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The 1840s was a decade that ran from January 1, 1840, to December 31, 1849. Throughout the decade, many countries (particularly in Europe) worldwide saw many revolts and uprisings, with the most prominent ones happening in 1848. Aside from uprisings, the United States began to see a shifting population that migrated to the West Coast, as the California Gold Rush ensued in the latter half of the decade.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Revolutions of 1848 Series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848

The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, People's Spring, Springtime of the Peoples, or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It remains the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.


Politics and wars

Pacific Islands

In 1842, Tahiti and Tahuata were declared a French protectorate, to allow Catholic missionaries to work undisturbed. The capital of Papeetē was founded in 1843. In 1845, George Tupou I united Tonga into a kingdom, and reigned as Tuʻi Kanokupolu.

Tahiti Largest island of French Polynesia

Tahiti is the largest island of the Windward group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, located in the central part of the Pacific Ocean. Divided into two parts, Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, the island was formed from volcanic activity; it is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. Its population is 189,517 inhabitants (2017), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.

Tahuata Commune in French Polynesia, France

Tahuata is the smallest of the inhabited Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. It is located 4 km (2.5 mi.) to the south of the western end of Hiva Oa, across the Canal du Bordelais, called Ha‘ava in Marquesan.

A protectorate, in its inception adopted by modern international law, is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy and some independence while still retaining the suzerainty of a greater sovereign state. In exchange for this, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations, which may vary greatly, depending on the real nature of their relationship. Therefore, a protectorate remains an autonomous part of a sovereign state. They are different from colonies as they have local rulers and people ruling over the territory and experience rare cases of immigration of settlers from the country it has suzerainty of. However, a state which remains under the protection of another state but still retains independence is known as a protected state and is different from protectorates.

East Asia


On August 29, 1842, the first of two Opium Wars ended between China and Britain with the Treaty of Nanking. One of the consequences was the cession of modern-day Hong Kong Island to the British. Hong Kong would eventually be returned to China in 1997.

First Opium War War between Great Britain and China in the 19th century

The First Opium War, also known as the Opium War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing dynasty of China over diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice in China.

Treaty of Nanking Treaty signed by Qing dynasty of China and United Kingdom in 1842 after the end of the First Opium War (1839–1842) ruled that Hong Kong Island was to be ceded to United Kingdom by the Qing dynasty of China. First unequal treaty in modern Chinese history.

The Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) was a peace treaty which ended the First Opium War (1839–1842) between the United Kingdom and the Qing dynasty of China on 29 August 1842. It was the first of what the Chinese later called the unequal treaties.

The act of cession is the assignment of property to another entity. In international law it commonly refers to land transferred by treaty. Ballentine's Law Dictionary defines cession as "a surrender; a giving up; a relinquishment of jurisdiction by a board in favor of another agency." In contrast with annexation, where property is forcibly seized, cession is voluntary or at least apparently so.

Other events:

  • July 3, 1844 – The United States signs the Treaty of Wanghia with the Chinese Government, the first ever diplomatic agreement between China and the United States.

July 3 is the 184th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 181 days remain until the end of the year.

1844 (MDCCCXLIV) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1844th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 844th year of the 2nd millennium, the 44th year of the 19th century, and the 5th year of the 1840s decade. As of the start of 1844, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Treaty of Wanghia Treaty signed by Qing dynasty of China and United States in 1844. One of the first series of unequal treaties in modern Chinese history.

The Treaty of Wanghia was a diplomatic agreement between Qing dynasty of China and United States, signed on July 3, 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple. Its official title name is the Treaty of peace, amity, and commerce, between the United States of America and the Chinese Empire. Following passage by the U.S. Congress, it was ratified by President John Tyler on January 17, 1845. It formally remained in effect until the 1943 Sino-American Treaty for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China.


The 1840s comprised the end of the Tenpō era (1830–1844), the entirety of the Kōka era (1844–1848), and the beginning of the Kaei era (1848–1854). The decade saw the end of the reign of Emperor Ninko in 1846, who was succeeded by his son, Emperor Kōmei.

Tenpō Japanese era name

Tenpō (天保) was a Japanese era name after Bunsei and before Kōka. The period spanned from December 1830 through December 1844. The reigning emperor was Ninko-tennō (仁孝天皇).

Kōka Japanese era name

Kōka (弘化) was a Japanese era name after Tenpō and before Kaei. This period spanned the years from December 1844 through February 1848. The reigning emperors were Ninkō-tennō (仁孝天皇) and Kōmei-tennō (孝明天皇).

