Decades: 1800s 1810s 1820s 1830s 1840s - 1850s - 1860s 1870s 1880s 1890s 1900s
Years: 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 - 1856 - 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861
January 8 - Borax is discovered (John Veatch).
January 29 - Queen Victoria institutes the Victoria Cross
February 18 - The American Party (Know-Nothings) convene in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to nominate their first Presidential candidate, former President Millard Fillmore.
March 30 - The Treaty of Paris (1856) is signed, ending the Crimean War
April 7 - Foundation of Nelson College, Nelson, New Zealand
May 21 - Lawrence, Kansas is captured and burned by pro-slavery forces.
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 was unable to return to duty for three years while he recovered. Brooks became a hero across the South.
July 31 - Christchurch, New Zealand chartered as a city.
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.
Gregor Mendel starts his research on genetics.
End of the Crimean war.
November - James Buchanan defeats John C. Fremont in the U.S. presidential election
National Portrait Gallery in London opened.
Year in topic
1856 in literature
January 11 - Christian Sinding, composer (+ 1941)
January 12 - John Singer Sargent, artist (+ 1925)
January 20 - Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch, women's rights activist († 1940)
February 14 - Frank Harris, author and editor
March 9 - Edie Foy, singer, dancer, vaudeville performer (+ 1928)
March 20 - Frederick Winslow Taylor, inventor, efficiency expert
April 5 - Booker T. Washington, African-American educator (+ 1915)
April 12 - William Martin Conway, British art critic and mountaineer (+ 1937)
May 6 - Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist, founder of psychoanalysis
May 6 - Robert Peary, explorer (+ 1920)
May 15 - L. Frank Baum, author (+ 1919)
July 2 - Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Indian political activist (+ 1920)
July 10 - Nikola Tesla, inventor (+ 1943)
July 26 - George Bernard Shaw, writer (+ 1950)
September 18 - Wilhelm von Gloeden, photographer (+ 1931)
November 24 - Bat Masterson, "Wild West" legend (+ 1921)
December 25 - Hans von Bartels, German painter
February 17 - Heinrich Heine, writer
July 9 - Amedeo Avogadro, chemist
August 30 - Gilbert Abbott a Beckett, writer.\n