The Story of 1804 – from Haitian Independence to the Battle of Tsuntua

1804 proved a remarkable year in world history, in the arts, in science and industry, and in the shifting sands of liberty and empire. This revolutionary age reaches a kind of climax: a good starting point for understanding the 19th century that emerged.

Warfare between Russia and Persia, America and Tripoli, and elsewhere in Africa and India, draws new political boundaries. Serbia rises against the Ottoman Empire, while a major uprising against the ruling Qing dynasty is defeated in China. In post French-Revolutionary Europe, a rare peace of some two years begins to strain and shatter as Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor, with consequences for Europe’s immediate future. Between the beginning and end of the year, all these shifts, transitions and confirmations of political and territorial power from the Americas to Africa to the Caucuses accumulate to suggest a perceptible change of circumstances. This looks evident in retrospect, but must have seemed momentous to those alert to world affairs at the time.

220 years later, this year in a series of posts, I’ll look at significant global events throughout the four seasons of 1804. I’ll explore their background and their consequences, and trace connections and parallels between them to make some meaning out of the events of the year.

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