Kaei Japanese era

Kaei (嘉永) was a Japanese era name after Kōka and before Ansei. This period spanned the years from February 1848 through November 1854. The reigning emperor was Kōmei-tennō (孝明天皇).

Southeastern Asia

The 1841–1845 Siamese-Vietnamese War in Cambodia was a war between Vietnam (then under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty) and Siam (Thailand) under the House of Chakkri. In the increasingly confrontational rivalry between Vietnam and Siam, the conflict was triggered by Vietnam's absorption of Cambodia and the demotion of the Khmer monarchs. Siam seized the opportunity to intervene as the tide of Khmer discontent rose against Vietnamese rule. [1]

Siamese–Vietnamese War (1841–1845)

The 1841–1845 Siamese-Vietnamese War in Cambodia was a war between Vietnam and Siam (Thailand) under the House of Chakkri. In the increasingly confrontational rivalry between Vietnam and Siam, the conflict was triggered by Vietnam's absorption of Cambodia and the demotion of the Khmer monarchs. Siam seized the opportunity to intervene as the tide of Khmer discontent rose against Vietnamese rule.

Vietnam Country in Southeast Asia

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam shares its land borders with China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. It shares its maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia through the South China Sea. Its capital city is Hanoi, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.

Thailand Constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th-largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. It is a unitary state. Although nominally the country is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup, in 2014, established a de facto military dictatorship under a junta.


King Rama III ruled Siam during the 1840s under the Chakri Dynasty in Bangkok.


Emperors Minh Mạng, Thiệu Trị and Tự Đức ruled Vietnam during the 1840s under the Nguyễn dynasty.

New Guinea

Australia and New Zealand

Southern Asia


The First Anglo-Afghan War had started in 1838, started by the British as a means of defending India (under British control at the time) from the Russian Empire's expansion into Central Asia. [3] The British attempted to impose a puppet regime on Afghanistan under Shuja Shah, but the regime was short lived and proved unsustainable without British military support. By 1842, mobs were attacking the British on the streets of Kabul and the British garrison was forced to abandon the city due to constant civilian attacks. During the retreat from Kabul, the British army of approximately 4,500 troops (of which only 690 were European) and 12,000 camp followers was subjected to a series of attacks by Afghan warriors. All of the British soldiers were killed except for one and he and a few surviving Indian soldiers made it to the fort at Jalalabad shortly after. [4] After the Battle of Kabul (1842), Britain placed Dost Mohammad Khan back into power (1842–1863) and withdrew from Afghanistan.


Map of India in 1848 Joppen1907India1848a.jpg
Map of India in 1848

Sikh Empire

The Sikh Empire was founded in 1799, ruled by Ranjit Singh. When Singh died in 1839, the Sikh Empire began to fall into disorder. There was a succession of short-lived rulers at the central Durbar (court), and increasing tension between the Khalsa (the Sikh Army) and the Durbar. In May 1841, the Dogra dynasty (a vassal of the Sikh Empire) invaded western Tibet, [5] marking the beginning of the Sino-Sikh war. This war ended in a stalemate in September 1842, with the Treaty of Chushul.

The British East India Company began to build up its military strength on the borders of the Punjab. Eventually, the increasing tension goaded the Khalsa to invade British territory, under weak and possibly treacherous leaders. The hard-fought First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–1846) ended in defeat for the Khalsa. With the Treaty of Lahore, [6] the Sikh Empire ceded Kashmir to the East India Company and surrendered the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Queen Victoria.

The Sikh empire was finally dissolved at the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849 into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab. Eventually, a Lieutenant Governorship was formed in Lahore as a direct representative of the British Crown.

Sri Lanka

A memorial of Matale Rebellion, which began in Sri Lanka in 1848 Matale1848-0746.JPG
A memorial of Matale Rebellion, which began in Sri Lanka in 1848

Western Asia

Ottoman Empire

The decade was near the beginning of the Tanzimât Era of the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Abdülmecid I ruled during this period.


Emir Bashir Shihab II controlled the Mount Lebanon Emirate at the beginning of the 1840s. Bashir allied with Muhammad Ali of Egypt, but Muhammad Ali was driven out of the country. Bashir was deposed in 1840 when the Egyptians were driven out by an Ottoman-European alliance, which had the backing of Maronite forces. His successor, Emir Bashir III, ruled until 1842, after which the emirate was dissolved and split into a Druze sector and a Christian sector.


