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1779 (MDCCLXXIX) was a common year starting on Friday (dominical letter C) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Tuesday (dominical letter F) of the Julian calendar, the 1779th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 779th year of the 2nd millennium, the 79th year of the 18th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1770s decade. As of the start of 1779, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
- January 11 – English troops surrender to the Marathas in Wadgaon, India, and are forced to return all territories acquired since 1773.
- January 19 – Ching-Thang Khomba is crowned King of Manipur.
- January 22 – American Revolutionary War: Claudius Smith is hanged at Goshen, Orange County, New York for supposed acts of terrorism upon the people of the surrounding communities.
- January 29 – After a second petition for partition from its residents, the North Carolina General Assembly abolishes Bute County, North Carolina (established 1764) by dividing it and naming the northern portion Warren County (for Revolutionary War hero Joseph Warren) and the southern portion Franklin County (for Benjamin Franklin). The General Assembly also establishes Warrenton (also named for Joseph Warren) to be the county seat of Warren County and Louisburg (named for Louis XVI of France) to be the county seat of Franklin County.
- February 12 – Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Bouligny arrives with Malagueño colonists at Bayou Teche to establish the city of New Iberia.
- February 14 – Captain James Cook is killed on the Sandwich Islands on his third and last voyage.
- March 10 – Treaty of Aynalıkavak between Ottoman Turkey and Russian Empire about Crimean Khanate.
- May 13 – War of the Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiate an end to the war. In the agreement Austria receives a part of the Bavarian territory (the Innviertel) and relinquishes the rest.
- June 1 – American Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold is court-martialed for malfeasance in his treatment of government property.
- June 16 – American Revolutionary War: In support of the U.S., Spain declares war on Britain.
- July 16 – American Revolutionary War: United States forces led by General Anthony Wayne capture Stony Point, New York from British troops.
- July 20 – Tekle Giyorgis I begins the first of his five reigns as Emperor of Ethiopia.
- July 22 – Battle of Minisink: The Goshen Militia is destroyed by Joseph Brant's forces.
- July 24 – American Revolutionary War: American forces led by Commodore Dudley Saltonstall launch the Penobscot Expedition in what is now Castine, Maine, resulting in the worst naval defeat in U.S. history until Pearl Harbor.
- July – The Great Siege of Gibraltar (fourteenth and last military siege) starts. This is an action by French and Spanish forces to wrest control of Gibraltar from the established British garrison. The garrison, led by George Augustus Eliott, later 1st Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar, survives all attacks and a blockade of supplies.
- September – Battle of Baton Rouge: Spanish troops under Bernardo de Gálvez capture the city from the British.
- September 14 - September 15 - Little Beard's Town is burnt by the Sullivan Expedition
- September 23 – American Revolution – Battle of Flamborough Head: The American ship Bonhomme Richard, commanded by John Paul Jones, engages the British ship HMS Serapis. The Bonhomme Richard sinks, but the Americans board the Serapis and other vessels, and are victorious.
- October 4 – The Fort Wilson Riot against James Wilson and others in Philadelphia takes place.
- November 2 – The North Carolina General Assembly carves a new county from Dobbs County, North Carolina and names it Wayne County in honor of United States General Anthony Wayne.
- December 13 – Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais marries Joséphine Tascher.
- December 22 – American Revolutionary War: Capture of Savannah – British forces under Archibald Campbell take the city of Savannah, Georgia.
- December 25 – Fort Nashborough, later to become Nashville, Tennessee, is founded by James Robertson.
- December 31 – Affair of Fielding and Bylandt, a brief naval engagement between the British and Dutch off the Isle of Wight.
- Industrial Revolution in England:
- The Iron Bridge is erected across the River Severn in Shropshire, the world's first bridge built entirely of cast iron. It will open to traffic on January 1, 1781.
- The spinning mule is perfected by the Lancashire inventor Samuel Crompton.
- Boulton and Watt's Smethwick Engine, now the oldest working engine in the world, is brought into service (May).
- The city of Tampere, Finland, is founded.
- Joint Spanish-Portuguese survey of Amazon basin begins to determine the boundary between the colonial possessions in South America. Continues until 1795.
- January 5 – Stephen Decatur, American naval officer (d. 1820)
- January 18 – Peter Mark Roget, British lexicographer (d. 1869)
- March 6 – Antoine-Henri Jomini, French General (d. 1869)
- March 15 – William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1848)
- May 28 – Thomas Moore, Irish poet (d. 1852)
- August 1 – Francis Scott Key, American lawyer and lyricist (d. 1843)
- August 8 – Benjamin Silliman, American chemist, educator and abolitionist (d. 1864)
- August 20 – Jöns Jacob Berzelius, Swedish chemist (d. 1848)
- August 29 – Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, French painter (d. 1867)
- September 8 – Mustafa IV, sultan of the Ottoman Empire (d. 1808)
- September 18 – Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (d. 1845)
- November 14 – Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger, Danish poet (d. 1850)
- December 12 – Madeleine Sophie Barat, French saint of the Catholic Church and was the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart (d. 1865)
- date unknown
- January 3 – Claude Bourgelat, French veterinary surgeon (b. 1712)
- January 20 – David Garrick, English actor (b. 1717)
- January 22 – Jeremiah Dixon, English surveyor and astronomer (b. 1733)
- February 7 – William Boyce, English composer (b. 1711)
- February 14 – James Cook, British naval captain and explorer (b. 1728)
- February 24 – Paul Daniel Longolius, German encyclopedist (b. 1704)
- April 24 – Eleazar Wheelock, American founder of Dartmouth College (b. 1711)
- May 3 – John Winthrop, American astronomer (b. 1714)
- June 7 – William Warburton, English critic and Bishop of Gloucester (b. 1698)
- June 10 – Jane Gomeldon, English writer, poet and adventurer (b. 1720)
- June 23 – Ras Mikael Sehul, Enderase of Ethiopia
- June 28 – Martha Daniell Logan, American botanist (b. 1704)
- July 21 – Caleb Fleming, English dissenting minister and Polemicist (b. 1698)
- August 26 – Henrika Juliana von Liewen, Swedish political salonniére (b. 1709)
- September 12 – Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple, English politician (b. 1711)
- October 11 – Kazimierz Pułaski, veteran commander of Polish, Russian, and American troops (b. 1745)
- November 16 – Pehr Kalm, Finnish explorer and naturalist (b. 1716)
- December 6 – Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, French painter (b. 1699)
- December 8 – Nathan Alcock, English physician (b. 1707)
- December 16 – Emperor Go-Momozono of Japan (b. 1758)
- December 17 – Giuseppe Carcani, Italian composer (b. ?1703)
- December 23 – Augustus Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol, British admiral and politician (b. 1724)
- Giuseppe Bonici, Maltese architect and military engineer (b. 1707)
- Johann Joseph Gassner, German priest (b. 1727)