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- January 1
- February 2 – The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs is formed at a meeting in Chicago; it replaced the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. Morgan Bulkeley of the Hartford Dark Blues is selected as the league's first President.
- February 2 – Battle of Montejurra (Third Carlist War in Spain) – The new commander General Fernando Primo de Rivera marches on the remaining Carlist stronghold at Estella, where he meets a force of about 1,600 men under General Carlos Calderón at nearby Montejurra. After a courageous and costly defence Calderón is forced to withdraw.
- February 19 – Third Carlist War – Government troops under General Primo de Rivera drive through the weak Carlist forces protecting Estella and take the city by storm.
- February 22 – Johns Hopkins University is founded in Baltimore.
- February 24 – Premiere of first stage production of the verse-play Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen with incidental music by Edvard Grieg, in Oslo (then called Christiania), Norway
- February 28 – Third Carlist War in Spain – The Carlist forces do not succeed, and the promises are never fulfilled. The Carlist pretender Carlos, Duke of Madrid, goes into exile in France bringing the conflict to an end after four years.
- February/March – The Harvard Lampoon humor magazine is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Spring – Vast numbers of Native Americans in the United States move north to an encampment of the Sioux chief Sitting Bull in the region of the Little Bighorn River, creating the last great gathering of native peoples on the Great Plains.
- March – American librarian Melvil Dewey first publishes the Dewey Decimal Classification system.
- March 7 – Alexander Graham Bell is granted a United States patent for an invention he calls the telephone (patent #174,466).
- March 10 – Alexander Graham Bell makes the first successful telephone call, saying "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.."
- March 20 – Through constitutional reform taking legal effect, Louis De Geer becomes the first Prime Minister of Sweden.
- April 16 – The Bulgarian April uprising occurs.
- April 17 – Friends Academy is founded by Gideon Frost at Locust Valley, New York.
- May – Batak massacre refers to the massacre of Bulgarians in Batak by Ottoman troops in 1876 at the beginning of the April Uprising. The number of victims ranges from 3,000 to 5,000, depending on the source.
- May 1
- May 10 – The Centennial Exposition begins in Philadelphia.
- May 11 – May 12 – Berlin Memorandum: Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary propose an armistice between Turkey and its insurgents.
- May 16 – British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli rejects the Berlin Memorandum.
- May 17 – Nikolaus Otto files his patent for the four-stroke cycle internal combustion engine.
- May 18 – Wyatt Earp starts work in Dodge City, Kansas, serving under Marshal Larry Deger.
- June 4 – The Transcontinental Express arrives in San Francisco via the First Transcontinental Railroad, 83 hours and 39 minutes after having left New York City.
- June 17 – American Indian Wars – Battle of the Rosebud: 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse beat back General George Crook's forces at Rosebud Creek in Montana Territory.
- June 24 – First published review of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, in a British magazine; the book's first edition had appeared earlier in June in England. (The book was published in the U.S. in December 1876.)
- June 25 – American Indian Wars – Battle of the Little Bighorn: 300 men of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer are wiped out by 5,000 Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
July – September
- July 1 – Serbia declares war on the Ottoman Empire.
- July 2 – Montenegro declares war on the Ottoman Empire.
- July 4 – The United States celebrates its centennial.
- July 8 – Reichstadt Agreement: Russia and Austria-Hungary agree on partitioning the Balkan Peninsula.
- July 13 – The prosecution of Arthur Tooth, an Anglican clergyman, for using ritualist practices begins.
- August 1 – Colorado is admitted as the 38th U.S. state.
- August 8 – Thomas Edison receives a patent for his mimeograph.
- August 13 – Richard Wagner inaugurates Bayreuth Festival
- August 31 – Murad V, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, is deposed and succeeded by his brother Abdul Hamid II.
- September 5 – Gladstone publishes his Bulgarian Horrors pamphlet.
- September 7 – In Northfield, Minnesota, Jesse James and the James–Younger Gang attempt to rob the town's bank but are surrounded by an angry mob and are nearly wiped out.
- September 12 – King Leopold II of Belgium hosts the Brussels Geographic Conference on the subject of colonizing and exploring central Africa. By the event's conclusion, a new international body named the International African Association (indirect forerunner of the modern Congo state) is established.
- October 4 – Texas A&M University opens for classes.
- October 31 – A catastrophic cyclone strikes the coast of present-day Bangladesh, killing 200,000.
- November 1 – The British Colony of New Zealand dissolves its nine provinces and replaces them with 63 counties.
- November 2 – A giant squid, 6.1 meters long, washes ashore at Thimble Tickle Bay in Newfoundland.
