Timeline from 1800 to 1810

Significant Events In the First Decade of the 19th Century

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson. Library of Congress

Decade By Decade: Timelines of the 1800s


  • The second federal census was taken in 1800, and determined the population to be 5,308,483. Of that number, 896,849, about 17 percent, were slaves.
  • April 24, 1800: Congress chartered the Library of Congress and allocated $5,000 to purchase books.
  • November 1, 1800: President John Adams moved into the unfinished Executive Mansion, which would later be known as the White House.
  • December 3, 1800: The United States electoral congress convened to decide the winner of the election of 1800. The election was disputed, and after a series of votes in the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas Jefferson was declared the winner over Aaron Burr and the incumbent John Adams.
  • November 17, 1800: The United States Congress held its first session in its new home, the unfinished Capitol, at Washington, D.C.


  • January 1, 1801: President John Adams began a tradition of White House receptions on New Year's Day. Any citizen could stand on line, enter the mansion, and shake hands with the president. The tradition endured until well into the 20th century.
  • January 1, 1801: The Act of Union, which bound Ireland to Britain, took effect.
  • January 21, 1801: President John Adams nominated John Marshall as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall would go on to define the role of the court.
  • February 19, 1801: Thomas Jefferson won the election of 1800, which was finally resolved in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • March 4, 1801: Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as president and delivered an eloquent inaugural address in the Senate chamber of the unfinished U.S. Capitol.
  • March 1801: President Jefferson appointed James Madison as secretary of state. As Jefferson was a widower, Madison's wife Dolley began serving the White House hostess.
  • March 10, 1801: The first census taken in Britain determines the population of England, Scotland, and Wales to be about 10.5 million.
  • March 16, 1801: George Perkins Marsh, an early advocate of conservation, was born in Woodstock, Vermont.
  • April 2, 1801: At the Battle of Copenhagen, the British Navy defeated a Danish and Norwegian fleet in action related to the Napoleonic Wars. Admiral Horatio Nelson was the hero of the battle.
  • May 1801: The Pasha of Tripoli declared war on the United States. President Thomas Jefferson responded by dispatching a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates.
  • May 16, 1801: William H. Seward, a senator from New York who would become Lincoln's secretary of state, was born in Florida, New York.
  • June 14, 1801: Benedict Arnold, famous traitor in the American Revolutionary War, died in England at the age of 60.


  • April 4, 1802: Dorothea Dix, an influential reformer who headed efforts to organize Union nurses in the Civil War, was born in Hampden, Maine.
  • Summer 1802: President Thomas Jefferson read a book by explorer Alexander Mackenzie, who had traveled across Canada to the Pacific Ocean and back. The book helped inspire what would become the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • July 2, 1802: Jonathan Cilley, who would be killed in a duel fought between two members of Congress, was born at Notthingham, New Hampshire.
  • July 4, 1802: The U.S. Military Academy opened at West Point, New York.
  • November 1802: Washington Irving published his first article, a political satire signed with the pseudonym "Jonathan Oldstyle."
  • November 9, 1802: Elijah Lovejoy, a printer and abolitionist who would be killed for his anti-slavery beliefs, was born in Albion, Maine.


  • February 24, 1803: The U.S. Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, decided Marbury v. Madison, a landmark case that established the principle of judicial review.
  • May 2, 1803: The United States concluded the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase with France.
  • May 25, 1803: Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston.
  • July 4, 1803: President Thomas Jefferson officially gave orders to Meriwether Lewis, who had been preparing for an expedition to the Northwest.
  • July 23, 1803: A rebellion led by Robert Emmet broke out in Dublin, Ireland, and was quickly put down. Emmet was captured a month later.
  • September 20, 1803: Robert Emmet, leader of an Irish rebellion against British rule, was executed in Dublin, Ireland.
  • October 12, 1803: Alexander Turney Stewart, inventor of the department store and a leading merchant in New York City, was born in Scotland.
  • November 23, 1803: Theodore Dwight Weld, a great organizer of the abolitionist movement, was born in Connecticut.
  • December 20, 1803: The vast territory of the Louisiana Purchase was officially transferred to the United States.


