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1857 (MDCCCLVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1857th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 857th year of the , the 57th year of the , and the 8th year of the decade. As of the start of Template:Year article header/Julian day, which remained in localized use until 1923.
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- January 1 – The biggest Estonian newspaper Postimees is established by Johann Voldemar Jannsen.
- January 7 – The partly French-owned London General Omnibus Company begins operating.
- January 9 – The 7.9 Mw Fort Tejon earthquake shakes Central and Southern California with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent).
- January 24 – The University of Calcutta is established in Calcutta as the first multidisciplinary modern university in South Asia. The University of Bombay is also established in Bombay, British India, this year.
- February 3 – The National Deaf Mute College (later renamed Gallaudet University) is established in Washington, D.C., becoming the first school for the advanced education of the deaf.
- February 5 – Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States promulgated.
- March 3
- France and the United Kingdom formally declare war on China in the Second Opium War.
- The largest slave auction in United States history, dubbed as 'The Weeping Time'. Over a 2-day period (starting March 2), Pierce M. Butler sells 436 men, women, children, and infants, all of whom are kept in stalls meant for horses at a racetrack in Savannah, Georgia, for weeks beforehand.
- March 4 – James Buchanan is sworn in as President of the United States.
- March 6 – Dred Scott v. Sandford: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that Blacks are not citizens and slaves can not sue for freedom, driving the country further towards the American Civil War (the ruling is not overturned until the 14th Amendment in 1868).
- March 12 – Elizabeth Blackwell opens a hospital, the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children.
- March 14 – Youssef Bey Karam was assigned by the people of Ehden and Bsharri to be the region's ruler.
- March 23 – Elisha Otis' first elevator is installed (at 488 Broadway, New York City).
- April 4 – End of the Anglo-Persian War.
- April 18 – The Spirits' Book (Le Livre des Esprits), one of the Five Fundamental Works of Spiritism, is published by French educator Allan Kardec.
- May 5–October 17 – The Art Treasures of Great Britain exhibition is held in Manchester, one of the largest such displays of all time.
- May 10 – Indian Rebellion of 1857: The 3rd Light Cavalry of the British East India Company's army rebels against its British officers, thus beginning the rebellion.
- May 11 – Indian Rebellion of 1857: Indian combatants capture Delhi from the British East India Company.
- June 6 – Sophia of Nassau marries the future King Oscar II of Sweden–Norway.
- June 12 – American mercenary William Walker is overthrown as ruler of Nicaragua by Honduran general Florencio Xatruch.
- June 22 – The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is officially opened by Queen Victoria.
- June 26 – At a ceremony in London, Queen Victoria awards the first sixty-six Victoria Crosses to British troops, for actions during the Crimean War.
- July 1–November 19 – Indian Rebellion of 1857: Siege of Lucknow.
- July 15 – Indian Rebellion of 1857: The second massacre at Kanpur takes place.
- July 18
- The Utah Expedition leaves Fort Leavenworth, effectively beginning the Utah War.
- Last use of prison hulks in the United Kingdom.
- August 20 – The Dunbar wrecked near the entrance to Sydney Harbour, Australia, with the loss of 121 lives.
- August 28 – Matrimonial Causes Act makes divorce without parliamentary approval legally possible in the United Kingdom.
- September – Panic of 1857 begins: Speculation in U.S. railroad shares and collapse on August 24 of the New York City branch of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company following widespread embezzlement trigger a financial crisis which will extend to Europe.
- September 11 – Mountain Meadows massacre in Utah.
- September 12 – The Template:SS sinks off the coast of North Carolina, killing 425 people.
- September 20 – In India, British forces recapture Delhi, compelling the surrender of Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor.
- October 13 – Panic of 1857: New York banks close and do not reopen until December 12.
- October 24 – Sheffield F.C., the world's first association football team, is founded in Sheffield, England.
- November 30 – President of Mexico Ignacio Comonfort is succeeded by Félix María Zuloaga.
