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1796 (MDCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1796th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 796th year of the 2nd millennium, the 96th year of the 18th century, and the 7th year of the 1790s decade. As of the start of 1796, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
- April 2 – The only night of the supposed Shakespearean play Vortigern and Rowena (actually written by William Henry Ireland) ends in the audience's laughter.
- April 12 – War of the First Coalition – Battle of Montenotte: Napoleon Bonaparte gains his first victory as an army commander.
- April 26 – The French proclaim the Republic of Alba on the occupied territories. Two days later, King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia signs the Armistice of Cherasco, in the headquarters of Napoleon. The fortresses of Coni, Tortoni and Alessandria, with all their guns, are given up.
- April 27 – Case of the Lyons Mail: During the night, five highwaymen attack the mail between Paris and Lyon, kill the postmen and steal the funds sent to the armies in Italy.
- April 28— In an impassioned speech, U.S. Representative Fisher Ames of Massachusetts persuades his fellow members of the House to support the Jay Treaty. 
- May 6 – Napoleon Bonaparte forms an advanced guard (3,500 infantry and 1,500 cavalry) under General Claude Dallemagne. He sends this force along the south bank of the Po River, to cross it with boats at Piacenza.
- May 10
- May 14 – Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox vaccination, in England.
- May 15 – Napoleon's troops take Milan.
- May 20 – The last mock Garrat Elections are held in Surrey, England.
- June 1
- June 21 – British explorer Mungo Park becomes the first European to reach the Niger River.
- June 23 – Napoleon Bonaparte seizes the Papal States, which become part of the revolutionary Cisalpine Republic. Pope Pius VI signs the Armistice of Bologna, and is forced to pay a contribution (34 million francs).
- July 10 – Carl Friedrich Gauss discovers that every positive integer is representable as a sum of at most 3 triangular numbers.
- July 11 – The United States takes possession of Detroit from Great Britain, under the terms of the Jay Treaty.
- July 21 – Mungo Park reaches Ségou, the capital of the Bamana Empire.
- July 22 – Surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company name an area in Ohio Cleveland, after Gen. Moses Cleaveland, the superintendent of the surveying party.
- July 29 – The Habsburg army under Marshal Wurmser advances from the Alps, and captures Rivoli and Verona. The French abandon the east bank of the Mincio River, the outnumbered division (15,000 men) of Masséna retreats towards Lake Garda.
- August 4 – French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of Lonato – The French Army of Italy under Napoleon crushes an Austrian brigade.
- August 5 – French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of Castiglione – The French Army of Italy under Napoleon defeats the Habsburg army (25,000 men) under Marshal Wurmser, who thus fails to break the Siege of Mantua (1796–97), and is forced to retreat north up the Adige Valley.
- August 9 – The Wearmouth Bridge in England, designed by Thomas Paine in cast iron, opens to traffic. Its span of 72 m (237 feet) makes it the world's longest single-span vehicular bridge extant at this date.
- August 10 – A mob of peasants overtakes the Convent of St. Peter (Bludenz, Austria) and murders Ignaz Anton von Indermauer.
- August 19 – Second Treaty of San Ildefonso: Spain and France form an alliance against Great Britain.
- September 2 – Jewish emancipation in the Batavian Republic (Netherlands).
- September 8 – French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of Bassano – French forces (20,000 men) under André Masséna defeat the Austrians in Veneto. Wurmser retreats towards Vicenza with just 3,500 men of his originally 11,000 left to him.
- September 15 – Siege of Mantua: Napoleon Bonaparte fights a pitched battle at La Favorita on the east side of the Mincio River. The Austrians withdraw into the fortress of Mantua, which is crowded nearly with 30,000 men. Within six weeks, 4,000 die from wounds or sickness.
- September 17 – U.S. President George Washington issues his Farewell Address, which warns against partisan politics and foreign entanglements. In addition, he sets a precedent by declining to run for a third term. 
- September 28 – Empress Catherine the Great signs an agreement with Great Britain, formally joining Russia to the coalition.
- The Spanish government lifts the restrictions against neutrals trading with the colonies, thus acknowledging Spain's inability to supply the colonies with needed goods and markets.
- Robert Burns' version of the Scots poem "Auld Lang Syne" is first published, in this year's volume of The Scots Musical Museum.
- Annual British iron production reaches 125,000 tons.
- Rizla rolling papers established.
