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|Centuries:||18th century – 19th century – 20th century|
|Decades:||1830s 1840s 1850s – 1860s – 1870s 1880s 1890s|
|Years:||1863 1864 1865 – 1866 – 1867 1868 1869|
|1866 in topic:|
|Archaeology – Architecture – Art – Literature – Music|
|Australia – Canada – France – Germany – Mexico – Philippines – South Africa – US – UK|
|Rail Transport – Science – Sports|
|Lists of leaders|
|Colonial Governors – State leaders|
|Birth and death categories|
|Births – Deaths|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Establishments – Disestablishments|
|Ab urbe condita||2619|
|British Regnal year||29 Vict. 1 – 30 Vict. 1|
|Chinese calendar|| 乙丑年十一月十五日
— to —丙寅年十一月廿五日
|- Vikram Samvat||1922–1923|
|- Shaka Samvat||1788–1789|
|- Kali Yuga||4967–4968|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||866–867|
|Japanese calendar|| Keiō 2
|Juche calendar||N/A (before 1912)|
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 12 days|
|Minguo calendar||46 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||2409|
Year 1866 (MDCCCLXVI) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar.
- January 1 – Fisk University established.
- January 1 – The last issue of the abolitionist magazine The Liberator is published.
- January 6 – Ottoman troops clash with men of a Maronite leader Karam in St. Doumit in Lebanon; the Ottomans are defeated.
- January 12 – The Royal Aeronautical Society is formed (London).
- January 18 – Wesley College, Melbourne was established.
- February 7 – Battle of Abtao: A Spanish naval squadron fights a combined Peruvian-Chilean fleet, at the island of Abtao in the Chiloé Archipelago of central Chile.
- February 13 – The first daylight bank robbery in United States history during peacetime takes place in Liberty, Missouri. This is considered to be the first robbery committed by Jesse James and his gang, although James's role is disputed.
- February 26 – The Calaveras Skull is discovered. Purported to be evidence of humans during the Pliocene Age, it turns out to be a hoax.
- February 28 – The month concludes without having a full moon.
- March 13 – The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passes the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the first federal legislation to protect the rights of African-Americans; U.S. President Andrew Johnson vetoes the bill on March 27, and Congress overrides the veto on April 9.
- April 4 – Alexander II of Russia narrowly escapes an assassination attempt in the city of Kiev.
- April 10 – The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded in New York City by Henry Bergh.
- May – Student Ferdinand Cohen-Blind fails to assassinate Otto von Bismarck in Unter den Linden in Berlin.
- May 2 – Battle of Callao: Peruvian defenders fight the Spanish fleet.
- May 11 – London bank Overend, Gurney and Company collapses, precipitating a financial crisis.
- May 16 – The U.S. Congress approves the minting of a nickel 5-cent coin ( nickel), eliminating its predecessor, the half dime.
- May 24 – Battle of Tuyutí: 32,000 soldiers of the Triple Alliance defeat 24,000 Paraguayan soldiers few miles north of the Paraná, Argentina in the Paraguayan War, with 16,000 casualties.
- May 26 – First Production of Cox and Box by Francis Burnand and Arthur Sullivan at Moray Lodge, Kensington
- June 2 – Fenian forces skirmish with Canadian militia at Ridgeway and Fort Erie.
- June 5 – Calculations indicate Pluto reaches its most recent aphelion (furthest point from Sun) on this day (the next aphelion will occur in August 2113).
- June 8 – The Canadian Parliament meets for the first time in Ottawa.
- June 11 – The Agra High Court is established (later shifted to the Allahabad High Court).
- June 14 – The Austro-Prussian War begins, when the Austrians and most of the medium German states declare war on Prussia.
- June 20 – The Kingdom of Italy declares war on Austria.
- June 27– June 29 – Battle of Langensalza: The Prussians defeat the Hanoverian army.
- July 1 – The first Constitution of Romania is issued.
- July 3 – Battle of Königgratz: the Prussian army under King Wilhelm and Helmuth von Moltke defeats the Austrian army of Ludwig von Benedek, leading to a decisive Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War.
- July 5 – Princess Helena, third daughter of Queen Victoria, marries Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.
- July 20 – Naval Battle of Lissa: The Austrian fleet under Wilhelm von Tegetthoff defeats the Italian fleet of Carlo di Persano.
- July 24 – Reconstruction: Tennessee becomes the first U.S. state to be readmitted to the Union following the American Civil War.
- July 25 – The U.S. Congress passes legislation authorizing the rank of General of the Army (now called "5-star general"); Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant becomes the first to have this rank.
- July 27 – The Atlantic Cable is successfully completed, allowing transatlantic telegraph communication for the first time.
- July 28 – The Metric Act of 1866 becomes law and legalizes the standardization of weights and measures in the United States.
- August 23 – The Treaty of Prague ends the Austro-Prussian War.
- September – The Great Tea Race of 1866 ends in London, narrowly won by the clipper ship Taeping.
- September 22 – Paraguay successfully defends Curupaity against the Triple Alliance in the Paraguayan War, killing more than 5,000 with just about 50 casualties.
- October 12 – The Treaty of Vienna ends the war between Austria and Italy; it formalizes the annexation of Venetia by Italy.
- October 14 – French troops under the command of Rear Admiral Pierre-Gustave Roze land at Ganghwa Island, Korea as part of a punitive expedition against that kingdom for the execution of French Jesuit priests. It is the first military contact between Korea and a Western force.
