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1871 (MDCCCLXXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (dominical letter A) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday (dominical letter C) of the Julian calendar, the 1871st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 871st year of the 2nd millennium, the 71st year of the 19th century, and the 2nd year of the 1870s decade. Note that the Julian day for 1871 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.
- October 8 – Four major fires break out on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Holland, Michigan, and Manistee, Michigan. The Great Chicago Fire is the most famous of these, leaving nearly 100,000 people homeless, although the Peshtigo Fire kills as many as 2,500 people, making it the deadliest fire in United States history.
- October 12 – Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) enacted by the British Raj in India, naming over 160 communities as "Denotified Tribes", allegedly habitually criminal. It will be repealed in 1949, after Indian independence.
- October 20 – The Royal Regiment of Artillery forms the first regular Canadian army units when they create two batteries of garrison artillery, which later become the Royal Canadian Artillery.
- October 24 – 18 Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles' Chinatown are killed by a mob of 500 men in what became known as the Chinese massacre of 1871.
- October 27
- November 5 – Wickenburg Massacre: six men travelling by stagecoach in Arizona Territory are reportedly murdered by Yavapai people.
- November 7 – The London–Australia telegraph cable is brought ashore at Darwin.
- November 10 – Henry Morton Stanley, Welsh-born correspondent for the New York Herald, locates the missing Scottish explorer and missionary Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika, and greets him by saying "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
- November 17
- December 10 – German chancellor Otto von Bismarck tries to ban Catholics from the political stage by introducing harsh laws concerning the separation of church and state.
- December 19 – The city of Birmingham, Alabama, is incorporated with the merger of three existing towns.
- December 24 – Aida opens in Cairo, Egypt.
- December 25 – The Reading Football Club is formed.
- December 26 – Thespis, the first of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, premières. It does modestly well, but the two composers will not collaborate again for four years.
- The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine are transferred from France to Germany.
- British trade unions are legalized.
- Heinrich Schliemann begins the excavation of Troy.
- Japan forms its own nationwide police force based on the French model.
- William M. Tweed serves his last year as the "Boss" of the Tammany Hall political machine in New York.
- The South Improvement Company is formed by John D. Rockefeller and a group of major railroad interests in an early effort to organize and control the petroleum industry in the USA.
- The Harvard Summer School is founded.
- The Constitution of the German Empire abolishes all restrictions on Jewish marriage, choice of occupation, place of residence, and property ownership. Exclusion from government employment and discrimination in social relations remain in effect.
- The American minister to China takes five warships to attempt to "open up" Korea, but his forces leave after exchanges of fire result in 250 Koreans dying and the Korean government still unwilling to make any concessions.
- Virginia adopts a new Constitution, taking into account, among other things, all of the counties that had left Virginia in 1863 to form the new non-slave state of West Virginia. No other state has ever formed by breaking off from another without the consent of the legislature of the parent state, as in the cases of Vermont, Kentucky, and Maine.
- In Hanover, German company Continental AG is founded.
- January 7 – Félix Édouard Justin Émile Borel, French mathematician and politician (d. 1956)
- January 17 – David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, British admiral (d. 1936)
- January 30 – Wilfred Lucas, Canadian-born actor (d. 1940)
- February 4 – Friedrich Ebert, President of Germany (d. 1925)
- February 9 – Howard Taylor Ricketts, American pathologist (d. 1910)
- February 18 – Harry Brearley, English inventor (d. 1948)
- February 28 – Manuel Díaz Rodríguez, Venezuelan writer (d. 1927)
- March 1 – Ben Harney, American composer and pianist (d. 1938)
- March 4 – Boris Galerkin, Russian mathematician (d. 1945)
- March 5 – Rosa Luxemburg, German politician (d. 1919)
- March 17 – Konstantinos Pallis, Greek general (d. 1941)
- March 19 – Schofield Haigh, English cricketer (d. 1921)
- June 12 – Ernst Stromer, German paleontologist (d. 1952)
- June 14 – Jacob Ellehammer, Danish inventor (d. 1946)
