1869 1870 1871 - 1872 - 1873 1874 1875
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Events of 1872
- January 2 – Brigham Young is arrested for polygamy (55 wives).
- January 12 – Yohannes IV is crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in Axum, the first ruler crowned in that city in over 500 years.
- February 13 – Rex, the most famous parade on Mardi Gras, parades for the first time in New Orleans for Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich of Russia.
- February 17 – Execution of the Filipino priests: Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora in Bagumbayan Fields, Manila, Philippines.
- February 20 – In New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art closes for "urban renovation".
- March 1 – In the United States, Yellowstone National Park is established as the world's first national park.
- March 5
- March 11 – Work begins erecting the Seven Sisters Colliery, South Wales, located on one of the richest coal sources in Britain.
- March 26 – An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.2 strikes Lone Pine, California.
- April The Third Carlist War begins in northern Spain.
- May-The Third Carlist War-Carlist Army is defeated at the Battle of Oroquieta, Navarra,Spain.
- May 10 – Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman nominated for President of the United States, although she is a year too young to qualify and does not appear on the ballot.
- May 22 – Reconstruction: U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signs the Amnesty Act of 1872 into law, restoring full civil rights to all but about 500 Confederate sympathizers.
- June 14 – Trade unions are legalised in Canada. 
- July 4 – The Society of Jesus is pronounced illegal in the German Empire.
- August 22 – The Overland Telegraph is completed in Australia, providing a telegraphic link between Australia and the rest of the world for the first time.
- September 1 – A group of Icaiche Maya under Marcos Canul attack Orange Walk Town in British Honduras; the British send troops against them.
- September 26 – The first Shriners Temple (called Mecca) is established in New York City.
- October 1 – The Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College begins its first academic session (the university is later renamed Virginia Tech).
- November 5
- U.S. presidential election, 1872: Ulysses S. Grant defeats Horace Greeley.
- Women's suffrage: In defiance of the law, American suffragist Susan B. Anthony votes for the first time (on November 18 she is served an arrest warrant and in the subsequent trial she is fined $100 – she never pays the fine).
- November 7 – The Mary Celeste sets sail from New York, bound for Genoa.
- November 9 – Great Boston Fire of 1872: In Boston, Massachusetts, a large fire begins to burn on Lincoln Street (the 2-day event destroys about 65 acres (0.3 km²) of the city, 776 buildings, much of the financial district and causes US$60 million in damage).
- November 27 – A meteor shower display is seen over France.
- November 29
- November 30 – First international football match to be recognised (retrospectively) by FIFA as "official" takes place at Hamilton Crescent, Scotland; the result is Scotland 0, England 0. Earlier international soccer matches had already taken place in 1870, in 1871 and again in 1872 at the Oval, London.
- December 4 – The crewless American ship Mary Celeste is found by the British brig Dei Gratia.
- December 6 – The Springwell Pit Disaster in Dawley, UK claims eight lives.
- December 21 – HMS Challenger sails from Portsmouth on the 4-year scientific expedition that lays the foundation for the science of oceanography.