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1873 (MDCCCLXXIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar, the 1873rd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 873rd year of the 2nd millennium, the 73rd year of the 19th century, and the 4th year of the 1870s decade. As of the start of 1873, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
- April 1 – British ocean liner RMS Atlantic sinks off Nova Scotia, killing 547.
- April 4 – The Kennel Club, the world's first kennel club, is founded in the United Kingdom.
- April 15–17 – American Indian Wars: The Second Battle of the Stronghold is fought.
- April 19 – In Richmond, Rhode Island, 11 people perish in a train derailment, due to a bridge washout in the village of Richmond Switch (now Wood River Junction).
- May – Henry Rose exhibits barbed wire at an Illinois county fair, which is taken up by Joseph Glidden and Jacob Haish, who invent a machine to mass-produce it.
- May 5 – Third Carlist War – Battle of Eraul: Carlists under General Dorregaray defeat Republicans at Eraul, near Estella.
- May 9
- May 20
- May 23
- May 27
- May 28
- June 4 – American Indian Wars: The Modoc War ends with the capture of Kintpuash (Captain Jack).
- June 9 – Alexandra Palace in London is destroyed by fire, only a fortnight after its opening.
- July – The end of the war between the United Kingdom and Ghana's King Kofi KariKari, who is involved in the trading of slaves, leads to the establishment of the Gold Coast Colony.
- July 1 – Prince Edward Island joins the Canadian Confederation.
- July 5 – New Rush in Griqualand West, South Africa is renamed Kimberley.
- July 9 – Third Carlist War – Battle of Alpens: Campaigning in Catalonia, a government column under General José Cabrinety is ambushed at Alpens, 15 miles east of Berga, by Carlist forces under General Francisco Savalls. After heavy fighting, with Cabrinety killed, virtually the entire column of 800 men is killed or captured.
- July 17 – Richard Southey becomes the first Lieutenant-Governor of Griqualand West.
- July 21 – At Adair, Iowa, Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang pull off the first successful train robbery in the American Old West (US$3,000 from the Rock Island Express).
- July 22 – Sir Benjamin Pine becomes Lieutenant-governor of the Colony of Natal.
- August 4 – American Indian Wars: While protecting a railroad survey party in Montana, the Seventh Cavalry, under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, clashes for the first time with the Sioux, near the Tongue River (only 1 man on each side is killed).
- August 12 – A peace treaty is signed between Imperial Russia and the Khanate of Khiva, making the khanate a Russian protectorate.
- August 30 – The Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition discovers Franz Josef Land.
- September 15 – The International Meteorological Organization (IMO) is established.
- September 16 – German troops leave France, upon completion of payment of indemnity for the Franco-Prussian War.
- September 17 – The Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, later Ohio State University, opens its doors with 25 students, including 2 women.
- September 18 – The New York stock market crash triggers the Panic of 1873, part of the Long Depression.
- September 25 – Classes begin at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.
- October – The Long Depression begins in the United States.
- October 6
- The County Carlow Football Club (rugby union) is founded in Ireland.
- Third Carlist War – Battle of Mañeru: In continued campaigning in Navarre, Spanish Republican General Domingo Moriones meets a Carlist force under Nicolás Ollo at Mañeru, near Puente de la Reina, in a hard-fought but indecisive action. While both sides claim victory, the Carlists are said to have had the advantage, and a month later Moriones is repulsed in a costly assault further west, against Estella.
- November 6 – The Halifax Rugby League Club is founded.
- November 7
- Alexander Mackenzie becomes the second Prime Minister of Canada.
- Third Carlist War – Battle of Montejurra: Determined to recapture the key city of Estella in Navarre, Spanish Republican General Domingo Moriones advances on the Carlists under General Joaquín Elío at nearby Montejurra. After very heavy fighting both sides claim victory, but Moriones withdraws, and Estella remains in Carlist hands. Don Carlos is present in the front line.
