What Happened in American History in 1879?

In 1879, America was a country still reeling from the effects of the Civil War and undergoing significant changes in both its economy and society. Here are some of the notable events that took place in American history during this year:


  • The Hayes-Tilden Compromise: The presidential election of 1876 was one of the most contentious in American history, with Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden both claiming victory. After months of legal battles and political wrangling, a compromise was reached that allowed Hayes to become president in exchange for withdrawing federal troops from the South and ending Reconstruction.
  • The Battle of Milk Creek: In September, a group of Ute Indians attacked a government agency in Colorado, resulting in a skirmish with U.S. troops that became known as the Battle of Milk Creek.
  • The National Prohibition Party: This political party was founded in Chicago with the goal of advocating for temperance and prohibition laws.


  • The Women’s Christian Temperance Union: This organization, which advocated for temperance laws and women’s suffrage, was founded in Ohio.
  • The Black Exodus: African Americans continued to face discrimination and violence in the South after Reconstruction ended. As a result, many began to migrate to other parts of the country; this movement became known as the Black Exodus.
  • The “Great Railroad Strike”: Railroad workers across the country went on strike to protest low wages and poor working conditions. The strike lasted for several weeks before it was ultimately broken up by federal troops.

Technology and Science

  • The Edison Electric Light Company: Thomas Edison established this company in New York City to develop and market his electric light bulb.
  • The USS Jeannette: This American naval vessel was sent on a mission to explore the Arctic, but became trapped in ice and ultimately sank. Many of the crew members died, but some were able to survive and make it back to civilization.
  • The discovery of helium: French astronomer Jules Janssen discovered this element while observing a solar eclipse.


  • The publication of “A Doll’s House”: Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s play, which challenged traditional gender roles and societal expectations, was first performed in Copenhagen.
  • The opening of Madison Square Garden: The first iteration of this iconic New York City venue opened its doors for the first time in 1879.
  • The birth of Albert Einstein: One of the most famous scientists in history, Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14th, 1879.

In conclusion, though it may seem like a distant year in the past, many significant events took place during the year of 1879 which shaped American history as we know it today. From politics to science and culture, these events are still studied and remembered by historians and scholars alike.