1841   -   1845   <¡   1840s   ¡>   1847   -   1851


  • North America
  • United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, The Arctic
  • South America
  • Demographically, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, New Granada (Columbia), Venezuela, Brazil
  • Europe
  • United Kingdom, France, Spain, The Italian Peninsula, The German Confederation, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden (including Norway), Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Rumania, Jews
  • Asia
  • The Ottoman Empire, Persia, Afghanistan, India, Burma, Siam, Indochina, Malaya, Malayan Archipelago (Western Indonesia), China, Korea, Japan
  • Africa
  • Egypt (including Sudan), Ethiopia, Morocco, The West African Coast, The Congo Region, East Africa, South Africa
  • Pacific
  • Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Hawaii
  • Annotated Bibliography

North America

the United States of America, nationally

James K. Polk has served as the eleventh President since 1845. He succeeded in the election against the Whig candidate, Henry Clay, and the Liberty Party candidate, James C Birney. Polk’s Vice President was George Mifflin Dallas, a former US Senator. Both subscribed to the Democratic Party.

Polk signed the reenacted Independent Treasury Act. This decentralized the Federal Treasury into the individual states again. The Whigs repealed the prior passage to clear the way for a Third National Bank.

Zinn reports that the ten percent of United States citizens are foreign born, increased from five percent in 1800.

United States, locally

The District of Columbia re-ceded a portion of its territory to Virginia.

Charles Goodyear patents vulcanization, though he discovered it during 1844. Elias Howe patents the sewing machine. Dentist W Morton uses ether as anesthesia for the first time.

Brigham Young led the Mormon migration from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake.

Though repaired earlier that year, when the Liberty bell was rung for George Washington’s 114th birthday, a crack sprung all the way to the crown. This made the bell unusable ever after.

The Oregon Treaty

During June 15th, representatives of the United States and Great Britain signed the treaty, establishing the boundary between Canada and America at the 49th Parallel (and the middle of Puget Sound to the ocean). Prior to this, the British populated the region as fur traders mostly working for the Hudson Bay Company. The Americans followed in the wake of Lewis and Clark to Astoria and especially the Willamette Valley, where the Methodists established a mission in 1834. The Americans primarily became farmers.

The Mexican-American War

Texas declared its independence during 1836. Though John Calhoun secured a treaty for its annexation in 1844, the Senate rejected it. Then President John Tyler annexed Texas with joint Congressional approval on 1 March 1845 (three days before Polk’s inauguration).

President Polk sent a diplomat – John Slidell – to Mexico during November 1845 to purchase the New Mexico territory but Slidell returned in March, unsuccessful. Howard Zinn somewhat contradicts this by asserting that Polk instead desired California above all.

Polk sent the army into the ambiguous zone between the Rio Grande and the (northerly) Nueces River. When the armies clashed, Polk trumpeted this as an invasion onto American soil. Though not elected until after the Senate declared the war, Abraham Lincoln soon reprimanded Polk’s dishonesty with the ‘Spot Resolutions.’

General Zachary Taylor led the Army into Mexico against General Arista, where the fighting continued until 1848. The apex of American conquest stretched as far south as Mexico City. Zinn’s work highlights the ambiguity about whether ‘the country’ generally supported the war. Many newspaper editorials sought to establish this presentation but army enrollment dropped off soon after the war began.

The only groups that consistently decried the invasion were abolitionists. William Lloyd Garrison published an editorial in The Liberator openly hoping for American defeat. Pennsylvania Representative David Wilmot introduced the Wilmot Proviso as a prelude to a treaty with Mexico and forbade slavery in any subsequent territories. The Southern Senators defeat the bill.

To resist the war, Henry David Thoreau refused to pay the Massechussetts poll tax. He was incarcerated and this incident inspired his 1848 lecture and essay “Civil Disobedience.”

Bear Flag Revolt

Major John C Fremont, tasked with finding the source of the Arkansas River, urged the American settlers in California to revolt against Mexico as Texas had done. After he left, a small group in Sonoma declared California a republic and elected William B Ide as president. One month later, Fremont returned with an army company and claimed the area for the United States. Because of communication delay, none knew that Polk had already declared war against Mexico. Later, Mexicans in El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de la Porciuncula revolted and forced the garrison to surrender. The army did not retake it until next year.


