Notes from the 1800s


1800 – Thomas Jefferson defeats John Adams in the presidential election. Confusion over the ballot, in which running mate Aaron Burr also received 73 electoral votes, leads to a congressional vote and a change to the Constitution (the 12th Amendment).

1800 – Washington, in the District of Columbia, official becomes the new national capital. John Adams is the first chief executive to live in the president’s mansion – later known as the White House.

1801 – John Marshall is appointed to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President John Adams. In addition to Marshall, Adams appoints several other “midnight judges” before he leaves office.

1801 – U.S. navy vessels battle Tripolitan pirates off the northern coast of Africa, near the Barbary States.

1802 – United States Military Academy official opens on the banks of the Hudson River, 50 miles north of New York City, at the former headquarters of George Washington in West Point, New York.

1802 – Congress authorizes the arming of merchant sea vessels to ward off attacks by Barbary pirates.

1803 – Ohio is admitted to the Union as the 17th state, the first to be carved from the new Northwest Territory.

1803 – Landmark court case decided by the Supreme Court. Marbury v. Madison establishes the practice of judicial review – whereby the court shall have the authority to determine whether or not a law is constitutional.

1803 – U.S envoys James Monroe and Robert Livingston negotiate huge land deal in Paris. Purchase the territory of Louisiana for $15,000,000. This is land that Napoleon acquired from Spain in an 1800 deal. This purchase nearly doubles the size of the United States.

1804 – Former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton shot and killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr flees to Georgia.

1804 – Thomas Jefferson re-elected president, defeating Federalist rival Charles Pinckney. Electoral votes: Jefferson 162, Pinckney 14.

1804 – Congress authorizes expedition to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. President Jefferson appoints his personal secretary Meriwether Lewis to head the expedition. Lewis chooses a co-captain William Clark. The Corp of Discovery begin their journey in St. Louis and head up the Missouri River.

1805 – After adding Sacagawea as a guide, Corps of Discovery reaches the Pacific Ocean, and spend the rainy winter in their newly built fortress that they christen Fort Clatsop.

1805 – New Orleans official incorporated as a U.S. city.

1805 – Michigan Territory, Indiana Territory, and Louisiana Territory all established.

1806 – Noah Webster publishes new dictionary of American English.

1806 – Lewis and Clark, along with the Corps of Discovery, successfully return to St. Louis. Only one member of the party, Sgt. Charles Floyd dies during the expedition.

1807 – 18 Americans were killed and 3 others wounded in an attack by British naval vessel off the coast of Virginia, which becomes known as the Chesapeake Incident. Four Americans were taken from the vessel and forced into service aboard the British ship. This incident highlights the issue of impressment.

1807- New York chemist Benjamin Silliman bottles and markets carbonated water.

1808 – James Madison defeats Charles Pinckney in the Presidential election.

1808 – Law banning slave trade in the United States goes into effect.

1809 – A steamship, the Phoenix, built by Colonel John Stevens is the first steamship to complete and ocean voyage.

1809 – Territory of Illinois is established in the Northwest Territory.

1810 – King Kamehameha of Honolulu unifies the many kingdoms within the Hawaiian Islands.

1810 – Official U.S census reveals that the nation’s population now exceeds 7,000,000.


1810 – New York state law requires slave owners to teach slave children to read the Bible.