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1860 was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1860th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 860th year of the 2nd millennium, the 60th year of the 19th century, and the 1st year of the 1860s decade. As of the start of 1860, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
- January 2 - The discovery of a hypothetical planet Vulcan is announced at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, France.
- January 10 – The Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts collapses, killing 146 workers.
- January 13 – Battle of Tétouan, Morocco: Spanish troops under General Leopoldo O'Donnell, 1st Duke of Tetuanat defeat the Moroccan Army.
- January 20 – Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour is recalled as Prime Minister of Piedmont-Sardinia.
- February 22 – Shoe-making workers of Lynn, Massachusetts, strike successfully for higher wages. The strike spreads throughout New England, and eventually involves 20,000 workers.
- February 26 – White settlers massacre a band of Wiyot Indians on Indian Island, near Eureka, California. At least 60 women, children and elders are killed. Bret Harte, newspaper reporter in Arcata, reports the news to newspapers in San Francisco.
- February 28 – The Artists Rifles is established, as the 38th Middlesex (Artists) Rifle Volunteer Corps, with headquarters at Burlington House in London.
- March 6 – While campaigning for the presidency, Abraham Lincoln makes a speech defending the right to strike.
- March 9 – The first Japanese ambassadors to the United States arrive in San Francisco.
- March 17 – The First Taranaki War begins at Waitara, New Zealand, when Māori refuse to sell land to British settlers.
- March 22 – The Grand Duchy of Tuscany is annexed to the newly formed Kingdom of Italy.
- March 24 – Sakuradamon Incident: Rōnin samurai of the Mito Domain in Japan assassinate tairō (Chief Minister) Ii Naosuke outside the Sakurada Gate of Edo Castle, dissafected with his role in the opening of Japan to foreign powers.
- March–August – The second rout of the Jiangnan Daying destroys the Qing dynasty's army of 180,000.
- April 2 – The first Italian Parliament meets at Turin.
- April 3 – The Pony Express begins its first run from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, with riders carrying a small Bible.
- April 4 – A new uprising erupts in Palermo.
- April 9 – French typesetter Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville sings the French folk song "Au clair de la lune" to his phonautograph, producing the world's earliest known sound recording (however, it is not rediscovered until 2008).
- May 1 – A Chondrite-type meteorite falls to earth in Muskingum County, Ohio, near the town of New Concord.
- May 6 – Expion of the Thousand: Giuseppe Garibaldi and his troops depart from Quarto.
- May 8 – In New Granada (modern-day Colombia) the southern state of Cauca secedes from the central government, in protest at the suggestion of increase of presidential powers; Magdalena and Bolívar join it; civil war erupts.
- May 9 – The U.S. Constitutional Union Party holds its convention, and nominates John Bell for President of the United States.
- May 15 – Expion of the Thousand – Battle of Calatafimi: Troops under Giuseppe Garibaldi defeat the army of Naples in Sicily.
- May 17 – The German association football club TSV 1860 München is founded.
- May 18 – Abraham Lincoln is selected as the U.S. presidential candidate for the Republican Party, in Chicago, Illinois.
- May 27 – Garibaldi's forces take Palermo, the capital of Sicily.
- May 28 – One of the worst storms ever experienced in the region hits the east coast of England, sinking more than 100 ships and killing at least 40 people.
- 12 June [O.S. 31 May] 1860 – The State Bank of the Russian Empire is established.
- June 30 – A historic debate about evolution is held, at the Oxford University Museum.
- July 2 – Vladivostok is founded in Russia.
- July 9 – The Nightingale Training School and Home for Nurses, the first nursing school based on the ideas of Florence Nightingale, is opened at St Thomas' Hospital in London.
- July 11 – Mutsuhito (the future Emperor Meiji) becomes Crown Prince of Japan.
- July 20 – Battle of Milazzo: The forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi defeat royal Neapolitan forces near Messina, bringing nearly all of Sicily under Garibaldi's control.
- August 22 – Assisted by the British Navy, the troops of Giuseppe Garibaldi cross from Sicily to the Italian mainland.
- September 1 A solar coronal mass ejection hits Earth's magnetosphere, and induces one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record.
- September 3–September 5 – The First International Chemistry Congress is held in Karlsruhe, Baden.
- September 7
- September 10 – Piedmontese forces invade the Papal States, hoping to link up with Garibaldi in Naples.
- September 18 – Battle of Castelfidardo: The Piedmontese decisively defeat the Papal forces, allowing them to continue their march into Neapolitan territory, and effectively reducing the Papal States to the territory around Rome.
- September 24 – Battle of Guayaquil: Ecuadorian forces, led by Juan José Flores and Gabriel García Moreno, take the port of Guayaquil from Supreme Chief Guillermo Franco, who is backed by Peruvian forces.
