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Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David.

Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David. (Click on image to read more about it and to see a larger version.)

Government, Politics, and War:

  • January 1: The Dutch East India Company dissolves.
  • May: An assassination attempt is made on George III at Drury Lane Theatre.
  • May 5: Great Britain passes the Act of Union to join Great Britain and Ireland into the United Kingdom (to take effect on 1 January 1801). The act is signed by King George III in August.
  • May 15: Napoleon crosses the Alps and invades Italy.
  • June 14: Napoleon drives the Austrians from Italy (which they had conquered while he was busy in Egypt) in the Battle of Marengo.
  • September 4: At the invitation of the Maltese, British troops liberate the Islands of Malta and Gozo from the French. The islands become the Malta Protectorate.
  • November 1: U.S. President John Adams becomes the first President of the United States to live in the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House).
  • December 3: Peace negotiations between France and Austria break down, and Napoleon sends General Moreau into Austria, where he is victorious at the Battle of Hohenlinden.

Society and Social History:

Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:

  • Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent is published.
  • A new edition of Lyrical Ballads is published, with a Preface by William Wordsworth (expanded in the 1802 edition) that stands as a Romantic manifesto on the nature of poetry.
  • April 25: English poet William Cowper dies at age 68 .
Portrait of Madame Récamier by Jacques Louis David.

Portrait of Madame Recamier by Jacques Louis David. (Click on image to see a larger version and to read more about it.)

Art, Architecture, and Design:


  • April 2: Beethoven premiers his Symphony No. 1 in C major in Vienna.

Science and Industry:

  • London’s Royal College of Surgeons is founded.
  • Yeast is discovered, as a new way to make beer ferment (beer made before 1800 was lambic).
  • The first design for a cast iron twin leaf swing bridge is produced by Ralph Walker for the London Docks.

Natural History and Exploration:

  • The Antipodes Islands, formerly the home of large herds of fur seals, are discovered by the crew of the British ship HMS Reliance.