December 27 - John Brown, British manufacturer (b. 1816)
December 30 - José Rizal, national hero of the Philippines (b. 1861) (executed)
January 4 - Utah is admitted as the 45th U.S. state.
January 5 - An Austrian newspaper reports that Wilhelm Roentgen has discovered a type of radiation later known as X-rays.
January 16 - Defeat of Cymru Fydd at South Wales Liberal Federation AGM, Newport, Monmouthshire.
January 18 - The X-ray machine is exhibited for the first time.
February 1 - The opera La bohème premieres in Turin.
March 1 - Battle of Adowa: an Ethiopian army defeats an outnumbered Italian force, ending the First Italo–Ethiopian War.
March 1 - Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity.
March 2 - Ethiopia defeats Italy in the Battle of Adwa, marking the first victory of an African nation over a colonial power.
March 9 - Prime Minister Francesco Crispi resigns following the Italian defeat at the Battle of Adowa.
March 23 - The Raines Law is passed by the New York State Legislature, restricting Sunday sale of alcohol to hotels.
May 18 - The United States Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that separate but equal is constitutional.
May 18 - Khodynka Tragedy: A mass panic on Khodynka Field in Moscow during the festivities of the coronation of Russian Tsar Nicholas II results in the deaths of 1,389 people.
May 20 - The six ton chandelier of the Palais Garnier falls on the crowd resulting in the death of one and the injury of many others.
May 26 - Charles Dow publishes the first edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
May 26 - James Dunham murders six people in Campbell, California.
May 27 - The F4-strength St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado hits in St. Louis, Missouri and East Saint Louis, Illinois, killing at least 255 people and causing $2.9 billion in damages (1997 USD).
June 2 - Guglielmo Marconi receives a patent for his newest invention: the radio.
June 12 - J.T. Hearne sets a cricket record for the earliest date of taking 100 first-class wickets in a season.
July 8 - William Jennings Bryan delivers his Cross of Gold speech advocating bimetalism at the 1896 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
July 28 - The city of Miami, Florida is incorporated.
August 16 - Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmack and Dawson Charlie discover gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.
August 23 - First Cry of the Philippine Revolution is made in Pugad Lawin (Quezon City), in the province of Manila.
August 27 - Anglo-Zanzibar War: the shortest war in world history (09:00 to 09:45) between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar.
August 30 - Eight provinces in the Philippines were declared under martial law by the Spanish Governor General Ramon Blanco. This included the provinces of Batangas, Rizal, Cavite, Nueva Ecija as well as the nearby areas.
September 21 - British force under Horatio Kitchener takes Dongola in the Sudan.
September 22 - Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
November 1 - A picture showing the unclad (bare) breasts of a woman appears in National Geographic magazine for the first time.
December 14 - The Glasgow Underground Railway is opened by the Glasgow District Subway Company.
December 30 - José Rizal is executed by firing squad in Manila.