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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Why did Hitler declare war on the USA?

Since there had not been any offensives launched by either side against the other, why declare war just because Japan had attacked the USA?
29
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14answers
7k views

Was the secession of the Confederate states illegal?

Putting aside their reasons for wanting to do so and all the emotional responses they would provoke, was the secession of states from the Union to eventually form the Confederacy an illegal act in ...
29
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3answers
2k views

Why did Britain not purchase Alaska when Russia had it up for sale?

One thing that comes up often when discussing "what-ifs" with family or friends is why the British government never nabbed Alaska when Russia had placed it up for sale and made it into Canada's fourth ...
24
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5answers
5k views

Why were there no Internment camps for German-American Citizens in USA during WW2?

I am certainly aware of Japanese-americans being detained in Internment camps , after the attack on Pearl Harbor , and subsequent declaration of war on United States , by the empire of Japan. About ...
23
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1answer
1k views

How beneficial were war bonds to the US during WWII

I've been watching classic cartoon shorts from Disney and Warner Brothers. So many devoted time to encouraging Americans to buy war bonds. Did money collected from war bonds amount to a significant ...
22
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4answers
1k views

Why do minor political parties in the US receive so few votes?

Reading about the election statistics in the United States I was amazed about how few votes are received by the minor parties and their candidates. For example, Gloria La Riva received only 181 votes ...
22
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2answers
2k views

Why did the French sell Louisiana?

Why did an imperialistic country like France (at that time) sell a territory so large for so cheap? Was it an important region at the time? I heard that the port of New Orleans was particularly ...
19
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4answers
1k views

How was the United States able to produce excellent tanks in 1942?

Most military histories of the war in North Africa, and especially those produced from a British point-of-view, emphasise the greenness of the American troops which landed there in 1942. There is a ...
19
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1answer
215 views

What courses would have been required to get a B.A. in America in the 1930s?

I know in the early 20th century the liberal arts curriculum was focused much more on the classics, but am interested in knowing specifically what courses were required to graduate during the Great ...
19
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1answer
391 views

How did people react to Cavendish bananas when they first replaced the Gros Michel strain?

I was reading that the bananas we eat today (Cavendish) weren't particularly popular until the 50s, when the more popular Gros Michel variety was virtually wiped out by a nasty disease. Apparently ...
18
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4answers
5k views

Why didn't the US choose to demolish Tokyo with an atom bomb?

Tokyo was Japan's capital. Why didn't the US choose Tokyo to demolish with Atom Bomb? Bonus Question: What factors decided to bring Hiroshima and Nagasaki on table?
18
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2answers
484 views

What led to the first fight in the American Civil War?

After Lincoln was elected president 11 states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. What circumstances surrounding this secession led to the first battle of the war, and ...
18
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3answers
8k views

When and how did the USA and the UK become allies?

So, you may remember that the United States and Great Britain had a minor spat in 1776, which shall we say, did not put them on the friendliest of terms. In 1812, while Britain was focused on its war ...
18
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4answers
416 views

What were the reasons for making Prohibition a constitutional amendment?

What were the reasons that the Prohibition in the United States was passed as a constitutional amendment, rather than a normal federal law, or a set of state laws?
18
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2answers
4k views

Did the United States have a third atomic bomb to drop on Japan?

On 15 August, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan announced its surrender to the United States, signing the instrument of surrender on 2 September, officially ending the war. The question ...
17
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7answers
3k views

Why did the US drop nuclear bombs on a weakened Japan?

Why did the United States drop two nuclear bombs on the Japanese mainland? It appeared that Japan was ready to surrender.
17
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1answer
2k views

Why are the signatures on the United States Declaration of Independence structured as they are?

When looking at the United States Declaration of Independence its easy to notice that John Hancock's signature is more prominent than the others: From my readings I know John Hancock did sign one of ...
17
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5answers
1k views

What is the origin of the American stereotype that Polish people lack intelligence?

