94 votes
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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 ...
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69 votes

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

In Moscow, under former mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, it was built a line (Butovo line) which is mostly elevated. I think the practice was not considered quite successful as a result. There are many drawbacks: ...
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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 ...
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58 votes

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

This is mostly about urban planning, and how much change the local government can or will be able to make to the existing streets. In London, the central parts of the city (Westminster and the City) ...
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  • 3,294
57 votes
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Who is this young 'Prince'?

I don't know uniforms well enough to be completely affirmative, but all your clues and the physionomy of the boy remind me of French Imperial Prince Napoleon, son of Napoleon III. He was born in ...
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  • 5,489
51 votes
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Was slavery really on the way out in the antebellum USA?

No, slavery was not on its way out. Historians like Dunning and Phillip are writing half a century before the cliometric revolution in economic history, which has completely changed how we view this ...
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  • 17.9k
48 votes
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What happened to these buildings near the Seine?

They were not regular construction, but exhibits for the Exposition Universelle (1900), showing different cultures side by side: Each country funded, designed and on occasion constructed their ...
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47 votes
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Why were diamond mining plots 31-foot squares?

I visited the historic diamond mine at Kimberley as a boy. We were told that the claims at Kimberley were 30 Dutch feet square, which equated to 31 English feet. It seems the standard size for ...
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  • 76.2k
44 votes
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Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

Looking at this slightly backwards, you could ask what are the factors that have enabled the supply of body armor to the modern infantry soldier? Modern ballistic materials, such as kevlar, are ...
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  • 18.1k
41 votes
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Did this "sledge rigged like a sloop" vehicle ever exist, or was it an invention of Jules Verne?

Yes, and this wikipedia article and this other one describe it. The first article talks about ice boats in America (invented in Poughkeepsie, etc), but the second makes it clear that the Dutch had ...
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  • 4,659
39 votes
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Did Lord Acton ever say "freedom faces four major challenges"?

That appears to be adapted from a passage in "The History of Freedom in Antiquity", which was both an essay and a lecture Lord Acton once gave. Liberty, next to religion, has been the ...
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  • 95.9k
37 votes

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

No, not even close. Alan T Nolan lists this as one of the components of the Lost Cause Myth in his essay "The Anatomy of the Myth", collected in the book The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil ...
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  • 1,229
37 votes
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How long was a sea journey from England to East Africa 1868-1877?

We can find record of Thomas Wakefield's 1870 trip in the 1904 publication Thomas Wakefield : missionary and geographical pioneer in East Equatorial Africa at archive.org. The ships and trips start is ...
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36 votes
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How did people deal with ice on the roads during the horse-and-buggy era?

Snow removal takes a lot of effort. It was easier to switch out wheeled carriages for sleighs. Sleighs work better with more snow, so that according to this article: in the 18th and 19th centuries, ...
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  • 17.9k
36 votes
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What were the criteria for class ranking at West Point prior to the Civil War?

In Volume I of his four volume biography of Robert E. Lee, Douglas Southall Freeman outlines (Chapter 4, pp 81-82 (html page)) the calculation of Lee's graduating score of 1966.5 out of a maximum 2000;...
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35 votes

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

Quality of steel was not sufficient enough to be practicable for body armor and helmets Historically speaking, use of armor, shields and helmets declined with the advance of firearms. During the ...
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  • 10.9k
32 votes
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What was life like for an adult Victorian chimney sweep?

Actually, by 1881 the use of children as chimney sweeps had been abolished in the UK. In 1840, the UK Parliament had passed a revised Chimney Sweeps Act which had raised the minimum age at which ...
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  • 76.2k
32 votes
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Anyone know what this stone building is?

It's a "single pot lime kiln", adjacent to the beach, at Wallog. Coal and limestone would have been landed on the beach from small sailing vessels. The burnt lime would then be used to improve the ...
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  • 76.2k
31 votes

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

For New York, the answer is related to real estate value. In New York City, the construction of the metro was performed by real estate developers. The idea was to build homes, then connect them to ...
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  • 7,212
29 votes

Jewish Slave Owners in the United States

There is some truth to the claims, but the numbers are extremely prima facie distorted. Especially since they are (apparently) given in terms of "households", with no immediately obvious method by ...
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  • 95.9k
27 votes
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What became of the last samurai?

Short Answer Roughly speaking, in the early decades after 1867: ~7% became educators ~16% became public servants ~25% became corporate employees the rest became unemployed or farmers Overview ...
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  • 95.9k
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 ...
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  • 1,568
26 votes
Accepted

Did Abraham Lincoln have a duel with cannons?

Abe Lincoln did fight a duel in 1842. He was blamed by James Shields for an editorial. He chose extremely large broadswords, to improve his reach. I have heard that he joked at the choice of weapons ...
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  • 11.8k
26 votes

How have European microstates survived?

The individual reasons for the survival of the European microstates can be read from their histories on their respective wikipedia pages but in general it comes down to two main factors; firstly by ...
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  • 18.1k
26 votes

Time span of a decade

A decade is simply a time span of 10 years and a century a span of 100 years. The start dates of each are determined by how they are being used. The first decade of 21st century is 2000s I think ...
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  • 4,688
26 votes

What (else) happened July 1st 1858 in London?

The first place that I would search is the British Newspaper Archive. Note that this site requires a subscription to actually view the newspapers, although it is free to search. If you have a ...
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  • 76.2k
26 votes
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Who are these people in this satirical cartoon of the Congress of Verona?

Note that a satirical sketch like this does not necessarily portray the actually participants at a conference. Often, they feature a personification of the nations involved. In this case, as Denis ...
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  • 95.9k
26 votes

Was the name 'Valerie' used during the Regency Era (1811-1836)?

The names Valeria and Valerie were not in common use in Britain during the Georgian era, but they were certainly known by some via Saint Valerie of Limoges and also because Valerie (in particular) was ...
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25 votes
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Who is in this c.1866 photo?

It looks to be a photograph of Abdül Aziz, the 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He reigned between 25 June 1861 and 30 May 1876, which fits with the 1866 date. Here is a similar photograph by an ...
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  • 76.2k
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, ...
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