Timeline: 1865-1874


Shadow Decoration.

Charles Courtney Curran (American, 1861-1942). Shadow Decoration, 1887, Oil on canvas. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. Purchase, 1887.2

  • 1885
  • Washington Monument dedicated in Washington DC
  • New York establishes Adirondack Forest Preserve
  • Kaweah Colony (Socialist) founded in California
  • Topolobampo Colony founded in Sinaloa, Mexico
  • Anti-Chinese violence by Knights of Labor miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming, results in burning to death of Chinese miners; subsequent anti-Chinese riots in Seattle Tacoma, and many towns in Oregon and Northern California; includes assaults and forcible expulsion of Chinese miners and agricultural workers (1885-1886)
  • Cloakmakers’ general strike, New York City, over wages and working hours (1885-1886)
  • Carpet weavers’ strike, Yonkers, New York, over union recognition (1885-1886)
  • Series of two strikes against Jay Gould’s Southwest Railroad, along the Missouri Pacific, Kansas and Texas, and Wabash lines; after Gould reneges on agreement, riots erupt in Ft. Worth, Texas, and Parsons, Kansas; the killing of nine strikers in East St. Louis precipitates riots and imposition of martial law (1885-1886)
  • McCormick Harvesting Machine Company strike, Chicago, over wage cuts; repeated violent clashes occur in front of plant, with strikers facing off against replacement workers, Pinkerton detectives, and Chicago police (1885-1886)
  • George Washington Cable, The Silent South
  • Laurence Gronlund, The Cooperative Commonwealth
  • William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham
  • Albert Kimsey Owen, Integral Cooperation
  • Josiah Strong, Our Country
  • American Economic Association founded
  • Inventor Charles Tainter introduces the Dictaphone
  • William Stanley patents the electric transformer
  • Astronomers witness the birth of a star in the Andromeda Nebula
  • Three children from Newark, New Jersey, treated for rabies at Louis Pasteur’s clinic in France; first Americans whose lives were probably saved by his treatment
  • Holy Family Sisters (Roman Catholic) arrive in United States from Italy
  • 1886
  • “Liberty Enlightening the World” dedicated in New York harbor
  • US v. Kagama
  • Yick Wo v. Hopkins strikes down California laws that discriminate against Chinese
  • In Wabash v. Illinois, Supreme Court sets limit on government regulation of railroads
  • Nehalem Valley Cooperative Colony founded in Oregon
  • Twenty blacks massacred in Carrollton, Mississippi
  • Anti-Chinese riots in Washington Territory; martial law declared
  • May 1 national strike for the Eight-Hour day; over 350,000 suspend work activities, with labor militancy especially strong in Chicago; in Detroit, participation by workers at Michigan Car Works precipitates violence
  • Continued violence in Chicago McCormick strike, including police killing of two strikers, leads to protest meeting at Haymarket Square; bomb thrown by unknown person kills a policeman and more are killed by ensuing police fire; nationwide hysteria over anarchist threat; eight Chicago anarchists sentenced to hang.
  • Textile stirke in Augusta, Georgia, over low wages and “pass system” that bars workers from seeking higher wages from a new employer; lockout follows
  • Cowboy strike in Wyoming, to protest layoffs and wage cuts
  • Collar laundresses strike and lockout in Troy, NY, over wages and union recognition
  • Labor-related riots in Milwaukee result in seven deaths
  • American Federation of Labor founded
  • Henry James, The Bostonians
  • First settlement house in United States established in New York
  • First Coca-Cola sold in Atlanta, Georgia
  • First Tournament of Roses held in Pasadena, California
  • Dwight Moody founded Bible Institute for Home and Foreign Missions
  • 1887
  • Dawes Allotment Act
  • Edmunds-Tucker Act makes further attempts to abolish polygamy and limit Mormon power in Utah Territory, and disfranchises the Territory’s women
  • With Interstate Commerce Act, Congress establishes Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate and oversee interstate trade
  • Reciprocity Treaty between US and Hawai’i renewed; as condition for renewal US requires and receives a lease to use Pearl Harbor as a naval base; US imposes “bayonet constitution” on the islands
  • Florida segregates railroad cars
  • Massachusetts Bureau of Labor uses the term “unemployment” for the first time, in its modern usage, in one of its reports
  • New York Longshoremen’s strike over wage cuts; spreads to Hoboken and other New Jersey ports
  • Vigilantes attack and murder Chinese miners in Hell’s Canyon on Idaho-Oregon border
  • American Protective Association, an anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant organization, is founded

Immigrants not welcomed.

