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On December 20, South Carolina secedes from the union, setting in motion the forces leading to the US Civil war.
The Pony Express begins cross-country mail delivery.
Louis Agassiz attacks Darwin's the origin of species, rejecting the idea of evolution of the species and arguing that each species was created separately.
Thomas Henry Huxley (sometimes known as Darwin's bulldog) clashes with Bishop "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce about evolution at the annual meeting of the The British Association for the Advancement of Science, in what has come to be known as the Huxley-Wilberforce debate.
Louis Pasteur becomes significantly involved in biological research with the publication of "Mémoir sur la fermentation alcoolique" in which he showed that alcoholic fermentation seemed to be carried out by yeast, which were themselves living organisms.
Fort Sumter shelled, American Civil War begins.
The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Battle of Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces and still often used in the Southern United States), is fought on July 21, 1861, near Manassas, Virginia. It is the first major land battle of the American Civil War. Neither Confederate nor Union troops were ready for battle. Union troops advanced on Confederate troops, almost breaking through, but at the last moment, Confederate reinforcements arrived on the battlefield and carried the day. Union troops were routed. Union civilian spectators, who had come to watch the expected Conferedate defeat as entertainment, were forecd to run for their lives.
The US flag is modified to have thirty-four stars, reflecting the addition of one new state: Kansas.
Between 1861 and 1862, Max Johann Sigismund Schultze (Germany) and Heinrich Anton de Bary (Germany) establish the essential unity of protoplasm in all living cells.
In "Mémoires sur les corpuscles organisés qui existent dans l'atmosphère," Pasteur applies heat to bent-neck flasks to show unequivocally that the "organized bodies" (microbes) which drive fermentation originate from "organized bodies" that exist in the atmosphere. In this elegant series of experiments, Pasteur laid to rest the long-held belief in spontaneous generation."
Congress passes the First Confiscation Act, which prevents Confederate slave owners from re-enslaving runaways.
On April 16, Congress abolishes slavery in the District of Columbia.
Otto von Bismarck is appointed Prime Minister of Prussia.
The Battle of Fort Donelson (11-16 Feb) is an early Union victory in the American Civil War, which opened the Cumberland River as an avenue for the invasion of the South. The success elevated Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant from an obscure and largely unproven leader to the rank of major general.
The Battle of Shiloh (6-7 Apr). Although the Confederates swept the field on the first day, Union troops under U. S. Grant retook the field on the second day. Combined Union and Conferederate casualties (23,746 killed, wounded, or missing) represented more than the total American battle-related casualties of the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American War combined.
The US flag is modified to have thirty-five stars, reflecting the addition of one new state: West Virginia. This new state was created when Union sympathizers in the western portion of Virginia seceded from Virginia (then in secession from the US) and rejoined the Union.
Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation takes effect on January 1, legally freeing slaves in areas of the South still in rebellion against the United States.
The Battle of Gettysburg (1-3 Jul) was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's invasion of the North.
The Siege of Vicksburg was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate army of Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton into the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and placed the city under siege. After more than forty days, with no re-enforcement and supplies nearly gone, the garrison surrendered on July 4. This surrender, combined with Lee's defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, represents the turning point of the war. From then on, military victory for the Confederacy was impossible.
Dominique Alexandre Godron and Charles Victor Naudin (France) independently report experiments in plant hybridization. Naudin confirmed Sageret's work, in general discussed work of the early hybridizers, and reported dominance and segregation in Datura (jimsonweed) hybrids. He did not deal with single characters and reported no statistical observations on the second generation. His theoretical explanation of his facts was a forerunner of Mendel's ideas, but inferred rather than deduced.
After the Confederate defeat at Chattanooga, President Lincoln promoted Grant to a special regular army rank, Lieutenant General, authorized by Congress on March 2, 1864. This rank had previously been awarded two other times, a full rank to George Washington and a Brevet rank to Winfield Scott. Lincoln then places Grant in charges of all Union forces.
Sherman captures Atlanta, marches to Savannah. Through a series of bloody battles, Grant forces Lee back to Petersburg, Virgina, and then lays siege to the city. Lincoln is reelected, destroying the South's hope for a political settlement to the war.
Ernst Haeckel (Häckel) outlines the essential elements of modern zoological classification.
James Clerk Maxwell's A dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field is the first of his publications to use Michael Faraday's concept of a field as the basis of the mathematical treatment of electricity and magnetism. It introduces Maxwell's equations to describe electromagnetism.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) first published. The novel was written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.
The US flag is modified to have thirty-six stars, reflecting the addition of one new state: Nevada.
On February 1, Abraham Lincoln signs the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawing slavery throughout the United States.
The Ku Klux Klan is formed on December 24 in Polanski, Tennessee, by six Confederate veterans. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate cavalry general and slave trader, serves as the Klan's first grand wizard or leader-in-chief.
Lee surrenders, US Civil war ends, Lincoln assassinated.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 21, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865.
Franz Schweigger-Seidel and A. von la Valette St. George (Germany) independently prove that a spermatozoon is a single cell and contains nucleus and cytoplasm
Gregor Mendel presents his work on inheritance in peas to the Brünn Natural History Society. The results are published the following year.
Rudolf Clausius invents the term ENTROPY to describe the degradation of energy in the closed system.
Blue Danube Waltz Presented Johann Strauss the younger first presents his Blue Danube Waltz, which later became one of the most popular and familiar works of European music.
On June 13, Congress approves the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing due process and equal protection under the law to all citizens. The amendment also grants citizenship to African-Americans.
Ernst Heinrich Haeckel (Häckel) hypothesizes that the nucleus of a cell transmits its hereditary information.
Mendel publishes his work on heredity, Versuche über Pflanzen Hybriden.
Ernst Heinrich Haeckel (Häckel) first used the term ECOLOGY to describe the study of living organisms and their interactions with other organisms and with their environment.
The US flag is modified to have thirty-seven stars, reflecting the addition of one new state: Nebraska.
The Alaska Purchase resulted in the transfer of Alaska to the United States from the Russian Empire for a total price of $ 7,000,000. The purchase, made at the initiative of United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, gained 586,412 square miles of new United States territory.
H. S. Bidwell (United States) reports controlled pollination in maize.
Louisa May Alcott publishes Little Women.
Wallace Clement Ware Sabine becomes the first acoustical engineer and uses acoustic principles to design Boston's Symphony Hall.
The Meiji Restoration in Japan (led by samurai from the western clans of Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, and Hizen) overthrows the feudal shogunate system and initiates Japan's participation in the modern world.
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, was one of the most dramatic events in the political life of the United States during Reconstruction, and the first impeachment in history of a sitting United States president.
Charles Darwin publishes The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, in which he offers his own theory of heredity, which he called the "Provisional Hypothesis of Pangenesis."
On February 26, Congress sends the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution to the states for approval. The amendment guarantees African-American males the right to vote.
Transcontinental Rail Service Begun in the United States On May 10th, at Promontory Point, Utah, a golden rail spike was struck, completing the first transcontinental railroad line.
Japan colonizes Hokkaido as part of its new nation state.
The Suez Canal opened to traffic on 17 November. The canal linked the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It was 103 miles long and it brought Oriental ports 5,000 miles closer to Europe. Work had begun on the canal in 1859, financed primarily by French investors. The canal increased the strategic importance of Egypt to European powers.
Francis Galton publishes Hereditary Genius. In it he describes a scientific study of human pedigrees from which he concludes that intelligence has a genetic basis.
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