1700–1799 (A.D.) World History

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

French Revolution (1789–1799)

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great
Samuel Johnson
George Washington
George Washington (1732–1799)
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Napoléon Bonaparte


War of the Spanish Succession begins—the last of Louis XIV's wars for domination of the continent. The Peace of Utrecht (1714) will end the conflict and mark the rise of the British Empire. Called Queen Anne's War in America, it ends with the British taking New Foundland, Acadia, and Hudson's Bay Territory from France, and Gibraltar and Minorca from Spain.


Deerfield (Mass.) Massacre of English colonists by French and Indians. Bach's first cantata. Jonathan Swift's Tale of a Tub. Boston News Letter—first newspaper in America.
United Kingdom of Great Britain formed—England, Wales, and Scotland joined by parliamentary Act of Union.
Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Isaac Newton's Principia translated from Latin into English.
Benjamin Franklin begins publishing Poor Richard's Almanack. James Oglethorpe and others found Georgia.
John Peter Zenger, New York editor, acquitted of libel in New York, establishing press freedom.
Capt. Vitus Bering, Dane employed by Russia, discovers Alaska. Frederick II “the Great” crowned king of Prussia.
British defeat Scots under Stuart Pretender Prince Charles at Culloden Moor. Last battle fought on British soil.
Publication of the Encyclopédie begins in France, the “bible” of the Enlightenment.
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary first published. Great earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal—over 60,000 die. U.S. postal service established.
Seven Years' War (French and Indian Wars in America) (to 1763), in which Britain and Prussia defeat France, Spain, Austria, and Russia. France loses North American colonies; Spain cedes Florida to Britain in exchange for Cuba. In India, over 100 British prisoners die in “Black Hole of Calcutta.”
Beginning of British Empire in India as Robert Clive, British commander, defeats Nawab of Bengal at Plassey.
British capture Quebec from French. Voltaire's Candide. Haydn's Symphony No. 1.
Catherine II (“the Great”) becomes czarina of Russia. Jean Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract. Mozart tours Europe as six-year-old prodigy.
James Watt invents the steam engine. Britain imposes the Stamp Act on the American colonists.
Sir William Arkwright patents a spinning machine—an early step in the Industrial Revolution.
The Boston Massacre.
Joseph Priestley and Daniel Rutherford independently discover nitrogen. Partition of Poland—in 1772, 1793, and 1795, Austria, Prussia, and Russia divide land and people of Poland, end its independence.
The Boston Tea Party.
First Continental Congress drafts “Declaration of Rights and Grievances.”
The American Revolution begins with battle of Lexington and Concord. Second Continental Congress. Priestley discovers hydrochloric and sulfuric acids.
Declaration of Independence. Gen. George Washington crosses the Delaware Christmas night. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Fragonard's Washerwoman. Mozart's Haffner Serenade.
Capt. James Cook discovers Hawaii. Franz Mesmer uses hypnotism.
Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Herschel discovers Uranus.
Revolutionary War ends with Treaty of Paris. William Blake's poems. Beethoven's first printed works.
Crimea annexed by Russia. John Wesley's Deed of Declaration, the basic work of Methodism.
Russians settle Aleutian Islands.
The Constitution of the United States signed. Lavoisier's work on chemical nomenclature. Mozart's Don Giovanni.
French Parlement presents grievances to Louis XVI who agrees to convening of Estates-General in 1789—not called since 1613. Goethe's Egmont. Laplace's Laws of the Planetary System.
French Revolution begins with the storming of the Bastille. (For detailed chronology, see French Revolution (1789–1799).) In U.S., Washington elected president with all 69 votes of the Electoral College, takes oath of office in New York City. Vice President: John Adams. Secretary of State: Thomas Jefferson. Secretary of Treasury: Alexander Hamilton.
H.M.S. Bounty mutineers settle on Pitcairn Island. Aloisio Galvani experiments on electrical stimulation of the muscles. Philadelphia temporary capital of U.S. as Congress votes to establish new capital on Potomac. U.S. population about 3,929,000, including 698,000 slaves. Lavoisier formulates Table of 31 chemical elements.
U.S. Bill of Rights ratified. Boswell's Life of Johnson.
Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette executed. Reign of Terror begins in France. Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, spurring the growth of the cotton industry and helping to institutionalize slavery in the U.S. South.
Kosciusko's uprising in Poland quelled by the Russians. In U.S., Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania as farmers object to liquor taxes. Reign of Terror ends with execution of Robespierre.
Napoléon Bonaparte, French general, defeats Austrians. In the U.S., Washington's Farewell Address (Sept. 17); John Adams elected president; Thomas Jefferson, vice president. Edward Jenner introduces smallpox vaccination.
Napoleon extends French conquests to Rome and Egypt. U.S. Navy Department established.
Rosetta Stone discovered in Egypt. Napoleon leads coup that overthrows Directory, establishes the Consulate, becomes First Consul—one of three who rule France together.

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