|Covid-19|January 16 – The first Dutch (and general) elections are held for the National Assembly of the Batavian Republic (the next Dutch general elections are held in 1888).
February 1 – The capital of Upper Canada is moved from Newark to York.
February 9 – The Qianlong Emperor of China abdicates at age 84 to make way for his son, the Jiaqing Emperor.
February 16 – The Kingdom of Great Britain is granted control of Ceylon by the Dutch.
March 9 – Widow Joséphine de Beauharnais marries General Napoléon Bonaparte.
March 26 – Napoleon Bonaparte arrives at Nice to take command of the Army of Italy (37,000 men and 60 guns), which is scattered in detachments as far as Genoa.
March 30 – Carl Gauss obtains conditions for the constructibility by ruler and compass of regular polygons, and is able to announce that the regular 17-gon is constructible by ruler and compasses.
April 2 – The only night of the supposed Shakespearean play Vortigern and Rowena (actually written by William Henry Ireland) ends in the audience's laughter.
April 12 – War of the First Coalition – Battle of Montenotte: Napoleon Bonaparte gains his first victory as an army commander.
April 26 – The French proclaim the Republic of Alba on the occupied territories. Two days later, King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia signs the Armistice of Cherasco, in the headquarters of Napoleon. The fortresses of Coni, Tortoni and Alessandria with all their guns are given up.
April 27 – Case of the Lyons Mail: During the night, five highwaymen attack the mail between Paris and Lyon, kill the postmen and steal the funds sent to the armies in Italy.
May 6 – Napoleon Bonaparte forms an advanced guard (3,500 infantry and 1,500 cavalry) under General Claude Dallemagne. He sends this force along the south bank of the Po River to cross it with boats at Piacenza.
May 10 – War of the First Coalition – Battle of Lodi: General Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Austrian rearguard in forcing a crossing of the bridge over the Adda River in Italy. The Austrians lose some 2,000 men, 14 guns, and 30 ammunition wagons.
Persian Expedition of 1796: Russian troops storm Derbent.
May 14 – Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox vaccination, in England.
May 15 – Napoleon's troops take Milan.
May 20 – The last mock Garrat Elections are held in Surrey, England.
June 1 – The French-Republican army divisions of the Army of Italy invade the territories of the Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco.
Tennessee is admitted as the 16th U.S. state.
June 21 – British explorer Mungo Park becomes the first European to reach the Niger River.
June 23 – Napoleon Bonaparte seizes the Papal States which become part of the revolutionary Cisalpine Republic. Pope Pius VI signs the Armistice of Bologna and is forced to pay contribution (34 million francs).
July 10 – Carl Friedrich Gauss discovers that every positive integer is representable as a sum of at most 3 triangular numbers.
July 11 – The United States takes possession of Detroit from Great Britain under the terms of the Jay Treaty.
July 21 – Mungo Park reaches Ségou, the capital of the Bamana Empire.
July 22 – Surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company name an area in Ohio "Cleveland" after Gen. Moses Cleaveland, the superintendent of the surveying party.
July 29 – The Austrian army under Marshal Wurmser advances from the Alps and captures Rivoli and Verona. The French abandoned the east bank of the Mincio River, the outnumbered division (15,000 men) of Masséna retreats towards Lake Garda.
August 4 – French Revolutionary Wars – Battle of Lonato: The French Army of Italy under Napoleon crushes an Austrian brigade.
August 5 – Battle of Castiglione: Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Austrian army (25,000 men) under Wurmser. He is forced to retreat north up the Adige Valley.
August 9 – Opening to traffic of the Wearmouth Bridge in England, designed by Thomas Paine in cast iron. Its span of 72 m (237 feet) makes it the world's longest single-span vehicular bridge extant at this date.
August 10 – a mob of peasants overtakes the Convent of St. Peter in Bludenz and murders Ignaz Anton von Indermauer.
August 19 – By the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso, Spain and France form an alliance against Great Britain.
September 2 – Jewish emancipation in the Batavian Republic (Netherlands).
September 8 – French Revolutionary Wars – Battle of Bassano: French forces (20,000 men) under André Masséna defeat the Austrians in Veneto. Wurmser retreats towards Vicenza with just 3,500 men of his originally 11,000 left to him.
September 15 – Siege of Mantua: Napoleon Bonaparte fights a pitched battle at La Favorita on the east side of the Mincio River. The Austrians withdraw into the fortress of Mantua, which is crowded nearly with 30,000 men. Within six weeks, 4,000 die from wounds or sickness.
September 17 – U.S. President George Washington issues his Farewell Address, which warns against partisan politics and foreign entanglements.
September 28 – Empress Catherine the Great signs a agreement with Great Britain, formally joining Russia to the coalition.
November 3 – John Adams defeats Thomas Jefferson in the U.S. presidential election.
November 4 – The Treaty of Tripoli (between the United States and Tripoli) is signed at Tripoli (see also 1797).
November 6 – Catherine the Great dies and is succeeded by her son Paul I of Russia. His wife Sophie Marie Dorothea of Württemberg becomes Empress consort.
French forces (9,500 men) under Masséna attack the Austrian army at Fontaniva. After a desperate assault he is outnumbered and forced to retreat to Verona.
November 12 – Battle of Caldiero: French forces are defeated by the Austrians at Caldiero and pushed back to Verona. This marked Napoleon's first defeat, losing nearly 2,000 men and 2 guns.Groton, New Hampshire is incorporated as a town.
