It was the Gilded Age in America, the year of the stolen election, a year of political corruption, of Boss Tweed, the Whiskey Ring and the Molly Maguires. It was the third year of economic depression. Crowds flocked to hear Dwight Moody's revivalist message and Thomas Huxley's lectures on natural selection. Baseball and football were in their infancy; horseracing was still the most popular spectator sport. Hopes for full equality of African Americans were fading as reform gave way to conspicuous consumption. The American Myth was still in its formative years. Custer was defeated at Little Big Horn, and a popular new novel was Tom Sawyer. It was 1876, the Centennial year of American independence.

  • March 3, 1871. An Act of Congress provides that an Exhibition of American and foreign arts, products, and manufactures shall be held in Philadelphia in 1876; also creates the United States Centennial Commission.
  • July 3, 1873. A proclamation by the President announces the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures, and Products of the Soil and Mine. July 5. A circular note from the Secretary of State to all foreign ministers.
  • January 1, 1876. Grand celebration of the opening of the Centennial year at the State House, by hoisting the grand union flag, together with illuminations, ringing of bells, blowing of steam whistles and firing of cannon and firearms at midnight.
  • January 1. The Philadelphia Mummer's Parade was organized in its present form to celebrate the Centennial.
  • January 5. Reception of articles commences.
  • January 28. Religious revival meetings of Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey at the Pennsylvania freight depot in Philadelphia closed after 210 meetings attended by more than 1,050,000 persons.
  • February 2. The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, parent of today's National League, was formed.
  • February 26. Korea, the "Hermit Kingdom," reenters world political affairs by signing a treaty providing for diplomatic relations with Japan.
  • March 6. The Supreme Court decides in the case of the representatives of Henry Jones, an African American, against the Mount Moriah Cemetery Company in Philadelphia, in favor of the right of burial of the body of the deceased.
  • March 10. Alexander Graham Bell delivers the first telephone message.
  • April 1. Philadelphia municipal census taken by police under the orders of the mayor: Dwelling houses, 143,936; inhabitants, 817,448.
  • April 19. Reception of articles ends.
  • April 22. New building of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, designed by architect Frank Furness, dedicated at Broad Street above Arch.
  • April 26. Unoccupied space forfeited.
  • May 10. Opening of the Centennial International Exhibition of Industry at the Centennial grounds, by the President of the United States, in the presence of members of Congress, Supreme Court, Cabinet and many other national, state and municipal officers, and over 150,000 people, the Emperor and Empress of Brazil present.
  • May 10. Rhododendrons, Special Display.
  • May 16. American Master Mechanics Association Convention.
  • May 16 – 24. Pomological Products and Vegetables, Special Display.
  • May 18. Butchers' Parade.
  • May 30. Knights Templar Grand Parade.
  • May 31. Medical Society of Pennsylvania Convention.
  • June. American Institution of Mining Engineers Convention; American Kennel Club Convention; International Series of Cricket Matches.
  • June 6. Twenty-seventh annual meeting of the American Medical Association in Horticultural Hall.
  • June 7 – 15. Strawberries, Special Display.
  • June 12. Women's International Temperance Convention met at Academy of Music.
  • June 13. Order of Good-Templars, Special Gathering; American Society of Civil Engineers Convention.

