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|Centuries:||17th century – 18th century – 19th century|
|Decades:||1750s 1760s 1770s – 1780s – 1790s 1800s 1810s|
|Years:||1785 1786 1787 – 1788 – 1789 1790 1791|
|1788 by topic:|
|Arts and Sciences|
|Archaeology – Architecture – Art – Literature ( Poetry) – Music – Science|
|Australia – Canada – France – Great Britain – United States|
|Lists of leaders|
|Colonial governors – State leaders|
|Birth and death categories|
|Births – Deaths|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Establishments – Disestablishments|
|Ab urbe condita||2541|
|British Regnal year||28 Geo. 3 – 29 Geo. 3|
|Chinese calendar|| 丁未年十一月廿四日
— to —戊申年十二月初五日
|- Vikram Samvat||1844–1845|
|- Shaka Samvat||1710–1711|
|- Kali Yuga||4889–4890|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||788–789|
|Japanese calendar|| Tenmei 8
|Juche calendar||N/A (before 1912)|
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 11 days|
|Minguo calendar||124 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||2331|
Year 1788 (MDCCLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Saturday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar.
- January 1 – The first edition of The Times, previously The Daily Universal Register, is published in London.
- January 2 – Georgia ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the fourth U.S. state under the new government.
- January 9 – Connecticut ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the fifth U.S. state.
- January 18 – The leading ship in Captain Arthur Phillip's First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay to colonise Australia.
- January 22 – Cyrus Griffin becomes the tenth and last President of the United States in Congress Assembled.
- January 24 – The La Perouse expedition in the Astrolabe and Boussole arrives off Botany Bay just as Captain Arthur Phillip is attempting to move his colony from there to Sydney Cove in Port Jackson.
- January 26 – Australia Day: Eleven ships of the First Fleet from Botany Bay, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, land at Sydney Cove (which will become Sydney), Australia, where he determines to establish the British prison colony of New South Wales, the first permanent European settlement on the continent.
- January 31 – Henry Benedict Stuart becomes the new Stuart claimant to the throne of Great Britain as King Henry IX and the figurehead of Jacobitism.
- February 1 – Isaac Briggs and William Longstreet patent a steamboat.
- February 6 – Massachusetts ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the sixth U.S. state.
- February 9 – Austria enters the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 and attacks Moldavia.
- February 17 – The uninhabited Lord Howe Island is discovered by the brig HMS Supply, commanded by Lieutenant Ball, who is on his way from Botany Bay to Norfolk Island with convicts to start a penal settlement there.
- March 10 – The La Perouse expedition leaves Sydney Cove for New Caledonia, never to be seen again.
- March 14 – The Edinburgh Evening Courant carries a notice of £200 reward for the capture of William Brodie, a town councilor doubling as a burglar.
- March 21 – Great New Orleans Fire kills 25% of the population and destroys 856 buildings, including St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo, leaving most of the town in ruins.
- April 13 – America's first recorded riot, the 'Doctors' Mob', begins. Residents of Manhattan are angry about grave robbers stealing bodies for doctors to dissect. The rioting is suppressed on the 15th.
- April 28 – Maryland ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the seventh U.S. state.
- May 10 – The Royal Dramatic Theatre (Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern), Sweden's national drama company, is founded.
- May 23 – South Carolina ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the eighth U.S. state.
- June 7 – France: Day of the Tiles, which some consider the beginning of the French Revolution.
- June 9 – The African Association, an exploration group dedicated to plotting the Niger River and finding Timbuktu, is founded in England.
- June 17 – English captains Thomas Gilbert and John Marshall, returning from Botany Bay, become the first Europeans to encounter the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
- June 21 – New Hampshire ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the ninth U.S. state, enabling the Constitution to go into effect. (The latter happens on March 4, 1789, when the first Congress elected under the new Constitution assembles.)
- June 25 – The Virginia Ratifying Convention ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the tenth U.S. state under the new government.
- June 26 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in Vienna, completes his antepenultimate symphony, now called the Symphony No. 39 in E-flat.
- July – King Louis XVI of France calls for a spring session of the Estates General.
- July 13 – A hailstorm sweeps across France and the Dutch Republic with hailstones 'as big as quart bottles' that take 'three days to melt'; immense damage is done.
