Toussaint L'Ouverture was a leader of the Haitian independence movement during the French Revolution. Collecting an army of his own, L'Ouverture trained his followers in the tactics of guerrilla warfare, and by 1795, he was widely renowned for ending slavery on the island.
The first working steam engine had been patented in 1698 and by the time of Watt's birth, Newcomen engines were pumping water from mines all over the country. He designed a separate condensing chamber for the steam engine that prevented enormous losses of steam.
Louis XVI became the heir to the throne and the last Bourbon king of France upon his father's death in 1765. His failure to address France's problems set in motion the Revolution that would eventually descend upon him. After a slew of governing missteps, Louis XVI brought the French Revolution crashing down upon himself, and in 1793 he was executed.
The conflict arose from growing tensions between residents of Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and the colonial government, which represented the British crown. After French assistance helped the Continental Army force the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, the Americans had effectively won their independence, though fighting would not formally end until 1783.
It was capable of producing high quantities of fine, strong cotton yarn, and during the early 1800s revolutionized the British cotton industry, heralding the start of the cotton boom. The application of the mule to industry massively increased the amount of cotton yarn manufacturers could produce, which in turn increased demand for raw cotton to supply the mills. This led to an increase in cotton production by the slave system.
Simón Bolívar was a South American soldier who was instrumental in the continent's revolutions against the Spanish empire. After France invaded Spain in 1808, he became involved in the resistance movement and played a key role in the Spanish American fight for independence.
During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system. Although it failed to achieve all of its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the movement played a critical role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.
Slaves initiated the rebellion in 1791 and by 1803 they had succeeded in ending not just slavery but French control over the colony. These revolutions were influenced by the French Revolution of 1789, which would come to represent a new concept of human rights, universal citizenship, and participation in government.
The cotton gin is a machine that revolutionized the production of cotton by greatly speeding up the process of removing seeds from cotton fiber. Plantation owners found they needed more slaves in the field to meet the increased ability of the gin.
Napoleon Bonaparte was the first Emperor of France. He revolutionized military organization and training, sponsored Napoleonic Code, reorganized education and established the long-lived Concordat with the papacy.
Between 1808 and 1826 all of Latin America except the Spanish colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico slipped out of the hands of the Iberian powers who had ruled the region since the conquest. The rapidity and timing of that dramatic change were the result of a combination of long-building tensions in colonial rule and a series of external events.
The Congress of Vienna was an assembly in 1814–15 that reorganized Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
The War of Greece Independence was a rebellion of Greeks within the Ottoman Empire, a struggle which resulted in the establishment of an independent kingdom of Greece. A Greco-Turkish settlement was finally determined by the European powers at a conference in London.
The Opium Wars were two armed conflicts in China in the mid-19th century between the forces of Western countries and of the Qing dynasty. In each case the foreign powers were victorious and gained commercial privileges and legal and territorial concessions in China. The conflicts marked the start of the era of unequal treaties and other inroads on Qing sovereignty that helped weaken and ultimately topple the dynasty in favour of republican China in the early 20th century
Originally published in German as Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (“Manifesto of the Communist Party”), the work had little immediate impact. Its ideas, however, reverberated with increasing force into the 20th century, and by 1950 nearly half the world’s population lived under Marxist governments.
Taiping Rebellion, radical political and religious upheaval that was probably the most important event in China in the 19th century. It lasted for some 14 years (1850–64), ravaged 17 provinces, took an estimated 20 million lives, and irrevocably altered the Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty was so weakened by the rebellion that it never again was able to establish an effective hold over the country.
The Crimean War (1853-1856) stemmed from Russia’s threat to multiple European interests with its pressure of Turkey. The campaign lasted for a full year, with the Battle of Balaclava and its “Charge of the Light Brigade” among its famous skirmishes. Remembered in part for Florence Nightingale’s work for the wounded, the Crimean War reshaped Europe’s power structure.