A quick glance at Wikipedia's list of Polish people demonstrates the stereotype as false. Poland has produced notable minds in such diverse areas of knowledge as Astronomy (Nicolaus Copernicus), ...
16
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2answers
569 views

Can Bill Clinton run for president of France?

Bill Clinton says in an interview (Bill Clinton on running for political office again) : Because I was born in Arkansas, which is part of Louisiana Purchase, any person anywhere in the world that ...
16
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3answers
439 views

Has there ever been a serious effort to reform the US Electoral College system?

There seems to be widespread feeling that the US Electoral College distorts the will of the people in presidential elections. Of course, that ability was part of the reason that our founding fathers ...
16
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2answers
210 views

When did it become acceptable to campaign for yourself for US President?

I am fascinated by the stark differences between election mechanics/strategies/policies of the early United States when compared to today. In the early days of the US, it was seen as "ungentlemanly" ...
16
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1answer
488 views

What was used instead of toilet paper in the US and the UK prior to 1900?

I read in this Wikipedia article that toilet paper came to be available only around 1920. On the other hand, this article says bidets were never popular in the UK and the US. Moreover, colonies of ...
15
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6answers
2k views

Why, in the US, is Japanese brutality ignored compared with the Nazi brutality in WW2?

Instead of accepting too much of what I have read in my textbooks, I have read up a bit about WW2 on my own and have always pondered, why in the USA is the brutality and actions of the Japanese during ...
15
votes
3answers
942 views

Was the US Navy larger in 1917, and if so, why?

Following the recent discussion in the third US Presidental Debate about the size of the Navy, there actually seemed to be a good discussion buried in there. How does the US Navy compare to its ...
15
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5answers
3k views

Why hasn't Russia maintained significant numbers of Aircraft carriers?

The United States has 11 aircraft carriers in total. Russia has only one. This is reflective of the past, in which we saw that the USSR also didn't put much importance on constructing aircraft ...
15
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3answers
866 views

Why is the United States the only developed country whose labour laws leave most up to the employer? [closed]

I read this post: "Bad Facts About The USA". It says that the United States, Lesotho, Swaziland and New Guinea are the only countries in the world not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns. ...
15
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4answers
5k views

Why did Ford pardon Nixon?

Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon for the crimes he committed during his presidency was quite an unpopular and controversial move. Why did he make this decision?
15
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1answer
216 views

When did the cats versus dogs rivalry begin in the US?

In the US people that own pets seem to be pegged as either dog people, or cat people. This cultural phenomenon is so prevalent that Hollywood even made a movie about it. My question is, when did this ...
14
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3answers
2k views

Is the USA a superpower today because of WW2?

I understand that the USA funded the war effort against the Axis, although the Allies in Europe had to pay for this help in one way or another. It's fascinating to see how not that long ago ...
14
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2answers
378 views

Has the United States ever been formally condemned by the United Nations?

Presumably, due to its veto power, the United States has never been condemned by the UN Security Council, but has it has it ever been formally condemned by another UN governing body, like the General ...
14
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2answers
12k views

Why did the Federalist party collapse?

The Federalist Party in the United States was a significant political force during the early years of the United States' history. Wikipedia doesn't really cite reasons why the party declined and ...
14
votes
1answer
226 views

Are photos of WWII US Navy damage reports available online?

I have located a PDF of the USS Marblehead's Bomb Damage Report from 4 Feb 1942. The report lists plates of photographs which are not included in the report I have found. Do copies of this report ...
13
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3answers
3k views

Why was the Bald Eagle chosen as the national bird of the United States?

The Bald Eagle is a grand and beautiful bird of prey that once frequently soared majestically through the skies of the American wilderness. It is also very important in American Indian culture (See: ...
12
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4answers
4k views

How many lives were saved by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs?

**President Truman in a August 9, 1945 radio address to the American people, outlined the reasons why we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (and later Nagasaki) I realize the tragic significance ...
12
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5answers
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Can someone help explain this floor plan of a mid 20th century apartment?

