) was a common year starting on Sunday
(link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar
(or a common year starting on Friday
of the 12-day slower Julian calendar
Events of 1854
January - June
- January 21 - The RMS Tayleur is lost; 380 drown (a disaster later dubbed "the first Titanic").
- January 3 - Charles Dickens commences writing the novel Hard Times.
- February 11 - Major streets are lit by coal gas for the first time.
- February 13 - Mexican troops force William Walker and his troops to retreat to Sonora.
- February 14 - Texas is linked by telegraph with the rest of the United States, when a connection between New Orleans and Marshall, Texas is completed.
- February 17 - The British recognize the independence of the Orange Free State; its official independence is declared 6 days later.
- February 27 - Britain sends Russia an ultimatum to withdraw from two Ottoman provinces it had conquered, Moldavia and Wallachia.
- February 28 - The Republican Party (United States) is founded in Ripon, Wisconsin.
- March 1 - German psychologist Friedrich Eduard Beneke disappears; 2 years later his remains are found in the canal near Charlottenburg.
- March 3 - Australia's first telegraph line, linking Melbourne and Williamstown, opens.
- March 11- A Royal Navy fleet sails from Britain under Vice Admiral Sir Charles Napier.
- March 20 - The Boston Public Library opens to the public.
- March 27 - Crimean War: The United Kingdom declares war on Russia.
- March 28 - France declares war on Russia.
- March 31 - Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy signs the Treaty/Convention of Kanagawa with the Japanese government (the Tokugawa Shogunate), opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade (see History of Japan).
- April 1 - Hard Times begins serialisation in Charles Dickens' magazine, Household Words.
- May 18 - The Catholic University of Ireland (forerunner of University College Dublin) is founded.
- May 27 - Taiping Rebellion: United States minister Robert McLane arrives at the Heavenly Capital aboard the USS Susquehanna.
- May 30 - The Kansas-Nebraska Act becomes law, rescinding the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and creating the Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory. A provision that settlers will vote on slavery in the new territories leads to Bleeding Kansas violence, beginning the next year.
- June - The Grand Excursion takes prominent Eastern United States inhabitants from Chicago, Illinois to Rock Island, Illinois by railroad, then up the Mississippi River to St. 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 Åland: Royal Navy mate Charles D. Lucas throws a live Russian artillery shell overboard by hand before it explodes, for which he is awarded the first retroactive Victoria Cross in 1857.
July - December
- July 6 - In Jackson, Michigan, the first convention of the U.S. Republican Party is held.
- August 16 - Russian troops in the island of Bomarsund in Åland surrender to French-British troops.
- September 20 - Crimean War - Alma: The French-British alliance wins the first battle of the war.
- 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 6 - The great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead is ignited by a spectacular explosion.
- October 17 - The Age newspaper is founded in Melbourne, Australia.
- October 21 - Florence Nightingale leaves for the Crimea with 38 other nurses.
- 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 5 - Crimean War - Battle of Inkerman: The Russians are defeated.
- November 17 - In Egypt, the Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, is inaugurated in an elaborate ceremony.
- December 3 - The Eureka Stockade Miner's Rebellion breaks out in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
- December 8 - Pope Pius IX in the Papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus defines ex Cathedra the dogma of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin.
January - June
- January 18 - Thomas A. Watson, American telephone pioneer (d. 1934)
- February 17 - Friedrich Alfred Krupp, German industrialist (d. 1902)
- March 4 - Sir Napier Shaw, British meteorologist (d. 1945)
- March 8 - Ignacy Lukasiewicz, Polish pharmacist and inventor of the first method of distilling kerosene from seep oil, creator of the first oil lamp (d. 1882)
- March 10 - Sir Thomas MacKenzie, New Zealand Prime Minister and High Commissioner (d. 1930)
- March 14
- March 15 - Emil Adolf von Behring, German physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1917)
- April 22 - Henri La Fontaine, Belgian lawyer and activist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1943)
- April 29 - Henri Poincaré, French mathematician and physicist (d. 1912)
- May 11 - Albion Woodbury Small, American sociologist (d. 1926)
- May 24 - John Riley Banister, law officer, cowboy, and Texas Ranger (d. 1918)
- June 8 - Douglas Colin Cameron, Canadian politician (d. 1921)
- June 14- Dave Rudabaugh, outlaw and gunfighter (d. 1886)
- June 26 - Robert Laird Borden, eighth Prime Minister of Canada (d. 1937)
July - December
- 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 inventor (d. 1932)
- July 27 - Takahashi Korekiyo, Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1936)
- August 2 - Milan I, King of Serbia (d. 1901)
- August 23 - Moritz Moszkowski, Polish/German composer (d. 1918)
- September 1 - Engelbert Humperdinck, German composer (d. 1921)
- September 6 - Georges Picquart, French general and Minister of War (d. 1914)
- October 16
- October 26 - C. W. Post, American cereal manufacturer (d. 1914)
- October 20 - Arthur Rimbaud, French poet (d. 1891)
- November 5 - Paul Sabatier, French chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1941)
- November 6 - John Philip Sousa, American composer and conductor (d. 1932)
- November 17 - Hubert Lyautey, Marshal of France (d. 1934)
- November 21 - Pope Benedict XV (d. 1922)
- December 22 - Jokichi Takamine, Japanese chemist (d. 1922)
- December 23 - Victoriano Huerta, President of Mexico (d. 1916)
- December 24 - Thomas Stevens, English cyclist (d. 1935)
January - June
- January 8 - William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, British general and politician (b. 1768)
- February 17 - John Martin, English painter (b. 1789)
- March 6 - Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry (b. 1778)
- March 11 - Willard Richards, American religious leader (b. 1804)
- March 13 - Thomas Noon Talfourd, English jurist (b. 1795)
- 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, thought to be the real-life basis for Uncle Sam (b. 1813)
- August - Conquering Bear, Lakota chief
- August 9 - Frederick Augustus II of Saxony (b. 1797)
- 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 25 - John Gibson Lockhart, Scottish writer (b. 1794)
- December 9 - Almeida Garrett, Portuguese writer (b. 1799)
- December 15 - Kamehameha III, King of Hawaii (b. 1814?)