Persian Empire

Revolutions of 1848

There was a wave of revolutions in Europe, collectively known as the Revolutions of 1848. It remains the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history, but within a year, reactionary forces had regained control, and the revolutions collapsed.

The revolutions were essentially bourgeois-democratic in nature with the aim of removing the old feudal structures and the creation of independent national states. The revolutionary wave began in France in February, and immediately spread to most of Europe and parts of Latin America. Over 50 countries were affected, but with no coordination or cooperation among the revolutionaries in different countries. Six factors were involved: widespread dissatisfaction with political leadership; demands for more participation in government and democracy; demands for freedom of press; the demands of the working classes; the upsurge of nationalism; and finally, the regrouping of the reactionary forces based on the royalty, the aristocracy, the army, and the peasants. [7]

The uprisings were led by ad hoc coalitions of reformers, the middle classes and workers, which did not hold together for long. Tens of thousands of people were killed, and many more forced into exile. The only significant lasting reforms were the abolition of serfdom in Austria and Hungary, the end of absolute monarchy in Denmark, and the definitive end of the Capetian monarchy in France. The revolutions were most important in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy, and the Austrian Empire, but did not reach Russia, Sweden, Great Britain, and most of southern Europe (Spain, Serbia, [8] Greece, Montenegro, Portugal, the Ottoman Empire). [9]

Eastern Europe



Austrian Empire



Northern Europe




United Kingdom

April 10: "Monster Rally" of Chartists held on Kennington Common in London; the first photograph of a crowd depicts it. Chartist meeting, Kennington Common.jpg
April 10: "Monster Rally" of Chartists held on Kennington Common in London; the first photograph of a crowd depicts it.

Queen Victoria was on the throne 20 June 1837 until her death 22 January, 1901.

Politics and law

The Great Famine of the 1840s caused the deaths of one million Irish people and over a million more emigrated to escape it. [13] It is sometimes referred to, mostly outside Ireland, as the "Irish Potato Famine" because one-third of the population was then solely reliant on this cheap crop for a number of historical reasons. [14] [15] [16] The proximate cause of famine was a potato disease commonly known as potato blight. [17] A census taken in 1841 revealed a population of slightly over 8 million. [18] A census immediately after the famine in 1851 counted 6,552,385, a drop of almost 1.5 million in 10 years. [19]

The period of the potato blight in Ireland from 1845 to 1851 was full of political confrontation. [20] A more radical Young Ireland group seceded from the Repeal movement and attempted an armed rebellion in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, which was unsuccessful.

Western Europe



September 12: The Swiss Confederation reconstitutes itself as a federal republic. Gedenkblatt 1874.jpg
September 12: The Swiss Confederation reconstitutes itself as a federal republic.

The Netherlands



The frigate Belle-Poule brings back the remains of Napoleon to France. Repatriacion de las cenizas de Napoleon a bordo de la Belle Poule, por Eugene Isabey.jpg
The frigate Belle-Poule brings back the remains of Napoleon to France.

Southern Europe


  • September 3, 1843 – Popular uprising in Athens, Greece, including citizens and military captains, to require from King Otto the issue of a liberal Constitution to the state, which has been governed since independence (1830) by various domestic and foreign business interests.

Italian Peninsula


This period was saw the 1840 end of the First Carlist War, a civil war in Spain over the succession to the throne and the nature of the Spanish monarchy. This was the first full decade of the reign of Isabella II of Spain. Since she was only 10 years old in 1840, her true reign started in 1843, for which the first portion was referred to as Década moderada. The Affair of the Spanish Marriages (1846) was a series of intrigues between France, Spain, and the United Kingdom relating Isabella II's marriages, which was shortly followed by Second Carlist War (1847–1849).





South Africa



North America


In the prior decade, the desire for responsible government resulted in the abortive Rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report subsequently recommended responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into English culture. [23] The Act of Union 1840 merged the Canadas into a united Province of Canada and responsible government was established for all British North American provinces by 1849. [24] The signing of the Oregon Treaty by Britain and the United States in 1846 ended the Oregon boundary dispute, extending the border westward along the 49th parallel. This paved the way for British colonies on Vancouver Island (1849) and in British Columbia (1858). [25]

United States

The first U.S. postage stamps have portraits of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Though highly collectable, they are far from being the most valuable. First US Stamps 1847 Issue.jpg
The first U.S. postage stamps have portraits of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Though highly collectable, they are far from being the most valuable.
United States territorial growth from 1840 to 1850 USA Territorial Growth 1850.jpg
United States territorial growth from 1840 to 1850
Native Americans

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce was predicted to have been born in the 1840s


The United States had five different Presidents during the decade. Only the 1880s would have as many. Martin Van Buren was President when the decade began, but was defeated by William Henry Harrison in the U.S. presidential election of 1840. Harrison's service was the shortest in history, starting with his inauguration on March 4, 1841, and ending when he died on April 4, 1841.

