June, Oil on canvas.


Timeline: 1875-1884


Walter Launt Palmer (American, 1854-1932). June, 1880, Oil on canvas. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. Gift of Ruth Scherm, class of 1945, 1995.4.1

  • 1875
  • Congress passes second Civil Rights Act forbidding racial discrimination in public transportation, hotels, and entertainment venues
  • Page Act bars entry to prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers from China and Japan; results particularly in the exclusion of Chinese women
  • Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children founded
  • Massacre of two dozen blacks at Clinton, Mississippi; campaign of violence throughout the state, including murder of African-American state legislators in Yazoo County
  • Chiricahua Apache revolt, Arizona, led by Geronimo (1875-1886)
  • Anthracite coal strike over reduction in wages; met by massive police force, strikers riot and burn coal cars and Reading Railroad buildings; 20 Irish-American “Molly Maguires” convicted and hanged for labor-related assassinations
  • Smith and Wellesley Colleges founded in Massachusetts
  • Thomas Eakins, “The Gross Clinic” (painting)
  • Richard Dugdale, The Jukes
  • P.T. Barnum introduces the three-ring circus
  • First Kentucky Derby horse race run at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY
  • Evangelist Dwight Moody returns from Britain and begins a nationwide American tour
  • First Catholic cardinal in the United States appointed
  • First Poor Clares (Roman Catholic) arrive in United States
  • Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, establishes basis for Christian Science
  • Theosophical Society founded in New York City
  • 1876
  • Contested presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden, driven by conflicting returns from three southern states where conservatives are in the process of overthrowing Reconstruction governments; voting on party lines, an election commission elects Hayes. Popular vote 4,036,592 for Hayes, 4,284,020 for Tilden; electoral vote (by ruling of commission) 185 to 184
  • US and Hawai’ian Kingdom sign Reciprocity Treaty providing for duty-free imports from the islands; Hawai’i precluded from signing such treaties with any other power (1876-1877)
  • Colorado enters the Union as the 38th state
  • Greenback Party founded, to become Greenback Labor Party two years later
  • US v. Cruikshank
  • US Coast Guard Academy founded at New London, CT
  • Jesse James and James-Younger gang raid Northfield, MI
  • Summer of attacks and terrorism against blacks in South Carolina prompts dispatch of federal troops to suppress violence
  • Plains War between Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho and US troops on northern plains; major battles include Rosebud, Little Big Horn, Warbonnet Creek, and Slim Buttes (1876-1877)
  • Black rice workers’ strike, Combahee River area, South Carolina, over wages and “scrip” pay; strike forcibly suppressed amid violence in ensuing political campaign (1876-1877)
  • Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers founded
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, establishes graduate school curriculum that becomes a model nationwide
  • Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • Alexander Graham Bell develops and patents first telephone
  • Thomas Edison introduces a mimeograph machine
  • John W. Draper photographs the solar spectrum
  • Mathematician Josiah Gibbs publishes a paper on thermodynamics that establishes the basis for physical chemistry
  • Melvil Dewey introduces Dewey decimal system for library organization
  • Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia
  • Baseball’s National League created; first pennant won by Chicago
  • Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park completed, New York City
  • Felix Adler founds Ethical Culture Society, New York
  • Sacred Heart Franciscans (Roman Catholic) founded
  • Brotherhood of the New Life (Spiritualist) founds colony in Fountain Grove, California
  • 1877
  • Desert Land Act permits homesteaders to buy 640 acres at $1.25 each, in designated arid areas, if within three years they irrigate the land they purchase
  • Congress creates National Guard
  • In Munn v. Illinois the US Supreme Court upholds an Illinois law regulating storage rates in grain-elevators, stating that such businesses are “clothed in the public interest” and subject to state regulation
  • Great Railroad Strike spreads across eastern United States, from Buffalo to Baltimore to St. Louis; gunfights and violence in many cities, notably Pittsburgh, triggered by arrival of National Guard and US troops
  • Cigarmakers’ strike, New York City, to protest wage cuts
  • Anti-Chinese riots, San Franciso
  • Nez Percé War in the northern Rockies
  • El Paso “salt war” in Texas involves violent resistance by local Tejanos against Anglo takeover of salt beds (1877-1878)
  • Mimbreño Apache revolt, Arizona, led by Victorio (1877-1880)
  • American Humane Association founded
  • New York Farmers’ Alliance created in Rochester; Knights of Reliance, later the Farmers’ Alliance, founded in Lampasas County, Texas
  • First local telephone exchange set up in Lowell, MA; first switchboard built in Boston; intercity telephone communications betgions between Chicago and Milwaukee and Boston and Salem
  • First electric streetlight introduced in Newark, NJ
  • Astronomer Asaph Hall identifies the two moons that orbit Mars
  • Extensive dinosaur fossil beds discovered in Como Bluffs, Wyoming
  • Hires root beer marketed for the first time
  • 1878
  • In re Ah Yup, US Supreme Court declares Chinese immigrants ineligible to naturalize and become US citizens
  • Greenback Labor Party founded
  • Socialist Labor Party founded
  • Bannock War, Idaho
  • Lincoln County War between New Mexico cattlemen includes gunfights, ambushes, and murders on both sides
  • Sam Bass gang battles Texas Rangers at Round Rock, Texas
  • Alexander Winchell, professor of geology at Vanderbilt, is fired for contradicting biblical chronology in his lectures
  • John Wesley Powell, Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States
  • Henry James, The Europeans
  • Anna Katherine Green publishes The Leavenworth Case, considered the first American detective novel
  • Thomas Edison demonstrates and patents phonograph
  • First bicycle club formed in Boston
  • 1879
  • Hayes Administration negotiates “executive agreement” for coaling station in Samoa
  • Standing Bear v. Crook
  • US Geological Survey created to study the nation’s topography and nature resources
  • Ute War in Colorado and Utah
  • Art Institute of Chicago founded
  • Carlisle Indian School founded in Pennsylvania
  • Henry George, Progress and Poverty

