Britain’s Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert
Frederick Douglass speaks to the Anti-Slavery Convention
Ether is first used as a dental anesthetic
The first major wagon train sets out on the Oregon Trail
Samuel Morse sends the first electrical telegram
The Irish Potato Famine
The Mexican-American War
The Brontë sisters publish Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights
“It had been one of the driest years ever known in California. The country was brown and parched; throughout the State wheat, beans, everything had failed. Cattle were almost starving for grass, and the people, except perhaps a few of the best families, were without bread, and were eating chiefly meat, and that often of a very poor quality.” — Lt. Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Navy, as described in The Century Magazine, Dec. 1890, the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.
Francisco Lopez discovers gold dust in the roots of an onion he dug up for lunch, touching off a local gold rush to San Feliciano Canyon near Los Angeles, but news of the discovery is largely ignored elsewhere. It is the first California gold strike on record.
American explorer and soldier (and later first Republican presidential candidate) John C. Fremont enters California after an expedition to find the mouth of the Columbia River.
Irish priest Eugene McNamara negotiates to send 10,000 Irish colonists to Alta California.
The Hudson Bay Company vacates Yerba Buena but the population continues to grow, now at upwards of 200 settlers, as the region opens to the world.
On January 30, Yerba Buena is officially renamed San Francisco, as declared by chief magistrate Washington Bartlett.