Harrison's vice president, John Tyler, replaced him as President (the first Presidential succession in U.S. history), and served out the rest of his term. Tyler spent much of his term in conflict with the Whig party. He ended his term having made an alliance with the Democrats, endorsing James K. Polk and signing the resolution to annex Texas into the United States.

In the Presidential election of 1844, James K. Polk defeated Henry Clay. During his presidency, Polk oversaw the U.S. victory in the Mexican–American War and subsequent annexation of what is now the southwest United States. He also negotiated a split of the Oregon Territory with Great Britain.

November 7: The first US presidential election held in every state on the same day sees Whig Zachary Taylor of Virginia defeat Democrat Lewis Cass of Michigan. ElectoralCollege1848-Large.png
November 7: The first US presidential election held in every state on the same day sees Whig Zachary Taylor of Virginia defeat Democrat Lewis Cass of Michigan.

In the U.S. presidential election of 1848, Whig Zachary Taylor of Louisiana defeated Democrat Lewis Cass of Michigan. Taylor's term in office was cut short by his death in 1850.

Supreme Court

In the first part of the 1840s, the modern state of California was part of a larger province of Mexico, called "Alta California". The region included all of the modern American states of California, Nevada and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

The United States, embarked on the Conquest of California in an early military campaign of the Mexican–American War in Alta California. The California Campaign was marked by a series of small battles throughout 1846 and early 1847. The Treaty of Cahuenga was signed on January 13, 1847, and essentially terminated hostilities in Alta California. Shortly thereafter, John C. Frémont was appointed Governor of the new California Territory, and Yerba Buena, California, was renamed San Francisco.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed in February 1848, marked the end of the Mexican–American War. By the terms of the treaty, Mexico formally ceded Alta California along with its other northern territories east through Texas, receiving $15,000,000 in exchange. This largely unsettled territory constituted nearly half of its claimed territory with about 1% of its then population of about 4,500,000. [26] [27]

The discovery of gold in Northern California (and subsequent discourse about that discovery in 1848) led to the California Gold Rush. In October 1848, the SS California left New York Harbor, rounded Cape Horn at the tip of South America, and arrived in San Francisco after the 4-month-21-day journey. Thereafter, regular steamboat service continued from the west to the east coast of the United States. During 1848, only an estimated 6,000 to 6,500 people traveled to California to seek gold that year. [28] By the beginning of 1849, word of the Gold Rush had spread around the world, and an overwhelming number of gold-seekers and merchants began to arrive from virtually every continent. In 1849, an estimated 90,000 people arrived in California in 1849—of which 50,000 to 60,000 were from the United States. [29] [30] In 1850, California joined the union as the 31st state.


The Republic of Texas had declared independence in 1836, as part of breaking away from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. The following year, an ambassador from Texas approached the United States about the possibility of becoming an American state. Fearing a war with Mexico, which did not recognize Texas independence, the United States declined the offer. [31]

In 1844, James K. Polk was elected the United States president after promising to annex Texas. Before he assumed office, the outgoing president, John Tyler, entered negotiations with Texas. On February 26, 1845, six days before Polk took office, the U.S. Congress approved the annexation. The Texas legislature approved annexation in July 1845 and constructed a state constitution. In October, Texas residents approved the annexation and the new constitution, and Texas was officially inducted into the United States on December 29, 1845 as the 28th U.S. state.. [32] Mexico still considered Texas to be a renegade Mexican state, and never considered land south of the Nueces River to be part of Texas. This border dispute between the newly-expanded United States and Mexico triggered the Mexican–American War.

When the war concluded, Mexico relinquished its claim on Texas, as well as other regions in what is now the southwestern United States. Texas' annexation as a state that tolerated slavery had caused tension in the United States among slave states and those that did not allow slavery. The tension was partially defused with the Compromise of 1850, in which Texas ceded some of its territory to the federal government to become non-slave-owning areas but gained El Paso.