- October – John Hanning Speke and James Augustus Grant leave Zanzibar, to search for the source of the Nile River.
- October 1 – Battle of Volturnus: Garibaldi defeats the last organized army of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
- October 5 – Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and the Ottoman Empire form a commission to investigate the causes of the massacres of Maronite Christians, committed by Druzes in Lebanon earlier in the year.
- October 17 – The Open Championship, also known as the British Open, is played for the first time at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland. The event is won by Willie Park Sr
- October 18 – The first Convention of Peking formally ends the Second Opium War.
- October 18–21 – Beijing's Old Summer Palace is burned to the ground by orders of British general Lord Elgin, in retaliation for mistreatment of several prisoners of war, during the Second Opium War.
- October 19 – A new Māori revolt begins in New Zealand.
- October 26
- November 3 – The combined forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi and King Victor Emmanuel II besiege King Francis II of the Two Sicilies in Gaeta, his last remaining stronghold.
- November 6 – U.S. presidential election: Abraham Lincoln beats John C. Breckinridge, Stephen A. Douglas, and John Bell, and is elected as the 16th President of the United States, the first Republican to hold that office.
- December 1 – Charles Dickens publishes the first installment of Great Expectations in his magazine All the Year Round.
- December 7 – After a fiercely contested campaign, Monier Monier-Williams is elected as the new Boden Professor of Sanskrit, at Oxford University.
- December 20 – South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the United States.
- Christians and Druzes clash in Damascus, Syria.
- In Buenos Aires, leader Bartolomé Mitre subverts the Argentine Confederation, and begins to establish a new centralist government, with the help of Uruguayan Colorado party leader Venancio Flores.
- China agrees, in an unequal treaty imposed on it, to allow missionaries to proselytize throughout the country.
- Discovery of the chemical elements: Robert Bunsen discovers caesium and rubidium.
- German chemist Albert Niemann makes a detailed analysis of the coca leaf, isolating and purifying the alkaloid, which he calls cocaine.
- Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, and Empress Eugénie visit Algiers and stay at the Casbah of Algiers.
- Augustana College is founded in Chicago, Illinois by Scandinavian immigrants.
- Britain produces 20% of the entire world's output of industrial goods.
- The Russian Empire has c. 1,250 miles (2,010 km) of railroads.
- The American South has c. 4 million slaves.
- 1860–1900– 14 million immigrants come to the United States.
- January 3 – Kato Takaaki, 24th Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1926)
- January 8 – Emma Booth, fourth child of William and Catherine Booth (d. 1903)
- January 17
- January 21 – Karl Staaff, Swedish lawyer, politician, 11th Prime Minister of Sweden (d. 1915)
- January 25 – Charles Curtis, 31st Vice President of the United States (d. 1936)
- January 28 – W. G. Read Mullan, American Jesuit, academic (d. 1910)
- January 29
- February 11 – Rachilde, French author (d. 1953)
- February 14 – Eugen Schiffer, German politician (d. 1954)
- February 18 – Anders Zorn, Swedish artist (d. 1920)
- February 25 – Sir William Ashley, English economic historian (d. 1927)
- February 28 – Carl Georg Barth, American mathematician, mechanical engineer (d. 1939)
- February 29 – Herman Hollerith, American businessman, inventor (d. 1929)
- March 2 – Susanna M. Salter, first woman mayor in the United States (d. 1961)
- March 5 – Sam Thompson, American baseball player (d. 1922)
- March 13 – Hugo Wolf, Austrian composer (d. 1903)
- March 19 – William Jennings Bryan, American politician (d. 1925)
- March 22 – Alfred Ploetz, German physician, biologist, and eugenicist (d. 1940)
- March 27 – Frank Frost Abbott, American classical scholar (d. 1924)
- April 1 – Sergey Reformatsky, Russian chemist (d. 1934)
- April 7 – Will Keith Kellogg, American industrialist, founder of the Kellogg Company (d. 1951)
- May 2 – Theodor Herzl, Austrian founder of modern political Zionism (d. 1904)
- May 7 – Tom Norman, English freak showman (d. 1930)
- May 9 – J. M. Barrie, Scottish author (d. 1937)
- May 15 – Ellen Axson Wilson, First Lady of the United States (d. 1914)
- May 20 – Eduard Buchner, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1917)
- May 21 – Willem Einthoven, Dutch inventor, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1927)
- May 25 – James McKeen Cattell, American psychologist (d. 1944)
- May 27 – Manuel Teixeira Gomes, 7th President of Portugal (d. 1941)
- May 29 – Isaac Albéniz, Spanish composer (d. 1909)
- June 13 – Lancelot Speed, British illustrator, silent film director (d. 1931)
