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|Centuries:||18th century – 19th century – 20th century|
|Decades:||1840s 1850s 1860s – 1870s – 1880s 1890s 1900s|
|Years:||1869 1870 1871 – 1872 – 1873 1874 1875|
|1872 in topic:|
|Archaeology – Architecture – Art – Literature – Music|
|Australia – Canada – France – Germany – Mexico – Philippines – South Africa – US – UK|
|Rail Transport – Science – Sports|
|Lists of leaders|
|Colonial Governors – State leaders|
|Birth and death categories|
|Births – Deaths|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Establishments – Disestablishments|
|Ab urbe condita||2625|
|British Regnal year||35 Vict. 1 – 36 Vict. 1|
— to —壬申年十二月初二日
|- Vikram Samvat||1928–1929|
|- Shaka Samvat||1794–1795|
|- Kali Yuga||4973–4974|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||872–873|
|Japanese calendar||Meiji 5
|Juche calendar||N/A (before 1912)|
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 12 days|
|Minguo calendar||40 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||2415|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 1872|
- January 12 – Yohannes IV is crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in Axum, the first ruler crowned in that city in over 500 years.
- February 2 – The government of the United Kingdom buys a number of forts on the Gold Coast from the Netherlands.
- February 13 – Rex, the most famous parade on Mardi Gras, parades for the first time in New Orleans for Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich of Russia.
- February 17 – Execution of the Filipino priests Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora, collectively known as Gomburza, in Bagumbayan Fields, Manila, Philippines by the authorities of New Spain on charges of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.
- February 20 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City.
- March 1 – In the United States, Yellowstone National Park (once dubbed "Colter's Hell" after John Colter, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition) is established as the world's first national park.
- March 5
- March 11 – Work begins erecting the Seven Sisters Colliery in South Wales, located on one of the richest coal sources in Britain.
- March 16 – 1872 FA Cup Final: In the first ever final of the FA Cup, the world's oldest football competition, Wanderers F.C. defeat Royal Engineers A.F.C. 1–0 at The Oval in Kennington, London.
- March 26 – An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.2 strikes Lone Pine, California.
- April 14– The Third Carlist War begins in northern Spain. Don Carlos, the Carlist pretender (Carlos VII) appointed General Rada commander-in-chief in Spain, and called for a general rising.
- May 4-The Third Carlist War in Spain-Carlist Army is defeated at the Battle of Oroquieta, Navarra, Spain.1,000 government troops (Moriones) easily defeated the much larger number of Carlists at Oroquieta. 50 Carlists were killed and Moriones takes 700 prisoners but Don Carlos escapes.
- May 10 – Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman nominated for President of the United States, although she is a year too young to qualify and does not appear on the ballot.
- May 22
- June 14 – Trade unions are legalised in Canada.
- July 4 – The Society of Jesus is pronounced illegal in the German Empire.
- August 22 – The Overland Telegraph is completed in Australia, providing a telegraphic link between Australia and the rest of the world for the first time.
- September 1 – A group of Icaiche Maya under Marcos Canul attack Orange Walk Town in British Honduras; the British send troops against them.
- September 18 – Upon the death of Charles XV of Sweden and Norway, he is succeeded as King of both countries by his brother Oscar II.
- September 26 – The first Shriners Temple (called Mecca) is established in New York City.
- October 1
- The Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College begins its first academic session (the university is later renamed Virginia Tech).
- First case reports in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, of the Great Epizootic of 1872 (equine influenza, or the "horse flu") which will substantially disrupt life in North America by mid-December.
- November 5
- U.S. presidential election, 1872: Ulysses S. Grant defeats Horace Greeley.
- Women's suffrage: In defiance of the law, American suffragist Susan B. Anthony votes for the first time (on November 18 she is served an arrest warrant and in the subsequent trial she is fined $100 – she never pays the fine).
- November 7 – The Mary Celeste sets sail from New York; bound for Genoa, Italy.
- November 9 – Great Boston Fire of 1872: In Boston, Massachusetts, a large fire begins to burn on Lincoln Street (the 2-day disaster destroys about 65 acres (0.26 km2) of the city, 776 buildings, much of the financial district and causes US$60 million in damage).
- November 11 – U.S. government geologist Clarence King reveals the diamond hoax in Wyoming.
- November 27 – A meteor shower display is seen over France.
- November 29
- November 30 – First international football match to be recognised (retrospectively) by FIFA as "official" takes place at Hamilton Crescent, Scotland; the result is Scotland 0-0 England. Earlier international football matches had already taken place in 1870, in 1871 and again in 1872 at the Oval, London.
- December 3 – George Smith presents the first translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh to a meeting of the Society of Biblical Archaeology in London.
- December 4 – The now-crewless American ship Mary Celeste is found (still seaworthy) by the British brig Dei Gratia.
- December 6 – The Springwell Pit Disaster (a coal-mining incident) in Dawley, UK claims eight lives.
- December 21 – HMS Challenger sails from Portsmouth on the 4-year scientific expedition that lays the foundation for the science of oceanography.
Date unknown 
- The London Metropolitan Police go on strike.
- In the aftermath of the Paraguayan War, the new government of Paraguay makes peace with Brazil, grants reparations and territorial concessions.
- The Kolozsvári Egyetem, predecessor of the University of Szeged, is founded.
- Thomas Hardy anonymously publishes his romantic novel Under the Greenwood Tree.
- Alfred B. Miller and Elmer Crockett found the South Bend Tribune.