- November 17 – Budapest, Hungary's capital, is formed from Pest, Buda and Óbuda.
- November 18–21 – Irish Home Rule movement: The Home Government Association reconstitutes itself as the Home Rule League.
- November 22 – SS Ville du Havre, on passage from New York to France, collides with Scottish 3-masted iron clipper Loch Earn and sinks in 12 minutes with the loss of 226 lives.
- December – Major Walter Clopton Wingfield designs and patents a racquet sport, which he calls sphairistike (Greek , "skill at playing at ball"), soon known simply as Stické, for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate of Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales.
- December 15 – Women of Fredonia, New York march against the retail liquor dealers in town, to inaugurate the Woman's Crusade of 1873-74.
- December 16 – The Heineken Brewery is founded in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
- December 19 (December 7 OS) – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's fantasia The Tempest, composed between August and October, is premiered, in Moscow.
- December 21 – Francis Garnier is attacked outside Hanoi by Black Flag mercenaries fighting for the Vietnamese.
- December 22 – Third Carlist War – Battle of Bocairente: Campaigning in Valenica, Spanish Republican General Valeriano Weyler is attacked at Bocairente, northwest of Alcoy, by a greatly superior Carlist force under General José Santés. Weyler is initially driven back, losing some of his guns, but in a brilliant counter-attack he turns defeat into victory, and Santés is heavily repulsed and forced to withdraw.
- December 23 – The Woman's Christian Temperance Union is founded, in Hillsboro, Ohio.
- December 27 – Third Carlist War – Siege of Bilbao (until 2 May 1874): Campaigning in Navarre, Pretender Don Carlos VII and General Joaquín Elío besiege Bilbao, held by General Ignacio del Castillo and 1,200 men. The Carlist force is ten times this number, and includes most of the troops from Navarre, Vizcaya and Álava, although a considerable force is left in Guipúzcoa. Despite defeat at nearby Somorrostro, Republican commander Marshal Francisco Serrano, supported by Generals Manuel de la Concha and Arsenio Martínez-Campos, brilliantly breaks the siege, and Concha then marches on Estella.
- January 2 – Thérèse of Lisieux, Catholic saint, mystic (d. 1897)
- January 4 – Blanche Walsh, American stage, screen actress (d. 1915)
- January 7 – Adolph Zukor, Austrian-born film studio pioneer (d. 1976)
- January 8
- January 9 – Thomas Curtis, American athlete (d. 1944)
- January 10 – George Orton, Canadian athlete (d. 1958)
- January 12 – Spyridon Louis, Greek runner (d. 1940)
- January 20 – Johannes V. Jensen, Danish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1950)
- January 28 – Colette, French writer (d. 1954)
- January 29 – Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi, Italian mountaineer, explorer and admiral (d. 1933)
- January 30 – Vassily Balabanov, administrator, Provincial Governor of Imperial Russia (d. 1947)
- January 31 – Melitta Bentz, German entrepreneur who invented the coffee filter in 1908 (d. 1950)
- February 2 – Maurice Tourneur, French film director (d. 1961)
- February 3
- February 4
- February 7 – Thomas Andrews, Irish shipbuilder (d. 1912)
- February 13
- February 15 – Hans von Euler-Chelpin, German-born chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1964)
- February 19 – Louis Feuillade, French film director (d. 1925)
- February 22 – Carrie Langston Hughes, African-American writer and actress (d. 1938)
- February 25 – Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor (d. 1921)
