Centennial Exhibition 1876

Decade at a Glance

The U.S. population is 39,818,449.

The nation celebrates the centennial in 1876 by opening an International Exhibition in Philadelphia with exhibits of the latest American technology. (image)

Thomas Edison invents the phonograph and the light bulb. Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone. Barbed wire is invented. This wire is the first economical way to fence-in cattle in the western U.S. Charles Elmer Hires introduces the first commercial root beer.

The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—guaranteeing the right to vote regardless "of race, color, or previous condition of servitude"— is adopted. California votes against ratification.

The Great Chicago Fire claims 250 lives, destroys 17,500 buildings and causes an economic panic that moves across the country..

Charley Brewster Ross, 4-years old, is the country's first kidnapping for ransom. He is never found.