The "Pilgrim Fathers" of 250 years Ago. The "Pilgrim Fathers" of To-Day. Just as Dangerous Now as Then. Puck, Jan. 1883, p.288.


  • Puget Sound Cooperative Colony (Socialist) founded in Washington
  • Marine Biological Laboratory founded at Woods Hole, Massachusetts
  • Albert Michelson, researcher and teacher at US Naval Academy, seeks to measure velocity of light and establishes that there is no “luminiferous ether” in space
  • National Geographic Society is founded
  • First women’s national tennis championship played in Philadelphia
  • Olivetan Benedictine Sisters (Roman Catholic) formed in Arkansas
  • 1888
  • Benjamin Harrison, Republican, defeats President Grover Cleveland, Democrat, in the US presidential election; popular vote 5,477,129 to 5,537,857; electoral vote 233 to 168. Minor candidates include Clinton Fisk on the Prhoibition ticket, Anson J. Streeter on the Union Labor ticket, and Belva Lockwood on the National Equal Rights ticket
  • Bayard-Chamberlain Treaty
  • Massachusetts is first state to adopt Australian ballot system
  • Mississippi segregates railroad cars
  • Burlington Railroad workers’ strike on lines running from Chicago to Colorado and Wyoming; armed clashes between strikers and Pinkerton detectives, trains burned and dynamited
  • Cincinnati shoemakers’ lockout over wages and union recognition
  • International Association of Machinists founded
  • National Colored Farmers’ Alliance and Cooperative Union founded
  • Boone and Crockett Club, a hunters’ organization dedicated to preserving game animals, founded in New York
  • Babylonian Expedition Fund of University of Pennsylvania’s Museum launches its first archaeological expedition to Nippur (in today’s Iraq)
  • Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000-1887
  • James Bryce, The American Commonwealth
  • Russell Conwell, Acres of Diamonds
  • George Eastman develops and patents hand-held “Kodak” camera
  • Nikola Tesla introduces first motor running on alternating current, enabling electric power to be transmitted over large distances
  • Herman Hollerith invents a punch-card tabulating machine, used in the 1890 census, that underlays the technology for early “computers”
  • Richmond, Virginia, installs the nation’s first electric trolley system
  • Columbia Cooperative Colony founded in Oregon
  • 1889
  • North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming enter the Union (39th, 40th, 41st, and 42nd states)
  • Texas segregates railroad cars
  • First use of electric chair for execution, in New York state; execution botched
  • Mexican-American White Caps (Gorras Blancas) organize in New Mexico; destroy barbed wire fences, rail lines, crops, houses, and bridges and engage in beatings and violence to protest Anglo intrusion (1889-1890)
  • Textile workers strike in Fall River, MA, over wages, safety, and pace of work; strikers beat and stone replacement workers
  • Professional baseball players’ revolt against the National League; strikers run their own league, the Players’ League, which competes with the NL for one season (1889-1890)
  • Commercial Union of American States formed
  • Farmers’ Incorporated Cooperative Society founded in Rockwell, Iowa
  • Hull House settlement founded in Chicago
  • General Federation of Women’s Clubs founded
  • American Academy of Political and Social Science founded
  • Andrew Carnegie, “The Gospel of Wealth”
  • Bronson Howard, "Shenandoah" (play)
  • Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West (1889-1896)
  • Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
  • Stunt reporter Nellie Bly, under sponsorship of the New York World, circles the world in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, beating the fictional record set in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Singer Sewing Machine Co. produces first electric sewing machine in America
  • Otis Elevator Co. installs the country’s first electric elevators in a New York office building
  • Safety bicycles manufactured in the United States, beginning a bicycle craze
  • Catholic church disbands and excommunicates last Penitentes, a lay brotherhood in the Southwest
  • Prophecies of Paiute visionnary Wovoka initiate spread of Ghost Dance among western Indian peoples
  • 1890
  • Economic depression hits, lasting through 1891
  • Idaho and Wyoming enter the Union (43rd and 44th states)
  • In Minnesota Rate Case, the Supreme Court limits government regulation of shipping rates
  • Lodge Elections Bill, providing federal oversight of polls when petitioned by local citizens, defeated by one vote in the Senate
  • Congress passes Sherman Antitrust Act