- November 4 – The long-awaited First Symphony of Johannes Brahms has its première at Karlsruhe under the baton of Otto Dessoff.
- November 7 – U.S. presidential election, 1876: After long and heated disputes, Rutherford Birchard Hayes is eventually declared the winner over Samuel Jones Tilden. A failed grave robbery of the Lincoln Tomb took place on the same night.
- November 10 – The Centennial Exposition ends in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- November 23 – Corrupt Tammany Hall leader William Marcy Tweed (better known as Boss Tweed) is delivered to authorities in New York City after being captured in Spain.
- November 25 – American Indian Wars –Dull Knife Fight: In retaliation for the dramatic American defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, United States Army troops under General Ranald S. Mackenzie sack Chief Dull Knife's sleeping Cheyenne village at the headwaters of the Powder River (the soldiers destroy all of the villagers' winter food and clothing, and then slash their ponies' throats).
- November 29 – Porfirio Díaz becomes President of Mexico.
- December 5 – The Brooklyn Theatre fire kills at least 278, possibly more than 300.
- December 6 – The first cremation in the United States takes place in a crematory built by Francis Julius LeMoyne.
- December 29 – The Ashtabula River Railroad bridge disaster occurs, leaving 92 dead.
- Japan brings a fleet to Incheon, the port of modern-day Seoul. The Japanese force the Korean government to sign the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, which opened 3 ports to Japanese trade and forced Korea's Joseon dynasty to cease considering itself a tributary of China. On China's urging, Korea also signs treaties with the European powers in effort to counterbalance Japan.
- The Northern Chinese Famine of 1876–79, which will claim 30 million lives and become the 5th worst famine in recorded history, begins after the droughts of the previous year.
- Tanzimat ends in the Ottoman Empire.
- Heinz Tomato Ketchup introduced.
- Adolphus Busch's brewery, Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri, first markets Budweiser, a pale lager, as a nationally sold beer.
- Charles Wells opens his brewery based in Bedford, England.
- In Düsseldorf German company Henkel is founded.
- Lyford House, by Richardson Bay, Tiburon, California, is constructed.
- Construction of Spandau Prison in Berlin is completed.
- Samurai are banned from carrying swords in Japan and their stipends are replaced by one-time grant of income-bearing bonds.
- The Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland is founded.
- Lars Magnus Ericsson and Carl Johan Andersson start a small mechanical workshop in Stockholm, Sweden, dealing with telegraphy equipment, which grows into the worldwide company Ericsson.
- Heinrich Schliemann begins excavation at Mycenae.
- Stockport Lacrosse Club, thought to be the oldest existing lacrosse club in the world, is founded at Cale Green Cricket Club Davenport, Greater Manchester, England, where they will still be playing in the 21st century.
- January 5 – Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1967)
- January 12
- January 20 – Józef Hofmann, Polish pianist (d. 1967)
- January 22 – Bess Houdini, Stage partner and wife of Harry Houdini (d. 1943)
- January 23 – Otto Diels, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1954)
- January 29 – Havergal Brian, British composer (d. 1972)
- February 8 – Paula Modersohn-Becker, German painter (d. 1907)
- February 12 – Thubten Gyatso, 13th Dalai Lama (d. 1933)
- February 16
- February 19 – Constantin Brâncuși, Romanian sculptor (d. 1957)
- March 1 – Henri de Baillet-Latour, Belgian International Olympic Committee president (d. 1942)
- March 2 – Pope Pius XII (d. 1958)
- March 3 – Georges Guillain, French neurologist (d. 1961)
- March 4
- March 10 – Ernst Tandefelt, Finnish nobleman, assassin of Minister Ritavuori (d. 1948)
- March 11 – Carl Ruggles, American composer (d. 1971)
- March 15 – Óscar Benavides, 67th and 76th President of Peru (d. 1945)
- March 21 – Walter Tewksbury, American athlete (d. 1968)
- March 26 – Prince William of Wied, sovereign Prince of Albania (d. 1945)
- March 31 – Borisav "Bora" Stanković, Serbian writer (d. 1927)
- April 1 – Peter Strasser, German naval officer and airship commander (d. 1918)
- April 3 – Margaret Anglin, Canadian stage actress (d. 1958)
- April 4 – Maurice de Vlaminck, French painter and poet (d. 1958)
- April 9 – Ettore Bastico, Italian field marshal (d. 1972)
- April 11 – Paul Henry, Irish artist (d. 1958)
- April 14 – Sir Murray Bisset, South African cricketer and Governor of Southern Rhodesia (d. 1931)
