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|Centuries:||18th century – 19th century – 20th century|
|Decades:||1840s 1850s 1860s – 1870s – 1880s 1890s 1900s|
|Years:||1868 1869 1870 – 1871 – 1872 1873 1874|
- January 2 – Amadeus I becomes King of Spain.
- January 18 – Germany becomes a country when states of the North German Confederation unite. The King of Prussia becomes the first German Emperor as Wilhelm I of Germany.
- January 10 – France surrenders (gives up) to end the Franco-Prussian War
- March 22 – In North Carolina, William Holden is the first American governor (leader of a U.S. state) to be impeached (removed from office)
- March 26 – The Paris Commune takes power in Paris.
- March 29 – The Royal Albert Hall is opened by Queen Victoria.
- April – Stockholms Handelsbank is formed.
- January 17 – David Earl Betty of the North Sea and of Brooksby, British admiral (navy leader) (d. 1936)
- January 30 – Wilfred Lucas, actor (d. 1940)
- February 4 – Friedrich Ebert, president of the Weimar Republic (d. 1925)
- March 5 – Rosa Luxemburg, politician (d. 1919)
- March 27 – Heinrich Mann, speaker and writer (d. 1950)
- May 6 – Christian Morgenstern, writer (d. 1914)
- May 27 – Georges Rouault, painter and artist (d. 1958).
- July 23 – Tsunesaburō Makiguchi (Japanese old Lunar calendar 6 June was an incorrect date using in Gregorian calendar), First president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) (d. 1944).
- August 19 – Orville Wright of the Wright brothers, Americans who invented the airplane.
- August 29 – Albert Lebrun, French politician (d. 1950)
- September 27 – Grazia Deledda, Sardinian writer – Nobel prize (d. 1936)
- December 13 – Emily Carr, Canadian artist and writer.
- Richard Turner, Canadian soldier with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, who got the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Second Boer War.
- Guangxu, Emperor of the Qing Dynasty in China.
- February 20 – Paul Kane, painter
- September 23 – Louis-Joseph Papineau, aged 85, Canadian politician and leader of the Patriotes Rebellion.
- October 10 - Octavius Catto, aged 32, American black educator.
- October 18 – Charles Babbage, aged 79, English mathematician and inventor of computing machines.