- June 17 – James Weldon Johnson, American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter and early civil rights activist (d. 1938)
- June 23 – Jantina Tammes, Dutch plant biologist (d. 1947)
- June 26 – Reginald R. Belknap, United States Navy rear admiral (d. 1959)
- July 10 – Marcel Proust, French writer (d. 1922)
- July 17 – Lyonel Feininger, German painter (d. 1956)
- July 18 – Sada Yacco, Japanese stage actress (d. 1946)
- July 25 – Richard Ernest Turner, Canadian soldier (d. 1961)
- August 1 – John Lester, American cricketer (d. 1969)
- August 10 – Aino Sibelius, wife of composer Jean Sibelius (d. 1969)
- August 14 – Guangxu Emperor of China (d. 1908)
- August 19
- August 25 – Ross Winn, American anarchist writer and publisher (d. 1912)
- August 27 – Theodore Dreiser, American writer (d. 1945)
- August 29 – Albert François Lebrun, French politician (d. 1950)
- August 30 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand physicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (d. 1937)
- September 1 – J. Reuben Clark, Under Secretary of State for U.S. President Calvin Coolidge (d. 1961)
- September 10 – Charles Collett, Great Western Railway Chief mechanical engineer (d. 1952)
- September 19 – Frederick Ruple, American painter (d. 1938)
- September 24 – Lottie Dod, English athlete (d. 1960)
- September 26 – Winsor McCay, American cartoonist and animator (d. 1934)
- September 27 – Grazia Deledda, Italian writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936)
- September 28 – Pietro Badoglio, Italian general and prime minister (d. 1956)
- October 2 – Cordell Hull, United States Secretary of State, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1955)
- October 19 – Walter Bradford Cannon, American physiologist (d. 1945)
- October 11
- October 30
- November 1 – Stephen Crane, American writer (d. 1900)
- November 3 – Albert Goldthorpe, English rugby league footballer (d. 1943)
- December 9 – Joe Kelley, American Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1943)
- December 13 – Emily Carr, Canadian artist (d. 1945)
- January 8 – José Trinidad Cabañas, a Honduran General, President and National Hero (b. 1805)
- January 13 – Kawakami Gensai, a highly skilled swordsman and one of the four most notable assassins of the Bakumatsu period. In the manga Rurouni Kenshin, the main character is a skilled swordsman named Kenshin Himura. He is loosely based on Gensai.
- January 15 – Edward C. Delavan, American temperance movement leader (b. 1793)
- January 19 – Sir William Denison, Governor of New South Wales (b. 1804)
- February 12 – Alice Cary, American poet, sister to Phoebe Cary (1824–1871) (b. 1820)
- February 20 – Paul Kane, Irish-born painter (b. 1810)
- March 18 – Augustus De Morgan, professor of mathematics and mathematician (b. 1806)
- April 7
- April 7 – Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, Austrian admiral (b. 1827)
- April 25 – Jane Clouson, teenaged British murder victim (b. 1854)
- May 11 – John Herschel, English astronomer (b. 1792)
- May 12 – Elzéar-Henri Juchereau Duchesnay, Canadian politician (b. 1809)
- May 23 – Jarosław Dąbrowski, Polish general (b. 1836)
- July 5 – Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso, Italian noblewoman, patriot, writer and journalist (b. 1808)
- July 15 – Tad Lincoln, Youngest son of American President Abraham Lincoln (b. 1853)
- July 31 – Phoebe Cary, American poet, sister to Alice Cary (1820–1871) (b. 1824)
- August 9 – John Paterson, politician in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly (b. 1831)
- September 20 – John Coleridge Patteson, Anglican bishop and missionary (martyred) (b. 1827)
- September 23 – Louis-Joseph Papineau, Canadian politician (b. 1786)
- October 18 – Charles Babbage, English mathematician and inventor (b. 1791)
- November 22 – Oscar James Dunn, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana (b. 1825)
- December 28 – John Henry Pratt, English clergyman and mathematician (b. 1809)
- ↑ BBC History, July 2011, p12
- ↑ Edward Joesting, Kauai: The Separate Kingdom (University of Hawaii Press, 1988) p171
- ↑ John Taliaferro, In a Far Country: The True Story of a Mission, a Marriage, a Murder, and the Remarkable Reindeer Rescue of 1898 (PublicAffairs, 2007) p179
- ↑ Mitchell Snay, Horace Greeley and the Politics of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011) p172
- ↑ "1871 Java - Port Darwin Cable". History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications. 2014-11-05. Archived from the original on 2015-01-06. Retrieved 2015-01-03.
- ↑ Stanley, Henry Morton (1872). How I Found Livingstone - Travels, Adventures, and Discoveries in Central Africa; Including Four Months' Residence with Dr. Livingstone (1984 ed.). Crown Buildings, 188 Fleet Street, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle. p. 412. ISBN 9780705415132.
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia...for 1871 (1873), comprehensive collection of facts online edition