- January 7 – Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, daughter and only child of future King George IV (d. 1817)
- January 23 – Karl Ernst Claus, Baltic-German chemist, naturalist (d. 1864)
- January 25 – William MacGillivray, Scottish naturalist, ornithologist (d. 1852)
- February 17
- February 22 – Adolphe Quetelet, Belgian mathematician (d. 1874)
- March 18 – Jakob Steiner, Swiss mathematician (d. 1863)
- April 30 & ndash; Adolphe Crémieux, French-Jewish politician, abolitionist (d. 1880)
- May 1 – Junius Brutus Booth, English stage actor, father of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth (d. 1852)
- May 2 – Colm de Bhailís, Irish poet and songwriter (d. 1906)
- May 4 – Horace Mann, American educator, abolitionist (d. 1859)
- June 1 – Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, French military engineer and physicist; father of thermodynamics (d. 1832)
- June 12 – George Bush (biblical scholar), American professor of Asian languages (d. 1859)
- June 14 – Nikolai Brashman, Russian mathematician of Czech origin (d. 1866)
- June 28 – Caroline Amalie of Augustenburg, queen consort of Denmark (d. 1881)
- July 6 – Emperor Nicholas I of Russia (d. 1855)
- July 15 – Gustav Seyffarth, German-American Egyptologist (d. 1885)
- July 16 – Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, French painter (d. 1875)
- July 22 – Carlo Pepoli, Italian politician, journalist (d. 1881)
- July 23 – Franz Berwald, Swedish composer (d. 1868)
- August 15 – John Torrey, American botanist (d. 1873)
- August 25 – James Lick, American land speculator (d. 1876)
- September 10 – Eugénie Niboyet, French author, feminist (d. 1883)
- September 19 – Hartley Coleridge, British poet (d. 1849)
- September 22 – David Canabarro, Brazilian Gaúcho revolutionary (d. 1867)
- September 25 – Antoine-Louis Barye, French sculptor (d. 1875)
- October 23 – Stefano Franscini, member of the Swiss Federal Council (d. 1857)
- November 25 – Andreas von Ettingshausen, German mathematician, physicist (d. 1878)
- November 30 – Carl Loewe, German composer (d. 1869)
- December 17 – Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Canadian author (d. 1865)
- December 19 – Manuel Bretón de los Herreros, Spanish playwright (d. 1873)
- December 27 – Mirza Ghalib, Persian poet of Urdu (d. 1869)
- Date unknown
- January 1 – Giambattista Vasco, Italian economist (b. 1733)
- January 5 – Samuel Huntington, Connecticut jurist (b. 1731)
- January 5 – Anna Barbara Reinhart, Swiss mathematician (b. 1730)
- January 13 – John Anderson, Scottish scientist and inventor (b. 1726)
- February 7 – Sir Francis Geary, 1st Baronet, officer of the British Royal Navy (b. 1709)
- February 14 – Samuel Pegge, English antiquary (b. 1704)
- February 15 – John Caesar Australian bushranger of African descent (b. 1763)
- February 17 – James Macpherson, Scottish writer (b. 1736)
- February 25 – Jean-Nicolas Stofflet, French royalist general (executed) (b. 1751)
- February 28 – Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, German violinist (b. 1739)
- March 3 – Pierre-René Rogue, French Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of the Mission (b. 1758)
- March 6 – Guillaume Thomas François Raynal, French writer, man of letters during the Age of Enlightenment (b. 1713)
- March 10
- March 12 – Franz Töpsl, Augustinian Canon Regular (b. 1711)
- March 16 – Joseph Gerrald, Scottish political reformer (b. 1763)
- March 19 – Hugh Palliser, British naval officer, administrator (b. 1722)
- March 26 – François de Charette, French Royalist soldier, politician (b. 1763)
- March 30 – Princess Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt (b. 1765)
- April 2 – Ulrika Pasch, Swedish rococo painter and miniaturist (b. 1735)
- April 6 – George Campbell, Scottish minister (b. 1719)
- April 9 – Frederick Albert, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, German prince of the House of Ascania (b. 1735)
- April 16 – Molly Brant Mohawk United Empire Loyalist (d. c.1736)
- April 17 – Raja Chamaraja Wodeyar IX of Mysore (b. 1774)
- April 30 – Franciszka Corvin-Krasińska, Polish noblewoman, morganatic wife of Charles of Saxony (b. 1742)
- May 2 – Juan García Ruiz, Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Nueva Segovia (1784–1796) (b. 1728)
- May 12 – Johann Uz, German poet (b. 1720)
- May 13 – John Butler, Loyalist who led an irregular militia unit during the American Revolutionary War (b. 1728)
- May 17 – Gotthard Friedrich Stender, Baltic-German Lutheran priest who played an outstanding role in Latvia's history of culture (b. 1714)
- May 28 – Caroline of Stolberg-Gedern, Princess of Stolberg-Gerdern by birth and by marriage a princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (b. 1732)
