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William Wilberforce painted by Karl Anton Hickel.

William Wilberforce painted by Karl Anton Hickel. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

Government, Politics, and War:

  • April: William Wilberforce introduces the first Parliamentary bill to abolish the slave trade, but it is rejected.
  • June 20: The French Royal Family is captured at Varennes when they try to flee Paris in disguise.
  • July 14: The Priestly Riots take place in Birmingham, in which the rioters attacked and burned the houses, chapels, and homes of religious dissenters who supported the French Revolution.
  • July 17: 50 people are killed in Paris in the “Massacre of the Champs de Mars” when the National Guard fired into a mob gathered to sign petitions to overthrow the monarchy.
  • August 22: 100,000 slaves revolt in the French-controlled colony of San Domingo in the West Indies.
  • October 14: Irish revolutionists Theobald Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell, James Napper Tandy, and other Protestants found the Society of United Irishmen to unite Protestants and Roman Catholics in agitating for independence from Britain.

Society and Social History:

Drawing of Mrs. Radcliffe by unknown artist.

Drawing of Mrs. Radcliffe by unknown artist.

Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:

  • Mrs. Ann Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest is published.
  • James Boswell’s Life of Johnson is published.
  • March: Thomas Paine publishes the Rights of Man, Parts I & II. The book is banned and Paine is charged with seditious libel, and tried in absentia after he flees to Paris.
  • December 4: The first issue of The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, is published.

Art, Architecture, and Design:

  • The Society of Artists is founded in London.
  • London furniture maker Thomas Sheraton publishes The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book, advocating a style more severe than those of Chippendale and Hepplewhite. It was immediately influential throughout England.


  • March: Haydn’s Symphony No. 93 in D minor and Symphony No. 96 in D major (Miracle) are performed for the first time at London’s Hanover Square Rooms.
  • September 30: Mozart’s “Magic Flute” premiers in Vienna.
  • December 5: Mozart dies at age 35.