The Common Era Year of 1817, part of the 19th Century
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Born in 1817:
- February 14 (date and year uncertain): Frederick Douglass, "The Great Emancipator", son of a slave and a white man, who bought his freedom and began a career as abolitionist writer and 1846 publisher of the abolitionist newspaper The North Star, is born in Maryland, U.S. (Several sources indicate the subsequent year to be more correct.) (d. February 20 1895, aged ca. 78)
- February 19: William III, who is to become King of the Netherlands, is born in Brussels, Belgium. (d. November 23 1890, aged 73)
- April 18: George Henry Lewes, English scientist, philosophical writer and critic as well as founder and editor of Fortnightly Review is born in London, England. (d. November 28 1878, aged 61)
- July 12: Henry David Thoreau, American political philosopher, poet and writer of Walden and Civil Disobedience, is born in Concord, Massachusetts, U.S. (d. May 6 1862, aged 44)
- July 29: (July 17 Old Style) Ivan Aivazovsky, Russian painter, is born in Theodosia, Crimea, present-day Ukraine. (d. May 2 (April 19 Old Style) 1900, aged 82)
- October 19: Tom Taylor, British playwright, writer of Our American Cousin, which U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was watching in Ford's Theatre when assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, is born near Sunderland, England. (d. July 12 1880, aged 62)
- October 23: Pierre Larousse, French lexicographer, is born in Yonne, France. (d. January 3 1875, aged 57)
Passed away in 1817:
- January 1: Martin Heinrich Klaproth, German chemist, dies in Berlin, present-day Germany. (b. December 1 1743, aged 73)
- April 12: Charles Messier, French astronomer and publisher of the first nebula catalogue, dies. (b. June 26 1730, aged 86)
- July 18: Jane Austen, English novelist, dies in Winchester, Hampshire, England. (b. December 16 1775, aged 41)
- August 6: Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, French economist, philosopher and politician, dies in exile in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S. (b. December 14 1739, aged 77)
- August 10: Francis Lowell, American industrialist, dies in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. (b. April 7 1775, aged 42.
- December 7: William Bligh, British naval officer on the Bounty, dies in London, England. (b. September 9 1754, aged 63)
These (and other) things happened in 1817:
- Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini writes the opera La Cenerentola as written exclusively by librettist Jacopo Ferretti, based on the Cinderella story, and it is first performed in Teatro Valle, Rome, Italy on January 25 of the same year.
- In June in England, a state infiltrator convinces Derbyshire workers to march to London to demonstrate against low wages. The workers walk into a trap of two mounted magistrates and a company of soldiers. Three workers are executed, fourteen are deported to Australia, and nine are imprisoned. The event largely marks the end of Luddite activism.
- Karaðorðe (Black George), the leader of a rebellion against the Turkish leadership, is murdered in Radovanje on July 13, and his head is stuffed and sent to Turkey.
- John Bradbury, Scottish naturalist, completes Travels in the Interior of America in the Years 1809, 1810 and 1811 on August 1 in Liverpool, England.
- Great Britain and Spain sign a treaty abolishing slave trade on September 23, formally ending Spanish slave trade north of the equator immediately, and south of the equator in 1820. British naval vessels are granted permission to search suspected offenders, but due to loopholes a British precedent forbids the search of foreign vessels unless permitted by their respective countries.
- In October, 500 students celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Reformation at Wartburg, present-day Germany, where Martin Luther lived and worked.
- In Sweden, Johan August Arfwedson discovers a mysterious new alkali. His mentor Jöns Jacob Berzelius suggests that the substance be called lithia after the Greek word lithos for stone, a reference to the mineral petalite from which it is derived. Later, British chemist Sir Humphry Davy renames it lithium. Berzelius also discovers selenium later the same year.
- A typhus epidemic rages, fueled by famine following the Mt. Tambora volcano eruption in 1815.
- Queen Elizabeth's College is built in Greenwich, England.
- In Baltimore, Maryland, the first public gas street light is lit with gas from the nation's first gas company, now named Baltimore Gas and Electric on February 7.
- On March 3, The Alabama territory is created with a temporary capital at St. Stephens.
- On March 5 (since the traditional March 4 is a Sunday this year), James Monroe is sworn into office as the 5th U.S. President, the first President to take the oath outdoors. Daniel D. Tompkins becomes Vice President.
- The New York Stock and Exchange Board, NYS&EB, renamed NYSE in 1863, residing in a rented room at 40 Wall Street, is formally established on March 8.
- Spanish expatriate and filibuster Francisco Xavier Mina launches an attack on the Spanish rule in Mexico from Galveston Island, Texas in April. He is captured in Venadito in October, taken to Mexico City, and executed in Fort San Gregorio in November.
- The first American school for the deaf opens in Hartford, Connecticut on April 15. It is here that American Sign Language, ASL is developed, and the school becomes the first educational facility to receive aid from the state.
- The Harvard Corporation adopts a resolution on May 14 to formally establish Harvard Law School.
- The White House restoration and enlargement after having been burnt by the British during the War of 1812 is completed, and in October President James Monroe and the First Lady move in.
- William Wirt is appointed as Attorney General in November and serves for 11 years and 3 months under both James Monroe and later John Quincy Adams.
- Infamous pirate Jean Laffite occupies Galveston Island, Texas and uses it as a base for his operations.
- The first of the Seminole Wars begins on the border between Georgia and Florida in December.
- Mississippi is admitted as the 20th state of the Union on December 10 under the 1817 Constitution of the State of Mississippi.
- Engineers finalize a plan to be proposed by New York governor Dewitt Clinton, and work begins on a project to supplement natural water systems by a 363-mile canal connecting the Hudson River and Lake Erie in the shape of the beautiful Erie Canal, which will open in 1825 with the inaugural run of the Seneca Chief.
- John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company gains a monopoly on fur trade in the Mississippi Valley.
- The institution today known as the University of Michigan is founded in Detroit, present-day Michigan. It will later move to Ann Arbor.
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