1851 1852 1853 - 1854 - 1855 1856 1857
1820s 1830s 1840s - 1850s - 1860s 1870s 1880s
Events of 1854
- January 3 – Charles Dickens commences writing the novel Hard Times.
- January 21 – The RMS Tayleur is lost; 380 drown (a disaster later dubbed "the first Titanic").
- February 11 – Major streets are lit by coal gas for the first time.
- February 13 – Mexican troops force William Walker and his troops to retreat to Sonora.
- February 14 – Texas is linked by telegraph with the rest of the United States, when a connection between New Orleans and Marshall, Texas is completed.
- February 17 – The British recognize the independence of the Orange Free State; its official independence is declared 6 days later.
- February 27 – Britain sends Russia an ultimatum to withdraw from two Ottoman provinces it had conquered, Moldavia and Wallachia.
- February 28 – The Republican Party (United States) is founded in Ripon, Wisconsin.
- March 1 – German psychologist Friedrich Eduard Beneke disappears; 2 years later his remains are found in the canal near Charlottenburg.
- March 3 – Australia's first telegraph line, linking Melbourne and Williamstown, opens.
- March 11- A Royal Navy fleet sails from Britain under Vice Admiral Sir Charles Napier.
- March 20 – The Boston Public Library opens to the public.
- March 27 – Crimean War: The United Kingdom declares war on Russia.
- March 28 – France declares war on Russia.
- March 31 – Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy signs the Treaty/Convention of Kanagawa with the Japanese government (the Tokugawa Shogunate), opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade (see History of Japan).
- April 1 – Hard Times begins serialisation in Charles Dickens' magazine, Household Words.
- April 16 The United States packet ship Powhattan is wrecked off the New Jersey shore with more than 200 + victims.
- May 18 – The Catholic University of Ireland (forerunner of University College Dublin) is founded.
- May 27 – Taiping Rebellion: United States minister Robert McLane arrives at the Heavenly Capital aboard the USS Susquehanna.
- May 30 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act becomes law, rescinding the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and creating the Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory. A provision that settlers will vote on slavery in the new territories leads to Bleeding Kansas violence, beginning the next year.
- June – The Grand Excursion takes prominent Eastern United States inhabitants from Chicago, Illinois to Rock Island, Illinois by railroad, then up the Mississippi River to St. Paul, Minnesota by steamboat.
- June 10 – The first class of the United States Naval Academy graduates at Annapolis, Maryland.
- June 21 – Battle of Bomarsund in Åland: Royal Navy mate Charles D. Lucas throws a live Russian artillery shell overboard by hand before it explodes, for which he is awarded the first retroactive Victoria Cross in 1857.
- July 6 – In Jackson, Michigan, the first convention of the U.S. Republican Party is held.
- August 9 – King Johann succeeds to the throne of Saxony.
- August 16 – Russian troops in the island of Bomarsund in Åland surrender to French–British troops.
- September 20 – Crimean War – Alma: The French–British alliance wins the first battle of the war.
- October 1 – The watch company founded in 1850 in Roxbury, Massachusetts by Aaron Lufkin Dennison relocates to Waltham to become the Waltham Watch Company, pioneer in the American System of Watch Manufacturing.
- October 6 – The great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead is ignited by a spectacular explosion.
- October 17 – The Age newspaper is founded in Melbourne, Australia.
- October 21 – Florence Nightingale leaves for the Crimea with 38 other nurses.
- October 25 – Crimean War – Battle of Balaclava: The allies gain an overall victory, except for the disastrous cavalry Charge of the Light Brigade, from which only 200 of 700 men survive.
- November 5 – Crimean War – Battle of Inkerman: The Russians are defeated.
- November 17 – In Egypt, the Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, is inaugurated in an elaborate ceremony.
- December 3 – The Eureka Stockade Miner's Rebellion breaks out in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
- December 8 – Pope Pius IX in the Papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus defines ex Cathedra the dogma of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin.