Government, Politics, and War:
The Factories Act (sometimes called the “Health and Morals of Apprentices Act”) is passed by the British Parliament, regulating factory conditions, especially in regard to child workers in cotton and woolen mills.
- March 25: the Peace of Amiens, the final peace treaty with France, is signed.
- April 6: Parliament repeals the British income tax of 1799 and orders that all documents and records relating to the tax be destroyed in response to public outcry.
- April 26: A general amnesty signed by Napoleon allows all but about 1,000 of the most notorious émigrés of the French Revolution to return to France, as part of a conciliatory gesture to make peace with the various factions of the Ancien Regime that ultimately consolidates his own rule.
- August 2: Napoleon is declared First Consul for life in a new French constitution, and is given the right to name his successor.
- September 11: The Italian region of Piedmont becomes a part of the French First Republic.
- October: The French army enters Switzerland.
Society and Social History:
- May 19: Napoleon establishes the Légion d’Honneur or Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur as a reward to commend civilians and soldiers. (All orders of the kingdom had been abolished during the French Revolution.) The Order remains the highest decoration in France.
- December: Madame Tussaud arrives in London and exhibits her wax figures for the first time in England at the Lyceum Theater. From 1803 to 1835, she tours throughout England with her exhibition. In 1835 the exhibition finally gets a permanent home on Baker Street in London.
Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:
- William Cobbett begins publishing the Political Register, a weekly newspaper.
- John Debrett publishes the first edition of Debrett’s Peerage
- September 3: William Wordsworth publishes the poem Westminster Bridge.
- October: The Edinburgh Review begins publication.
Art, Architecture, and Design:
- Sculptor Antonio Canova’s Perseus With the Head of Medusa is so admired that it is placed in one of the stanze of the Vatican hitherto reserved for the most precious works of antiquity.
- Henry Holland converts York House on Piccadilly (for ten years a residence of the Duke of York) into the Albany apartments, 69 sets of rooms for bachelors. It becomes the most fashionable location for bachelor apartments.
- John Constable paints Dedham Vale.
- François Gerard completes his flattering portrait of Madame Recamier, which she likes much better than the one painted by Jacques-Louis David.
- November 9: British watercolorist Thomas Girtin dies at age 27. His early death prompts J.M.W. Turner to remark: “Had Tom Girtin lived, I should have starved.”
- November 15: British painter George Romney dies at age 67.
Theater and Dramatic Arts:
- The second volume of Joanna Baillie’s Plays of the Passions is published under her own name.
Science and Industry:
- Thomas Wedgwood publishes an account of his experiments in photography, along with Humphry Davy. Since they have no means of fixing the image, their photographs quickly fade.
- George Bodley of Exeter in England patents the first enclosed kitchen stove.
- Joseph Bramah of London patents the hydraulic press.
Natural History and Exploration:
- February: The Rosetta Stone, having been taken from the French as part of the spoils of war in Egypt, arrives in London and is presented to the Society of Antiquaries. A few months later, it is given to the British Museum.