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..
Title page from Blake's Songs of Innocence.

Title page from Blake’s Songs of Innocence. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

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:

Theatre and Dramatic Arts:

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.