- July 24 – Governor General Lord Dorchester, by proclamation issued from the Chateau St. Louis in Quebec City, divides the British Province of Quebec into five Districts, namely: Gaspé, Nassau, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Hesse.
- July 26 – New York ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the eleventh U.S. state.
- July 28 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in Vienna, completes his penultimate symphony, now called the Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.
- August 8 – King Louis XVI of France agrees to convene the Estates-General meeting in May 1789, the first time since 1614.
- August 10 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in Vienna, completes his final symphony, now called the Symphony No. 41 in C Major, and nicknamed (after his death) The Jupiter.
- August 27 – The trial of William Brodie begins in Edinburgh, Scotland; he is sentenced to death by hanging.
- October 1 – William Brodie is hanged.
- December 6 – Russo-Turkish War, 1787-1792: The Ottoman fortress of Özi falls to the Russians after a prolonged siege and a murderous storm with a temperature of -23 degrees C.
- December 14 – King Charles III of Spain dies and is succeeded by his son Charles IV.
- Annual British iron production reaches 68,000 tons.
- In Australia some time in May the Australian Frontier Wars begin.
- January 22 – George Byron, 6th Baron Byron, English poet (d. 1824)
- February 5 – Robert Peel, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1850)
- February 10 – Johann Peter Pixis, German pianist and composer (d. 1874)
- February 22 – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (d. 1860)
- March 10 – Joseph von Eichendorff, German poet (d. 1857)
- April 2 – Francisco Balagtas, Filipino poet (d. 1862)
- April 2 – Wilhelmine Reichard, first German women balloonist (d. 1848)
- April 14 – David G. Burnet, President of the Republic of Texas (d. 1870)
- May 16 – Friedrich Rückert, German poet, translator, and professor of Oriental languages (d. 1866)
- May 22 – William Grant Broughton, first Anglican bishop in Australia (d. 1853)
- June 21 – Princess Augusta of Bavaria, Duchess of Leuchtenberg (d. 1851)
- August 16 – Luigi Ciacchi, Italian cardinal (d. 1865)
- September 12 – Alexander Campbell, Irish-born founder of the Disciples of Christ (d. 1866)
- September 15 – Gerard C. Brandon, American politician (d. 1850)
- September 21 – Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, first validated supercentenarian (d. 1899)
- September 22 – Theodore Edward Hook, English author (d. 1841)
- October 9 – József Kossics, Catholic priest, writer, ethnologist (d. 1867)
- October 11 – Simon Sechter, Austrian music teacher (d. 1867)
- October 24 – Sarah Josepha Hale, American author (d. 1879)
- November 8 – Mihály Bertalanits, Hungarian Slovene ( Prekmurian) poet and teacher (d. 1853)
- date unknown
- January 14 – François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasetilly, comte de Grasse, French admiral (b. 1722)
- January 31 – Charles Edward Stuart, claimant to the British throne (b. 1720)
- February 18 – John Whitehurst, English clockmaker and scientist (b. 1713)
- February 21 – Johann Georg Palitzsch, German astronomer (b. 1723)
- February 28 – Thomas Cushing, American Continental Congressman (b. 1725)
- March 29 – Charles Wesley, co-founder (with brother, John Wesley) of the religious movement now known as Methodism (b. 1707)
- April 12 – Carlo Antonio Campioni, French-born composer (b. 1719)
- April 15 – Giuseppe Bonno, Austrian composer (b. 1711)
- April 16 – Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, French naturalist (b. 1707)
- May 8 – Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, Italian-born physician and naturalist (b. 1723)
- June 18 – Adam Gib, Scottish religious leader (b. 1714)
- August 2 – Thomas Gainsborough, British painter (b. 1727)
- October 13 – Robert Nugent, 1st Earl Nugent, Irish politician and poet (b. 1702)
- October 15 – Samuel Greig, Scottish-Russian Admiral (b. 1735)
- December 6 – Jonathan Shipley, English bishop and politician (b. 1714)
- December 14 – Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, German composer (b. 1714)
- December 14 – King Charles III of Spain (b. 1716)
- December 22 – Percivall Pott, English surgeon (b. 1714)