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Questions tagged [19th-century]

The 19th century began on January 1, 1801, and ended on December 31, 1900.

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56
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9answers
21k views

Why are so many metros underground? Isn't that more expensive than an elevated system?

Starting with the London Underground in 1863, why are so many metros/subways built underground (as opposed to en elevated metro)? This requires a lot of digging and excavation, which to me seems a lot ...
53
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3answers
11k 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 ...
48
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2answers
9k views

Was murdering a slave illegal in American slavery, and if so, what punishments were given for it?

Was there any punishment for killing slaves, and what punishment was given for it, and was it enforced?
39
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9answers
8k views

Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

Before the widespread use of firearms, various kinds of plate armour were in widespread use. As muskets (and later, rifles) became widespread, full plate became less effective and fell out of use. ...
38
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10answers
13k views

Why did the United Kingdom industrialize first?

What factors made the United Kingdom the first to industrialize? Was it simply the importance and benefit of its position in the global community for trade?
36
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3answers
4k views

Who is this young 'Prince'?

The photo below was found in an envelope among a bundle of family photos which were recently handed down on the English side of my family. Aside from the photo itself, the only clues are as follows: ...
35
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3answers
3k 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 ...
34
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5answers
5k views

Was slavery really on the way out in the antebellum USA?

Gail Jarvis, in an encomium to the Dunning School writes: William A. Dunning fervently opposed slavery but his reading of the trends of the times led him to the conclusion that the institution ...
33
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4answers
8k views

Did this “sledge rigged like a sloop” vehicle ever exist, or was it an invention of Jules Verne?

In Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, the main character Phileas Fogg misses his train in the American north and ends up hitching a ride on a curious invention, as described here: There ...
33
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2answers
5k views

Why did Meiji government consider switching from Japanese to English?

During the Meiji restoration, the Meiji govenment sought to switch Japan's national language from Japanese to English. Who and why advocated that? Ultimately, why was it unsuccessful? Source: ...
31
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2answers
20k 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 ...
31
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1answer
5k views

What happened to these buildings near the Seine?

I was looking at these before after images and was concerned what happened to these beautiful buildings near the Seine in Paris. Were they destroyed in a war? Has there been any attempt to reconstruct ...
31
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3answers
6k views

How did people deal with ice on the roads during the horse-and-buggy era?

Before there were cars, people traveled in a horse-drawn carriage, sometimes over cobble-stone covered roads. Back in those days, was anything done to keep the traveled roads free from ice or snow? ...
29
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3answers
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What were the reasons that the British colonies in North America rebelled but not others?

I know more about the American War of Independence than about other British colonies, but I have begun to wonder why was it just America. The British had colonies in other places but there doesn't ...
29
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1answer
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Anyone know what this stone building is?

It's located next to a beach and below a small hill. It has three sides and a large metal grid on top, on each of the three sides is an arch which tapers down toward a small opening on the ground. I ...
27
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5answers
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Which languages would be most useful in Europe at the end of the 19th century?

If I were a tourist planning to visit all the major cities in Europe, which languages would be most beneficial for me to know? Nowadays, the answer would be straightforward, as many people in Europe ...
27
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6answers
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Why did so many Italians emigrate to Argentina?

On 13th of March, 2013, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, became new pope of Catholic Church. He was born and raised in Argentina with Italian origins. There are more than 24 ...
26
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8answers
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Why were troops with bayonets often effective against enemy cavalry even though the bayonet was a “secondary” weapon?

The bayonet was introduced in the late 17th century as a knife (later a short sword) attached to a musket, to enable the musketeer to protect himself when reloading their single-shot weapons. As such, ...
25
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3answers
10k views

When and why was the samurai class abolished?

I am aware the Emperor Meiji abolished the Samurai class during the reformation. Why did he do so? How was it enforced?
25
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2answers
1k views

Was there a European response to the trail of tears?

This question is pretty straightforward. While looking into Victorian British beliefs about Americans and American history I began to wonder about European attitudes toward American Indians; and more ...
24
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3answers
3k views

Why did John Ganson vote contradictorily on the 13th Amendment?

The House of Representatives originally did not pass the 13th Amendment, and on January 1, 1865 it was reconsidered and passed. Evidently, the House first voted that day on whether to reconsider the ...
24
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5answers
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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 ...
24
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2answers
3k views

Who named the Democratic Party?

Which politician or organization was the first to formally use the name "Democratic Party" for the party of Andrew Jackson? When and where did this happen? Background: Thomas Jefferson's political ...
23
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2answers
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What was life like for an adult Victorian chimney sweep?

What was life like for an adult Victorian chimney sweep? I'm looking into my family history at the moment and my great-great-grandfather is listed on an 1881 census as a chimney sweep. I thought this ...
22
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2answers
3k views

Why did the Monitor and Merrimac (aka Virginia) have such radically different designs?

This is something that's always baffled me. You have one ship that appears to sit just above the water with one little canon on a turret (the Monitor) and a second that sits high and is brimming with ...
22
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1answer
1k views

What was lost when the British burned the White House in 1814?

Dolley Madison saved many state papers, Washington's portrait, and silver from the White House before it burned (source), but what was left behind and lost? Were there other would-be famous items ...
21
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6answers
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How compare the rights and conditions of the American slaves to those of Russian serfs?