November 17 – Battle of Arcole: French forces under General Napoleon Bonaparte defeat the Austrians at Arcole. After a bold maneuver he outflank the Austrian army (24,000 men) under Freiherr József Alvinczi and cut off its line of retreat. Alvinczi is forced to take up a defensive position behind the Brenta River.
December – The British government begins work on a 40-acre (162,000 m²) site at Norman Cross for the world's first purpose-built prisoner-of-war camp.
December 7 – The U.S. Electoral College meets to elect John Adams president of the United States.
Spanish government lifts the restrictions against neutrals trading with the colonies, thus acknowledging Spain's inability to supply the colonies with needed goods and markets.
Jane Austen writes her first draft of Pride and Prejudice, under the title First Impressions. The book will not be published until 1813.
Robert Burns' version of the Scots poem "Auld Lang Syne" is first published, in this year's volume of The Scots Musical Museum.
Annual British iron production reaches 125,000 tons.
January 7 – Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, daughter and only child of future King George IV (d. 1817)
January 23 – Karl Ernst Claus, Baltic German chemist and naturalist (d. 1864)
January 25 – William MacGillivray, Scottish naturalist and ornithologist (d. 1852)
Frederick William Beechey, English naval officer and geographer (d. 1856)
Philipp Franz von Siebold, German physician, botanist and explorer (d. 1866)
February 22 – Adolphe Quetelet, Belgian mathematician (d. 1874)
March 18 – Jakob Steiner, Swiss mathematician (d. 1863)
May 1 – Junius Brutus Booth, English stage actor, father of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth (d. 1852)
May 2 – Colm de Bhailís, Irish poet and songwriter (d. 1906)
May 4 – Horace Mann, American educator and abolitionist (d. 1859)
June 1 – Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, French military engineer and physicist; "father of thermodynamics" (d. 1832)
June 12 – George Bush (biblical scholar), American professor of Asian languages (d. 1859)
June 14 – Nikolai Brashman, Russian mathematician of Czech origin (d. 1866)
July 6 – Emperor Nicholas I of Russia (d. 1855)
July 16 – Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, French painter (d. 1875)
July 23 – Franz Berwald, Swedish composer (d. 1868)
August 15 – John Torrey, American botanist (d. 1873)
August 25 – James Lick, American land speculator (d. 1876)
September 10 – Eugénie Niboyet, French author and feminist (d. 1883)
September 19 – Hartley Coleridge, British poet (d. 1849)
September 22 – David Canabarro, Brazilian Gaúcho rebel revolutionary (d. 1867)
September 25 – Antoine-Louis Barye, French sculptor (d. 1875)
October 23 – Stefano Franscini, member of the Swiss Federal Council (d. 1857)
November 25 – Andreas von Ettingshausen, German mathematician and physicist (d. 1878)
November 30 – Carl Loewe, German composer (d. 1869)
December 17 – Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Canadian author (d. 1865)
December 19 – Manuel Bretón de los Herreros, Spanish playwright (d. 1873)
December 27 – Mirza Ghalib, Persian Poet of Urdu (d. 1869)
Du Bois Agett, early settler of Western Australia (d. 1866)
Edwin Beard Budding, English engineer and inventor of the Lawnmower (d. 1846)
January 5 – Samuel Huntington, Patriot in the American Revolution (b. 1731)
January 13 – John Anderson, Scottish scientist and inventor (b. 1726)
February 23 – Jean-Nicolas Stofflet, French royalist general (executed) (b. 1751)
March 6 – Guillaume Thomas François Raynal, French writer (b. 1713)
March 19 – Hugh Palliser, British naval officer and administrator (b. 1722)
April 2 – Ulrika Pasch, Swedish painter (b. 1735)
May 12 – Johann Uz, German poet (b. 1720)
May 29 – Carl Fredrik Pechlin, Swedish politician (b. 1720)
June 6 – Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois, French revolutionary (b. 1749)
June 7 – Elisabetta Caminèr Turra, Venetian writer (b. 1751)
June 11 – Samuel Whitbread, English brewer and politician (b. 1720)
June 21 – Richard Gridley, American Revolutionary soldier (b. 1710)
June 26 – David Rittenhouse, American astronomer, inventor, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official (b. 1732)
June 30 – Abraham Yates, Jr., American Continental Congressman (b. 1724)
July 16 – George Howard, British field marshal (b. 1718)
July 21 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet (b. 1759)
August 1 – Sir Robert Pigot, 2nd Baronet, British army officer (b. 1720)
August 21 – John McKinly, American physician and President of Delaware (b. 1721)
September 21 – François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers, French revolutionary general (killed in battle) (b. 1769)
October 7 – Thomas Reid, Scottish philosopher (b. 1710)
October 16 – Antoine-Joseph Pernety, French writer (b. 1716)
November 6 – Empress Catherine II of Russia (b. 1729)
December 15 – Anthony Wayne, United States Army officer, statesman, and member of the United States House of Representatives (b. 1745)
December 26 – Velu Nachiyar, queen regnant of Sivaganga (b. 1730)
Carl Albert von Lespilliez, German draftsman, architect and printmaker (b. 1723)
1796 (MDCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Friday (dominical letter CB) of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Tuesday (dominical letter FE) of the Julian calendar, the 1796th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 796th year of the 2nd millennium, the 96th year of the 18th century, and the 7th year of the 1790s decade. As of the start of 1796, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.