- February 28 – William Mcmaster Murdoch, Officer of Titanic (d. 1912)
- March 3 – William Green, American labor leader (d. 1952)
- March 8 – Anna Held, French actress (d. 1918)
- March 11 – David Horsley, English-born film executive (d. 1933)
- March 13 – Léon Delagrange, French sculptor, pioneer aviator (d. 1910)
- March 19 – Max Reger, German composer (d. 1916)
- March 29 – Billy Quirk, American actor (d. 1926)
- April 1 (N.S.)/March 20 (O.S.) – Sergei Rachmaninoff, Russian composer, pianist (d. 1943)
- April 4 – Gyula Peidl, 23rd Prime Minister of Hungary (d. 1943)
- April 7 – John McGraw, American baseball player, manager (d. 1934)
- April 10
- April 13 – John W. Davis, American politician, diplomat, and lawyer (d. 1955)
- April 19 – Sydney Barnes, English cricketer (d. 1967)
- April 20 – Gombojab Tsybikov, Russian explorer (d. 1930)
- April 22 – Ellen Glasgow, American writer (d. 1945)
- April 23 – Theodor Körner, President of Austria (d. 1957)
- April 25
- May 4 – Joe De Grasse, Canadian film director (d. 1940)
- May 5 – Leon Czolgosz, assassin of U.S. President William McKinley (d. 1901)
- May 9 – Anton Cermak, Mayor of Chicago (d. 1933)
- May 17
- May 21 – Hans Berger, German neurologist (d. 1941)
- May 28 – D. D. Sheehan, Irish politician (d. 1948)
- June 3 – Otto Loewi, German-born pharmacologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1961)
- June 15 – Leonora Cohen, British suffragette and trade unionist (d. 1978)
- June 28 – Alexis Carrel, French surgeon and biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1944)
- June 29 – Monroe Dunaway (M.D.) Anderson, Founder of Anderson, Clayton and Company; "Father of Texas Medical Center" (d. 1939)
- July 1
- July 3 – Prince Yamashina Kikumaro, Japanese Prince (d. 1908)
- July 6 – Dimitrios Maximos, Prime Minister of Greece (d. 1955)
- July 8 – Carl Vaugoin, 7th Chancellor of Austria (d. 1949)
- July 12 – Oscar von Sydow, 18th Prime Minister of Sweden (d. 1936)
- July 20 – Alberto Santos-Dumont, Brazilian aviation pioneer (suicide) (d. 1932)
- July 21 – Walter Morley Fletcher, British physiologist, administrator (d. 1933)
- July 22 – James Cousins, Irish writer (d. 1956)
- July 23 – Marie Janson, Belgian politician (d. 1960)
- August 5 – Joseph Russell Knowland, American politician, newspaperman (d. 1966)
- August 10 – William Ernest Hocking, American philosopher (d. 1966)
- August 13 – Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven, South African author (d. 1932)
- August 17 – John A. Sampson, American gynecologist (d. 1946)
- August 20 – William Henry Bell, 1st director of the South African College of Music (d. 1946)
- August 21 – Harry T. Morey, American actor (d. 1936)
- August 25 – Blanche Bates, American actress (d. 1941)
- August 26 – Lee de Forest, American inventor (d. 1961)
- September 1
- September 5 – Cornelius Vanderbilt III, American military officer, inventor, engineer (d. 1942)
- September 8
- September 17 – Ibrahim of Johor, Malaysian sultan (d. 1959)
- September 20
- September 21 – Papa Jack Laine, American jazz musician (d. 1966)
- September 25 – Fawcet Wray, British admiral (d. 1932)
- September 26 – Wac?aw Berent, Polish novelist, translator (d. 1940)
- October 2 – Stephen Warfield Gambrill, U.S. Congressman for Maryland's 5th District (d. 1924)
- October 3 – Emily Post, American etiquette expert (d. 1960)
- October 8 – Ma Barker, American criminal (d. 1935)
- October 9
- October 13 – Georgios Kafantaris, Prime Minister of Greece (d. 1946)
- October 14 – Ray Ewry, American athlete (d. 1937)
- October 18
- October 19
- October 26
- October 30
- November 9 – Fritz Thyssen, German industrialist (d. 1951)
