Millennium: 2nd millennium Centuries: 18th century – 19th century – 20th century Decades: 1820s 1830s 1840s – 1850s – 1860s 1870s 1880s Years: 1850 1851 1852 – 1853 – 1854 1855 1856
Year 1853 (MDCCCLIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar.
- January 8 – Taiping Rebellion: Zeng Guofan is ordered to assist the governor of Hunan in organising a militia force to search for local bandits.
- January 12 – Taiping Rebellion: The Taiping army occupies Wuchang.
- January 19 – Giuseppe Verdi's opera Il Trovatore premieres in performance at Teatro Apollo in Rome.
- February 10 – Taiping Rebellion: Taiping forces assemble at Hanyang, Hankou and Wuchang for the march on Nanjing.
- February 12 – Puerto Montt is founded in the Reloncaví Sound, Chile.
- February 22 – Washington University in St. Louis is founded as Eliot Seminary.
- March 4 – Franklin Pierce succeeds Millard Fillmore as the 14th President of the United States.
- March 20 – Taiping Rebellion: A rebel army of around 750,000 seizes Nanjing, killing 30,000 Imperial troops.
- April 26 – Foundation of Indian Railways.
- May 12–October 31 – Great Industrial Exhibition held in Dublin, Ireland.
- May 23 – The first plat for Seattle, Washington is laid out.
- June 27 – Taiping Rebellion: The Northern Expeditionary Force crosses the Yellow River.
- July 8 – U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry arrives in Edo Bay with a request for a trade treaty.
- July 25 – Outlaw and bandit Joaquin Murietta is killed in California.
- August 12 – New Zealand acquires self-government.
- August 23 – The first true International Meteorological Organization is established in Brussels, Belgium.
- August 24 – Potato chips are first prepared.
- September 19 – Hudson Taylor first leaves for China.
- October 4–October 5 – Crimean War: The Ottoman Empire starts war with Russia.
- October 28 – Crimean War: The Ottoman army crosses the Danube into Vidin/Kalafat in Wallachia.
- October 30 – Taiping Rebellion: The Taiping Northern Expeditionary Force comes within three miles (5 km) of Tianjin.
- November 3 – Troops of William Walker capture La Paz in Baja California and declare the (short-lived) Republic of Lower California.
- November 4 – Crimean War – Battle of Oltenitza: Turkish victory over Russians.
- November 15 – Maria II of Portugal is succeeded by her son Pedro.
- November 30 – Crimean War – Battle of Sinop: The Russian fleet destroys the Turkish fleet.
- December 6 – Taiping Rebellion: French minister de Bourboulon arrives at the Heavenly Capital aboard the Cassini.
- December 30 – Gadsden Purchase: The United States buys land from Mexico to facilitate railroad building in the Southwest.
- The Royal Norwegian Navy Museum is founded.
- The American and German piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons is founded.
- Alexander Wood invents the hypodermic syringe.
- Donald McKay builds the Great Republic, the world's biggest sailing ship, which at 4,500 tons is too large to be successful.
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel begins work on the Great Eastern passenger steamer.
- The Independent Santa Cruz Maya of Eastern Yucatan are recognized as an independent nation by the British Empire.
- Iesada succeeds Ieyoshi as Japanese Shogun.
- The Late Tokugawa shogunate (the last part of the Edo period in Japan) begins.
- Stephen Foster writes My Old Kentucky Home.
- The University of Florida is established.
- The Swiss watch company Tissot is founded.
- Wheaton Academy founded in West Chicago, Illinois
- 1853–1873 – More than 130,000 Chinese laborers come to Cuba.
- Manchester England granted city status
- The clothing company Levi Strauss & Co. is founded.
