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Railway electrification system

Crudely invented by Edison in 1880, it involves the movement of trains via electricity and not an on-site fuel supply.


The Snow Winter

Winter of 1880-1881, most severe ever known in the United States. Primarily affected the area of Chicago into Dakota, numerous townspeople died of starvation as the trains couldn't travel.


United States presidential election, 1880

Republican James A. Garfield easily defeated Democrat Winfield S. Scott in the electoral vote, though the popular vote margin was very thin. A main issue was the Republican support of strong tariffs while the Democrats favored relaxed tariffs. Both parties supported civil service reform, and restricting Chinese immigration. 3% of voters selected the Greenback Party, which advocated government regulation of the economy.


Cash register

Invented in 1880 by James Ritty, the first of these were very primitive, but symbolic of the gradual turn of American small business.


Lillian Russell

An famous and popular Vaudeville actress, known for her beauty, she would later advocate for women's suffrage.


Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight

1881- A famous incident of gang violence in El Paso.


Clara Barton

The nurse who founded the American Red Cross in 1881.


USS Jeannette

A ship used in a failed 1881 mission to find the North Pole.


Charles J. Guiteau

Lawyer who shot and killed President Garfield in 1881.


Tuskegee University

An historically black university lead by Booker T. Washington, opened in 1881.


Pat Garrett

The Old West lawman who killed Billy the Kid in 1881.


Thumb Fire

An 1881 fire in the Thumb of Michigan so powerful soot covered the sky in the Northeast.



America's first successful humor and satire magazine, published initially in 1771.


Virgil Earp

A Deputy U.S. Marshall who failed to civilize the city of Tombstone, being maimed by gang runners.


Standard Oil Trust

Created by Rockefeller in 1882, it was controversial as being the first large, multinational corporation. It would become victim of McKinley and Roosevelt's trust-busting policy. ExxonMobil currently retains a large share of the original company, however.


Oscar Wilde

An influential Irish writer and poet who toured the United States and published "The Picture of Dorian Gray" before being arrested for engaging in sex with other men.


Edmunds Act

The 1882 Congressional Act which said bigamy is a felony was aimed at Utah, and caused a profound governmental reformation in that state.


Knights of Columbus

World's largest Catholic fraternal service founded in America in 1882.


Robert Ford

The infamous outlaw who assassinated his own leader Jesse James in 1882.


Page Act of 1875

A law which forbade any Asian women from immigrating who were planning to work as prostitutes. This law was construed to exclude a great deal of Asian women leading to a disparity of gender in California.


Chinese Exclusion Act

(1882) Denied any additional Chinese laborers to enter the country while allowing students and merchants to immigrate.


Labor Day

A holiday created in 1882 to appease the disgruntled laborers of the Gilded Age.


spoils system

The practice of a political party, after coming into power, giving government jobs away to friends or fundraisers.


Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act

An 1883 law passed after Pres. Garfield's assassination, stipulating that government jobs will be given away on the basis of merit.


time zones

Instituted by the U.S. and Canadian railroads in 1883.


Eight-hour day

Instituted May Day 1884, eight hours for work, sleep, and play.


International Meridian Conference

Held in Washington D.C. (at Arthur's request) in 1884, this conference established the Greenwich Meridian as the zero longitude.


United States presidential election, 1884

Democrat Cleveland defeated Republican James G. Blaine (who won nomination over incumbent Pres. Chester Arthur) in an election where personal character took prevalence. Blaine's accusations that Cleveland had fathered a bastard child were overshadowed by the usage of an anti-Catholic slur by a member of Blaine's campaign team, as the election was decided by a close race in the state of New York.


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

This 1884 Mark Twain novel was extremely popular and published a sympathetic view of the South, it's noted for being written almost entirely in vernacular.


Water hyacinth

A flower introduced to America in 1884 which quickly invaded nearly the entire United States.


Statue of Liberty

A colossal sculpture in New York City gifted to America by a French artist and built in 1886, although initially unpopular with Nativists, it eventually become synonymous with the American ideal of liberty.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

A stock market index created in 1885.


Sarah E. Goode

The first black woman to receive a patent, on the hideaway bed, in 1885.


Rock Springs massacre

1885: Anti-Chinese mass murder in Wyoming caused by racial tension.


Dr. Pepper

A soft drink patented as a brain tonic and energizer in 1885.


Seattle riot of 1886

This Anti-Chinese riot required federal intervention and left over 200 Chinese people displaced.


Haymarket affair

1886- A peaceful labor protest which escalated into a bombing situation which left many people dead or wounded, leading to the passage of the eight hour work day, but also the unpopularity of labor unions.



A soft drink developed simultaneously as Dr Pepper, in 1886.


Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad

(1886) The U.S. Supreme Court rules that corporations have the same rights as living persons.


Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston

The 21-year old bride of Grover Cleveland, their 1886 marriage became a source of intense media interest.


Steve Brodie

An actor and personality of the late 19th century whose 1886 claim to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge catapulted him to the status of an icon.



The prominent Apache leader who ended the thirty-year war between himself and the government by surrendering in 1886.


Augustus Tolton

The first African-American priest to be publicly ordained in 1886.


Interstate Commerce Act of 1887

A federal law passed to regulate the railroad industry.


Susanna M. Salter

Prohibition Party- The first female politician in the United States, elected in 1887 as mayor of Argonia, Kansas.


Schoolhouse Blizzard

In 1888 a blizzard struck the Plains leaving over 200 dead, a great majority children trapped in small schoolhouses.


Eadweard Muybridge

Worked with Edison to pioneer motion-picture development.


United States presidential election, 1888

Rep. Benjamin Harrison narrowly defeated Dem. Grover Cleveland, despite the popularity of Cleveland at the time. The central election issue was tariff reform, with Cleveland supporting tariff reductions and Harrison pushing for tariff increases. Free trade became an issue this election, with the Republicans presenting Cleveland as the choice of European nations. "Floaters," paid non-citizen voters, swung the election for Harrison in Indiana. Third election in which the popular vote did not determine the winner.


Enabling Act of 1889

Created the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington.


Johnstown Flood

This 1889 Pennsylvania disaster killed thousands and was the first major disaster relief effort handled by the Red Cross.