- November 16 – W. C. Handy, American blues composer (d. 1958)
- November 20 – Ramón Castillo, Argentinian politician, 25th President of Argentina (d. 1944)
- November 22 – Johnny Tyldesley, English cricketer (d. 1930)
- November 28 – Frank Phillips, American oil executive (d. 1950)
- December 7 – Willa Cather, American novelist (d. 1947)
- December 11 – Josip Plemelj, Slovenian mathematician (d. 1967)
- December 17 – Ford Madox Ford, English writer (d. 1939)
- December 20 – Kan'ichi Asakawa, Japanese historian (d. 1948)
- December 21 – Captain Bertram Dickson, Scottish soldier, explorer and pioneer aviator; involved in the world's first mid-air collision (d. 1913)
- December 26 – Thomas Wass, Nottinghamshire bowler (d. 1953)
- December 30 – Al Smith, American politician, Democratic presidential candidate (d. 1944)
- January 9 – Napoleon III, last Emperor of the French (b. 1808)
- January 18 – Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, English novelist (b. 1803)
- January 20 – Basil Moreau, French founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross (b. 1799)
- January 23 – Ramalinga Swamigal, Hindu religious leader (b. 1823)
- January 26 – Empress Amélie, consort of Pedro I of Brazil (b. 1812)
- February 3 – Isaac Baker Brown, English gynaecologist, surgeon (b. 1811)
- February 7 – Sheridan Le Fanu, Irish writer (b. 1814)
- February 18 – Vasil Levski, Bulgarian revolutionary (executed) (b. 1837)
- March 10 – John Torrey, American botanist (b. 1796)
- March 24 – Mary Ann Cotton, English serial killer (executed) (b. 1832)
- March 25 – Wilhelm Marstrand, Danish painter (b. 1810)
- March 29 – Prince Unakan Ananta Norajaya Prince of Siam (b. 1856)
- March 31
- April 11
- April 18 – Justus von Liebig, German chemist (b. 1803)
- April 27 – William Charles Macready, English actor (b. 1793)
- April 29 – Hortense Globensky-Prévost, Canadian heroine (b. 1804)
- May 1 – David Livingstone, Scottish explorer of Africa (b. 1813)
- May 5 – Jerónimo Carrión, 8th President of Ecuador (b. 1804)
- May 6 – José Antonio Páez, first President of Venezuela (b. 1790)
- May 7 – Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1808)
- May 8 – John Stuart Mill, British philosopher (b. 1806)
- May 15 – Alexandru Ioan Cuza, first ruler of Romania (b. 1820)
- May 20 – George-Étienne Cartier, Canadian statesman (b. 1814)
- May 29 – Édouard de Verneuil, French palaeontologist (b. 1805)
- June 1 – Joseph Howe, Canadian politician (b. 1804)
- July 13 – Caroline Clive, English writer (b. 1801)
- August 18 – Charles II, Duke of Brunswick (b. 1804)
- September 11 – Agustín Fernando Muñoz, 1st Duke of Riánsares, morganatic husband of Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies (b. 1808)
- September 17 – Alexander Berry, Scottish adventurer, Australian pioneer (b. 1781)
- September 22 – Friedrich Frey-Herosé, Swiss Federal Councilor (b. 1801)
- September 23 – Jean Chacornac, French astronomer (b. 1823)
- September 28 – Émile Gaboriau, French writer (b. 1833)
- October 5 – William Todd, American businessman, Canadian Senate nominee (b. 1803)
- October 9 – George Ormerod, English historian, antiquarian (b. 1785)
- October 17 – Sir Robert McClure, British Arctic explorer (b. 1807)
- November 8 – Manuel Bretón de los Herreros, Spanish playwright (b. 1796)
- December 14
Further reading and year books
- 1873 Annual Cyclopedia (1874) highly detailed coverage of "Political, Military, and Ecclesiastical Affairs; Public Documents; Biography, Statistics, Commerce, Finance, Literature, Science, Agriculture, and Mechanical Industry" for year 1873; massive compilation of facts and primary documents; worldwide coverage; 831pp