1871 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar).
January - April
May - August
September - December
October 8 - Three major fires break out on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and Holland, Michigan
The Great Chicago Fire is the most famous of these, burning 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km²) in one day, eventually destroying about 17,450 buildings, and killing about 250 people while leaving another 90,000 homeless.
The Peshtigo Fire burns 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km²) across six counties in one day and kills 1,200 to 2,500 people, making it the deadliest in United States history.
The Holland Fire destroys at least two towns.
October 20 - The Royal Regiment of Artillery formed the first regular Canadian army units when they created two batteries of garrison artillery which eventually became The Royal Canadian Artillery.
October 27 - The Comte de Chambord refuses to be crowned 'King Henry V of France' until France abandons its tricolour and returns to the old bourbon flag.
November 10 - Henry Morton Stanley locates missing explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika, and greets him saying "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
November 17 - The National Rifle Association is granted a charter by the state of New York.
December 10 - The German chancellor Otto von Bismarck tries to ban Catholics from the political stage by introducing harsh laws concerning the separation of church and state.
January 17 - David Earl Betty of the North Sea and of Brooksby , British admiral (d. 1936)
January 30 - Wilfred Lucas, actor (d. 1940)
February 4 - Friedrich Ebert, president of the Weimar Republic (d. 1925)
February 18 - Harry Brearley, inventor of stainless steel (d. 1948)
March 1 - Ben Harney, US composer and ragtime pianist, is born. (d. 1938)
March 5 - Rosa Luxemburg, politician (d. 1919)
March 27 - Heinrich Mann, narrator, dramatist and essayist (d. 1950)
May 3 - Walter Robinson Parr, British preacher
May 6 - Christian Morgenstern, author (d. 1914)
May 27 - Georges Rouault, painter and graphic artist (d. 1958)
July 17 - Lyonel Charles Feininger, German painter
July 25 - Richard Ernest Turner, Canadian lieutenant of the of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, awarded with the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Second Boer War.
August 19 - Orville Wright of the Wright brothers, American co-inventor of the airplane
August 25 - Ross Winn, anarchist writer and publisher
August 29 - Albert Lebrun, French politician (d. 1950)
September 24 - Lottie Dod, English athlete
September 26 - Winsor McCay, United States comic creator and animator (d. 1934)
September 27 - Grazia Deledda, Sardinian writer - Nobel prize (d. 1936)
October 30 - Paul Valéry, French poet (d. 1945)
December 9 - Joe Kelley, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1943)
December 12 - Umenosuke Bessho , Japanese writer (d. 1945)
December 13 - Emily Carr, Canadian writer
Guangxu, Emperor of the Qing Dynasty in China
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