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1808 (MDCCCVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (dominical letter CB) of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Wednesday (dominical letter ED) of the Julian calendar, the 1808th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 808th year of the 2nd millennium, the 8th year of the 19th century, and the 9th year of the 1800s decade. Note that the Julian day for 1808 is 12 calendar days difference, which continued to be used from 1582 until the complete conversion of the Gregorian calendar was entirely done in 1929.
- January 1 – The importation of slaves into the United States is banned by the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves; this is also the earliest day under the United States Constitution that an amendment can be made restricting slavery.
- January 12 – The organizational meeting leading to the creation of the Wernerian Natural History Society, a former Scottish learned society, is held in Edinburgh.
- January 22 – The Bragança Portuguese Royal Family arrives in Brazil, fleeing from the French army.
- 26 January – Rum Rebellion: On the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the colony of New South Wales, disgruntled military officers of the New South Wales Corps (the Rum Corps) overthrow and imprison Governor William Bligh and seize control of the colony.
- February – Russia issues an ultimatum to Sweden to join Napoleon's Continental System against Great Britain and Ireland.
- February 2 – French troops occupy the Papal States (Vatican).
- February 6 – The ship Topaz (from Boston April 5, 1807 hunting seals) rediscovers the Pitcairn Islands; only one HMS Bounty mutineer is still alive, Alexander Smith (John Adams).
- February 11 – Anthracite coal is first burned as residential heating fuel by Jesse Fell in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
- February 21 – Finnish War: Russian troops cross the border into Finland without a declaration of war.
- March 2 – Russian troops occupy Helsinki and threaten Sveaborg.
- March 2 – The inaugural meeting of the Wernerian Natural History Society, a former Scottish learned society, is held in Edinburgh.
- March 8 – Brazil: With the arrival of the Portuguese royal family in Brazil (1808), the colony became the seat of Portuguese Empire.
- March 11 – Russian troops occupy Tampere.
- March 13 – Upon the death of Christian VII, Frederick VI becomes king of Denmark. The next day (March 14), Denmark declares war on Sweden.
- March 19 – Charles IV of Spain abdicates in favor of his son, Ferdinand VII.
- March 22 – Russian troops occupy Turku.
- January 6 – Joseph Pitty Couthouy, American naval officer (d. 1864)
- January 19 – Lysander Spooner, American philosopher (d. 1887)
- January 27 – David Strauss, German theologian (d. 1874)
- February 5 – Carl Spitzweg, German painter (d. 1885)
- February 26 – Honoré Daumier, French painter, illustrator, and sculptor (d. 1879)
- March 1 – Edward "Ned" Kendall, American bandleader and instrumentalist (keyed bugle) (d. 1861)
- March 17 – Pierre-Louis Dietsch, French composer and conductor (d. 1865)
- April 13 – Antonio Meucci, Italian-born inventor (d. 1889)
- April 20 – Napoleon III, Emperor of the French (d. 1873)
- May 18 – Venancio Flores, Uruguayan general and president of Uruguay (d. 1868)
- May 22 – Gérard de Nerval, French writer (d. 1855)
- June 3 – Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States (d. 1889)
- June 13 – Patrice de MacMahon, Duke of Magenta, French general and politician, first president of the Third Republic (1875-1879) (d. 1893)
- June 16 – James Frederick Ferrier, Scottish metaphysical writer and philosopher (d. 1864)
- June 17 – Henrik Wergeland, Norwegian author (d. 1845)
- June 20 – Samson Raphael Hirsch, German rabbi (d. 1888)
- September 3 – John Montgomery, American delegate to the Continental Congress (b. 1722)
- September 5 – John Home, Scottish writer (b. 1722)
- September 6 – Louis-Pierre Anquetil, French historian (b. 1723)
- September 13 – Saverio Bettinelli, Italian writer (b. 1718)
- September 17 – Benjamin Bourne, American politician (b. 1755)
- October 9 – John Claiborne, U.S. politician (b. 1777)
- November 3 – Theophilus Lindsey, English theologian (b. 1723)
- November 10 – Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, British soldier and governor of Quebec (b. 1724)
- November 17 – David Zeisberger, Moravian missionary (b. 1721)
- ↑ Chenoweth, M. (2001), Two major volcanic cooling episodes derived from global marine air temperature, AD 1807–1827, Geophys. Res. Lett., 28(15), 2963–2966, doi:10.1029/2000GL012648.