All links are to Wikipedia entries.

Government, Politics, and War:

  • Napoleon revokes the French assembly’s emancipation decree of 1794, declaring his intention to reintroduce slavery in Hispaniola and other French territorial possessions.
  • February 21Edward Despard and six others are hanged and beheaded for plotting to assassinate King George III and to destroy the Bank of England.
  • April 30: Napoleon abandons plans to expand his empire into North America when it becomes clear that French possessions on that continent had become indefensible. He needs money to finance a renewed war with Britain that is looming, and sells all the French territories to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.
  • May 18: Britain declares war on France, dissolving the short-lived Peace of Amiens.
  • May: France begins to assemble a fleet at Boulogne in preparation for an invasion of England.
  • July 5 – The convention of Artlenburg leads to the French occupation of Hanover (which had been ruled by the British king).
  • July 23: Robert Emmet leads an unsuccessful uprising in Ireland, and is later executed.
  • September 23: At the Battle of Assaye in India, British-led troops under the command of Arthur Wellesley defeat Maratha forces.
  • December: The Mughal emperor Shah Alam II comes under British protection.

Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:

  • January: William Cobbett begins publishing Parliamentary Debates, an unofficial record of Parliamentary proceedings.
  • January: The first edition of the British fashion magazine Le Miroir de la Mode is published by the famous modiste, Madame Lanchester.
  • September 3: William Wordsworth writes “Upon Westminster Bridge.”
  • November: French writer Choderlos de Laclos, author of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons), dies at age 62 while campaigning as a general for Napoleon.

The Nude Maja, c1800. The Clothed Maja, 1803   by Francisco de Goya.

The Nude Maja, c1800.The Clothed Maja, 1803
both by Francisco de Goya.(Click on the image to read more about the paintings and to see larger versions.)

Art, Architecture, and Design:

  • John Constable exhibits for the first time at the Royal Academy.
  • Thomas Sheraton publishes The Cabinet Dictionary, a compendium of instructions on the techniques of cabinet and chair making.
  • Spanish painter Francisco de Goya paints The Clothed Maja, a picture of the same woman in the same pose as The Nude Maja, painted around 1800, but this time fully dressed.  In 1815 the Spanish government confiscates both paintings, calling them obscene, and strips Goya of his position as Court painter.


  • April: Beethoven premiers his Second Symphony (Symphony No. 2. in D major, Opus.36) in Vienna.

Theater and Dramatic Arts:

  • John Philip Kemble leaves Drury Lane and becomes manager of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. His sister, Sarah Siddons, follows him to Covent Garden, where she will perform until her retirement in 1812.

Science and Industry:

  • Construction begins in Scotland on a 60.5-mile Caledonian Canal to connect the Atlantic with the North Sea across northern Scotland.
  • January 5: William Symington demonstrates his Charlotte Dundas, the “first practical steamboat”, in Scotland.
  • July 26: The wagonway between Wandsworth and Croydon is opened, becoming the first public railway line in England.
  • October 21: British scientist John Dalton presents his atomic theory for the first time, in which he proposes that matter is composed of discrete units called atoms.

Natural History and Exploration:

  • June 9: Matthew Flinders completes the first known circumnavigation of Australia.
  • August: Lewis and Clark embark on their transcontinental expedition to the Pacific coast of North America.