How compare the rights and conditions of the 19-th century American slaves to those of the 19-th century Russian serfs?
21
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2answers
546 views

Why was Iceland not a part of the Danish-Swedish deal in Kiel in 1814?

In the Treaty of Kiel of 1814, Norway was essentially given from Denmark to Sweden as a "sorry we were on the other side", but Iceland was not a part of this deal at all. This is in spite of the fact ...
19
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7answers
5k views

Bow shape of WW1 warships

As ship's bow is designed to break the waves, the physics (something like hydrokinetics) makes it should look like a wedge. And it really is, if we look from above. This should be also kept if look ...
19
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2answers
8k views

How long did it take for a letter to arrive in England in the 1830s?

How efficient was the postal service in England in the 1830s? For example, is it possible to estimate how long it would have taken for a letter to arrive if sent by a standard service from London to ...
19
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1answer
1k views

What were the “passports” that diplomats requested when declaring war?

From Andrew Roberts’ Napoleon: A Life, on the 1803 outbreak of war between Britain and France, after Britain demanded Malta and Napoleon then wanted to know whether this demand was an ultimatum ...
18
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7answers
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When did aircraft carriers eclipse battleships as the “King of the seas”?

During the 19th century and into the early 20th century, battleships were the Kings of the Sea, and every naval power of note had at least one. When did they lose this title to the aircraft carrier, ...
18
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3answers
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How have European microstates survived?

How did European tiny states, like San Marino, Monaco, Andorra and Liechtenstein (excluding the Vatican, whose survival is clearly connected to religious reasons) manage to not be absorbed by bigger ...
18
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1answer
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Who are these people in this satirical cartoon of the Congress of Verona?

Who are these people in this satirical cartoon of the Congress of Verona? Alternative images, click for details: Three men in military dress sit around a rectangular table - a fourth man has stood ...
18
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2answers
1k views

Why were women excluded from the succession line in the Meiji constitution?

Article 2 of the Meiji consitution (full text here) says: The Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by Imperial male descendants, according to the provisions of the Imperial House Law. A ...
18
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1answer
1k views

Why did Stephen Ambrose believe that the election of Aaron Burr would have led to the end of the USA?

I'm reading Stephen E. Ambrose's "Undaunted Courage", and in pg. 50, he writes (emphasis mine): On December 5, 1800, Lewis was promoted to captain. That month the states selected their delegates to ...
17
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5answers
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How was Napoleon's invasion of Russia supplied?

How was such a great army, like the army of Napoleon on its way to Moscow, supplied with food and other needed things? Were they transporting it from France or maybe stealing from territory on their ...
17
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2answers
17k views

When did the American War of 1812 actually end?

My daughter was recently studying this in high school, and somehow I had always assumed that it had only lasted a year. Apparently it ran on for at least a couple of years, but her textbook only ...
17
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1answer
2k views

Who is in this c.1866 photo?

This photo was found with (but not in) an envelope containing seven photos of European royals, all but two of which have been positively identified (one of them here by Evargalo). Below is a photo of ...
17
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3answers
3k views

Why was Germany unified in Versailles not Berlin?

Why did Wilhelm I (or Bismarck) decide to perform official Germany unification in France? In my opinion, if the ceremonial was to honour the Prussian king and be a tribute or allegiance to him, it ...
17
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3answers
2k views

Were the 19th century decades referred to as 40s, 50s back then?

I was just thinking what will happen to our reference of "the 50s", "the 60s" when we get to the end of this century. So I began wondering if this collision has already happened back when the 20th ...
17
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4answers
5k views

What were Hispanic people called in the US in the 1800s?

Today in the US, people from Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas are called by various names: Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, etc. What was the term used by Americans for such people in the 1800s? ...
17
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1answer
782 views

How did the existence of the Alps impact the development of Switzerland?

Can anyone tell me what was the role of Alps and Alpine region in Swiss development of Switzerland?
17
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2answers
10k views

What is the equivalent in France of the “Victorian era”?

By Victorian era I mean the moral rigidity and the dominance of the bourgeoisie. We had the same culture in France but I can't find the proper term to phrase it. For example how would you translate "...
17
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1answer
896 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 ...
17
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1answer
287 views

Why did Thomas Hendricks win the majority of Horace Greeley's electoral votes in 1872?

In researching my answer to Can electors "flip the ticket?", I re-examined the results of the election of 1872. As stated in that answer, 1872 was an interesting election, not for the result (Grant ...
16
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6answers
20k views

Which Confederate State provided the most troops in the American Civil War?

Of all the states that elected to secede during the American Civil War, which one had the largest number of citizens who actually fought for the Confederacy? I would also be interested if anyone could ...
16
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3answers
2k views

How profitable was India for the British Empire in the 1800s?

I recently read Imperial Twilight, an excellent history of the opium wars. The author claims several times that while the British trade with China was very lucrative, India was by contrast "...
16
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1answer
532 views

How many British navy officers were from lower classes at the end of 18th century?

Helping my daughter with a presentation about Cook, I looked for English sources about his biography and was surprised to read that he was a son of a farmer hand - practically, the bottom of the lower ...
16
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1answer
606 views

Were there originally seats in the elevators in the Eiffel Tower?

There were seats drawn on the blue print for the tower. Today there are no seats. Were they fitted and then taken out or were they never installed at all?