A Tough Job for the Atlas of the Labor World.

A Tough Job for the Atlas of the Labor World. Henry George. "If you fellows up there don't keep quiet, I shall have to drop the whole thing!" Puck, Oct. 1887, p.148.


  • Henry James, Daisy Miller
  • Thomas Edison develops and patents incandescent light bulb
  • James and John Ritty patent a cash register
  • Researchers at Johns Hopkins University develop saccharine
  • Frank Woolworth opens his first “five and dime” store in Pennsylvania
  • 1880
  • James Garfield, Republican, defeats Winfield S. Hancock, Democrat, in the US presidential election; popular vote 4,453,295 to 4,414,082; electoral vote 214 to 155. Minor candidates include James B. Weaver on the Greenback-Labor ticket and Neal Dow on the Prohibition ticket
  • Chinese homes and businesses destroyed by mob violence in Denver
  • Violent clashes between farmers and agents of Southern Pacific Railroad, Mussel Slough, CaliforniaFarmers’
  • Alliance founded in Cook Couinty, Illinois; becomes the basis for National Farmers Alliance
  • Henry Adams, Democracy
  • Charles Loring Brace, The Dangerous Classes of New York
  • Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad
  • Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur
  • Cleveland installs first electric streetlight system in the nation
  • First hydroelectric power company created in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Sherwin-Williams begins manufacturing house paint
  • Cloistered Dominican nuns (Roman Catholic) founded
  • Swiss-American Federation of Benedictines (Roman Catholic) founded in United States
  • Salvation Army founded in the United States
  • 1881
  • US President James Garfield assassinated; V. P. Chester A. Arthur assumes the office
  • Tennessee segregates railroad cars
  • Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners founded
  • Booker T. Washington founds Tuskegee Institute, Alabama
  • Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia, founded
  • Wharton School of Finance created at University of Pennsylvania
  • Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus, His Songs and Sayings
  • Helen Hunt Jackson, A Century of Dishonor
  • Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
  • First electric power plant serving multiple customers is built in New York City
  • Frederic Ives produces the first color photograph
  • First major vaudeville theater opens in New York City
  • First men’s national tennis championship played at Newport, RI
  • American Red Cross founded
  • 1882
  • Economic depression hits, lasting through 1885
  • Congress passes Edmunds Act prohibiting polygamy in federal territories
  • US and Korea sign treaty permitting Korean immigration
  • Chinese Exclusion Act bars entry of Chinese laborers for ten years
  • Violent pogroms in Russia stimulate immigration of Russian Jews seeking refuge in the United States
  • Gun battles and vigilante violence break out as agents of a corporate consortium “clear” the Maxwell Land Grant, in New Mexico and Colorado, of prior inhabitants (1882-1883)
  • Cotton mill strike in Cohoes, NY, to protest wage reductions
  • Henry Adams, John Randolph
  • Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper
  • Inventor Henry Seely patens an electric iron
  • John D. Rockefeller creates Standard Oil Trust, first corporation to use trust mechanism
  • Knights of Columbus founded in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Dominican Sisters (Roman Catholic) founded in United States
  • First Good Shepherd Sisters (Roman Catholic) arrive in United States from Canada
  • Jewish agricultural colonies estabilshed in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia
  • 1883
  • In Ex Parte Crow Dog Supreme Court rules that state and federal courts have no jurisdiction over Indian lands
  • US Supreme Court strikes down Civil Rights Act of 1875
  • Congresses passes Pendleton Act, establishing Civil Service Commission and designating some federal offices as meri-based

