Timeline of Selected Events: 1870-1879

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1870 Book Icon

  • Only 2 out of every 100 Americans 17 years or older are high school graduates, a figure that will rise to 78 percent by 1970.
  • First lightweight all-metal bicycle is patented.
  • The Vatican council votes that the pope is infallible when he defines doctrine or morals.
  • An advanced rotary press prints both sides of a page in a single operation.
  • Production of paper from pulpwood begins in New England.

1871 Book Icon

  • Darwin's The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex is published. Pic Icon
  • A prehistoric pterodactyl skeleton is identified for the first time by Othniel Charles Marsh, the first U. S. paleontologist.
  • A study reveals that 710 landlords own one quarter of all the land in England and Wales while fewer than 5,000 people own three quarters of the land in the British Isles.
  • U.S. population reaches roughly 39 million and Great Britain's reaches 26 million
  • Francis Galton's "Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer"

1872 Book Icon

  • Darwin, in his Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals, is the first to demonstrate humans and other animals similarly express emotions such as fear, anger, and pleasure. Pic Icon
  • Susan B. Anthony and other women's rights activists are arrested for trying to vote in the November 5th election.
  • New York Sun begins an exposure of the Crédit Mobilier.
  • "Comstock Law" makes it a criminal offense to import, mail, or transport in interstate commerce "any article of medicine for the prevention of conception or for causing abortion."

1873 Book Icon

  • Britain's "golden age" comes to an end after 23 years as the U.S. and Germany challenge British industrial preeminence.
  • September 19th, Black Friday on the stock exchange leads to severe depression which lasts several years, yet spurs social reform—by the year's end millions of Americans are forced to rely on soup kitchens and other charities, and tens of thousands nearly starve.
  • Contagious nature of typhoid fever proved by English physician William Budd.

1874 Book Icon

  • Massachusetts enacts the first effective 10-hour day law for women.
  • U.S. public high school system wins support from the Supreme Court, which rules against a citizen who had brought a suit to prevent collection of additional taxes.
  • English surgeon Abraham Groves establishes practice of sterilizing surgical instruments and wearing sterile rubber gloves during operations.
  • Remington and Sons introduces first speedy typewriter, with the now standard QWERTY keyboard. Pic Icon
  • Suggested reading: T. H. Huxley's "On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata, and Its History."

1875 Book Icon

  • Congress passes a Civil Rights Act guaranteeing blacks equal rights in public places and banning their exclusion from jury duty.
  • Tennessee enacts the first "Jim Crow" law, a measure prejudicial to blacks.
  • Mary Baker Eddy explains her system of faith healing in her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

1876 Book Icon

  • Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone. Pic Icon
  • Nikolaus Otto invents the first commercially successful internal four-stroke combustion engine, the basis of today's most common gasoline engines.
  • The Battle of Little Big Horn ends in the massacre of a 264-man Cavalry force under George Armstrong Custer at the hands of Sioux chief Sitting Bull. Pic Icon
  • Cesare Lombroso's The Criminal Man

1877 Book Icon

  • English-born sociologist Richard Louis Dugdale's The Jukes: a Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease, and Heredity purports to be an extensive criminal-genealogical study of 7 generations of a depraved U.S. family. Dugdale concludes that the Jukes have cost the public some $1.3 million and that their immorality is hereditary. Pic Icon
  • Edison invents phonograph.
  • Giovanni Schiaparelli thinks he discovers "canals" or channels on Mars (Schiaparelli on Mars in Google Earth). Pic Icon
  • Nearly 10,500 U. S. business firms fail as the economic depression that began in 1873 continues.
  • Johns Hopkins University founds the first university press. The new university is the first institution to subordinate student needs to research demands, inaugurating the "publish or perish" system that will lead to widespread publication of pedantic papers which often have little to do with real education.
  • The taboo subject of contraception comes into the open at the Bradlaugh-Besant trial. Their acquittal will lead to an end of the ban on disseminating contraceptive devices.
  • Queen Victoria is declared empress of India, Britain annexes the Boer Republic of Transvaal, and home rule for Ireland becomes a major political issue in Britain.
  • Robert Koch identifies the Bacillus anthracis bacteria as the first bacteria to cause disease. Pic Icon

1878 Book Icon

There are no events for 1878 yet.

1879 Book Icon

  • Edison patents the incandescent light bulb.
  • Discovery of Cro-Magnon cave paintings in Altamira, Spain. Pic Icon
  • The multiple switchboard invented by U. S. engineer Leroy Firman will make the telephone a commercial success and help increase the number of U.S. telephone subscribers from 50,000 in 1880 to 250,000 in 1890.
  • 1860
  • 1870
  • 1880
  • 1890
  • 1900
  • 1910