  • McKinley Tariff passed
  • Forest Reserve Act authorizes president to set aside public lands as forest reserves
  • Sequoia National Park established
  • California returns Yosemite Valley to federal control as a national park
  • Department of Agriculture becomes a cabinet-level agency
  • “Mississippi Plan” uses an array of measures to disfranchise black, poor, and illiterate voters; soon copied by other southern states
  • Louisiana segregates railroad cars
  • Gorras Blancas (White Caps), protesting Anglo intrusion, issue manifesto in New Mexico
  • Massacre of Sioux Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee, South Dakota
  • Carpenters’ eight-hour day strike wins gains in 137 cities
  • Pan-American Union founded
  • United Mine Workers founded
  • AWSA and NWSA merge to form NAWSA
  • Afro-American League formed in Chicago
  • University of Chicago founded
  • George Washington Cable, The Negro Question
  • James Herne, Margaret Fleming (play)
  • William Dean Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes
  • William James, Principles of Psychology
  • Alfred Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History
  • Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives
  • Louis Sullivan designs Wainwright Building, St. Louis
  • Charles “Buddy” Bolden forms jazz band in New Orleans
  • First Army-Navy football game
  • Mormon Church officially renounces doctrine of polygamy, paving the way for Utah statehood
  • 1891
  • United States becomes party to an international copyright bill protecting copyrights in US and Europe
  • King David Kalakaua of Hawai'i dies; his sister Liliuokalani ascends the throne
  • Mob in Chile kills two American sailors, creating international incident and calls for war with Chile
  • Catarino Garza organizes Mexican-American force in Texas and invades northern Mexico to oppose Diaz regime; pursued by both Mexican and US troops, flees to Cuba
  • Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia segregate railroad cars
  • Court of Private Land Claims adjudicates conflicting property claims in the Southwest (1891-1904)
  • Eleven Italian-Americans, tried for the murder of New Orleans’ police chief and acquitted, are lynched by a mob
  • Chinese sugar-cane workers strike, Hawai’i, over deductions from wages; violently crushed by police
  • Black dockworkers’ strike, Savannah, GA, over wage cuts
  • Coal miners’ strike, eastern Tennessee, over “scrip” pay and competition from convict labor; strikers forcibly remove convict laborers from the mining regions and burn convict stockades; military force used in response
  • National Women’s Alliance founded
  • Throop University, later renamed Caltech, founded in California
  • Sophia Alice Callahan (Creek), A Child of the Forest
  • Hamlin Garland, Main-Traveled Roads
  • Astronomer James Keeler shows that Saturn’s rings are made up of small particles
  • Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, a motion-picture technology
  • Inventor Jesse Reno develops the escalator
  • American Sugar Refining Company founded
  • Basketball invented by YMCA athletics instructors
  • Salvation Army opens Lighthouse shelter in New York City
  • Orello Cone publishes Gospel Criticism and Historical Christianity
  • 1892
  • Ellis Island opens as major US processing center for European immigration
  • Boll weevils begin to wreak devastation on cotton crops in Texas
  • Grover Cleveland, Democrat, defeats Benjamin Harrison, Republican, and James B. Weaver, Populist, to win a second term (non-consecutive) as US president; popular vote 5,555,429 to 5,182,690, electoral vote 277 to 145, with Weaver winning 1,029,846 votes and 22 electoral votes. Minor candidates include John Bidwell on the Prohibition ticket and Simon Wing on the Socialist Labor ticket
  • Bering Sea dispute
  • Geary Act extends Chinese exclusion for the next decade and requires registration of all Chinese living in the United States
  • Convention of reformers in St. Louis to discuss creation of a People’s Party
  • First national People’s Party convention in Omaha, Nebraska
  • Dalton Gang active in the West; raids Coffeyville, Kansas
  • Powder River War (or Johnson County War) between cattlemen, Wyoming
  • Steel workers lockout at Carnegie Steelworks, Homestead, PA, over union recognition, leads to burning of barges, pitched battle between strikers and large contingent of Pinkerton detectives; US troops sent to impose order
  • Hardrock miners’ strike in Couer d’Alene district, Idaho, over wage reductions precipitates a lockout, gunfights, and the dynamiting of mine property; National Guard and federal troops impose martial law and carry out mass detentions of strikers
