This article is about the year 1854.
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1854 (MDCCCLIV) was a common year starting on Sunday (dominical letter A) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday (dominical letter C) of the Julian calendar, the 1854th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 854th year of the 2nd millennium, the 54th year of the 19th century, and the 5th year of the 1850s decade. Note that the Julian day for 1854 is 12 calendar days difference, which continued to be used from 1582 until the complete conversion of the Gregorian calendar was entirely done in 1929.
- April 1 – Hard Times begins serialisation in Charles Dickens' magazine, Household Words.
- April 16 – The United States packet ship Powhattan is wrecked off the New Jersey shore with more than 200 victims.
- May 18 – The Catholic University of Ireland (forerunner of University College Dublin) is founded.
- May 27 – Taiping Rebellion: United States diplomatic minister Robert McLane arrives at the Heavenly Capital aboard the American warship USS Susquehanna.
- May 30 – The Kansas–Nebraska Act becomes law (replacing the Missouri Compromise of 1820), creating the Kansas Territory and the Nebraska Territory, west of the State of Missouri and the State of Iowa. The Kansas–Nebraska Act also establishes that these two new Territories will decide either to allow or disallow slavery depending on balloting by their residents. These areas would have been strictly "free territory" under the Missouri Compromise, which allowed slavery in the State of Missouri but disallowed it in any other new state north of latitude 36° 30', which forms most of the southern boundary of Missouri. This prohibition of slavery extended all the way from the western boundary of Missouri to the Pacific Ocean.
- June – The Grand Excursion takes prominent Eastern United States inhabitants from Chicago to Rock Island, Illinois by railroad, then up the Mississippi River to Saint Paul, Minnesota by steamboat.
- June 10 – The first class of the United States Naval Academy graduates at Annapolis, Maryland.
- June 21 – Battle of Bomarsund in the Åland Islands off the coast of Finland. British Royal Navy seaman's mate Charles D. Lucas throws a live Russian artillery shell overboard by hand before it explodes, for which he is awarded the first Victoria Cross in 1857.
- October 1 – The watch company founded in 1850 in Roxbury, Massachusetts by Aaron Lufkin Dennison relocates to Waltham to become the Waltham Watch Company, pioneer in the American system of watch manufacturing.
- October 9–11 – United States diplomats in Europe meet and draft the Ostend Manifesto, setting out a rationale for the U.S. to acquire Cuba from Spain.
- October 6 – The great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead in England is ignited by a spectacular explosion.
- October 17 – The Age newspaper is founded in Melbourne, Australia.
- October 25 – Crimean War – Battle of Balaclava: The allies gain an overall victory, except for the disastrous cavalry Charge of the Light Brigade, from which only 200 of 700 men survive.
- November – Florence Nightingale and her team of 38 trained volunteer nurses, having set out on October 21 from England, arrive at Selimiye Barracks in Scutari in the Ottoman Empire to care for British Army troops invalided from the Crimean War.
- November 5 – Crimean War – Battle of Inkerman: The Russians are defeated.
- November 17 – In Egypt, the Suez Canal company is formed.
- December 3 – The Eureka Stockade Miners' Rebellion breaks out in Ballarat, Victoria (Australia).
- December 8 – Pope Pius IX in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus defines ex Cathedra the dogma of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin.