Civil Service.

Setting the Ball A-Rolling. Puck, Dec. 1882, p.272.


  • Hatch Act provides federal support for agricultural experiment stations, run by states through state universities
  • White supremacists stage a political coup in Danville, VA, forcibly removing local officials and murdering four blacks
  • Cowboy strike in Texas panhandle over wage reductions
  • Tobacco workers’ strike, Lynchburg, VA
  • Iron Molders’ lockout, Troy, NY, results in violence and murders on both sides (1883-1884)
  • Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
  • Lester Frank Ward, Dynamic Sociology
  • Sara Winnemucca, Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims
  • Modern Language Association founded
  • Metropolitan Opera opens in New York
  • Northern Pacific Railroad completed, creating additional transcontinental link
  • United States railroads set up four standard timezones; most of the nation converts to these standard times on the “day of two noons”
  • Completion of 1595-foot Brooklyn Bridge, a suspension bridge and engineering marvel designed by John Roebling; links Brooklyn to New York City for pedestrians and road traffic
  • William Jenney designs the first steel-frame skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, Chicago
  • First Wild West Show presented by Buffalo Bill
  • Indian Shaker Church founded
  • Oblates (Roman Catholic) established in United States
  • 1884
  • Grover Cleveland, Democrat, defeats James G. Blaine, Republican, in the US presidential election; popular vote 4,879,507 to 4,850,293, electoral vote 219 to 182; minor candidates include Benjamin Butler on the Greenback-Labor ticket, John St. John on the Prohibition ticket, and Belva Lockwood on the National Equal Rights ticket
  • US Naval War College is founded at Newport, RI
  • Major riot in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Textile workers’ strike in Fall River, MA, over wage cuts
  • Union Pacific Railroad Strike across the West (Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah) over wage cuts
  • Bryn Mawr College established in Pennsylvania
  • John Fiske, Excursions of an Evolutionist
  • Helen Hunt Jackson, Ramona
  • Sarah Orne Jewett, A Country Doctor
  • Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • First volume of the History of Woman Suffrage, edited Susan B. Anthony, Ida Husted Harper, et al., published
  • American Historical Association founded
  • Ladies’ Health Protective Association formed in New York to combat pollution and poor urban sanitation
  • Otto Mergenthaler patents a typesetting machine that cuts publishing time and costs for newspapers and magazines
  • World’s Cotton Centennial Exposition, New Orleans
  • Shalam (Spiritualist) colony founded in New Mexico

© 2010 Rebecca Edwards, author of New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 by Rebecca Edwards, Oxford University Press


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New Spirits
Timelines in US History 1895-1905
Perceptions and Realities: The Victorian Age Inventions of the era Tramps and Millionaires Yellowstone Park Journals of the era White City/1893 Worlds Fair The Civil War President McKinley