1856 in the United States
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|1856 in the United States|
|Years:||1853 1854 1855 – 1856 – 1857 1858 1859|
31 stars (1851–58)
- President: Franklin Pierce (Democratic)
- Vice President: vacant
- Chief Justice: Roger B. Taney
- Speaker of the House of Representatives: Nathaniel P. Banks (American-Massachusetts)
- Congress: 34th
- Governor of Alabama: John A. Winston (Democratic)
- Governor of Arkansas: Elias Nelson Conway (Democratic)
- Governor of California: John Bigler (Democratic) (until January 9), J. Neely Johnson (Know Nothing) (starting January 9)
- Governor of Connecticut: William T. Minor (Know Nothing)
- Governor of Delaware: Peter F. Causey (Know Nothing)
- Governor of Florida: James E. Broome (Democratic)
- Governor of Georgia: Herschel V. Johnson (Democratic)
- Governor of Illinois:Joel Aldrich Matteson (Democratic)
- Governor of Indiana: Joseph A. Wright (Democratic)
- Governor of Iowa: James W. Grimes (Whig)
- Governor of Kentucky: Charles S. Morehead (Know Nothing)
- Governor of Louisiana: Paul Octave Hébert (Democratic) (until January 22), Robert C. Wickliffe (Democratic) (starting January 22)
- Governor of Maine: Anson Morrill (Republican) (until January 2), Samuel Wells (Democratic) (starting January 2)
- Governor of Maryland: Thomas W. Ligon (Democratic)
- Governor of Massachusetts: Henry Gardner (Know Nothing)
- Governor of Michigan: Kinsley S. Bingham (Republican)
- Governor of Mississippi: John J. McRae (Democratic Party)
- Governor of Missouri: Sterling Price (Democratic)
- Governor of New Hampshire: Ralph Metcalf (Know Nothing)
- Governor of New Jersey: Rodman M. Price (Democratic)
- Governor of New York: Myron H. Clark (Whig) (until December 31), vacant (starting December 31)
- Governor of North Carolina: Thomas Bragg (Democratic)
- Governor of Ohio: William Medill (Democratic) (until January 14), Salmon P. Chase (Republican) (starting January 14)
- Governor of Pennsylvania: James Pollock (Whig)
- Governor of Rhode Island: William W. Hoppin (Whig)
- Governor of South Carolina: James Hopkins Adams (Democratic) (until December 9), Robert Francis Withers Allston (Democratic) (starting December 9)
- Governor of Tennessee: Andrew Johnson (Democratic)
- Governor of Texas: Elisha M. Pease (Unionist)
- Governor of Vermont: Stephen Royce (Whig)/(Republican) (until October 10), Ryland Fletcher (Republican) (starting October 10)
- Governor of Virginia: Joseph Johnson (Democratic) (until January 1), Henry A. Wise (Democratic) (starting January 1)
- Governor of Wisconsin:
- January 24 – U.S. President Franklin Pierce declares the new Free-State Topeka government in Bleeding Kansas to be in rebellion.
- January 26 – Puget Sound War/Yakima War – Battle of Seattle: Marines from the USS Decatur drive off American Indian attackers after an all day battle with settlers.
- February – The Tintic War breaks out in Utah.
- February 1 – Auburn University is first chartered as the East Alabama Male College.
- February 2 – Dallas, Texas is incorporated as a city.
- February 18 – The American Party (Know-Nothings) convene in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to nominate their first Presidential candidate, former President Millard Fillmore.
- March 6 – Maryland Agricultural College (present-day University of Maryland, College Park) is chartered.
- March 9 – National Fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon is founded at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
- April 10 – The Theta Chi Fraternity is founded at Norwich University.
- May 16 – The Vigilance Committee is founded in San Francisco, California. It lynches two gangsters, arrests most Democratic Party officials and disbands itself on August 18.
- May 21 – Bleeding Kansas: Lawrence, Kansas is captured and burned by pro-slavery forces (the "Sacking of Lawrence").
- May 22 – Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the United States Senate, for a speech Sumner had made attacking Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas ("Bleeding Kansas"). Sumner is unable to return to duty for 3 years while he recovered; Brooks becomes a hero across the South.
- May 24 – Pottawatomie Massacre: A group of followers of radical abolitionist John Brown kill 5 homesteaders in Franklin County, Kansas.
- June 2 – Bleeding Kansas – Battle of Black Jack: Anti-slavery forces, led by John Brown, defeat pro-slavery forces.
- June 6 – At the Democratic National Convention, President Franklin Pierce is denied re-nomination for the November presidential election.
- June 9 – 500 Mormons leave Iowa City, Iowa and head west for Salt Lake City, Utah, carrying all their possessions in two-wheeled handcarts.
- July 17 – The Great Train Wreck of 1856: Two trains collide near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania killing at least 59 and injuring at least 100.
- August 10 – 1856 Last Island hurricane: A hurricane destroys Last Island, Louisiana, leaving at least 200 dead. The whole island is broken up into smaller islands by the storm.
- August 30 – Bleeding Kansas – Battle of Osawatomie: Pro-slavery forces defeat anti-slavery forces.
- September 1 – Seton Hall University is founded by Archdiocese of Newark Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, a cousin of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and nephew of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
- November 4 – U.S. presidential election, 1856: Democrat James Buchanan defeats former President Millard Fillmore, representing a coalition of "Know-Nothings" and Whigs, and John C. Frémont of the fledgling Republican Party, to become the 15th President of the United States.
- November 17 – American Old West: On the Sonoita River in present-day southern Arizona, the United States Army establishes Fort Buchanan in order to help control new land acquired in the Gadsden Purchase.
- November 21 – Niagara University is founded in Niagara Falls, New York.
- August 15 – Charles E. Townsend, United States Senator from Michigan from 1911 till 1923. (died 1924)
- September 5
- September 9 – Richard R. Kenney, United States Senator from Delaware from 1897 till 1901. Died in 1931.
- November 17 – Thomas Taggart, United States Senator from Indiana in 1916. Died in 1929.
- December 22 – Frank B. Kellogg, United States Senator from Minnesota from 1917 till 1923. (died 1937)
- December 28 – Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States from 1913 till 1921. Died in 1924.
- January 1 – John M. Berrien, United States Senator from Georgia from 1841 till 1852. (born 1781)
- April 26 – George Troup, United States Senator from Georgia from 1816 till 1818 and from 1829 till 1833. (born 1780)
- May 5 – William Crosby Dawson, United States Senator from Georgia from 1849 till 1855. (born 1798)
- May 31 – John Milton Niles, United States Senator from Connecticut from 1835 till 1839 and from 1843 till 1849. (born 1787)
- July 9
- September 7 – Almon W. Babbitt, Mormon pioneer and first secretary/treasurer of Utah Territory (born 1812)
- November 9 – John M. Clayton, United States Senator from Delaware from 1829 till 1836, from 1845 till 1849 and from 1853 till 1856. (born 1796)
- Media related to 1856 in the United States at Wikimedia Commons