Events from the year 1888 in the United States.
- President: Grover Cleveland (D-New York)
- Vice President: vacant
- Chief Justice: Morrison Waite (Ohio) (until March 23), Melville Fuller (Illinois) (starting October 8)
- Speaker of the House of Representatives: John G. Carlisle (D-Kentucky)
- Congress: 50th
- January 13 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C.
- February 27 – In West Orange, New Jersey, Thomas Edison meets with Eadweard Muybridge, who proposes a scheme for sound film.
- March 8 – The Agriculture College of Utah, (later Utah State University) is founded in Logan, Utah.
- March 11 – The "Great Blizzard of 1888" begins along the East Coast of the United States, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.
- March 25 – Opening of an international Congress for Women's Rights organized by Susan B. Anthony in Washington, D.C., leading to formation of the International Council of Women, a key event in the international women's movement.
- May 1 – Fort Belknap Indian Reservation is established by the United States Congress.
- May 5 – The International Association of Machinists is founded in Atlanta, Georgia.
- June 3 – Ernest Thayer's baseball poem "Casey at the Bat" is first published (under the pen name "Phin") as the last of his humorous contributions to The San Francisco Examiner.
- June 19 – The Republican Convention opens at the Auditorium Building, Chicago. Benjamin Harrison and Levi Morton win the nominations for President and Vice President, respectively.
- July 25 – Frank Edward McGurrin, a court stenographer from Salt Lake City, Utah, purportedly the only person using touch typing at this time, wins a decisive victory over Louis Traub in a typing contest held in Cincinnati, Ohio. This date can be called the birthday of the touch typing method that becomes widely used.
- August 10 – Lynching of Amos Miller: 23-year-old African American farmhand Amos Miller is hanged by a mob from the balcony of Williamson County Courthouse (Franklin, Tennessee).
- August 25 – William Seward Burroughs patents the adding machine.
- September 4 – Eastman Kodak Company founded by George Eastman.
- September 8 – President of the United States Grover Cleveland declares the Chinese "impossible of assimilation with our people and dangerous to our peace and welfare" (in a letter accepting renomination for the office of President).
- October – The mediumship of the Fox sisters is confessed to be fraudulent.
- October 9 – The Washington Monument officially opens to the general public in D.C.
- November 6 – 1888 United States presidential election: Democratic Party incumbent Grover Cleveland wins the popular vote, but loses the Electoral College vote to Republican challenger Benjamin Harrison, therefore losing the election.
- November 27 – The sorority Delta Delta Delta is founded at Boston University.
- November 29 – Celebration of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah coincide.
- December 1 – The Washington Bridge opens to permit-holding pedestrians over the Harlem River in New York City, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and The Bronx.
- The Baldwin School is founded in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, as "Miss [Florence] Baldwin's School for Girls, Preparatory for Bryn Mawr College".
- G. D. Searle is founded as a pharmaceutical company, originally in Omaha, Nebraska.
- Katz's Delicatessen is founded in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
- New Mexico State University is founded in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
- Gilded Age (1869–c. 1896)
- October 25 – The New York Giants clinch their First National League Championship series with an 11–3 win over the St. Louis Browns. The final 2 games will be played for revenue purposes with St. Louis winning both contests for an overall series result of 6 games to 4 in favor of the Giants.
- November 24 - Yale wins the Consensus College Football National Championship
- January 1 – John Garand, inventor and designer of the M1 Garand (died 1974)
- c. January 20 – Huddie William Ledbetter (Lead Belly), folk and blues singer (died 1949)
- February 22 – Owen Brewster, U.S. Senator from Maine from 1941 to 1952 (died 1961)
- February 25 – John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959 (died 1959)
- March 4 – Knute Rockne, American football player and coach (died 1931)
- March 10 – Ilo Wallace, Second Lady of the United States as wife of Henry A. Wallace (died 1981)
- March 26 – Gerald Murphy, socialite (died 1964)
- March 29 – James E. Casey, businessman and founder of UPS (died 1983)
- April 8 – Dennis Chávez, U.S. Senator from New Mexico from 1935 to 1962 (died 1962)
- April 26 – Anita Loos, writer (died 1981)
- May 11
- May 15 – John E. Miller, U.S. Senator from Arkansas from 1937 to 1941 (died 1981)
- July 5 – Herbert Spencer Gasser, physiologist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1944 (died 1963)
- July 10 – Hazel Abel, U.S. Senator from Nebraska in 1954 (died 1966)
- July 23 – Raymond Chandler, novelist (died 1959)
- July 31 – William Warren Barbour, U.S. Senator from New Jersey from 1931 to 1937 (died 1943)
- August 5 – George W. Christians, founder of the Crusader White Shirts (died 1983)
- August 19 – Sam G. Bratton, U.S. Senator from New Mexico from 1925 to 1933 (died 1963)
- September 2 – Charles C. Gossett, U.S. Senator from Idaho from 1945 to 1946 (died 1974)
- September 6 – Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., politician (died 1969)
- September 26
- October 7 – Henry A. Wallace, 33rd Vice President of the United States from 1941 to 1945 (died 1965)
- October 16
- October 30 – Alan Goodrich Kirk, admiral (died 1963)
- November 17 – J. Melville Broughton, U.S. Senator from North Carolina from 1948 to 1949 (died 1949)
- November 23 – Harpo Marx, comedian (died 1964)
- December 18 – Robert Moses, public works director (died 1981)
- January 21 – Adolph Douai, German-American socialist and abolitionist newspaper editor, journalist and teacher (born 1819)
- February 8 – Robert H. Anderson, infantry officer in the United States Army and brigadier general in the Confederate States Army (born 1835)
- February 11 – William Kelly, inventor (born 1811)
- March 4 – Amos Bronson Alcott, educator and writer (born 1799)
- March 6 – Louisa May Alcott, author (born 1832)
- March 7 – Christopher Memminger, German-born American politician, 1st Confederate States Secretary of the Treasury (born 1803)
- March 19 – John Pendleton King, U.S. Senator from Georgia from 1833 to 1837 (born 1799)
- March 23 - Morrison Waite, 7th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (born 1816)
- April 18 – Roscoe Conkling, leader of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party (born 1829)
- July 23 – Williams Carter Wickham, lawyer, politician, and Confederate general (born 1820)
- August 14 – Charles Crocker, railroad executive (born 1822)
- August 16 – John Pemberton, pharmacist and inventor of Coca-Cola (born 1831)
- August 22 – Charles W. Cathcart, U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1845 to 1853 (born 1809)
- September 30 – Eunice Newton Foote, physicist and women's rights campaigner (born 1819)
- October 16 – John Wentworth, mayor of Chicago from 1857 to 1858 and 1860 to 1861 (born 1815)
- November 20 – Nathaniel Currier, illustrator (born 1813)
- December 18 – Eagle Woman, Lakota leader (born 1820)
- "Washington Bridge" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. 1982-09-14.
- "Louisa May Alcott | Biography, Childhood, Family, Books, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
- Media related to 1888 in the United States at Wikimedia Commons