All links are to Wikipedia entries.
Government, Politics, and War:
- January 7: The first national elections are held in the United States.
- February 3: Prime Minister William Pitt introduces a Regency Bill to Parliament so that the Prince of Wales may act as regent for his father George III during a period of mental illness.
- March 4: The newly ratified Constitution of the United States is put into action as the first government begins operations.
- April 28: Fletcher Christian leads a mutiny on HMS Bounty against Captain William Bligh.
- April 30: George Washington becomes the first President of the United States.
- May 5: In France, the Estates-General convenes for the first time in 175 years.
- May 12: William Wilberforce makes his first major speech in the House of Commons on the abolition of the slave trade.
- June 17: At the Estates General, representatives of the Third Estate — ie the general populace and not the clergy (First Estate) or the nobility (Second Estate) — declare themselves the National Assembly of France.
- July 14: Storming of the Bastille by citizens of Paris marks the beginning of the French Revolution.
- August 26: The National Assembly of France adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
- December: George III recovers, ending the Regency Crisis before the Regency Bill can become law..
Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:
- William Blake, British poet, painter, and printmaker publishes Songs of Innocence.
- Mrs. Ann Radcliffe’s first gothic novel, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne is published.
Art, Architecture, and Design:
- Thomas Lawrence completes a portrait of Queen Charlotte.
- May: Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery opens in Pall Mall. It serves to exhibit a collection of pictures commissioned by engraver and publisher John Boydell in an effort to foster a school of British history painting. Contributing artists include Richard Westall, George Romney, Henry Fuseli, Benjamin West, Angelica Kauffmann, John Opie, and more.
Theatre and Dramatic Arts:
- Playwright Elizabeth Inchbald produces The Married Man.
Science and Industry:
- Pears’ soap is introduced by London soap maker Andrew Pears, whose oval and translucent product will gain worldwide distribution.
- November 19: Thames and Severn Canal opened throughout, giving through navigation between the Thames and Severn rivers.