Year 1852 was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. It was a leap year starting on Tuesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar.
1.1. Events January–March
- March 20 – Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is published.
- March 4 – Phi Mu Sorority is founded in Macon Georgia
- February 15 – The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London, admits its first patient.
- February 19 – The Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity is founded at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
- March 2 – The first American steam fire engine was tested.
- March 1 – Archibald William Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton is made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
- February 3 – Battle of Caseros or Battle of Monte Caseros, Argentina
- February 16 – The Studebaker Brothers Wagon Company is started.
- January 14 – President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte makes a new constitution for the French Second Republic.
- February 25 – The HMS Birkenhead sinks near Cape Town, South Africa. Only 193 of the 643 on board survive.
- January 17 – The United Kingdom recognizes the independence of the Transvaal.
- February 11 – The first British public toilet for women opens in Bedford Street, London.
- January 15 – Nine men from various Hebrew charitable organizations come together to form what will become the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
1.2. Events April–June
- June 12 – Taiping Rebellion: Taiping forces enter Hunan.
- April 1 – The Second Burmese War begins.
- April 18 – Taiping Rebellion: Taiping forces begin the siege of Guilin.
- May 19 – Taiping Rebellion: The siege of Guilin is lifted.
1.3. Events July–September
- September 24 – French engineer Henri Giffard makes the first airship trip from Paris to Trappes.
- July 4 – Frederick Douglass delivers his famous speech "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" in Rochester, New York.
- July 28 – Henry Clay steamboat disaster in Riverdale, Bronx, with several deaths including Stephen Allen.
- August 3 – The first Boat Race between Yale and Harvard, the first American intercollegiate athletic event, is held.
- July 1 – United States statesman Henry Clay is the first to have the honor of lying in state in the United States Capitol rotunda.
1.4. Events October–December
- November 21–November 22 – The New French Empire is confirmed
- December 2 – Napoleon III becomes Emperor of the French.
- December 29 – Taiping Rebellion: The Taiping army takes Hankou.
- November 11 – The new Palace of Westminster opens in Britain.
- November 4 – Count Cavour becomes the Piedmontese prime minister.
- December 23 – Taiping Rebellion: The Taiping army takes Hanyang and begins the siege of Wuchang.
- November 2 – U.S. presidential election, 1852: Democrat Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire defeats Whig Winfield Scott of Virginia.
1.5. Events Date unknown
- Antioch College is started. Its first president is Horace Mann.
- In Hawaii sugar planters bring over the first Chinese laborers on 3 or 5 year contracts.
- Germans are encouraged to move to Chile
- Justin Perkins, an American Presbyterian missionary, makes the first translation of the Bible in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic.
- Gefs supposed birth
- Loyola College is chartered in Baltimore, Maryland.
- Mills College is started.
- The Devils Island penal colony opens.
- Leo Tolstoys first novel, Childhood, is published in book form.
2.1. Births January–June
- April 22 – Guillaume IV, Grand Duke of Luxembourg d. 1912
- May 4 – Alice Pleasance Liddell, inspiration for the childrens classic Alices Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll d. 1934
- February 16 – Charles Taze Russell Pastor Russell, prominent Protestant reformer and evangelist d. 1916
- April 13 – F.W. Woolworth, American merchant and businessman d. 1919
- January 11 – Konstantin Fehrenbach, Chancellor of Germany d. 1926
- January 8 – James Milton Carroll, Baptist pastor, leader, historian, and writer d. 1931
- March 1 – Theophile Delcasse, French statesman d. 1923
- May 31 – Julius Richard Petri, German scientist d. 1921
- May 1 – Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Spanish histologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine d. 1934
- June 25 – Antoni Gaudi, Spanish modernist architect d. 1926
- April 1 – Edwin Austin Abbey, American painter d. 1911
2.2. Births July–December
- July 12 – Hipolito Yrigoyen, President of Argentina d. 1933
- August 23 – Climaco Calderon, President of Colombia d. 1913
- September 12 – Herbert Henry Asquith, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom d. 1928
- September 10 – Hans Niels Andersen, Danish businessman, founder of the East Asiatic Company d. 1937
- September 15 – Edward Bouchet, American physicist d. 1918
- Henri Moissan, French chemist, Nobel Prize laureate d. 1907
- September 28
- August 30 – Jacobus Henricus van t Hoff, Dutch chemist, Nobel Prize laureate d. 1911
- John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, British general, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I d. 1925
- November 3 – Prince Mutsuhito of Japan, the future Emperor Meiji d. 1912
- October 9 – Hermann Emil Fischer, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate d. 1919
- November 22 – Paul-Henri-Benjamin dEstournelles de Constant, French diplomat, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize d. 1924
- November 11 – Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf, Austro-Hungarian field marshal d. 1925
- December 19 – Albert Abraham Michelson, German-born physicist, Nobel Prize laureate d. 1931
- December 21 – George Callaghan, British admiral d. 1920
- October 2 – William Ramsay, Scottish chemist, Nobel Prize laureate d. 1916
- November 26 – Yamamoto Gonnohyōe, the 16th and 22nd Prime Minister of Japan, an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy
- November 1 – Eugene W. Chafin, American politician d. 1920
- December 15 – Henri Becquerel, French physicist, Nobel Prize laureate d. 1908
- September 30 – Charles Villiers Stanford, Irish composer, resident in England d. 1924
3.1. Deaths January–June
- January 6 – Louis Braille, French teacher of the blind and inventor of braille b. 1809
- June 29 – Henry Clay, American statesman b. 1777
- June 7 – Jose Joaquin Estudillo, second alcalde of Yerba Buena b. 1800
- January 1 – John George Children, British chemist, mineralogist and zoologist b. 1777
- April 17 – Etienne Maurice Gerard, Marshal of France and Prime Minister of France b. 1773
- March 4 – Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer b. 1809
- May 3 – Sara Coleridge, English writer and translator b. 1802
3.2. Deaths July–December
- September 14
- Augustus Pugin, English architect b. 1812
- Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, British general and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom b. 1769
- September 4 – William MacGillivray, Scottish naturalist and ornithologist b. 1796
- July 20 – Jose Antonio Estudillo, early California settler b. 1805
- July 22 – Auguste Marmont, French marshal b. 1774
- October 26 – Vincenzo Gioberti, Italian philosopher b. 1801
- November 30 – Junius Brutus Booth, English-born actor b. 1796
- November 29 – Nicolae Balcescu, Wallachian revolutionary b. 1819
- October 25 – John C. Clark, American politician b. 1793
- November 27 – Augusta Ada King nee Byron, Countess of Lovelace, early English computer pioneer b. 1815
- October 13 – John Lloyd Stephens, American traveler, diplomat and Mayanist archaeologist b. 1805
- November 2 – Pyotr Kotlyarevsky, Russian military hero b. 1782
- December 16 – Andries Hendrik Potgieter, Voortrekker leader b. 1792
- October 24 – Daniel Webster, American statesman b. 1782
- September 20 – Philander Chase, American founder of Kenyon College b. 1775