Upper and Lower Canada were united by Parliament during 1840 and Lord Poulett Thomson Syneham is the Governor.


This was a period of Santa Anna’s dictatorship though deposed during 1844.

Central America

Though homogenous under the Assembly of The United Providences of Central America (and two dictators), Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica separated during 1840 with half-hearted attempts to reunite until 1852.


Spain controlled most of the islands, including Cuba and Puerto Rico. Haiti is a republic with no president since 1843. Santo Domingo has been independent of Haiti since 1844.

The Arctic

Alaska has been Russian territory by separate US and GB treaties.

Since 1845 and until 1848, the expedition of Sir John Franklin tried to discover the North-west Passage via the Wellington Channel. At this point, his crew had sailed down the Peel Sound and Franklin Strait, but struggled against the ice. Next year, they reached Cape Herschel, marking the discovery of the Passage but were unable to navigate out. All abandoned ship and soon died, as reported by Eskimos.

South America


Menze reports that Argentina and Uruguay were predominantly ‘white.’ Brazil, Chile, the West Indies, and Central American states were predominantly mixed. Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay were predominantly populated by natives.


Carlos Lopez has been a dictatorial President since 1844. He led policies to reduce its isolation but still disputed its borders with Brazil and Argentina.


The area was a battleground following the factional strife between Argentinean allied ‘Blancos’ – led by Manuel Oribe and the French allied ‘Colorados,’ led by Fructroso Rivera. But, the French withdrew in 1843, following an agreement with Argentina ‘allowing’ Oribe to hold an eight year siege of Montevideo.


Juan Manuel de Rosas served as Chief Executive of the Argentine Confederation. Both the French and British Navies blockaded Rio de la Plata from their disagreements ‘concerning intervention in Uruguay.’


Following victory from civil war, Manuel Bulnes served a second five year term as administrator.


Jose Ballivian served as President since 1841. His policies sought to promote economic development.


Ramon Castilla served as head of state (dictator) since 1845.


A period of political instability and foreign ‘complication’ followed the overthrow of the conservative President Juan Flores.

New Granada (Columbia)

Following the 1843 adoption of a new constitution, Tomas Mosquera served as (Conservative) President since 1845. In December, the United States and New Granada signed a treaty stipulating New Granada’s control over Panama and guaranteed America the right of transit across the isthmus. Also, New Granada pledged general neutrality.


This was a transition year from President Jose Paez, who had served since 1830. Jose Tadeo Monagas (a conservative) replaced him.


King Pedro II has reigned since 1840 with several successfully transitions between parties in the assembly.


Great Britain

Queen Victoria has reigned since 1837. The conservative party fractured over Corn Law agitation between Benjamin Disaraeli and Prime Minister Peel. Parliament repealed the Corn laws as well as duties on other food products. Twenty days later, Disaraeli replaced shortly before the Liberal Party assembled their cabinet and cemented their January electoral victory. Lord John Russell becomes prime minister.

The Liberal Parliament authorized 5.6 million pounds to the Great Northern Railway to build a direct line between London and York.

The Great Irish Potato Famine ended. One million people died of starvation and one million emigrated to North America. When the blight began, Ireland held 8.6 million people.


The ‘July Monarchy’ of Louis Philippe has lasted since 1830 under the ministry of Soult, led by Franquios Guizot.

This decade saw a revival of radicalism and the emergence of utopian socialism. But, the 1835 ‘September Laws’ (of censorship) constrained these to friendly and secret societies. France experienced its own potato blight which radicalized the proletariat factions. Louis Blanc united and politicized the workers into demanding job security via national workshops.

Pretender to the throne Louis Napoleon escaped from prison (for two failed coups) and fled to Britain.

Adolphe Sax patented the Saxophone in Paris this year.


Queen Isabella II has reigned since 1833. October brought the “affair of the Spanish marriages” that later elicted the Second Carlist conflict. In 1845, Aberdeen & Guizot made agreements at Eu to restrict Isabella’s suitors for a Spanish and French alliance. 19 July 1846, Palmerson (an English politician) sends a dispatch to the English embassy in Spain with unsuitable candidates and vilified the Moderados (French aligned factions). In October, she defied Britain and married Francis, the Duke of Cadiz and her sister married the Duke of Montpensier.