Mexican–American War

Mexican-American War Battle Molino del Rey.jpg
Mexican–American War

American territorial expansion to the Pacific coast was a major goal of U.S. President James K. Polk. [33] In 1845, the United States of America annexed Texas, which had won independence from Centralist Republic of Mexico in the Texas Revolution of 1836. Mexico did not accept the annexation, while also continuing to claim the Nueces River as its border with Texas, and also still considering Texas to be a province of Mexico. In 1845, newly elected U.S. President James K. Polk sent troops to the disputed area, and a diplomatic mission to Mexico. After Mexican forces attacked American forces, the U.S. declared the Mexican–American War (1846–1848).

Combat operations lasted a year and a half, from the spring of 1846 to the fall of 1847. U.S. forces quickly occupied the capital town of Santa Fe de Nuevo México along the upper Rio Grande and began the Conquest of California in Mexico's Alta California Department. They then invaded to the south into parts of central Mexico (modern-day northeastern Mexico and northwest Mexico). Meanwhile, the Pacific Squadron of the United States Navy conducted a blockade and took control of several garrisons on the Pacific coast farther south in lower Baja California Territory. The U.S. Army eventually captured the capital Mexico City, having marched west from the port of Veracruz, where the Americans staged their first amphibious landing on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, forced onto the remnant Mexican government, ended the war and specified its major consequence, the Mexican Cession of the northern territories of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo México to the United States. The U.S. agreed to pay $15 million compensation for the physical damage of the war. In addition, the United States assumed $3.25 million of debt already owed earlier by the Mexican government to U.S. citizens. Mexico acknowledged the loss of their province, later the Republic of Texas (and now the State of Texas), and thereafter cited and acknowledged the Rio Grande as its future northern national border with the United States. Including Texas, Mexico ceded an area of approximately 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) – by its terms, around 55% of its former national territory. [34]


The 1840s for Mexico were the end of the centralist government and the waning years the "Age of Santa Anna". In 1834, President Antonio López de Santa Anna dissolved Congress, forming a new government. That government instituted the new Centralist Republic of Mexico by approving a new centralist constitution ("Siete Leyes"), From its formation in 1835 until its dissolution in 1846, the Centralist Republic was governed by eleven presidents (none of which finished their term). It called for the state militias to disarm, but many states resisted, including Mexican Texas, which won its independence in the Texas Revolution of 1836.

The Republic of the Rio Grande declared its independence from Mexico in January 1840. However, the border with Texas was never determined (whether the Nueces River or the Rio Grande). The new Republic fought a brief and unsuccessful war for independence, returning to Mexico late in the year.

In 1841, Generals Santa Anna and Paredes led a rebellion against President Bustamante, resulting in Santa Anna becoming president of the centralist government for a fifth time . Local officials in Yucatán declared independence in 1841, opposing strong autocratic rule and demanding the restoration of the Constitution of 1824, thus establishing the second Republic of Yucatán.

In 1842, the region of Soconusco was annexed by Mexico as part of the state of Chiapas, following the dissolution of the Federal Republic of Central America.

In 1846, President Paredes and the Congress of Mexico declared war at the beginning of the Mexican–American War. Paredes' presidential successor was deposed in a coup, replaced by José Mariano Salas. Salas issued a new decree that restored the Constitution of 1824, ending the Centralist Republic and beginning the Second Federal Republic of Mexico. After the conclusion of the Mexican–American War, José Joaquín de Herrera became the second president of Mexico to finish his term (Mexico's first president completed his in 1829). It was during this time that Yucatán reunited with Mexico. A decisive factor for the reunion was the Caste War of Yucatán (a revolt by the indigenous Maya population) for which Yucatán initially sought help from Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but ultimately reunited with Mexico for help.

Herrera peacefully turned over the presidency to the winner of the Federal Elections of 1850, General Mariano Arista. Despite being exiled from Mexico in 1848, Santa Anna would return to the presidency one last time during the 1850s.

El Salvador


Costa Rica

Puerto Rico




Dominican Republic



South America


Riograndense Republic




Falkland Islands





Science and technology

June 15: Charles Goodyear. Goodyear-Charles-LOC-closeup.jpg
June 15: Charles Goodyear.


Mechanical engineering


The 1840s saw the rise of the Daguerreotype. Introduced in 1839, the Daguerreotype was the first publicly announced photographic process and came into widespread use in the 1840s. Numerous events in the 1840s were captured by photography for the first time with the use of the Daguerreotype. A number of daguerrotypes were taken of the occupation of Saltillo during the Mexican–American War, in 1847 by an unknown photographer. These photographs stand as the first ever photos of warfare in history.