- January 2 – Packy Dillon, American professional baseball player (d. 1902)
- January 10 – John Martin Schaeberle, German-American astronomer (d. 1924)
- January 16 – Johnston Forbes-Robertson, actor (d. 1937)
- January 28 – José Martí, Cuban revolutionary (d. 1895)
- January 29 – Kitasato Shibasaburō, Japanese physician and bacteriologist (d. 1931)
- February 4 – Kaneko Kentarō, Japanese politician and diplomat (d. 1942)
- February 6 – Ignacij Klemenčič, Slovenian physicist (d. 1901)
- February 18 – Ernest Fenollosa, Catalan American philosopher (d. 1908)
- February 31 – William O'Malley, Irish Parliament member. Notable for his bizarre date of birth. (d. 1939)
- March 5 – Howard Pyle, American artist and fictional writer (d. 1911)
- March 14 – Ferdinand Hodler, Swiss painter (d. 1918)
- March 25 – Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar, fifth Qajarid Shah of Persia (d. 1907)
- March 30 – Vincent van Gogh, Dutch painter (d. 1890)
- April 7 – Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (d. 1884)
- May 28 – Carl Larsson, Swedish painter (d. 1919)
- June 3 – William Flinders Petrie, English Egyptologist (d. 1942)
- June 12 – Chester Adgate Congdon, Minnesota mining magnate (d. 1916)
- July 4 – Ernst Otto Beckmann, German chemist (d. 1923)
- July 5 – Cecil Rhodes, English businessman (d. 1902)
- July 18 – Hendrik Lorentz, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1928)
- July 24 – William Gillette, American actor, playwright and stage-manager (d. 1937)
- August 28 – Vladimir Shukhov, Russian engineer-polymath, scientist and architect (d. 1939)
- August 28 – Franz I, Prince of Liechtenstein, (d. 1938)
- September 2 – Wilhelm Ostwald, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1932)
- September 16 – Albrecht Kossel, German physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1927)
- September 20 – Chulalongkorn, Rama V, king of Thailand (d. 1910)
- September 21 – Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1926)
- September 21 – Edmund Leighton, English painter (d. 1922)
- October 17 – Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, wife of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (d. 1920)
- October 26 – Tokugawa Akitake, Japanese Daimyo, the last lord of Mito Domain, younger brother of the last shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu (d. 1910)
- October 30 – Louise Abbéma French painter, sculptor, and designer of the Belle Époque (d. 1927)
- November 9 – Stanford White, American architect (d. 1906)
- November 13 – John Drew, Jr., American stage actor, (d. 1927)
- December 6 – Haraprasad Shastri, Indian academic, Sanskrit scholar, archivist and historian of Bengali literature (d. 1931)
- December 17 – Émile Roux, French physician (d. 1933)
- December 23 – William Henry Moody, 35th United States Secretary of the Navy, 45th United States Attorney General (d. 1917)
- January 8 – Mihály Bertalanits, Slovene (Prekmurian) poet in Kingdom of Hungary (b. 1788)
- January 16 – Robert Lucas, governor of Ohio, United States (b. 1781)
- January 16 – Matteo Carcassi, Italian composer (b. 1792)
- January 16 – Archduke Rainer Joseph of Austria, Archduke of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia (b. 1783)
- February 6 – Anastasio Bustamante, Mexican President
- March 17 – Christian Doppler, Austrian mathematician (b. 1803)
- April 18 – William R. King, 13th Vice President of the United States (b. 1786)
- April 28 – Ludwig Tieck, German writer (b. 1773)
- June 2
- June 8 – Richard William Howard Vyse (b. 1784)
- July 27 – Tokugawa Ieyoshi, 12th shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan (b. 1793)
- August 19 – George Cockburn, British Naval commander (b. 1772)
- August 23 – Alexander Calder, first mayor of Beaumont, Texas (b. 1806)
- September 3 – Augustin Saint-Hilaire, French botanist and traveller (b. 1799)
- October 2 – François Arago, French Catalan mathematician, physicist, astronomer and politician (b. 1786)
- October 3 – George Onslow, French composer (b. 1784)
- October 5 – Mahlon Dickerson, American judge and politician (b. 1770)
- October 13 – Jan Cock Blomhoff, Dutch director of Dejima, Japan (b. 1779)
- November 15 – Maria II of Portugal (b. 1819)
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