- June 20 – Jack Worrall, Australian cricketer, footballer, and coach (d. 1937)
- June 22 – Tom O'Brien, American 19th century baseball player (d. 1921)
- June 23 – Albert Giraud, Belgian poet (d. 1929)
- July 3 – Charlotte Perkins Gilman, American feminist (d. 1935)
- July 7 – Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer (d. 1911)
- July 16 – Otto Jespersen, Danish linguist, creator of Ido and Novial languages (d.1943)
- July 19 – Lizzie Borden, American murder suspect (d. 1927)
- July 31 – Sir George Warrender, 7th Baronet, British admiral (d. 1917)
- August 3 – William Kennedy Dickson, Scottish inventor, cinema pioneer, and film director (d. 1935)
- August 7 – Alan Leo, British astrologer (d. 1917)
- August 10 – Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, Indian musician (d. 1936)
- August 13 – Annie Oakley, American Wild West show performer (d. 1926)
- August 15
- August 16 – Jules Laforgue, French poet (d. 1887)
- August 20 – Raymond Poincaré, French president (d. 1934)
- August 25 – George Fawcett, American actor (d. 1939)
- September 5 – Andrew Volstead, American politician (d. 1947)
- September 6 – Jane Addams, American social worker, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1935)
- September 7 – Anna Mary Robertson Moses (aka Grandma Moses), American painter, centenarian (d. 1961)
- September 13 – John J. Pershing, American general (d. 1948)
- September 15 – Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya, Indian engineer, statesman (d. 1962)
- October 31 – Juliette Gordon Low, American founder of the Girl Scouts (d. 1927)
- November 1 – Boies Penrose, United States Senator from Pennsylvania (d. 1921)
- November 2 – Soapy Smith, American con artist and gangster (d. 1898)
- November 6 – Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Polish pianist and composer (d. 1941)
- November 16 – John Henry Kirby, Texas legislator, American businessman (d. 1940)
- November 23 – Hjalmar Branting, Prime Minister of Sweden, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1925)
- December 4 – Charles de Broqueville, Belgian Prime Minister (d. 1940)
- December 7 – Joseph Cook, 6th Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1947)
- December 15
- December 25 – Manuel Dimech, Maltese philosopher, social reformer (d. 1921)
- December 31
- January 1 – Thomas Hobbes Scott, English clergyman (b. 1783)
- January 5 – John Neumann, Saint and Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia (b. 1811)
- January 10 – Ezequiel Zamora, leader of the Federalist Army in Venezuela (b. 1817)
- January 13 – William Mason, American politician (b. 1786)
- January 27
- January 29 –
- February 29 – George Bridgetower, Afro-Polish violinist (b. 1778)
- March 6 – Justus Johann Friedrich Dotzauer, German cellist, composer (b. 1783)
- March 14 – Carl Ritter von Ghega, Albanian-born Venetian road engineer (b. 1802)
- March 17 – Anna Brownell Jameson, British author (b. 1794)
- March 25 – James Braid, Scottish surgeon (b. 1795)
- May 1 – Anders Sandøe Ørsted, 3rd Prime Minister of Denmark (b. 1778)
- May 10 – Theodore Parker, American preacher, Transcendentalist, and abolitionist (b. 1810)
- May 12 – Sir Charles Barry, English architect (b. 1795)
- May 16 – Anne Isabella Milbanke, English wife of Lord Byron (b. 1792)
- May 21 – Phineas Gage, improbable American head injury survivor (b. 1823)
- June 18 – Friedrich Wilhelm von Bismarck, German army officer, writer (b. 1783)
- June 30 – Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, German naturalist (b. 1780)
- July 1 – Charles Goodyear, American inventor (b. 1800)
- September 12 – William Walker, American filibuster who was briefly President of Nicaragua (executed) (b. 1824)
- September 21 – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (b. 1788)
- October 12 – Sir Harry Smith, English soldier, military commander (b. 1787)
- October 22 – Wanda Malecka, Polish publisher (b. 1800)
- October 31 – Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, British admiral (b. 1775)
- November 1 – Alexandra Feodorovna (Charlotte of Prussia), Empress Consort of Russian Emperor Nicholas I (b. 1798)
- December 14 – George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1784)
- ^ See http://www.artistsriflesassociation.org/regiment-artists-rifles.htm.
- ^ Among those rescued at sea is the crew of the brig Hannah, captained by George Jezzard, the great-great-great-grandfather of actor David Suchet.
- ^ Niemann, Albert (1860). On a New Organic Base in the Coca Leaves ("Über eine neue organische Base in den Cocablättern", published version of Ph.D. dissertation).
- ^ "Interior of Governors Palace, Algiers, Algeria". World Digital Library. 1899. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- ^ The college moves to Paxton, Illinois, in 1862 and eventually splits into a Swedish college in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1875, and a Norwegian college in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1918.