- January 8 or January 11 – Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, British occultist (d. 1918)
- January 12 – David Macpherson, Canadian-born American civil engineer (d. 1927)
- February 9 – Edward Carson, Irish Unionist MP and Barrister (d. 1935)
- February 16 – Charles Webster Leadbeater, British theosopher (d. 1934)
- February 17 – Friedrich Alfred Krupp, German industrialist (d. 1902)
- March 14 - Paul Ehrlich, German physician and scientist (d. 1915)
- March 15 - Emil von Behring, German physiologist, 1901 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1917)
- April 17 – Paul von Rennenkampf, Russian general (d. 1918)
- April 28 – Hertha Marks Ayrton, English engineer, mathematician and inventor (d. 1923)
- April 29 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician and physicist (d. 1912)
- May 11 – Albion Woodbury Small, American sociologist (d. 1926)
- May 24 – John Riley Banister, American law officer and Texas Ranger (d. 1918)
- June 8 – Douglas Cameron, Canadian politician (d. 1921)
- June 14 – Dave Rudabaugh, American outlaw and gunfighter (d. 1886)
- June 26 – Robert Borden, 8th Prime Minister of Canada (d. 1937)
- July 3 – Leoš Janáček, Czech composer (d. 1928)
- July 7 – Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov, Russian poet, scientist and revolutionary (d.1946)
- July 12 – George Eastman, American photographic inventor (Kodak) (suicide 1932)
- July 27 – Takahashi Korekiyo, Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1936)
- August 2 – Milan I of Serbia (d. 1901)
- August 23 – Moritz Moszkowski, Polish/German composer (d. 1925)
- September 1 – Engelbert Humperdinck, German composer (d. 1921)
- September 2 – Paul Marie Eugène Vieille, French chemist and gunsmith (d. 1934)
- September 3 – Anna Sandström, Swedish social reformer (d. 1931)
- September 6 – Georges Picquart, French general and Minister of War (d. 1914)
- October 3 – William C. Gorgas, American physician and Surgeon General (d. 1920)
- October 16
- October 20 – Arthur Rimbaud, French poet (d. 1891)
- October 26 – C. W. Post, American cereal manufacturer (d. 1914)
- November 5 – Paul Sabatier, French chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1941)
- November 6 – John Philip Sousa, American composer and conductor (Stars and Stripes Forever) (d. 1932)
- November 13 – George Whitefield Chadwick, American composer (d. 1931)
- November 17 – Hubert Lyautey, Marshal of France (d. 1934)
- December 16 – Austin M. Knight, American admiral (d. 1927)
- November 21 – Pope Benedict XV (d. 1922)
- December 22 – Takamine Jōkichi, Japanese chemist (d. 1922)
- December 23 – Victoriano Huerta, President of Mexico (d. 1916)
- December 24 – Thomas Stevens, English cyclist (d. 1935)
- January 8 – William Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, British general and politician (b. 1768)
- February 17 – John Martin, English painter (b. 1789)
- March 6 – Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry (b. 1778)
- March 11 – Willard Richards, American religious leader (b. 1804)
- March 13 – Thomas Talfourd, English jurist (b. 1795)
- March 19 – William Pope Duval, first civilian governor of Florida Territory (b. 1784)
- March 27
- April – Domingo Eyzaguirre, Chilean philanthropist (b. 1775)
- April 11 – Karl Adolph von Basedow, German physician (b. 1799)
- April 15 – Arthur Aikin, English chemist and mineralogist (b. 1773)
- April 29 – Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, British general (b. 1768)
- July 6 – Georg Ohm, German physicist
- July 16 – Abbas I, Pasha of Egypt (b. 1813)
- July 31 – Samuel Wilson, American thought to be the real-life basis for Uncle Sam (b. 1766)
- August – Conquering Bear, Lakota chief
- August 2 – Heinrich Clauren (b. 1771)
- August 9 – Frederick Augustus II of Saxony (b. 1797)
- August 20 – Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, German philosopher (b. 1775)
- August 21 – Thomas Clayton, American lawyer and politician (b. 1777)
- September 8 – Angelo Mai, Italian cardinal and philologist (b. 1782)
- September 12 – Jarvis W. Pike, former Mayor of Columbus, Ohio
- October 26 – Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, queen consort of Bavaria (b. 1792)
- November 2 – George Mogridge (Old Humphrey), British writer and poet (b.1787)
- November 3 – Maxim Gauci, Maltese lithographer (b. 1774)
- November 25 – John Gibson Lockhart, Scottish writer (b. 1794)
- December 9 – Almeida Garrett, Portuguese writer (b. 1799)
- December 15 – Kamehameha III, King of Hawaii (b. c. 1814)
- The Annual register of world events: Volume 96 (1855), highly detailed coverage of events in British Empire and worldwide full text online