- A conscription law, modeled on the French version, is issued in Japan.
- Universal public schools are called for in Japan.
- The first Marist Brothers arrive in Australia.
- Birth of S.T. Dupont, a French Luxury House.
- January 6 – Alexander Scriabin, Russian composer (d. 1915)
- January 14 – Kerstin Hesselgren, Swedish politician (d. 1962)
- January 20 – Julia Morgan, American Architect (d. 1957)
- January 23 – Gotse Delchev, Bulgarian revolutionary (d. 1903)
- January 31 – Zane Grey, American writer (d. 1939)
- February 1 – Jerome F. Donovan, American politician (d. 1949)
- February 11 – Hannah Mitchell, English socialist and suffragette (d. 1956)
- March 3 – Willie Keeler, "hit 'em where they ain't" baseball legend (d. 1923).
- March 7 – Piet Mondrian, Dutch painter (d. 1944)
- March 11 – Kathleen Clarice Groom, British writer (d. 1954)
- March 15 – Harry Holman, American character actor (d. 1947)
- March 24 – J.C. Wienecke, Dutch medallist (d. 1945)
- April 14 – Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Indian-born Islamic scholar and translator (d. 1953)
- April 29 – Harry Payne Whitney, businessman, horse breeder (d. 1930)
- May 12 – Anton Korošec, Slovenian political leader (d. 1940)
- May 16 – John O'Connell, American baseball player (d. 1908)
- May 18 – Bertrand Russell, English philosopher and mathematician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (d. 1970)
- May 21 – Henry Warren, inventor of the first commercially viable electric clock, the Telechron (d. 1957)
- May 31
- June 6 – Alexandra Fyodorovna (Alix of Hesse) (d. 1918)
- June 8 – Jan Frans De Boever, Belgian painter (d. 1949)
- June 14 – János Szlepecz, Slovene writer and priest (d. 1936)
- June 20 – George Carpenter, 5th General of The Salvation Army (d. 1948)
- June 27 – Paul Laurence Dunbar, American poet and publisher (d. 1906)
- July 1 – Louis Blériot, French aviation pioneer (d. 1936)
- July 2 – Horace Short, British aircraft designer (d. 1917)
- July 4 – Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States (d. 1933)
- July 16 – Roald Amundsen, Norwegian polar explorer (d. 1928)
- July 25 – Herbert Stanley, Governor of Northern Rhodesia, Ceylon and Southern Rhodesia (d. 1955)
- August 2 – George E. Stewart, American Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1946)
- August 3 – King Haakon VII of Norway (d. 1957)
- August 9 – Archduke Joseph August of Austria, Austrian field marshal (d. 1962)
- August 10 – Bill Johnson, American jazz musician (d. 1972)
- August 13 – Richard Willstätter, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1942)
- August 15 – Sri Aurobindo, Indian nationalist, writer, and mystic (d. 1950)
- August 21 – Aubrey Beardsley, British artist (d. 1898)
- September 28
- October 4 – Roger Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes, British admiral (d. 1945)
- October 11 – Harlan F. Stone, Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1946)
- October 12 – Ralph Vaughan Williams, British composer (d. 1958)
- November 1 – Louis Dewis, Belgian Post-Impressionist painter (d. 1946)
- November 11 – Maude Adams, American stage actress (d. 1953)
- November 30 – John McCrae, Canadian soldier, surgeon and poet (d. 1918)
- December 3 – William Haselden, Spanish cartoonist (d. 1953)
- December 11 – René Bull, Irish illustrator (d. 1942)
- December 12 – Henry Jones Sr., fictional character in Indiana Jones franchise (d.1951)
- December 16 – Anton Ivanovich Denikin, Imperial Russian Lieutenant General (d. 1947)
- December 21 – Don Lorenzo Perosi, Italian composer (d. 1956)
- December 26 – Norman Angell, British politician, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1967)
- January 7 – Big Jim Fisk, American financier (b. 1834)
- January 9 – Henry Halleck, American general (b. 1815)
- January 21 – Franz Grillparzer, Austrian writer (b. 1791)
- March or April – Mercator Cooper, American sea captain (b. 1803)
- March 20 – William Wentworth, Australian explorer (b. 1790)
- April 1 – Frederick Maurice, English theologian (b. 1805)
- April 2 – Samuel Morse, American inventor (b. 1791)
- June 4 – Stanisław Moniuszko, Polish composer (b. 1819)
- June 4 – Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, Dutch politician (b. 1798)
- June 20 – Elie Frédéric Forey, Marshal of France (b. 1804)
- July 18 – Benito Juárez, President of Mexico (b. 1806)
- September 10 – Avram Iancu, Romanian Transylvanian insurgent (b. 1824)
- September 13 – Ludwig Feuerbach, German philosopher (b. 1804)
- September 18 – Charles XV, King of Sweden and Norway (b. 1826)
- October 4 – Vladimir Dal, Russian lexicographer (b. 1801)
- October 23 – Théophile Gautier, French writer (b. 1811)
- November 6 – George Meade, American Civil War general (b. 1815)
- November 28 – Mary Somerville, British mathematician (b. 1780)
- November 29 – Horace Greeley, American newspaper editor and presidential candidate (b. 1811)
- December 15 – Lady Beaconsfield, wife of Benjamin Disraeli (b. 1792)
- December 31 – Aleksis Kivi, Finnish novelist (b. 1834)
- American Annual Cyclopedia ... for 1872 (1873), comprehensive collection of facts online edition