- November 7 – The Ruse- Varna railway line (the first railway in Bulgaria) officially opens.
- December 18 – The College of Wooster was founded.
- Federalist revolts occur in Argentina.
- In Sweden, the Riksdag of the Estates is replaced by an elected 2-chamber assembly, the Riksdag.
- Alfred Nobel invents dynamite in Germany.
- Cereal partners Nestle and General Mills are founded.
- January 5 – William B. Hanna, American sportswriter (d. 1930)
- January 13 – Vasily Kalinnikov, Russian composer (d. 1901)
- January 15 – Nathan Söderblom, Swedish archbishop, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1931)
- January 16 – Percy Pilcher, British inventor and pioneer aviator (d. 1899)
- January 29 – Romain Rolland, French writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1944)
- February 2 – Enrique Simonet, Spanish painter (d. 1927)
- February 9 – George Ade, American writer, newspaper columnist, and playwright (d. 1944)
- March 5 – Arthur Leopold Busch, American Submarine pioneer (d. 1956)
- March 7 – Hans Fruhstorfer, German lepidopterist (d. 1922)
- March 30 – George Van Haltren, baseball player (d. 1945)
- April 1
- William Blomfield, New Zealand cartoonist (d. 1938)
- Ferruccio Busoni, Italian pianist and composer (d. 1924)
- April 13 – Butch Cassidy, American outlaw (d. 1909)
- April 14 – Anne Sullivan, tutor of Helen Keller (d. 1936)
- April 17 – Ernest Starling, British physiologist (d. 1927)
- April 24 – Ishii Kikujiro, Japanese diplomat (d. 1945)
- May 5 – Thomas B. Thrige, Danish industrialist (d. 1938)
- May 17 – Erik Satie, French composer (d. 1925)
- May 22 – Charles F. Haanel, American New Thought author and businessman (d. 1949)
- June 4 – Miina Sillanpää, Finnish politician (d. 1952)
- June 26 – George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, English financier of Egyptian excavations (d. 1923)
- July 3 – Albert Gottschalk, Danish painter (d. 1906)
- July 6 – Charles Mangin, French general (d. 1925)
- July 13 – La Goulue, French dancer (d. 1929)
- July 28 – Beatrix Potter, English children's author (Peter Rabbit & Jemima Puddle-Duck) (d. 1943)
- August 8 – Matthew Henson, American explorer (d. 1955)
- August 12 – Jacinto Benavente, Spanish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1954)
- August 17 – Julia Marlowe, stage actress (d. 1950)
- September 1 – James J. Corbett, American boxer (d. 1933)
- September 7 – Tristan Bernard, French writer (d. 1947)
- September 10 – Jeppe Aakjaer, Danish poet and novelist (d. 1930)
- September 21
- September 22 – Witmer Stone, American ornithologist and botanist (d. 1939)
- September 27 – Eurosia Fabris, Italian Catholic Blessed (d. 1932)
- September 25 – Thomas Hunt Morgan, American geneticist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1945)
- October 12 – Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1937)
- November 12 – Sun Yat-sen, Chinese revolutionary (d. 1925)
- November 28 – David Warfield, stage actor (d. 1951)
- November 30 – Robert Broom, Scottish paleontologist (d. 1951)
- December 12 – Alfred Werner, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1919)
- December 16 ( December 4 O.S.) – Wassily Kandinsky, Russian-born painter (d. 1944)
- Emilia Broomé, Swedish politician, feminist and peace activist.
- January 23 – Thomas Love Peacock, English satirist (b. 1785)
- January 31 – Friedrich Rückert, German poet, translator, and professor of Oriental languages (b. 1788)
- January – Thomas Baldwin Marsh, American religious leader (b. 1799)
- March 4 – Alexander Campbell, Irish/U.S. founder of the Disciples of Christ (b. 1788)
- March 6 – William Whewell, English scientist, philosopher, and historian of science (b. 1794)
- March 20 – Rikard Nordraak, Norwegian composer (b. 1842)
- March 21 – Nadezhda Durova, first female Russian military officer (b. 1783)
- March 28 – Solomon Foot, American politician (b. 1802)
- April 4 – William Dick, founder of Edinburgh Veterinary College (b. 1793)
- April 5 – Thomas Hodgkin, British physician (b. 1798)
- April 12 – Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, English Member of Parliament and developer (b. 1801)
- May 13 – Nikolai Brashman, Russian mathematician of Czech origin (b.1796)
- May 29 – Winfield Scott, American general and presidential candidate (b. 1786)
- June 7 – Chief Sealth, Native American whom Seattle is named for (b. c. 1786)
- July 20 – Bernhard Riemann, German mathematician (b. 1826)
- July 25 – Floride Calhoun, Second Lady of the United States (b. 1792)
- August 6 – Christian Eric Fahlcrantz, Swedish writer (b. 1790)
- August 20 – Maria De Mattias, Catholic saint (b. 1805)
- August 29 – Tokugawa Iemochi, 14th shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan (b. 1846)
- October 13 – Celadon Leeds Daboll, American merchant and inventor (b. 1818)
- November 11 – Agustin Jerónimo de Iturbide y Huarte, Prince Imperial of Mexico (b. 1807)
- November 26 – Jean-Jacques Willmar, Luxembourg politician (b. 1792)
- December 1 – George Everest, Welsh geodesist (b. 1790)