The 1850s (pronounced "eighteen-fifties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1850, and ended on December 31, 1859.

From left, clockwise: Henry Clay introduces the Compromise of 1850 the U.S. Senate; Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Russian forces fight against British, French and Ottoman forces in Sevastopol during the Crimean War; SS Arctic, an American steamship, sinks in the Atlantic Ocean after a collision with a French steamship, SS Vesta in 1854; The Panama Railroad opens in 1855 connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with a railroad in Central America; Anglo-French and Qing Empire forces engage each other in a four-year long campaign known as the Second Opium War starting in 1856; Dred Scott v. Sandford denies American citizenship as mandated under the U.S. Constitution to African Americans; Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species in 1859, presenting the idea of natural selection.

It was a very turbulent decade, as wars such as the Crimean War, shifted and shook European politics, as well as the expansion of colonization towards the Far East, which also sparked conflicts like the Second Opium War. In the meantime, the United States saw its peak on mass migration to the American West, that particularly made the nation experience an economic boom, as well as a rapidly increasing population.

Crimean War

Wars edit

Internal conflicts edit

Prominent political events edit

Assassinations and attempts edit

Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:

Science and technology edit

Michael Faraday delivering a Christmas Lecture at the Royal Institution in London, c. 1855

Economics edit

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Society edit

  • The word girlfriend first appears in writing in 1855.
  • The word boyfriend first appears in writing in 1856.

Popular culture edit

Literature edit

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