1872 1873 1874 - 1875 - 1876 1877 1878
1840s 1850s 1860s - 1870s - 1880s 1890s 1900s
18th century - 19th century - 20th century
January - April
- January 12 - Kwang-su becomes emperor of China.
- February 27 - Newton Booth, 11th Governor of California resigns, having been elected Senator. Lieutenant Governor of California Romualdo Pacheco becomes acting Governor. He is later replaced by elected governor William Irwin.
- March 3 - The first performance of Bizet’s Carmen at the Opéra Comique, Paris
May - August
- May 7 - SS Schiller wrecks on rocks off the Isles of Scilly.
- May 17 - Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby.
- May 20 - Convention du Mètre signed in Paris.
- August 25 - Captain Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim the English Channel.
September - December
- September 1 - A murder conviction effectively forces the violent Irish anti-owner coal miners, the "Molly Maguires", to disband.
- November 9 - Indian Wars: In Washington, D.C., Indian Inspector E.C. Watkins issues a report stating that hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne associated with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse are hostile to the United States (the Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought in Montana the next year).
- November 16 - Battle at Gundet - Abyssinean emperor Yohannes beats Egyptians
- December 4 - Notorious New York City politician Boss Tweed escapes from prison and flees to Cuba, then Spain.
- Wimbledon: Henry Cavendish Jones convinced the "All England Croquet Club" to replace a croquet court with a lawn tennis court.
- Treaty of Saint Petersburg is signed between Japan and Russia.
- Tong wars begin in San Francisco
- The Theosophical Society was founded in New York by Helena Blavatsky, H. S. Olcott, W. Q. Judge, and others.
- The Arya Samaj was founded in Mumbai by Swami Dayananda.
- January 5 - James Stuart Blackton, American film producer (d. 1941)
- January 7 - Thomas J. Hicks, American runner (d. 1963)
- January 9 - Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, American sculptor and socialite (d. 1942)
- January 11 - Reinhold Glière, Russian composer (d. 1956)
- January 14 - Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian physician, philosopher, and musician, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1965)
- January 15 - Tom Burke, American runner (d. 1929)
- January 22 - D. W. Griffith, American film director (d. 1948)
- February 2 - Fritz Kreisler, Austrian violinist (d. 1962)
- March 7 - Maurice Ravel, French composer (d. 1937)
- March 26 - Syngman Rhee, President of South Korea (d. 1965)
- March 30 - Jonathan Campbell, American film pioneer (d. 1942)
- April 1 - Edgar Wallace, English writer (d. 1932)
- April 2 - Walter Chrysler, American automobile pioneer (d. 1940)
- April 4 - Pierre Monteux, French conductor (d. 1964)
- April 5 - Mistinguett, French singer (d. 1956)
- April 8 - King Albert I of Belgium (d. 1934)
- April 15 - James J. Jeffries, American boxer (d. 1953)
- May 11 - Harriet Quimby, American pilot (d. 1912)
- May 12 - Krishna Chandra Bhattacharya, Indian philosopher (d. 1949)
- June 6 - Thomas Mann, German writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1955)
- June 12 - Sam De Grasse, Canadian actor (d. 1953)
- June 24 - Diedrich Westermann, German linguist (d. 1956)
- June 28 - Henri Lebesgue, French mathematician (d. 1941)
- July 26 - Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist (d. 1961)
- July 26 - Antonio Machado, Spanish poet (d. 1939)
- August 15 - Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, English composer (d. 1912)
- August 21 - Winnifred Eaton, Canadian author (d. 1954)
- August 27 - Katharine McCormick, American suffragist (d. 1967)
- September 1 - Edgar Rice Burroughs, American author (d. 1950)
- October 1 - Eugeen Van Mieghem, Belgian painter (d. 1930)
- October 12 - Aleister Crowley, British occultist (d. 1947)
- October 23 - Gilbert N. Lewis, American chemist (d. 1946)
- December 4 - Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet (d. 1926)
- December 5 - Arthur Currie, Canadian military leader (d. 1933)
- December 19 - Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein's first wife (d. 1948)
- December 25 - Theodor Cardinal Innitzer, Austrian Catholic cardinal (d. 1955)
- January 23 - Charles Kingsley, English writer (b. 1819)
- February 22 - Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, French painter (b. 1796)
- February 22 - Sir Charles Lyell, British geologist (b. 1797)
- March 1 - Tristan Corbière, French poet (b. 1845)
- May 17 - John C. Breckinridge, Vice President of the United States (b. 1821)
- June 3 - Georges Bizet, French composer (b. 1836)
- June 4 - Eduard Mörike, German poet (b. 1804)
- June 25- Antoine-Louis Barye, French sculptor (b. 1796)
- July 30 - George Pickett, American Confederate General (b. 1825)
- July 31 - Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States (b. 1808)
- August 4 - Hans Christian Andersen, Danish writer (b. 1805)
- August 10 - Karl Andree, German geographer (b. 1808)
- August 17 - Wilhelm Bleek, German linguist (b. 1827)
- September 22 - Charles Bianconi, Italian-Irish entrepreneur (b. 1786)
- October 10 - Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy, Russian writer (b. 1817)
- October 12 - Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, French sculptor and painter (b. 1827)
- November 22 - Henry Wilson, Vice President of the United States (b. 1812)
- November 24 - William Backhouse Astor, Sr., American businessman (b. 1792)
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