The year 1781 is the 81st year in the 18th century according to the Christian era.
January 1 - Official opening of the Iron Bridge over the Severn, the world's first cast iron bridge. The bridge was built between 1777 and 1779 to connect the industrial town of Broseley with the mining town of Madeley and Coalbrookdale.
5 - The English capture the capital of Virginia, Richmond. The next day they burn down part of the city.
6 - At the Royal Square in Saint Helier on the Channel Island of Jersey, the English defeat the French in the Battle of Jersey. Both British commander Major Peirson and French commander Baron De Rullecourt are killed.February4 - British Admiral George Rodney conquers Dutch possessions of St. Eustatius, committing looting and even grave robbery.March1 - With the ratification by Maryland last of the Thirteen Colonies, the Articles of Confederation come into effect. The Congress of the Confederation takes office.
13 - Astronomer William Herschel discovers the planet Uranus. He also proves the existence of infrared rays, which lie outside the visible spectrum.meimei - American envoy John Adams asks the States General of the Netherlands for recognition of the United States of America.julijuli - Emperor Joseph II travels incognito as Count Von Frankenstein through the Netherlands.augustus5 - Battle of the Dogger Bank. The English fleet attacks a Dutch convoy at the Dogger Bank. The battle ends inconclusively, but is celebrated in the Netherlands as a great victory and is thereafter commemorated annually by the patriots with speeches and banquets.September5 - A French fleet off the coast of Virginia to protect the American insurgents, defeats the English in the Battle of Chesapeake.
22 - French troops under
Lafayette and Rochambeau, along with the American insurgents, surround Yorktown.
26 - Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol anonymously publishes his pamphlet "Aan hetvolk der Nederlanden", in which criticism of the stadtholder William V is expressed.October19 - In Yorktown, Virginia, the enclosed English army of Charles Cornwallis surrenders to George Washington. This moment is seen as the military end of the American Revolutionary War.November12 - Emperor Joseph II issues a decree on tolerance. "Non-Catholics", ie Jews but also Protestants, are given freedom of religion in the Austrian Netherlands, the freedom of cults remains limited to the private sphere.
15 - The rebellious Indian leader Túpac Katari is quartered by the Spaniards in La Paz.
26 - French troops from Fort Royal under the command of the Marquis De Bouille dislodge the English from St Eustatius and occupy their garrison site. The money recovered from the looting will be distributed among the troops and the islanders.
November - Emperor Joseph II orders the evacuation of the fortresses of the Republic in the Southern Netherlands, after he has canceled the Barrier Treaty.December31 - The Americans release British General Cornwallis in exchange for the former president of the Continental Congress Henry Laurens. undated In his Critique of Pure Reason, the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant attempts to overcome the contradiction between empiricism and rationalism. According to him, Reason gives form to the perceptions, which in turn give content to the forms.
Johann Christian Bach writes his symphonies Opus 18.
Domenico Cimarosa composes Giannina e Bernardone.
Joseph Haydn composes his Symphonies No. 74 and 75.
Friedrich von Schiller writes the play Die Räuber
January 30 - Adelbert von Chamisso, German poet (died 1838)February 14 - Valentín Gómez Farías, Mexican President (1833 and 1846-1847) (died 1858)
17 - René Laënnec , French physician (about