The Bessemer process was the first method discovered for mass-producing steel. Though named after Sir Henry Bessemer of England, the process evolved from the contributions of many investigators before it could be used on a broad commercial basis. After several failures, he succeeded in proving his theory and rapidly producing steel ingots.
In May of 1857, Sepoys in the British East India Company's army rose up against the British. The British home government disbanded the British East India Company, taking direct colonial control of the British Raj in India. Also, the Mughal Empire ended, and Britain sent the last Mughal emperor into exile in Burma.
Italian unification, meaning resurgence or revival), was the political and social movement that consolidated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of the Kingdom of Italy in the 19th century. The memory of the Risorgimento is central to both Italian politics and Italian historiography, for this short period (1815–60) is one of the most contested and controversial in modern Italian history.
On this day, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which immediately sold out its initial print run. His book laid the groundwork for modern botany, cellular biology, and genetics. He died in 1882.
Emancipation Manifesto, manifesto issued by the Russian emperor Alexander II that accompanied 17 legislative acts that freed the serfs of the Russian Empire. Emancipation had been intended to cure Russia’s most basic social weakness, the backwardness and want into which serfdom cast the nation’s peasantry.
The unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France. By establishing a Germany without Austria, the political and administrative unification in 1871 at least temporarily solved the problem of dualism.
The political revolution in 1868 that brought about the final demise of the Tokugawa shogunate (military government)—thus ending the Edo period (1603–1867)—and, at least nominally, returned control of the country to direct imperial rule under Mutsuhito. In a wider context, however, the Meiji Restoration of 1868 came to be identified with the subsequent era of major political, economic, and social change—the Meiji period (1868–1912)—that brought about the modernization and Westernization of the country.
Egypt was the first country to dig a man-made canal across its lands to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea via the branches of the River Nile. An international team of engineers drew up a construction plan, and in 1856 the Suez Canal Company was formed and granted the right to operate the canal for 99 years after completion of the work.
It was a series of negotiations at Berlin, in which the major European nations met to decide all questions connected with the Congo River basin in Central Africa. The general act of the Conference of Berlin declared the Congo River basin to be neutral, guaranteed freedom for trade and shipping for all states in the basin; forbade slave trading; and rejected Portugal’s claims to the Congo River estuary—thereby making possible the founding of the independent Congo Free State, to which Great Britain, France, and Germany had already agreed in principle.
Formed in 1885, the Indian National Congress dominated the Indian movement for independence from Great Britain. It subsequently formed most of India’s governments from the time of independence and often had a strong presence in many state governments.
In 1900, in what became known as the Boxer Rebellion (or the Boxer Uprising), a Chinese secret organization called the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists led an uprising in northern China against the spread of Western and Japanese influence there. From June to August, the Boxers besieged the foreign district of Beijing (then called Peking), China’s capital, until an international force that included American troops subdued the uprising.
Was a war fought between Great Britain and the two Boer (Afrikaner) republics—the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State—resulting in British victory. But the British were fighting in a hostile country over difficult terrain, with long lines of communications, while the Boers, mainly on the defensive, were able to use modern rifle fire to good effect at a time when attacking forces had no means of overcoming it.
During the subsequent Russo-Japanese War, Japan won a series of decisive victories over the Russians, who underestimated the military potential of its non-Western opponent. Japan emerged from the conflict as the first modern non-Western world power and set its sights on greater imperial expansion. However, for Russia, its military’s disastrous performance in the war was one of the immediate causes of the Russian Revolution of 1905.
The Muslim League was a political group that led the movement calling for a separate Muslim nation to be created at the time of the partition of British India (1947). The Muslim League was founded in 1906 to safeguard the rights of Indian Muslims.
In 1913, Henry Ford installs the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile. His innovation reduced the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to two hours and 30 minutes.
The rush of settlers to California and Oregon in the mid 19th century was the initial impetus of the U.S. desire to build an artificial waterway across Central America. By the turn of the century, sole possession of the isthmian canal became imperative to the United States, which had acquired an overseas empire at the end of the Spanish-American War and sought the ability to move warships and commerce quickly between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.