19th century (1800 – 1900 AD)

19th century

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see 19th century (disambiguation).
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Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments

Antoine-Jean GrosSurrender of Madrid, 1808. Napoleon enters Spain’s capital during the Peninsular War, 1810

The 19th century (January 1, 1801 – December 31, 1900) was the century marked by the collapse of the SpanishFirst andSecond FrenchChinese,[1] Holy Roman and Mughal empires. This paved the way for the growing influence of the British Empire, the Russian Empire, the United States, the German Empire, the Second French Colonial Empire and the Empire of Japan.

After the defeat of the French Empire and its allies in the Napoleonic Wars, the British and Russian empires expanded greatly, becoming the world’s leading powers. The Russian Empire expanded in central and far eastern Asia. The British Empire grew rapidly in the first half of the century, especially with the expansion of vast territories in Canada, Australia, South Africa and heavily populated India, and in the last two decades of the century in Africa. By the end of the century, the British Empire controlled a fifth of the world’s land and one quarter of the world’s population. During the post Napoleonic era it enforced what became known as the Pax Britannica, which helped trade. The 19th century was an era of rapidly accelerating scientific discovery and invention, with significant developments in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, electricity, and metallurgy that laid the groundwork for the technological advances of the 20th century.[2] The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and spread to continental Europe, North America and Japan.[3] The Victorian era was notorious for the employment of young children in factories and mines, as well as strict “moral” values involving modesty and gender roles.[4] Japan embarked on a program of rapid modernization following the Meiji Restoration, before defeating China, under the Qing Dynasty, in the First Sino-Japanese War.

Advances in medicine and the understanding of human anatomy and disease prevention took place in the 19th century, and were partly responsible for rapidly accelerating population growth in the western world. Europe’s population doubled during the 19th century, from roughly 200 million to more than 400 million.[5] The introduction of railroads provided the first major advancement in land transportation for centuries, changing the way people lived and obtained goods, and fueling major urbanization movements in countries across the globe. Numerous cities worldwide surpassed populations of a million or more during this century. London was transformed into the world’s largest city and capital of the British Empire. Its population expanded from 1 million in 1800 to 6.7 million a century later. The last remaining undiscovered landmasses of Earth, including vast expanses of interior Africa and Asia, were discovered during this century, and with the exception of the extreme zones of the Arctic and Antarctic, accurate and detailed maps of the globe were available by the 1890s.Liberalism became the preeminent reform movement in Europe.[6]

Arab slave traders and their captives along the Ruvuma river (in today’s Tanzania and Mozambique), 19th century

Slavery was greatly reduced around the world. Following a successful slave revolt in HaitiBritain and France stepped up the battle against the Barbary pirates and succeeded in stopping their enslavement of Europeans. The UK’s Slavery Abolition Act charged the British Royal Navy with ending the global slave trade.[7] The first empire to abolish slavery was the Portuguese Empire, followed by Britain, who did so in 1834. America’s 13th Amendment following their Civil War abolished slavery there in 1865, and in Brazil slavery was abolished in 1888 (seeAbolitionism). Similarly, serfdom was abolished in Russia.

The 19th century was remarkable in the widespread formation of new settlement foundations which were particularly prevalent across North America and Australia, with a significant proportion of the two continents’ largest cities being founded at some point in the century. Chicagoin the United States and Melbourne in Australia were non-existent in the earliest decades but grew to become the 2nd largest cities in the United States and British Empire respectively by the end of the century. In the 19th century approximately 70 million people left Europe, with most migrating to the United States of America.[8]

The 19th century also saw the rapid creation, development and codification of many sports, particularly in Britain and the United States.Association footballrugby unionbaseball and many other sports were developed during the 19th century, while the British Empire facilitated the rapid spread of sports such ascricket to many different parts of the world.

It also marks the fall of the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans which led to the creation of SerbiaBulgariaMontenegro and Romania as a result of the second Russo-Turkish War, which in itself followed the great Crimean War.