    • May 14, 1804: The Lewis and Clark Expedition began its westward voyage by heading up the Missouri River.
    • July 4, 1804: Author Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts.
    • July 11, 1804: The vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr, fatally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a duel at Weehawken, New Jersey.
    • July 12, 1804: Alexander Hamilton died in New York City following the duel with Aaron Burr.
    • August 20, 1804: A member of the Corps of Discovery on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Charles Floyd, died. His death would be the only fatality on the entire expedition.
    • November 1804: Thomas Jefferson easily won reelection, defeating Charles Pinckney of South Carolina.
    • November 1804: Lewis and Clark met Sacagawea at a Mandan village in present day North Dakota. She would accompany the Corps of Discovery to the Pacific Coast.
    • November 23, 1804: Franklin Pierce, who served as President of the United States from 1853 to 1857, was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire.
    • December 2, 1804: Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of France.
    • December 21, 1804: Benjamin Disraeli, British author and statesman, was born in London.


    • March 4, 1805: Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office for the second time and delivered a remarkably bitter inaugural address .
    • April 1805: During the Barbary Wars, a detachment of U.S. Marines marched on Tripoli, and after victory, raised the American flag over foreign soil for the first time.
    • August 1805: Zebulon Pike, a young U.S. Army officer, embarked on his first exploring expedition, which would take him to present day Minnesota.
    • October 21, 1805: At the Battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Horatio Nelson was fatally wounded.
    • November 15, 1805: The Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the Pacific Ocean.
    • December 1805: Lewis and Clark settled into winter quarters at a fort constructed by the Corps of Discovery.


    • Bernard McMahon published The American Gardener’s Calendar, the first book on gardening published in America.
    • Noah Webster published his first dictionary of American English.
    • March 23, 1806: Lewis and Clark began their return journey from the Pacific Northwest
    • March 29, 1806: President Thomas Jefferson signed into law a bill allocating funds for the building of the National Road, the first federal highway.
    • May 30, 1806: Andrew Jackson, future American president, killed Charles Dickinson in a duel provoked by disagreement over a horse race and insults to Jackson’s wife.
    • July 15, 1806: Zebulon Pike departed on his second expedition, a voyage with mysterious purposes that would take him to present day Colorado.
    • September 23, 1806: Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery returned to St. Louis, completing their expedition to the Pacific.


    • Washington Irving published a little satirical magazine, Salmagundi. Twenty issues appeared between early 1807 and early 1808.
    • March 25, 1807: The importation of slaves was prohibited by a law passed by the U.S. Congress, but the law would not take effect until the January 1, 1808.
    • May 22, 1807: Aaron Burr was indicted for treason.
    • June 22, 1807: The Chesapeake Affair, in which a U.S. Navy officer surrendered his ship to the British, created an enduring controversy. Years later, the incident would provoke a duel that would kill Stephen Decatur.
    • July 4, 1807: Giuseppe Garibaldi was born.
    • August 17, 1807: Robert Fulton’s first steamboat left New York City bound for Albany, sailing on the Hudson River.


    • Albert Gallatin completed his landmark Report on Roads, Canals, Harbors, and Rivers, a comprehensive plan for creating a transportation infrastructure in the United States.
    • January 1, 1808: The law banning importation of slaves into United States took effect.
    • November 1808: James Madison won the U.S. presidential election, defeating Charles Pinckney, who had lost to Thomas Jefferson four years earlier.


    • February 12, 1809: Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky. On the same day, Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England.
    • December 1809: The first book by Washington Irving, A History of New York, an inventive blend of history and satire, is published under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker.
    • December 29, 1809: William Ewart Gladstone, British statesman and prime minister, was born in Liverpool.