U.S. Commodore (American was far too egalitarian to have admirals then) Matthew C. Perry signs "The General Convention of Peace and Amity" with representatives of the Japanese bakufu, or tent (military) government of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
U.S. diplomats draft the Ostend Manifesto, a document urging that the U.S. to annex Cuba for the security of slavery. If Spain refuses to sell the island, it should be taken by invasion.
Venezuela and Peru abolish slavery.
Whig Party dissolves and Republicans vote to oppose expansion of African slavery.