Map of the world from 1897. The British Empire (marked in pink) was the superpower of the 19th century.


Napoleon‘s retreat from Russia in 1812. The war swings decisively against the French Empire

William Wilberforce (1759–1833), politician and philanthropist who was a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.


The discoveries of Michael Faradayformed the foundation of electric motor technology


1819: 29 January, Stamford Raffles arrives in Singapore with William Farquhar to establish a trading post for the British East India Company. 8 February, The treaty is signed between Sultan Hussein of Johor, Temenggong Abdul Rahman and Stamford Raffles. Farquhar is installed as the first Resident of the settlement.


1816: Shaka rises to power over theZulu Kingdom. Zulu expansion was a major factor of the Mfecane (“Crushing”) that depopulated large areas of southern Africa


The Great Exhibition in London. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to industrialise.



Dead Confederate soldiers. 30% of all Southern white males 18–40 years of age died in the American Civil War.[12]

The first vessels sail through the Suez Canal


Robert Koch discovered the tuberculosis bacilli. In the 19th century,tuberculosis killed an estimated one-quarter of the adult population of Europe.[13]

David Livingstone, Scottish explorer and missionary in Africa

From 1865-1870 Paraguay lost more than half of its population in theParaguayan War against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Black Friday, 9 May 1873, Vienna Stock Exchange. The Panic of 1873 andLong Depression followed.



First bus in history: a Benz truck modified by Netphener company (1895)

Miners and prospectors ascend the Chilkoot Trail during the Klondike Gold Rush

Studio portrait of Ilustrados in Europe, c.1890



For later events, see Timeline of modern history.

Significant people[edit]

Abraham Lincoln in 1863, 16th President of The United States, presided during theAmerican Civil War, assassinated in April 1865

Tsar Alexander II, also known as Alexander the Liberator, was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881

Show business and theatre[edit]


John L Sullivan in his prime, c.1882.


Famous and infamous personalities[edit]

Jesse and Frank James, 1872

Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill Cody, Montreal, Quebec, 1885

Anthropology, archaeology, scholars[edit]

Heinrich Schliemann, Archaeologist

Journalists, missionaries, explorers[edit]


Mathew Brady, Self-portrait, c.1875

Visual artists, painters, sculptors[edit]

Jan Matejko, Self-portrait, 1892

Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait, 1889

The Realism and Romanticism of the early 19th century gave way to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the later half of the century, with Paris being the dominant art capital of the world. In the United States the Hudson River School was prominent. 19th-century painters included:


Jean Auguste Dominique IngresNiccolo Paganini, (c.1819), charcoal drawing

Sonata form matured during the Classical era to become the primary form of instrumental compositions throughout the 19th century. Much of the music from the 19th century was referred to as being in the Romantic style. Many great composers lived through this era such as Ludwig van BeethovenFranz LisztFrédéric ChopinPyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Richard Wagner. The list includes:


Mark Twain, 1894

On the literary front the new century opens with romanticism, a movement that spread throughout Europe in reaction to 18th-century rationalism, and it develops more or less along the lines of the Industrial Revolution, with a design to react against the dramatic changes wrought on nature by the steam engine and the railwayWilliam Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are considered the initiators of the new school in England, while in the continent the German Sturm und Drang spreads its influence as far as Italy and Spain.

French arts had been hampered by the Napoleonic Wars but subsequently developed rapidly. Modernism began.

The Goncourts and Émile Zola in France and Giovanni Verga in Italy produce some of the finest naturalist novels. Italian naturalist novels are especially important in that they give a social map of the new unified Italy to a people that until then had been scarcely aware of its ethnic and cultural diversity. On February 21, 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto.