The Italian Peninsula

This area was a group of states: the kingdoms of Sardinia, Modena, Parma, Lucca, Tuscany, Naples, Monaco, the San Marino Republic, and the Papal States.

15 June, the cardinal convention elects Cardinal Giovanni Mastai to Popehood. He took the name Pius IX and began liberal policies (amnesty for political prisoners, easing censorship, and including laymen in his advisory council) in contradiction to his predecessor Gregory XVI.

The German Confederation

The members included the Austro-Hungarian Empire, kingdoms of Hanover, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Saxony, and Prussia, seven grand duchies, ten duchies, fourteen principalities, and four free cities: Lubeck, Bremen, Frankfurt, and Hamburg).

King Fredrick William IV of Prussia has reigned since 1840, though he will consent to a “convocation of the united provincial assemblies as a consultative representation of the estates” called Vereingite Landtage.

Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria has reigned since 1835. National movements began among the Czechs, demanding the reinstitution of constitutional rights for Bohemia.


Count Zamoyski ‘endevored’ to create a peasant uprising. Crakow experienced actual unrest, giving Austria-Hungary justification for annexing the free city. A similar incident devolved into the Galician slaughter of nobles.


The region experienced the consequences of forming the Sonerbund (a group of seven catholic cantons) to balance against the Siebener Concordat (the league of liberal cantons) within the Federal Diet.


Czar Nicholas I has reigned since 1825.


Queen Maria II has reigned since 1826.


King Leopold has reigned since 1831.


King William II has reigned since 1840.


King Christian VIII has reigned since 1839.

Sweden (including Norway)

Though King Oscar I has reigned since 1844, others forced him to grant liberal concessions to periodicals in 1845.


King Otto I reigned.


The Skupshtina elected Alexander Karagregorovich to princehood after exiling Prince Michael Obrenovich in 1842.


Vladika Peter II has reigned since 1830 and issued some poetry.


An assembly of boyers (landed gentry) elected Prince Michael Sturdza in 1832.


Only the United States, France, Belgium, and Greece have repealed all legal limitations on Jews. The Netherlands joined them during 1848. The rest delayed for twenty more years.


The Ottoman Empire

Sultan Abdul Mejid has ‘ruled’ since he succeeded Sultan Mohammed in 1839 when he was ‘just a boy.’ The major European nations treat the empire as a Macguffin rather than a peer.


Mohammed Shah had ruled since 1835.


Dost Mohammed had ruled as Amir since 1842.


Sir H Hardinge has served as Governor-General since 1844. The first war with the Sikhs continued from the year prior, “arising from disorders following Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839.” This will encompass Kashmir and Punjab.


King Pagan Min replaced King Tharawaddi Min who had reigned since 1837. Burmese rulers kept an isolationist stance against the British traders.


“Rama III (Phra Nang Klao)” has reigned since 1824. In contrast, he reopened western contact.


Emperor Thieu-Tri has reigned since 1840 but will cease next year. His policies rebuff foreign missions and continue Christian persecutions despite several French naval interventions.


This area existed as a collection of feudal sultanates. The British controlled Malacca, Perak, and Selangor.

Malayan Archipelago (Western Indonesia)

The Dutch controlled Java, Sumatra, and Bali but ‘disorders’ recurred. A sultan reigned in Brunei, but he ceded the region called Sarawak to Sir James Brooke (in return for military aid). He ruled the area as a Rajah since 1841.


Emperor Tao Kuang of the Hsuan Tsung (Manchu/Ta Ch’ing Dynasty) has ruled since 1821. He forbade foreigners entry to the city of Canton.


King Hon-jong has reigned since 1835.


Ieyoshi has ruled as Shogun since 1837. US Commodore Biddle visited Edo but the Japanese refused to trade with his party. Nonetheless, the prospect of opening Japanese-dictated trade enticed both cultures, especially as a poor economy forced many samurai into roninhood. This also fueled demands to reinstate the Emperor.