July 3: great auk. Greatauk-london.jpg
July 3: great auk.






February 21: Karl Marx publishes The Communist Manifesto. Communist-manifesto.png
February 21: Karl Marx publishes The Communist Manifesto .







Widespread interest to invest in rail technology led to a speculative frenzy in Britain, known there as Railway Mania. It reached its zenith in 1846, when no fewer than 272 Acts of Parliament were passed, setting up new railway companies, and the proposed routes totalled 9,500 miles (15,300 km) of new railway. Around a third of the railways authorised were never built – the company either collapsed due to poor financial planning, was bought out by a larger competitor before it could build its line, or turned out to be a fraudulent enterprise to channel investors' money into another business.



Steam power

January 13: Steamship Lexington sinks. Awful conflagration of the steam boat Lexington.jpg
January 13: Steamship Lexington sinks.
July 4: RMS Britannia. RMS Britannia 1840 paddlewheel.jpg
July 4: RMS Britannia.
July 19: SS Great Britain launch. Ss Great Britain.jpg
July 19: SS Great Britain launch.

Other inventions


Civil rights

Women's rights






Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort at home, 1841. Her dress shows the fashionable silhouette, with its pointed waist, sloping shoulder, and bell-shaped skirt. Windsor modern times detail.jpg
Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort at home, 1841. Her dress shows the fashionable silhouette, with its pointed waist, sloping shoulder, and bell-shaped skirt.

Fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by a narrow, natural shoulder line following the exaggerated puffed sleeves of the later 1820s fashion and 1830s fashion. The narrower shoulder was accompanied by a lower waistline for both men and women.


Religion and philosophy

Disasters, natural events, and notable mishaps

February 28: USS Princeton deaths. USS Princeton (1843).jpg
February 28: USS Princeton deaths.


The third cholera pandemic happened during the 1840s, which researchers at UCLA believe may have started as early as 1837 and lasted until 1863. [68] This pandemic was considered to have the highest fatalities of the 19th-century epidemics. [69] It originated in India (in Lower Bengal), spreading along many shipping routes in 1846. [68] Over 15,000 people died of cholera in Mecca in 1846. [70] In Russia, between 1847 and 1851, more than one million people died in the country's epidemic. [71]

A two-year outbreak began in England and Wales in 1848, and claimed 52,000 lives. [72] In London, it was the worst outbreak in the city's history, claiming 14,137 lives, over twice as many as the 1832 outbreak. Cholera hit Ireland in 1849 and killed many of the Irish Famine survivors, already weakened by starvation and fever. [73] In 1849, cholera claimed 5,308 lives in the major port city of Liverpool, England, an embarkation point for immigrants to North America, and 1,834 in Hull, England. [74] In 1849, a second major outbreak occurred in Paris.

Cholera, believed spread from Irish immigrant ship(s) from England to the United States, spread throughout the Mississippi river system, killing over 4,500 in St. Louis [74] and over 3,000 in New Orleans. [74] Thousands died in New York, a major destination for Irish immigrants. [74] The outbreak that struck Nashville in 1849–1850 took the life of former U.S. President James K. Polk. During the California Gold Rush, cholera was transmitted along the California, Mormon and Oregon Trails as 6,000 to 12,000 [75] are believed to have died on their way to Utah and Oregon in the cholera years of 1849–1855. [74] It is believed cholera claimed more than 150,000 victims in the United States during the two pandemics between 1832 and 1849, [76] [77] and also claimed 200,000 victims in Mexico. [78]






  • October 1, 1846Christ College, Tasmania, opens with the hope that it would develop along the lines of an Oxbridge college and provide the basis for university education in Tasmania. By the 21st century it will be the oldest tertiary institution in Australia.


Tivoli Gardens Kopenhaga tivoli jan2004 ubt.jpeg
Tivoli Gardens


North America



World leaders

  1. Mohammad Shah Qajar, (b. 1810 – d. 1848) Shah from 1834 to 1848
  2. Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, 1848–1896

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This article is about the particular significance of the decade 1840–1849 to Wales and its people.


  1. Joachim Schliesinger (2 January 2017). The Chong People: A Pearic-Speaking Group of Southeastern Thailand and Their Kin in the Region. Booksmango. pp. 106–. ISBN   978-1-63323-988-3.
  2. "Gold Medal Recipients". Royal Geographical Society. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018.
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Further reading