- December – Reform War in Mexico begins.
- December 16 – The 7.0 Mw Basilicata earthquake shakes the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Southern Italy) with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme), killing about 10,000 people.
- December 20 – Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria issues a decree, Es ist Mein Wille, which leads to the demolition of the city walls of Vienna, allowing the construction of the Ringstraße.
- December 31 – Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa, as the capital of Canada.
- The Mormons abandon Las Vegas.
- Kuala Lumpur, the future capital of Malaysia, is founded as a tin mining settlement.
- La Tène culture artifacts are discovered in Switzerland by Hansli Kopp.
- Illinois State University, the first public university in Illinois, is established in Normal, Illinois
- American politician William Daniel proposes the Local Option for Prohibition.
- 1857–1924 – 7 out of 10 people who land in Argentina are single males between 13 and 40 years old.
- January 2 – Uryū Sotokichi, Japanese admiral (d. 1937)
- January 4 – Émile Courtet, French caricaturist and animator (d. 1938)
- January 11 – William Gentles, US army private, known for killing Crazy Horse (d. 1932)
- January 12
- January 13 – Anastasios Papoulas, Greek general (d. 1935)
- January 26 – the 12th Dalai Lama (d. 1875)
- January 31 – George Jackson Churchward, GWR Chief mechanical engineer (d. 1933)
- February 13 – Almanzo James Wilder, American writer (d. 1949)
- February 22
- March 6 – George Dayton, American businessman and founder of Target Corporation (d. 1938)
- March 7 – Julius Wagner-Jauregg, Austrian neuroscientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1940)
- March 13
- March 21 – Hunter Liggett, American general (d. 1935)
- March 27 – Karl Pearson, English statistician (d. 1936)
- March 30 – Léon Charles Thévenin, French telegraph engineer (d. 1926)
- April 5 – Alexander of Battenberg, first Prince of Bulgaria (d. 1893)
- April 14
- April 22 – Paul Dresser, American songwriter (d. 1906)
- April 23 – Ruggero Leoncavallo, Italian composer (d. 1919)
- April 30 – Walter Simon, German philanthropist (d. 1920)
- May 7 – William A. MacCorkle, Governor of West Virginia (d. 1930)
- May 13 – Ronald Ross, English physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1932)
- May 15 – Williamina Fleming, Scottish astronomer (d. 1911)
- May 19 – John Jacob Abel, American pharmacologist (d. 1938)
- May 24 – Richard Mansfield, Anglo-American stage actor (d. 1907)
- May 28 – Robert C. Hilliard, American stage actor (d. 1927)
- May 31 – Pope Pius XI (d. 1939)
- June 2
- June 10 – Caroline Louise Dudley(later Mrs. Leslie Carter) American stage actress (d. 1937)
- June 12 – Kate Lester, English stage & silent screen actress (d. 1924)
- June 30 – Friedrich von Ingenohl, German admiral (d. 1933)
- July 11 – Alfred Binet, French psychologist (Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales) (d. 1911)
- July 19 – Eugen Bamberger, German chemist (d. 1932)
- July 22 – Shams-ul-haq Azeemabadi, Islamic scholar (d. 1911)
- July 23 – Carl Meinhof, German linguist (d. 1944)
- July 24
- July 25 – Nat C. Goodwin, American actor (d. 1919)
- July 28 – Ballington Booth, Salvation Army Officer and co-founder of Volunteers of America (d. 1940)
- July 30
- August 8 – Henry Fairfield Osborn, American geologist, paleontologist, and eugenist (d. 1935)
- August 12 – Ernestine von Kirchsberg, Austrian painter (d. 1924)
- August 14 – Max Wagenknecht, German composer (d. 1922)
- August 15 – Albert Ballin, German shipping magnate owner of the Hamburg America Line (d. 1918)
- August 27 – Oskar von Hutier, German general (d. 1934)