- May 29 – Carl Fredrik Pechlin, Swedish politician and demagogue (b. 1720)
- June 7 – Elisabetta Caminèr Turra, Venetian writer (b. 1751)
- June 8 – Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois, French revolutionary (b. 1749)
- June 9 – José Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, patron of the artist Francisco Goya (b. 1756)
- June 11
- June 14
- June 16
- June 19 – Consider Tiffany, British loyalist (b. 1732)
- June 21 – Richard Gridley, American Revolutionary soldier (b. 1710)
- June 25 – Johann Philipp Siebenkees, German philosopher (b. 1759)
- June 26 – David Rittenhouse, American astronomer, inventor, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official (b. 1732)
- June 28 – Antonio Maria Lorgna, Italian mathematician (b. 1735)
- June 30 – Abraham Yates Jr., American lawyer, civil servant from Albany (b. 1724)
- July 8
- July 16
- July 20 – John Houstoun, American lawyer, statesman from Savannah (b. 1744)
- July 21
- August 1
- August 10 – Ignaz Anton von Indermauer, Austrian nobleman from Tyrol, Landvögte and Kreishauptmann of Vorarlberg (b. 1759)
- August 12 – Mary Ann Wrighten, English singer, actress (b. 1751)
- August 25 – Isaac Parsons, American planter (b. 1752)
- August 31 – John McKinly, American physician, politician from Wilmington (b. 1721)
- September 1 – David Murray, 2nd Earl of Mansfield (b. 1727)
- September 7 – Henri François Lambert, brigadier general of the French revolutionary army (b. 1760)
- September 11 – Anna Barbara Gignoux, German industrialist (b. 1725)
- September 20
- September 21 – François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers, French revolutionary general (killed in battle) (b. 1769)
- September 27 – Jonathan Sewall, last British attorney general of Massachusetts (b. 1729)
- September 29 – Henry Hamilton, Anglo-Irish soldier, government official of the British Empire (b. c. 1734)
- October 7 – Thomas Reid, religiously trained Scottish philosopher (b. 1710)
- October 10 – Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (b. 1729)
- October 16
- October 30 – Archibald Montgomerie, 11th Earl of Eglinton, Scottish general (b. 1726)
- November 6 – Empress Catherine II of Russia (b. 1729)
- November 8 – King Ang Eng of Cambodia (b. 1773)
- November 19 – Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath (b. 1734)
- December 2 – Jean Charles Abbatucci, French general during the War of the First Coalition (b. 1771)
- December 5 – George Mason V, American planter, businessman (b. 1753)
- December 10 – Israel Jacobs, colonial Pennsylvania Legislator and United States Representative from Pennsylvania (b. 1726)
- December 12 – William Buller, English clergyman (b. 1735)
- December 15 – Anthony Wayne, United States Army officer, statesman, and member of the United States House of Representatives (b. 1745)
- December 16 – Johann Daniel Titius, German astronomer, professor at Wittenberg (b. 1729)
- December 18 – Lord John Cavendish, British nobleman, statesman (b. 1732)
- December 19 – Pyotr Rumyantsev, Russian general (b. 1725)
- December 25
- December 28 – Prince Louis Charles of Prussia, son of Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt (b. 1773)
- ^ a b Williams, Hywel (2005). Cassell's Chronology of World History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 346. ISBN 0-304-35730-8.
- ^ a b c d e Harper's Encyclopaedia of United States History from 458 A. D. to 1909, ed. by Benson John Lossing and, Woodrow Wilson (Harper & Brothers, 1910) p171
- ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 22. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4
- ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 33. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4
- ^ Reginald George Burton (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800, p. 43. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4
- ^ Tyrrell, Henry Grattan (1911). History of Bridge Engineering. Chicago. pp. 153–154. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
- ^ Troyano, Leonardo Fernández (2003). Bridge Engineering: a Global Perspective. London: Thomas Telford Publishing. p. 49. ISBN 0-7277-3215-3.
- ^ "Sunderland Wearmouth Bridge". Wearside Online. Archived from the original on November 27, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
- ^ Boycott-Brown, p. 438.
- ^ a b Burton, Reginald George (2010). Napoleon's Campaigns in Italy 1796–1797 & 1800. pp. 75–80. ISBN 978-0-85706-356-4.
- ^ "Time Team help unearth world's first prisoner of war camp". Daily Mail. London. 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- ^ "Robert Burns - Auld Lang Syne". BBC. Retrieved 2012-01-26.