Egypt (including Sudan)

The region has been independent of the Ottoman Empire and “hereditary possession” of Mohammed Ali since the 1840 Convention of Alexandria. His title was Khedive.


Ras Ali of Gondor ruled.


Though proclaimed Dey by feudal tribes in nominally Ottoman territory in 1832, Abd el-Kadr has fought a retreat thereafter westward along Mediterranean Africa by the French and the Turks. Several years later, his forces will be disbanded entirely.

The West African Coast

Fernando Po was Spanish-controlled,; Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Gold Coast were British-controlled; and Senegal was French-controlled. Liberia was still considered an American colony and would not declare its independence until next year. British Presbyterians established a mission on the Nigerian coast but local Muslims seldom convert.

The Congo Region

The populations here were predominantly Bantu. A few native kingdoms persisted: Ansika, Lounda, Manyema, and Balbouba. The French controlled the area around the Gabun River and the Portuguese controlled some of Angola via forts.

East Africa

Here too, the Bantu outnumber all others. Most of the area belongs to the Arab Sultan of Muscat (Omar) but Sayyid Said ruled locally from the recently (1840) relocated capital of Zanzibar. The British have managed to retain a consul in Zanzibar, enabling trade. The Portuguese maintain settlements in the southern region.

South Africa

Sir Harry Smith has governed the British Cape as Governor. Andreas Pretorius has led the Dutch Boers since 1838, but not in an official capacity. King Umpanda has ruled Zululand since 1840. The Basuto (under Moshesh) and Griqua tribes (under Adam Kok) accepted British protection during 1843.

The British began assimilating Natal from the exiled Boers in 1842. This year, the Location Commission began a policy of native segregation by creating preserves for the Zulus. The British began the ‘War of the Axe’ against the Kaffirs. When they triumphed later, the Commission again offers them a preserve.



Captain George Grey has served as Lt. Governor since 1845. Australia also employs a 36 member council elected by the ‘propertied class.’

New Zealand

23 December, Britain conferred a constitution for “New Munster and New Ulster” that provided for governors, an appointed council, and an elected assembly. The colonists were ill equipped to enforce it immediately.

The First Maori war began during 1843 from the Massacre of Wairau by European settlers in the Nelson District, provoked by land disputes. Many of the tribes abstained in deference to the colonists and the Maori fighting did so chaotically and sporatically.

The Maori language magazine, Te Karere o Nui Tireni, published its last issue. The magazine began operating 1842.


The area was subordinate to New Spain but locally to an ‘audencia’ in Manila.


The islands have been recognized independent by the US since 1843.


An Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged; Revised Edition. Compiled & edited by William Langer. © 1940, 1948.

This provided the great majority of the facts and certainly the structure to this node. I personally prefer the geographic hierarchy over an inflexible calendar. Although European and American cities are building railroads during this year, countries are very much a patchwork quilt rather than a continuous cloth. Where I reproduce phrases in quotes, I often refer here.

The Anchor Atlas of World History, Volume II: From the French Revolution to the American Bicentennial. Herman Kinder & Werner Hilgemann; translated by Ernest A Menze. © 1966, 1978.

This is another excellent resource for any trying to understand how we lived. This is no atlas; it is more like an abridged version of the Encylclopedia above with frequent cartographic accompaniment. If you choose to buy a copy, look for the recently reissued “Penguin Atlas” instead. The book confirmed most of the European sections but skimmed over the rest.

A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present. Howard Zinn. © 1980, 1999.

Zinn knows his task: disabuse his audience of the whitewashed narrative other textbooks offer. He especially focuses on plebian elements of American society during the episodes he examines. Though the history runs together, Zinn has not written a chronology of the entire nation. Still, he endeavored to prove the narrative he forms by citing the primary source documents (diaries, letters, ect.) that historians use.


You knew I would. Frankly though, I again used it only for small embellishments because the Encyclopedia treated the material so thoroughly. Also, don’t forget to use the links to subjects within 1846 (art, science, rail transportation). Each mostly documents the births and deaths of its prominent members, but some contain nuggets undiscussed in the main year page.

1841   -   1845   <!   1840s   !>   1847   -   1851
1830s   @   19th Century   @   1850s

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.