  • New Orleans general strike for ten-hour day, overtime pay, and union recognition; a cross-racial effort in a number of trades and industries, it is defeated by a mass show of force on the part of state authorities
  • American Psychological Association founded
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"
  • Thomas Nelson Page, The Old South
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “The Solitude of Self”
  • Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors: Lynch-Law in All Its Phases
  • Walt Whitman publishes final version of Leaves of Grass
  • Researcher Theobald Smith demonstrates that Texas cattle fever is spread by ticks, paving the way for further discoveries of insect-borne pathogens
  • Sierra Club founded in California with leadership of John Muir
  • American Fine Arts Society founded
  • Frank Lloyd Wright designs first private home in Chicago
  • American Telephone and Telegraph opens long-distance telephone service between New York and Chicago
  • General Electric Company founded
  • James Corbett knocks out John L. Sullivan and wins world heavyweight boxing title
  • 1893
  • Major economic depression hits, lasting through at least 1897 (some historians argue longer, through 1898 or beyond)
  • Hawai’i’s Queen Lili’uokalani attempts to replace US-imposed “bayonet constitution” of 1887 with her own
  • constittuion; US facilitates coup against her; coup leaders declare Republic of Hawai’i the following year
  • Federal Railroad Safety Appliance Act requires air brakes on all trains
  • Women gain full suffrage in Colorado
  • Doolin Gang active in Indian Territory (1893-1896); Bill Doolin killed at Lawson by a posse, 1896
  • American Railway Union founded
  • Western Federation of Miners founded
  • Livingston Street Settlement founded in New York City
  • Cooperative Brotherhood of Winters Island (Socialist) founded in California
  • Hiawatha Colony (Socialist) founded in Michigan
  • Stephen Crane, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets
  • Frederick Jackson Turner delivers “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” American Historical Association
  • Inventor W. L. Judson patents the zipper
  • World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago; includes world’s first Ferris Wheel
  • Ice hockey introduced to United States
  • World’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago
  • Mormon Temple dedicated at Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Shiloh Movement (Church of the Living God) organized in Maine
  • Swami Vivekanada of India tours the United States; Vedanta Movement founded
  • Zion City (theocratic colony) founded in Illinois
  • 1894
  • Congress passes federal progressive income tax
  • Carey Desert Land Act grants federal land to the states for irrigation companies to develop and settle
  • Federal Bureau of Immigraton created
  • Labor Day made a national legal holiday
  • Commonweal of Christ (Coxey’s Army) marches to Washington, DC, seeking federal jobs for unemployed
  • American Railway Union organizes nationwide boycott of Pullman Cars, in solidarity with strike at Pullman Car Works, Chicago; strike spreads across the West, armed clashes and mob violence result in Chicago and many other cities result after US troops intervene to break strike
  • Hardrock miners’ strike in Cripple Creek, CO, for eight-hour da precipitates fierce violence between Western Federation of Miners and National Guard; the Strong Mine is dynamited
  • Great Northern Railroad Strike, on lines stretching from Minneapolis to Seattle, over wage cuts
  • Fall River, MA, textile workers strike over wage levels
  • Alianza Hispano Americana founded in Tucson, Arizona
  • Altruria Colony (Christian Socialist) formed in California
  • Colorado Cooperative Colony (Single-Tax) formed in Colorado
  • Glennis Cooperative Colony (Bellamy Nationalist) founded in Tacoma, Washington
  • Home Employment Cooperative Colony founded in Missouri
  • Field Museum of Natural History founded in Chicago
  • Purdue University leads in creation of Western Conference (now Big Ten) in college football
  • William Hope Harvey, Coin’s Financial School
  • William Dean Howells, A Traveler from Altruria
  • Henry Demorest Lloyd, Wealth Against Commonwealth
  • John Muir, The Mountains of California
  • Mark Twain, The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson
  • First trials of diphtehria antitoxin
  • Pope Leo XIII issues encyclical Rerum Novarum on industrialization and labor
  • Shaker colony founded in Narcoosee, Florida

© 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