A Year In History: 1854

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This Year in History:


Discover what happened in this year with HISTORY’s summaries of major events, anniversaries, famous births and notable deaths.

April 29

First HBCU, Lincoln University, chartered

On April 29, 1854, Lincoln University becomes the nation’s first historically Black degree-granting institution of higher education.  Located in Pennsylvania and originally founded as the Ashmun Institute, the university was renamed in 1866 in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, revered among African Americans for his 1863 decree to emancipate the nation’s millions of enslaved people. […]

August 9

Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” is published

Henry David Thoreau’s classic Walden, or, A Life in the Woods is required reading in many classrooms today. But when it was first published—on August 9, 1854—it sold just around 300 copies a year. The American transcendentalist writer’s work is a first-person account of his experimental time of simple living at Walden Pond in Concord, […]

December 9

“The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson is published

On December 9, The Examiner prints Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” which commemorates the courage of 600 British soldiers charging a heavily defended position during the Battle of Balaklava, in the Crimea, just six weeks earlier. Tennyson had been named poet laureate in 1850 by Queen Victoria. Tennyson was born […]