivia and Chile erupts into war. The prize is nitrate deposits. Chile makes war also against Peru. 

1879  In Constantinople, Turkish authorities forbid Armenian performances.

1879  Interested in peace among Europe's powers, Bismarck joins his Germany with Austria-Hungary in a defensive alliance. 

1879  St. Petersburg has its first significant strike by industrial workers.

1880  After many failed attempts to assassinate Alexander II, radicals fail again, blowing up the dining room at the tsar's palace, killing eleven and wounding fifty-six. The tsar was late for dinner. Police arrest many members of the radical group "Will of the People," almost destroying the organization.

1880  In Europe, the industrialization of food has begun with new technology replacing the stone grinding of grains. The oil in flour will now quickly turn rancid, so it is removed. The new flour is without valuable nutrients, which is unknown to those processing the grains. Vitamins will not be discovered until the 1930s.

1880  John D. Rockefeller's empire controls 95 percent of US oil refining. In less than eighty years, the whaling industry on the Pacific ocean has collapsed. 

1880  The conservative British politician Benjamin Disraeli for the last six years has been in his second run as Britain's Prime Minister. Many are unhappy with his having raised taxes and unhappy about the cost of military operations. Election results are not in his favor and he steps down.

1880  The United States has a total of eleven college-level professors of history. (Herbert J. Muller, Uses of the Past, p28.)

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