143 votes
Accepted

Why did archery not make a comeback when armor was phased out in the 18th century?

Yes, a trained archer can probably put more effective shots on an unarmored target than a trained musketman of the 18th century. The problem is that word trained. Consider that most nations in the ...
  • 53.1k
94 votes
Accepted

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

Yes, murder of a slave was illegal in the antebellum South, and it was a capital offence. An example is the case of John Hoover of North Carolina. He was arrested on 28 March 1839 for the murder of ...
  • 76.5k
74 votes
Accepted

Why didn't line infantry tactics try to keep up a constant volley of fire?

That's actually exactly what they did. In the early 17th century, Maurice of Orange reformed the Dutch army and drilled them to use volley fire. This involved the first rank (i.e. the first row of the ...
  • 96.3k
59 votes

What would have been the typical drinks for a US farmer in the late 18th/early 19th century?

The time period of interest is entirely prior to the rise of the railways, and even to the construction of such infrastructure as the Erie Canal (completed 1825). Thus anything regarded as a typical ...
56 votes
Accepted

Why did Peter the Great name Saint Petersburg, Russia with a foreign styled name?

The whole point of the reign of Peter the Great was to "modernize" (westernize) Russia. Per the wikipedia article, "Peter implemented sweeping reforms aimed at modernizing Russia.[10] Heavily ...
  • 103k
56 votes
Accepted

How likely it is that a nobleman of the eighteenth century would give written instructions to his maids?

I think the answer to the headline question is "not very, which is why everyone thought Cavendish was a bit weird" :-) But focusing on the detailed question - from his entry in the revised ...
  • 7,104
52 votes
Accepted

Did pirates really drink a lot of rum?

Rum was easily obtained in the sugarcane rich Caribbean and olden day South Seas Pirates, who would drink anything they could get their hands on if it had a kick, were associated with the drinking of ...
37 votes
Accepted

Could George I (of Great Britain) speak English?

Yes, George I was indeed able to speak English. Not particularly well, mind you, but also not nearly as incapably as popular history portrays. In fact, he even opened his first Parliament in English: ...
  • 96.3k
37 votes
Accepted

What was the criminal charge of "pretending sodomy" in 1719 England?

"Pretending sodomy" here is just that: claiming that 'sodomitic practices' have taken place, with the accuser starting or 'pretending to start'/feigning to begin such an act. This means that ...
  • 79.1k
35 votes
Accepted

What was the Seven Years War called at first?

There were several names for the war depending on the belligerent. Here are a few: Prussia and Austria: Dritter Schlesischer Krieg (third Sileasian war) (refers to Austria trying to reconquer Silesia)...
  • 2,036
35 votes
Accepted

Did Catherine the Great really call for the abolition of serfdom?

This answer is based on the assumption that the OP is referring to the HBO miniseries Catherine the Great and, more specifically, the following segment of the script: [Catherine:] But in these more ...
35 votes

Was it possible for a message from Paris to reach London within 48 hours in 1782?

The French Postal Service started operation in the fifteenth century and by 1632 - 150 years before your inquiry - there was already a network of over 623 coaching inns operated by it across the ...
32 votes

Are there historical instances of settlers who were largely uncontacted and undisturbed after settling?

The peopling of Hawaii in the 1100s or 1200s may qualify. Drifters or shipwrecks could have arrived in the following centuries (for which see Braden's On the Probability of Pre-1778 Japanese Drifts to ...
  • 27.3k
31 votes
Accepted

Why wasn't sauerkraut used to combat scurvy?

The problem was that during the 18th Century, they didn't know that scurvy was caused by lack of Vitamin C (mainly because they didn't know what vitamins were). Therefore, they didn't go looking for ...
  • 18.1k
30 votes
Accepted

When did F become S in typeography, and why?

There's a typographical distinction between an actual f and the ſ you're referring to in the text. See for instance the difference between 'magiſtrats' and 'behalf' in the second paragraph. The 'ſ' ...
28 votes
Accepted

Origin of scientific racism?

There's no universally recognised "father of scientific racism", though a number of names could be suggested. One example is the French noble Arthur de Gobineau, best remembered today for pioneering ...
  • 96.3k
28 votes
Accepted

Where did John Adams write of the night he shared a bed and an argument with Benjamin Franklin? Did Franklin write of it as well?

John Adams recorded this event in detail in his diary under "Monday, September 9": The taverns were so full we could with difficulty obtain entertainment. At Brunswick, but one bed could be ...
  • 96.3k
27 votes

Did pirates really drink a lot of rum?

Historical evidence suggests, and I am writing from the wiki article of origin of Rum, that during the late 16th and early 17th century, sugarcane plantation slaves in the Caribbean islands discovered ...
26 votes

Why were troops with bayonets often effective against enemy cavalry even though the bayonet was a "secondary" weapon?

An important aspect that seems to be neglected in many of the answers here is that while technical aspects cannot be completely dismissed, they are secondary to other concerns. To be specific, the ...
  • 1,568
26 votes

Why did archery not make a comeback when armor was phased out in the 18th century?

One often missed factor is that arrows are delicate and require skilled fletchers to make them. The English invasion of France under Edward IV in 1475 required two years lead time producing enough ...
26 votes
Accepted

What is the London Enemies List 1775?

The London Enemies List seems to have been a list of 59 men who were considered to be a danger to the crown. I found a couple of sources that suggest the list was drawn up by London Tories, but these ...
  • 76.5k
25 votes
Accepted

Hiring professionals to transcribe historical documents

The short answer is yes. The detail will depend on where in the world you are based. In the UK, for example, we have the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. Their website ...
  • 76.5k
25 votes

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

As sempaiscuba has said, it was illegal to kill a slave in the slave-holding states of the United States. Premeditated murder of a slave has always been illegal in the slave-holding states. However, ...
  • 1,116
24 votes
Accepted

Was there a way for ships to disengage from boarding actions?

Before considering how to disengage from a boarding action, I think you have to consider the difficulties and risks of bringing about a boarding action in the first place. To evade a boarding attempt ...
  • 18.1k
22 votes
Accepted

Where did the French revolutionists get their weapons?

They got their weapons from the Hôtel national des Invalides, which were stormed by a Parisian mob earlier the same day. Much of the armaments previously stored there had been removed just two days ...
  • 96.3k
22 votes
Accepted

What is a "Johnsonian world of clubs and coffee houses" in the context of 18th century England?

Yes it's Samuel Johnson. There is an idealized view that 18th century London coffee-houses were full of great men exchanging dazzling repartee on the popular matters of the day. These meetings led to ...
22 votes
Accepted

How was the linen weaving trade learnt in 18th century Scotland?

Weaving generally had been a fairly common occupation during the medieval period in Scotland. The skills were taught to apprentices, who may or may not have been related to the master weaver. This ...
  • 76.5k
20 votes
Accepted

What are the dates of these panoramas of Paris?

Acknowledgement: this answer owes a debt to some of the comments posted under the question and under this answer, especially Kimchilover. There is conclusive evidence that all three images are from ...
20 votes

Why didn't line infantry tactics try to keep up a constant volley of fire?

That's roughly what they did. Both sides would line up their men, where the defender had the advantage: they could form two or more lines. The first line fired, then reloaded, while the second line ...
  • 17.9k
20 votes

What was the error in 1790, if any, of the lat. and long. of Greenwich Observatory of 1783?

I found the answer. In 1790, no error was found. Roy [who headed the survery] probably did not know that in 1785 Maskelyne [who was confident of the coordinates of Greenwich] had equipped his ...
  • 409

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible