The United States of America is a nation-state stretching across North America between Canada and Mexico, plus Alaska in the continent's northwest, the mid-Pacific archipelago of Hawaii and several territories in the Pacific & Caribbean. Founded by European émigrés rebelling from British control in ...

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When did the First Barbary War start?

I am reading about the First Barbary War from both Swedish and American perspective. I have what I believe to be a very reliable source in Swedish, and it says that the Pascha of Tripoli declared war ...
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360 views

Why did the states that were born out of the Louisiana purchase adopt a common law system, and not a civil law system?

The French system of laws is a civil law system that is based upon the Napoleonic Code, and further back the Justinian Code. The legal system in Louisiana is now bijuridicial retaining some of the ...
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246 views

The effect of the Panic of 1837 on financial/banking policy

Were there any direct or immediate financial/banking policies made because of this recession? I've read that a combination of factors helped get America out of the Panic, but it never mentioned a ...
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358 views

Why was the area now known as Liberia chosen as the location for repatriation of African slaves in the US?

The American Colonization Society thought that colonizing Africa for the purpose of returning US slaves to Africa was the solution to slavery problems. Why, and how, did they come to decide that the ...
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179 views

Is there evidence that working for the Pony Express was dangerous, or not dangerous?

So I was thinking about what it was like working for the Pony Express and I am wondering was it an extremely dangerous job? I'm thinking that given the success of the Pony Express it must not have ...
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286 views

How did the central government of the United States finance itself under the Articles of Confederation?

The Congress of the Confederation couldn't levy taxes. State governments were the ones with the power to control commerce with other states and nations even. It also has the power to levy tax. If ...
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533 views

Is there any evidence to support the claim that the US Strategic Defense Initiative played any significant role in undermining the USSR?

I have been reading Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson, and one of the things that stuck me was a quote by Soviet hydrogen bomb creator Andrei Sakharov who was released from political imprisonment ...
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255 views

Were mattress labels inspired by public outcry?

If you're an American consumer, you likely know the "mattress tag", labels attached to mattresses, pillows, stuffed animals, and pet beds, which often begin "This tag may not be removed under penalty ...
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340 views

What was the basis for valuating large territorial purchases by USA?

There were at least 2 times when USA extended its territory by purchasing it outright - Louisiana+ from French and Alaska from Russians. The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United ...
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5k views

Why did Spain not participate in World War I?

Spain was losing influence in America for the previous 100 years, and there was a recent Spanish-American war. So how could have Spain remained neutral? Why could Spain not find a place in the ...
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855 views

Did the Founding Fathers of the USA really make a distinction between a Republic and a Democracy (and despised the latter)?

I've come across this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-gEkKzRvbI It makes a distinction between a Democracy (rule of majority) vs Republic (rule of law). It contests that a Republic is a state ...
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333 views

Was there a movement for “humane” slavery?

Many of us are familiar with the movements for "free-range" or "humane" animal products. I have heard that in the antebellum US there were similar movements for "humane" slave products. Is this true? ...
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178 views

Were there any political checks on the U.S. executive during their covert support of the military junta of Pinochet?

U.S. secretary of state Kissinger- with the support of the executive- actively supported the overthrow of Chilean president Allende in favor of the military dictatorship of Pinochet. After the fact, ...
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582 views

How and why did trade unions in America become influenced by organised crime, but unions in Britain didn't?

There is plenty of organised crime in Britain, and there always has been. People have slandered the unions in Britain with almost every foul name under the sun, but one thing I have never heard is ...
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406 views

State changing its name within the United States

In 1989 there was an initiative in North Dakota to change the state's name to simply "Dakota". Is this first time an initiative was taken for a state to change its name after becoming a state within ...
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452 views

How common was it for Americans to visit Europe in the late 19th century?

According to this article, in 2009, around 13 million people from the United States travelled overseas, of which 35% visited Europe. Given the United States' population of 320 million, we can estimate ...
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1k views

Did the Olympics make the Star Spangled Banner the US national anthem?

A long, long time ago, I remember watching a TV miniseries about the first Olympics of the modern era in 1896. One of the amusing substories I remember involved the USA's National Anthem and the ...
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170 views

Why didn't Nixon erase the smoking gun?

Given that President Nixon was bold enough to erase 18 minutes of the "Nixon tapes" before turning them over to the Watergate investigators, why didn't he also erase the "smoking gun," the ...
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454 views

Why was Pah-Ute County transferred to Nevada?

In 1866, the US Congress transferred the majority of Pah-Ute county from the Arizona Territory to the state of Nevada. This was done against the wishes of the territorial legislature of Arizona. Why ...
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462 views

Did Jefferson and Washington smoke weed?

According to this document (page 26, §1): Like all farmers, Washington probably sampled the quality and potency of what he grew, and he may have used this hemp to treat his chronic tooth ...
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264 views

Why did the dominance of maize last so long in North America?

In North America the native corn, maize, was the dominant grain and flour and an important mainstay in the diet. At first it was obviously the only available grain crop, with Old World cereals such as ...
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186 views

How did the Alien and Sedition acts pass?

The Alien and Sedition acts, passed in 1798, are said to have been an attempt by the Federalist Party to suppress opposition. In Chapter 74 Section 2, the law seems to put restrictions on freedom of ...
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346 views

Did Ben Franklin actually make any tofu?

It is well documented that Franklin was interested in tofu, which he called a sort of cheese made from beans, and he got a recipe for making it that he sent on to others. But no source that I have ...
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473 views

What was the Soviet role in Syria during the Cold-War?

It is my understanding that the Soviet Union supported governments in Syria during the cold-war primarily as a counter-balance to American influence over regional powers particularly Saudi Arabia and ...
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320 views

When and why did smiling at strangers and in photos become customary in the United States?

In the US, in my experience, it's customary to smile when meeting a stranger. Even in an interaction as casual as passing someone in the street without a word, a smile is normal and expected. In ...
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Did the US and Soviet navies really come close to blows in the Indian Ocean in 1971?

In December 1971, Pakistan and India were at war over what would become Bangladesh. President Nixon ordered Task Force 74, led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and ...
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How tall was George Washington?

I am currently reading George Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, which says George Washington was an even 6 feet (183cm) tall: It is commonly said that Washington stood six foot two or three, an ...
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179 views

How many firearms were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA?

How many firearms in total were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA (cumulatively, not simultaneously)? The timeframe is what I would consider "Old West" timeframe, but starting ...
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2k views

During the U.S. Prohibition, how did they get away with drinking alcohol?

I have heard about countless stories talking about people drinking during the Prohibition. How was this possible? How did they get away with drinking alcohol without getting caught?
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How much has U.S. currency inflated since 1792?

How much has U.S. currency inflated since the Coinage Act of 1792 established the U.S. Mint? Adjusting for inflation, what amount of modern currency would have the same buying power as a 1792 dollar? ...
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1k views

Were there reasons for Japan to go to war with US aside from US owning Philippines?

Right after the Spanish-American War in 1898, the US acquired the Philippines from Spain. At that time, local leaders desired Philippines independence. The Philippines-American War was fought around ...
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500 views

Did the USA win the counter insurgency war in the Vietnam war?

What happened in the aftermath of the Tet offensive to the Viet Cong? Was it actually broken or did it just incorporate into the North Viet Nam army? Edit: I am fully aware that the USA lost the ...
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Who was the last US president who did not start a war?

Who was the last US president who did not start a war?
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First US police officer killed in the line of duty

Who was the first US police officer killed in the line of duty? When and where did it take place? By US police officer, I mean any active-duty police officer working for any force in the US ...
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556 views

Chronology of Political Party Alignment with “Left” and “Right”

I once heard it said that U.S. political parties (Republicans and Democrats) have both spent the last century becoming increasingly liberal, such that 21st century Republicans now hold the same ...
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520 views

What does a “boat crimper” do?

Working with Census data and other 19th century sources, I occasionally come across the occupation of "boat crimper." I can't figure out what these boat crimpers do. Based on the definition of ...
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897 views

What does “Brown-Bread Eater” mean when used as an insult?

The American Pageant (Bailey, Kennedy, Cohen, 2006) on p. 507 remarks: ...regular Republicans denounced Greeley as an atheist, a communist, a free-lover, a vegetarian, a brown-bread eater... ...
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692 views

Why was cricket's popularity in USA a casualty of Civil War?

"Cricket was by far the biggest sport [in the USA] in this period," Tim Lockley, an expert in American history at Warwick University, told the Guardian in 1999. "Then the civil war started in 1861, ...
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452 views

When did the English and Americans realize that vegetables were healthy?

I've recently come across two quotes in very unrelated sources implying that for centuries, the English and their colonial offspring did not appreciate the role of vegetables in a healthy diet. From ...
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1k views

Are there cases of U.S. Founding Fathers burning flags of other nations?

After reviewing some arguments for and against flag burning I became curious as to whether or not there were documented cases of the U.S. Founding Fathers (or politically influential people of the ...
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237 views

Was the house of representatives really as rowdy a place as it is portrayed in the 2012 film Lincoln?

In the 2012 film Lincoln the House of Representatives is portrayed as being a rather rowdy and disorderly place. There are frequent interruptions of the person holding the floor, lots of booing and ...
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667 views

After the independence, did George Washington continue to wear a military uniform?

I know that some of the historic legends continued and some not. We are talking about 2nd half of the 18th century. Fashion was so fancy. Obviously, the founding fathers -- quite possibly -- adapted ...
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1k views

How was titanium transported from Soviet Union to Area 51 for Oxcart?

Oxcart was one of its kind, a sophisticated aircraft designed during the Cold-War era. Its body was made up of titanium. Titanium was only found in substantial quantities in the then Soviet Union. The ...
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196 views

Did the USSR invite other astronauts of Apollo 11 besides Armstrong?

Sometime after the return of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong visited the USSR. I wonder why he was alone? Weren't the other astronauts invited or they refused to visit? Was it because Armstrong was an ...
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316 views

Were there weapons that a private citizen could not legally own in 1789 in the US?

For example: a canon, certain types of muskets etc... Were there laws for whether women or freed slaves could not own specific weapons?
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Why did the USA take no action to help Pakistan during their 1971 war against India? [closed]

In 1971, USA and Pakistan were known to be strong allies or were they? Why did the USA just pretend to help Pakistan and actually do nothing in the Indo-Pak war of 1971? Why did the 7th fleet not ...
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184 views

Suffragettes vs. Einstein

A long time ago -- either when I was in school, or via some documentary -- I learned that Einstein had to face a public immigration hearing in 1933 [edit: probably it was a naturalization hearing in ...
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522 views

How Many Members of US Congress Have Died While In Office?

As best I can tell, Leo Ryan of California is the only U.S. Member of Congress murdered while in office. He was killed by members of the People's Temple in Guyana in 1978. What I'm looking for are how ...
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379 views

Did Native Americans sabotage telegraph lines running through their territory?

In the 1800s in the Western US, there were a number of telegraph lines running through territory mostly inhabited by Indians. Did they ever sabotage the lines?
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370 views

Where did the so-called “Jap Skulls” end up?

I have read that there was a disturbingly common practice of American soldiers in the Pacific theater of WWII to take the skulls of dead Japanese soldiers as trophies to take home, give to ...