- August 30 – Alexandra Gripenberg, Finnish women's rights activist and politician (d. 1913)
- September 5 – Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Russian scientist and inventor (d. 1935)
- September 8 – Georg Michaelis, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1936)
- September 13
- September 15 – William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States (d. 1930)
- September 18 – John Hessin Clarke, American Supreme Court Justice (d. 1945)
- September 20 – Antoine de Mitry, French general (d. 1924)
- September 28 – Lewis Bayly, British admiral (d. 1938)
- October 2
- October 5 – Peadar Mac Fhionnlaoich, Irish language writer (d. 1942)
- October 24 – Ned Williamson, American baseball player (d. 1894)
- November 3 – Mikhail Alekseyev, Russian general (d. 1918)
- November 5
- November 14 – Mihail Savov, Bulgarian general (d. 1928)
- November 17 – George Marchant, English-born inventor, manufacturer, and philanthropist (d. 1941)
- November 24 – Miklós Kovács Hungarian Slovene writer (d. 1937)
- November 26 – Ferdinand de Saussure, Swiss linguist (d. 1913)
- November 27 – Charles Scott Sherrington, English physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1952)
- November 28 – King Alfonso XII of Spain (d. 1885)
- December 3 – Joseph Conrad, Polish-British novelist (d. 1924)
- Zübeyde Hanım, mother of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (d. 1923)
- January 27 – Dorothea Lieven, Latvian diplomat and politically active princess (b. 1785)
- February 10 – David Thompson, British-Canadian explorer (b. 1770)
- February 15 – Mikhail Glinka, Russian composer (b. 1804)
- February 16 – Elisha Kane, American explorer of the Arctic regions (b. 1820)
- March 11 – Manuel José Quintana, poet (b. 1772)
- May 2 – Alfred de Musset, French poet (b. 1810)
- May 11 – Eugène François Vidocq, French criminal and private detective (b. 1775)
- May 13 – Parley P. Pratt, early Latter Day Saint movement leader (murdered) (b. 1807)
- May 23 – Augustin-Louis Cauchy, French mathematician (b. 1789)
- May 29 – Agustina de Aragón, Spanish heroine (b. 1786)
- April 8 – Mangal Pandey, Indian soldier (b. 1827)
- June 30 – Alcide d'Orbigny, naturalist (b. 1802)
- July 4 – Henry Montgomery Lawrence, soldier and statesman (b. 1806)
- July 15 – Carl Czerny, Austrian composer (b. 1791)
- July 19 – Stefano Franscini, member of the Swiss Federal Council (b. 1796)
- July 29 – Charles Lucien Bonaparte, French naturalist and ornithologist (b. 1803)
- August 3 – Eugène Sue, French novelist (b. 1804)
- August 29 – Stephen Cassin, United States Navy officer (b. 1783)
- September 3 – John McLoughlin, Canadian trapper (b. 1784)
- September 5 – Auguste Comte, French philosopher (b. 1798)
- November 12 – Maximilian Spinola, entomologist (b. 1780)
- November 26 – Joseph von Eichendorff, German poet (b. 1788)
- December 3 – Christian Daniel Rauch, German sculptor (b. 1777)
- December 15 – Sir George Cayley, English aviation pioneer (b. 1773)
- December 27 – Lucien Baudens, French military surgeon (b. 1804)
- date unknown - Elizabeth Philpot, British paleontologist (b. 1780)
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- "Día de la Constitución Mexicana (5 de Febrero)". Guia de San Miguel. 2001. Retrieved August 26, 2011.Template:FixTemplate:Cbignore
- "The Weeping Time". Africans in America. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Exhibition of art treasures of the United Kingdom, held at Manchester in 1857: report of the Executive Committee. 1859. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
- Gossett, William Patrick (1986). The lost ships of the Royal Navy, 1793-1900. Mansell. p. 114. ISBN 0-7201-1816-6.
- Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 277–278. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.