I was watching 12 Angry Men, which was made in 1957; and they show this floor plan of an apartment: My main question is, what's the opening in the wall between the hallway and the main room? It ...
12
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4answers
1k views

Is the Cold War still going on? [closed]

Do any historians consider the Cold War, or Cold War II, to be going on? I'm asking because some features of the Cold War still exist, such as an antagonism between Russia and the Western world, and ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Why did the United States enter World War I?

The topic of World War I came up last night with a few strangers, at a bar, of course. One seemingly knowledgeable gentleman, who happened to have Howard Zinn's A Peoples' History of the United States ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Did King George III turn his back on John Adams and Thomas Jefferson?

After the resolution of the Revolutionary War, John Adams and (later) Thomas Jefferson were diplomatic agents in London. John Adams had been there a while and had previously met the King, apparently ...
12
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1answer
175 views

Was the State of Indiana's legislation changed to fix the value of Pi?

Is the following an anecdote? Mathematicians describe Pi as an irrational number, that is, a number that cannot be expressed as the ratio of any two integers. This was an irksome fact to the State ...
12
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1answer
202 views

Did Noah Webster ever state why he Americanized spelling?

I am aware that Noah Webster (1758--1843 AD) is responsible for the majority of the differences between British and American spelling (IE: "color" v "colour"). Over time, it seems, in his Speller ...
11
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6answers
3k views

Was there ever any doubt which side the USA would join?

From a British perspective in both WW1 and WW2 the USA have entered the war at a later stage and supported the allies. The decision for the US to enter the war has often been portrayed to be based on ...
11
votes
6answers
594 views

When and how did the idea of a “class-less” society originate in the United States?

The United States is often referred to as a "class-less" society where anyone can rise to any height. Leaving aside whether this is actually the case or not, when and how did this idea originate? Was ...
11
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6answers
1k views

What does it mean that the early supreme court “gave themselves” the power of judicial review?

I'm watching the "Crash Course: American History" youtube series, and I like, it, but it obviously skips over a ton because it's packing decades at a time into 10 minutes. So he just (briefly) ...
11
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3answers
1k views

Did anyone warn about the potential for stock market crashes in 1929, and if so why were their warnings ignored?

I can't seem to find information about economists, or others, warning about the overheated stock market of the 1920s in the US that would culminate in the stock market crashing on Black Thursday, ...
11
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4answers
482 views

What role did the space race play in reducing the nuclear threat during the 1960s?

Today I visited again the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, a space flight history museum, and noticed for the first time the claim that part of John F. Kennedy's motivation for pushing for a ...
11
votes
1answer
645 views

Did the Soviet Union know when DEFCON levels changed?

The US military uses a scale of alert readiness called DEFCON, with DEFCON 5 being the lowest alert level and DEFCON 1 being the highest, preparing for imminent nuclear war. At least once during the ...
11
votes
2answers
565 views

Why did the USA stay out of the League of Nations?

Woodrow Wilson, who was President of the USA at the time of the League's creation, was the person who pushed for the inclusion of the League in the Treaty of Versailles in the first place. Why is it ...
11
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3answers
214 views

Why was the number of U.S. Representatives limited?

According to this Wikipedia article, the number of Representatives was limited to 435 in 1911 (bumped to 437 when Alaska and Hawaii were admitted and then bumped back to 435 four years later). How ...
11
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1answer
231 views

Did President Kennedy really cut 100,000 government jobs during his presidency?

In Michel Crozier's book, La crise de l'intelligence, he states that during John F. Kennedy's presidency about 100,000 government jobs were terminated. Is this figure accurate? Where can I find any ...
11
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2answers
1k views

percentage of British and American troops involved in direct combat with enemy in World War II

How large a proportion of British and American troops were involved in direct combat with the enemy in World War II? What was the casualty rate among those men?