1848 is a leap year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar).
- The Revolution of 1848 (qv.), a series of widespread but failed struggles for more liberal governments, from Brazil to Hungary.
- January 24 - California gold rush: James W. Marshall finds gold at Sutter's Mill, in Coloma, near Sacramento
- January 26 - Henry David Thoreau addresses the Concord Lyceum with "The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to Government" (which later came to be known as Civil Disobedience).
- February 2 - Mexican-American War: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, ending the war.
- February 2 - California Gold Rush: The first ship with Chinese emigrants seeking fortune in California's gold country arrive in San Francisco.
- February 21 - Karl Marx publishes The Communist Manifesto.
- February 24 - Abdication of Le Roi-Citoyen (citizen king) Louis Philippe, King of the French and the proclamation of the Second Republic.
- March 7 - The Great Mahele (land division) is signed in Hawaii.
- March 10 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is ratified by the United States Senate, ending the Mexican-American War.
- March 15 - Revolution breaks out in Pest. The Habsburg rulers are compelled to meet the demands of the Reform party.
- March 20 - King Ludwig I of Bavaria abdicates
- March 23 - Province of Otago in New Zealand is founded.
- March 29 - An upstream ice jam stops almost all water flow over Niagara Falls for 30 hours
- April 10 Chartist 'Monster Rally' held in Kennington Park London, headed by Feargus O'Connor. A petition demanding the franchise is presented to parliament.
- May 15 - Radicals invade the France Chamber of deputies
- May 19 - Mexican-American War: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo - Mexico ratifies the treaty thus ending the war and ceding Texas, California and most of Arizona and New Mexico to the United States for $15 million dollars.
- May 29 - Wisconsin is admitted as the 30th U.S. state.
- July 19 - Women's rights: The two day Women's Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, New York and the "Bloomers" are introduced at the feminist convention.
- July 29 - Irish Potato Famine: Tipperary Revolt - In Tipperary, an unsuccessful nationalist revolt against British rule is put-down by a government police force.
- August 19 - California Gold Rush: The New York Herald breaks the news to the East Coast of the United States, that there is a gold rush in California (although the rush started in January)
- August 28 – Mathieu Luis , first black member joins the French parliament as a representative of Guadaloupe
- November 1 - In Boston, Massachusetts, the first medical school for women, The Boston Female Medical School (which later merged with Boston University School of Medicine ), opens.
- November 3 - Greatly revised Dutch constitution proclaimed
- November 7 - U.S. presidential election, 1848: Zachary Taylor is elected president in the first US presidential election held in every state on the same day.
- December 2 - Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria, abdicates in favor of his nephew, Franz Josef I.
- December 10 - Prince Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte elected first president of the French Second Republic.
- December 20 - President Bonaparte takes his Oath of Office in front of the French National Assembly.
- January 6 - Hristo Botev, Bulgarian revolutionary (d. 1876)
- January 19 - John F. Stairs, businessman, statesman (d. 1904)
- February 5 - Joris-Karl Huysmans, French author (d. 1907)
- February 5 - Belle Starr, American outlaw (d. 1889)
- February 8 - Joel Chandler Harris, American journalist, author (d. 1908)
- February 16 - Octave Mirbeau French art critic, novelist (d. 1917)
- February 18 - Louis Comfort Tiffany, American glass artist (d. 1933)
- February 24 - Andrew Inglis Clark, Tasmanian politician (d. 1907)
- February 24 - Grant Allen, author (d. 1899)
- February 25 - Edward Harriman , railroad entrepreneur
- February 27 - Hubert Parry, English composer (d. 1918)
- March 10 - Albert Fraenkel , physician (d. 1916)
- March 18 - Princess Louise, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
- March 19 - Wyatt Earp, policeman, gunfighter (d. 1929)
- March 31 - Viscount William Astor, British financier and statesman (d. 1919)
- April 10 - Hubertine Auclert, French feminist (d. 1914)
- May 23 - Otto Lilienthal, engineer (d. 1896)
- June 7 - Paul Gauguin, French artist
- July 6 - Gabor Baross, Hungarian statesman (d. 1892).
- July 15 - Vilfredo Pareto, economist (d. 1923).
- July 22 - Winfield Scott Stratton, American miner (d. 1902)
- July 25 - George Robert Aberigh-Mackay, Anglo-Indian writer (d. 1881)
- July 25 - Arthur James Balfour, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1930)
- November 13 - Albert I of Monaco
- Randall Thomas Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1930)
- January 19 - Isaac D'Israeli, English author, father of Benjamin Disraeli
- February 23 - John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States.
- March 29 - John Jacob Astor, American businessman
- April 8 Gaetano Donizetti, Italian opera composer
- June 27 - Denis Auguste Affre, archbishop of Paris
- August 7 - Jöns Jakob Berzelius, Swedish chemist
- August 12 - George Stephenson, locomotive pioneer
- November 9 - Robert Blum, German politician
- November 23 - Sir John Barrow, English statesman
- November 24 - Lord Melbourne, British Prime Minister
- December 19 - Emily Brontë, English author
- Edward Baines, British newspaperman, politician
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