There was a huge literary output during the 19th century. Some of the most famous writers included the Russians Alexander PushkinNikolai Gogol,Leo TolstoyAnton Chekhov and Fyodor Dostoevsky; the English Charles DickensJohn KeatsAlfred Lord Tennyson and Jane Austen; the ScottishSir Walter Scott; the Irish Oscar Wilde; the Americans Edgar Allan PoeRalph Waldo Emerson, and Mark Twain; and the French Victor Hugo,Honoré de BalzacJules VerneAlexandre Dumas and Charles Baudelaire. Some other important writers of note included:


Mme. Marie Curie, c.1898

The 19th century saw the birth of science as a profession; the term scientist was coined in 1833 by William Whewell.[17] Among the most influential ideas of the 19th century were those of Charles Darwin, who in 1859 published the book The Origin of Species, which introduced the idea ofevolution by natural selectionDmitri Mendeleev created the first periodic table of elementsLouis Pasteur made the first vaccine against rabies, and also made many discoveries in the field of chemistry, including the asymmetry of crystalsThomas Alva Edison gave the world a practical everydaylightbulb. Nikola Tesla pioneered the induction motor, high frequency transmission of electricity, and remote control. Karl Weierstrass and other mathematicians also carried out the arithmetization of analysis for functions of real and complex variables; they also began the use of hypercomplex numbers. But the most important step in science at this time was the ideas formulated by Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. Their work changed the face of physics and made possible for new technology to come about. The list of important 19th century scientists includes:

Philosophy and religion[edit]

The 19th century was host to a variety of religious and philosophical thinkers, including:

Politics and the Military[edit]

Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor

The last Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu, c. 1867

The allies: Sultan of theOttoman EmpireAbdulmecid I, Queen of United Kingdom,Victoria and President ofFranceNapoleon III.

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ See Qing Dynasty; By 1900, mass civil disorder had begun and continuously grown till their ultimate downfall in 1911.
  2. Jump up^ Encyclopædia Britannica’s Great InventionsEncyclopædia Britannica.
  3. Jump up^ “The United States and the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century”. Americanhistory.about.com. 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
  4. Jump up^ Laura Del Col, West Virginia University, The Life of the Industrial Worker in Nineteenth-Century England
  5. Jump up^ Modernization – Population ChangeEncyclopædia Britannica.
  6. Jump up^ Liberalism in the 19th centuryEncyclopædia Britannica.
  7. Jump up^ Sailing against slavery. By Jo LoosemoreBBC.
  8. Jump up^ The Atlantic: Can the US afford immigration?Migration News. December 1996.
  9. Jump up^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Herman Willem Daendels [1] Access date 29 March 2009
  10. Jump up^ Oppenheimer, Clive (2003). “Climatic, environmental and human consequences of the largest known historic eruption: Tambora volcano (Indonesia) 1815”. Progress in Physical Geography 27 (2): 230–259. doi:10.1191/0309133303pp379ra.
  11. Jump up^ Spring Hermann (1997) “Geronimo: Apache freedom fighter“. Enslow Publishers. p.26 ISBN 0-89490-864-2
  12. Jump up^ Killing ground: photographs of the Civil War and the changing American landscape“. John Huddleston (2002). Johns Hopkins University PressISBN 0-8018-6773-8
  13. Jump up^ Multidrug-Resistant TuberculosisCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.
  14. Jump up^ Hamdani, Sylviana (3 February 2010). “Taking a Train Trip Down Memory Lane in Indonesia”Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  15. Jump up to:a b c d e Vickers (2005), page xii
  16. Jump up^ Wahyu Ernawati: “Chapter 8: The Lombok Treasure”, in Colonial collections Revisited: Pieter ter Keurs (editor) Vol. 152, CNWS publications. Issue 36 of Mededelingen van het Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden. CNWS Publications, 2007. ISBN 978-90-5789-152-6. 296 pages. pp. 186–203
  17. Jump up^ “William Whewell”. Stanford University. Retrieved 2008-03-03.

External links[edit]

 Media related to 19th century at Wikimedia Commons

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