- April 22 – Róbert Bárány, Hungarian physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1936)
- April 23 – Mary Ellicott Arnold, American social activist and writer (d. 1968)
- April 24 – Erich Raeder, German admiral (d. 1960)
- May 10
- May 18 – Hermann Müller, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1931)
- May 27 – Sir William Stanier, English steam locomotive engineer (London, Midland and Scottish Railway) (d. 1965)
- June 5
- June 13 – William Sealy Gosset, English chemist (d. 1937)
- June 19 – Sir Nigel Gresley, English steam locomotive engineer (Flying Scotsman & Mallard) (d. 1941)
- July 2 – Wilhelm Cuno, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1933)
- July 12
- July 16 – Alfred Stock, German chemist (d. 1946)
- July 19 – Joseph Fielding Smith, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (d. 1972)
- August 7 – Mata Hari, exotic dancer and spy (d. 1917)
- August 17
- August 25 – Eglantyne Jebb, English co-founder of the Save the Children Fund and champion of children's human rights (d. 1928)
- September 1 – Harriet Shaw Weaver, English political activist (d. 1961)
- September 5 – Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, German field marshal (d. 1956)
- September 6 – John James Rickard Macleod, Scottish-born physician and physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1935)
- September 7 – Francesco Buhagiar, 2nd Prime Minister of Malta (d. 1934)
- September 13 – Sherwood Anderson, American writer (d. 1941)
- September 15 – Bruno Walter, German conductor (d. 1962)
- September 16 – Marvin Hart, American boxer (d. 1931)
- September 18 – James Scullin, ninth Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1953)
- September 23
- September 26
- September 29 – Charlie Llewellyn, the first non-white South African Test cricketer (d. 1964)
- October 7 – Louis Tancred, South African cricketer (d. 1934)
- October 13 – Rube Waddell, baseball player (d. 1914)
- October 21 – Sir Fraser Russell, Governor of Southern Rhodesia (d. 1952)
- October 29 – Anton Boisen, founder of the clinical pastoral education movement (d. 1965)
- November 2 – William Haywood, British architect (d. 1957)
- November 3 – Rupert D'Oyly Carte, English hotelier, theatre owner and impresario (d. 1948)
- November 7
- November 17 – August Sander, German photographer (d. 1964)
- November 23 – Manuel de Falla, Spanish composer (d. 1946)
- November 24 – Walter Burley Griffin, American architect (d. 1937)
- December 9 – Berton Churchill, Canadian actor (d. 1940)
- December 12 – Alvin Kraenzlein, American athlete (d. 1928)
- December 20 – Walter Sydney Adams, American astronomer (d. 1956)
- December 21 – Jack Lang, Australian politician (d. 1975)
- December 25
- December 29 – Pablo Casals, Catalan cellist (d. 1973)
- January 10 – Gordon Granger, American General (b. 1822)
- January 15 – Eliza McCardle Johnson, First Lady of the United States (b. 1810)
- February 18 – Charlotte Cushman, American actress (b. 1816)
- March 29 – Karl Ferdinand Ranke, German educator (b. 1806)
- April 9 – Charles Goodyear, American politician (b. 1804)
- May 7 – William Buell Sprague, American clergyman and author (b. 1795)
- May 8 – Truganini, the last Tasmanian Aboriginal (b. c. 1812)
- May 24 – Henry Kingsley, English novelist (b. 1830)
- May 26 – František Palacký, Czech historian and politician (b. 1798)
- June 4 – Abdülaziz of the Ottoman Empire (b. 1830)
- June 6 – Auguste Casimir-Perier, French diplomat (b. 1811)
- June 7 – Josephine of Leuchtenberg, Queen of Sweden and Norway (b. 1807)
- June 8 – George Sand, French writer (b. 1804)
- June 21 – Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico (b. 1794)
- June 25 – General George Armstrong Custer, U.S. Army officer (in battle) (b. 1839)
- June 27 – Harriet Martineau, British social theorist and writer (b. 1802)
- July 1 – Mikhail Bakunin, Russian revolutionary and anarchist (b. 1814)
- August 2 – Wild Bill Hickok, American gunfighter and entertainer (b. 1837)
- September 27 – Braxton Bragg, Confederate Civil War general (b. 1817)
- October 1 – James Lick, American land baron (b. 1796)
- November 16 – Karl Ernst von Baer, Estonian-German scientist and explorer (b. 1792)
- November 18 – Narcisse Virgilio Díaz, French painter (b. 1807)
- December 29 – Titus Salt, English woollen manufacturer and philanthropist (b. 1803)
- December 31 – Catherine Labouré, French visionary and Saint (b. 1806)
- Undated – Anna Volkova, Russian chemist (b. 1800)
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- Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia ...for 1876 (1885) online edition, comprehensive world coverage