From Academic Kids
1778 1779 1780 - 1781 - 1782 1783 1784
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1750s 1760s 1770s - 1780s - 1790s 1800s 1810s
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17th century - 18th century - 19th century
1781 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar).
- January 5 - American Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold.
- January 30 - Articles of Confederation ratified by 13th state, Maryland.
- January - William Pitt the Younger, later Prime Minister, enters Parliament.
- March 1 - American Continental Congress implements the Articles of Confederation.
- March 13 - Sir William Herschel discovers the planet Uranus. Originally he calls it Georgium Sidus (George's Star) in honour of King George III of England.
- March 15 - American Revolutionary War: American General Nathanael Greene loses Battle of Guilford Court House to British.
- August 30 - American Revolutionary War: French fleet under Comte de Grasse enters Chesapeake Bay, cutting British General Charles Cornwallis off from escape by sea.
- September 4 - Los Angeles is founded as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula (City of the Queen of the Angels) by a group of 44 Spanish settlers.
- September 5 - British fleet under Thomas Graves arrives and fights de Grasse, but to no effect.
- September 6 - The British army attacks a fort in Groton, Connecticut which became known as the Battle of Groton Heights.
- September 10 - Graves gives up trying to break through the now-reinforced French fleet and returns to New York, leaving Cornwallis to his fate.
- October 19 - General Charles Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia, ending the armed struggle of the American Revolutionary War.
- November 5 - John Hanson is elected President of the Continental Congress.
- December 12 - French and British fleets fight in the Second Battle of Ushant.
- Bank of North America is chartered by the Continental Congress.
- Charles Messier publishes final catalog of Messier objects.
- Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovers tungsten.
- Immanuel Kant publishes Critique of Pure Reason.
- Jeremy Bentham formulates utilitarian ethics.
- Reverend Samuel Peters publishes General History of Connecticut, using the term blue law for the first time.
- Antonio Salieri selected as music teacher of Princess of Württemberg over Mozart.
- January 26 - Achim von Arnim, German writer (d. 1831)
- January 30 - Adelbert von Chamisso, German writer (d. 1838)
- February 17 - Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennec, French physician and inventor (d. 1826)
- March 4 - Rebecca Gratz, American educator and philanthropist (d. 1869)
- March 13 - Karl Friedrich Schinkel, German architect and painter (d. 1841)
- June 9- George Stephenson, English engineer (d. 1848)
- June 21 - Siméon-Denis Poisson, French mathematician and physicist (d. 1840)
- July 6 - Thomas Stamford Raffles, English founder of Singapore (d. 1826)
- July 6 - John D. Sloat, American naval officer (d. 1867)
- July 27 - Mauro Giuliani, Italian composer (d. 1828)
- September 3 - Eugène de Beauharnais, French nobleman, son of Napoleon's wife Josephine (d. 1824)
- September 6 - Anton Diabelli, Austrian music publisher, editor, and composer (d. 1858)
- October 1 - James Lawrence, U.S. Navy officer (d. 1813)
- November 6 - Lucy Aikin, English writer (d. 1864)
- November 20 - Karl Friedrich Eichhorn, German jurist (d. 1854)
- November 30 - Alexander Berry, Scottish adventurer and Australian pioneer (d. 1873)
- December 11 - Sir David Brewster, Scottish physicist (d. 1868)
- William Williams of Wern, minister (d. 1840)
- March 18 - Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune, French statesman and economist (b. 1727)
- July 18 - Padre Francisco Garcés, Spanish missionary (killed) (d. 1738)
- Peter Scheemakers, Flemish sculptor (b. 1691)
- James Abercromby, British general (b. 1706)af:1781
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