Timeline from 1870 to 1880

Significant Events of the 1870s

19th century lithograph depicting Custer's Last Stand
Custer's Last Stand depicted in a 19th century lithograph. Getty Images


  • 1870: Thomas Nast, star political cartoonist of Harper's Weekly, began a campaign of lampoon the corrupt "ring" that secretly ran New York City. Nast's biting depictions of the Tweed Ring helped bring down Boss Tweed.
  • February 3, 1870: The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave the right to vote to black males, became law when the required number of states ratified it.
  • June 9, 1870: Charles Dickens, British novelist, died at the age of 58.
  • July 15, 1870: Georgia became the last of the Confederate states to return to the Union.
  • July 19, 1870: The Franco-Prussian War began. The war was provoked by Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian leader, as part of his plan to unite Germany.
  • October 12, 1870: Robert E. Lee, Confederate general in the Civil War, died at the age of 63 at Lexington, Virginia.


  • January 1871: Italian troops led by Giuseppe Garibaldi briefly fought against Prussians in France during the Franco-Prussian War.
  • March 26, 1871: The Paris Commune, a temporary government formed after an uprising during the Franco-Prussian War, was proclaimed in Paris.
  • May 28, 1871: The Paris Commune was suppressed as the French Army took over the city during what becomes known as "The Bloody Week."
  • Summer 1871: Photographer William Henry Jackson takes a number of photographs on the Yellowstone Expedition. The scenery he captured was so remarkable that it led to the creation of the National Parks.
  • July 15, 1871: Thomas "Tad" Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, died in Chicago at the age of 18. He was buried beside his father in Springfield, Illinois.
  • October 8, 1871: The Great Chicago Fire broke out. It destroyed much of the city of Chicago, and a persistent rumor was that it was caused by Mrs. O'Leary's cow.
  • October 27, 1871: William M. "Boss" Tweed, the leader of the legendary New York political machine Tammany Hall, was arrested on multiple charges of corruption.
  • November 10, 1871: The journalist and adventurer Henry Morton Stanley located David Livingstone in Africa, and said the famous greeting: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume."


  • November 29, 1872: Horace Greeley, who weeks earlier lost the presidential election, died in New York City.


  • March 4, 1873: Ulysses S. Grant took the oath of office for the second time as he began his second term as President of the United States.
  • April 1, 1873: The steamship Atlantic struck rocks on the coast of Canada and at least 500 passengers and crew perished in one of the worst maritime disasters of the 19th century.
  • May 4, 1873: David Livingstone, Scottish explorer of Africa, died in Africa of malaria at the age of 60.
  • September 1873: A stock market crashed sets off the Panic of 1873, one of the great financial panics of the 19th century.


  • January 17, 1874: Chang and Eng Bunker, conjoined twins who became famous as the Siamese Twins, died at the age of 62.
  • March 11, 1874: Charles Sumner, Massachusetts senator who in 1856 had been beaten in the U.S. Capitol in an event leading up to the Civil War, died at the age of 63.
  • March 8, 1874: Millard Fillmore, former president of the United States, died at the age of 74.
  • November 1874: The Greenback Party was established in the United States. Its constituency were the farmers and workers adversely affected by the Panic of 1873.



  • March 10, 1876: Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call, saying, "Watson, come here, I need you."
  • April 10, 1876: Alexander Turney Stewart, renowned New York City merchant, died.
  • June 25, 1876: General George Armstrong Custer, commander of the 7th Cavalry, is killed, along with more than 200 of his men, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
  • July 4, 1876: The United States celebrated its centennial with celebrations in cities and towns across the country.
  • August 2, 1876: Wild Bill Hickok, gunfighter and lawman, was shot and killed while playing cards in Deadwood, Dakota Territory.
  • August 25, 1876: The first crossing of the unfinished Brooklyn Bridge was accomplished by its master mechanic, E.F. Farrington, riding on a wire strung between its towers.
  • November 7, 1876: The United States presidential election of 1876 was disputed and became the most controversial American election until the election of 2000.


  • January 4, 1877: Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as "The Commodore," died in New York City. He was by far the wealthiest person in the United States.
  • Early 1877: An electoral commission was formed to settle the disputed presidential election of 1876 results in the Compromise of 1877. Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the election, and Reconstruction was effectively brought to an end.
  • March 4, 1877: Rutherford B. Hayes was inaugurated as president, and comes into office under a cloud of suspicion, being called "His Fraudulency."
  • May 1877: Sitting Bull led followers into Canada to escape the U.S. Army, and Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. troops.
  • June 21, 1877: Leaders of the Molly Maguires, a secret society of coal miners in Pennsylvania, were executed.
  • July 16, 1877: A strike in West Virginia set off the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which spread nationwide and spurred violent clashes in American cities.
  • September 5, 1877: Crazy Horse was killed at an army base in Kansas.



  • April 30, 1879: Sarah J. Hale, a magazine editor who urged President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving an official holiday, died at the age of 90.
  • August 21, 1879: Villagers at Knock, in rural Ireland, saw visions of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist. The village became a place of Catholic pilgrimage afterward.
  • October 1879: In Ireland, following mass meetings held earlier in the year, the Land League was formed to organize tenant farmers.