  • June 13 – 17. Early Grass Butter and Cheese, Special Display.
  • June 14. Sons of Temperance, Meeting of National Division.
  • June 15 – 30. Trial of Mowing Machines, Tedders, and Hay Rakes.
  • June 20 – 24. Early Summer Vegetables, Special Display, and Honey, Special Display.
  • June 22, 23, 26. International Yacht Race (New York Harbor)
  • June 25. General George Armstrong Custer and all of his 265 men are slaughtered at the Battle of Little Big Horn by Sitting Bull's Sioux Indians.
  • June 29. American Protestant Association, Parade.
  • June 30 – July 1. Grand Army of the Republic, National Encampment and Parade.
  • July 1. Serbia declares war on the Ottoman Empire to protest Muslim massacres during the Bulgarian Uprising, which had occurred in March in support of the uprising by Christian Slavs in Bosnia.
  • July 2. Congress of Authors in Independence Hall.
  • July 3 – 8. Raspberries and Blackberries, Special Display.
  • July 4. Centennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
      Parade of Military Organizations, and Special Ceremonies.
      Parade of Catholic Total Abstinence Societies and Dedication of Fountain.
  • July 5 – 15. Trial of Reaping-Machines.
  • July 6. News of Custer's defeat at Little Big Horn reaches Philadelphia.
  • July 8. United American Mechanics Association Convention.
  • July 9. Twenty-second day of extraordinary heat wave in Philadelphia. Eighty deaths attributed to heat by week ending July 15; thirty more during week ending July 22.
  • July 18 – 22. Southern Pomological Products, Special Display.
  • August 1. Colorado admitted to the Union as the 38th state.
  • August 14 – 15. International Scottish Games.
  • August 15. Seventh annual convention of the National Photographic Association met at Judge's Hall, Centennial grounds.
  • August 16. Convention of North American Caledonian Association.
  • August 20 – September 15. International Rowing Regatta.
  • August 22. Knights of Pythias, Parade.
  • August 22 – 26. Melons, Special Display.
  • August 24. New Jersey State Day.
  • August 31. Prize fight at Pennsville N.J. between Jimmy Weeden and Young Walker, for $250 a side won by Weeden. Walker died from the effects of the beating shortly after the fight was concluded. The principals and accessories were afterward arrested and held.
  • September and October. Cut Flowers and Growing Plants. Special Display.
    American Arboricultural Society Convention.
  • September 1 – 8. Exhibit of Dogs.
  • September 1 – 14. Exhibit of Horses, Mules, and Asses.
  • September 4. International Medical Congress.
  • September 4 – 9. Peaches, Special Display.
  • September 7. Connecticut Day.
  • September 9. Fire at "Shantytown," on Elm Avenue between Belmont Avenue and Forty-second Street, opposite the Main Exhibition Building, and extending to Columbia Avenue. Exhibition places, sideshows, beer saloons and other wooden buildings destroyed. Loss about $50,000.
  • September 11. National Pomological Society Convention.
  • September 11 – 16. Northern Pomological Products, Special Display.
  • September 12. International Rifle Matches.
  • September 14. Massachusetts Day.
  • September 19 – 23. Autumn Vegetables, Special Display.
  • September 20. Independent Order of Odd-Fellows, Parade.
  • September 21. Pennsylvania Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children formed at Friends' Meetinghouse, Race Street west of Fifteenth.
  • September 21 – October 4. Exhibit of Neat Cattle.
  • September 25. New York Day.
  • September 25. Sons of Temperance, Grand Division of Pennsylvania, Convention.
  • September 25 – 30. Cereals, Special Display.
  • September 28. Pennsylvania Day.
  • October 2. Edwin Forrest Home for Decayed Actors, near Holmesburg, opened.
  • October 2 – 7. Potatoes and Feeding Roots, Special Display.
  • October 4. Conference of librarians of public libraries in the United States met at the rooms of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, American Library Association founded.
    The Library of Congress in 1876 holds 293,000 volumes.
  • October 5. Rhode Island Day.
    A portion of Lauber's Restaurant, Centennial grounds, burned.

  • October 10 – 18. Exhibit of Sheep, Swine, and Goats.
  • October 12. New Hampshire Day.
    Monument and statue to the memory of Christopher Columbus, procured by the Italians of Philadelphia, dedicated in Centennial grounds.
  • October 17 – 21. Autumn Butter and Cheese, Special Display.
  • October 18. Reading Day.
  • October 19. Delaware and Maryland Day.
  • October 23 – November 1. Nuts, Special Display, and Autumn Honey and Wax, Special Display.
  • October 26. Ohio Day and Merchants' Day.
  • October 27. Vermont Day.
  • October 27 – November 6. Exhibit of Poultry.
  • November 2. German Day.
    Monument to Bishop Richard Allen, of the African M.E. Church, unveiled in Fairmount Park.
  • November 7. Samuel J. Tilden, Democratic candidate for president, wins a popular vote plurality of 250,000, but the election is decided on the basis of disputed electoral returns in favor of Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes.
  • November 7. Women's Day.
  • November 10. The Centennial Exhibition is formally closed.

  • November 23. William Marcy "Boss" Tweed delivered to authorities in New York City after his capture in Spain.
    Rules for football discussed at the invitation of Princeton, by delegates from Yale, Harvard, Rutgers, Columbia, and Princeton, meeting at Springfield, Mass.


  • December 31. Exhibits must be removed.