100 votes

Why was Britain willing to return Hong Kong but not Gibraltar?

Despite common misconception, both Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula were ceded to the United Kingdom in perpetuity, via the Treaty of Nanking and the Convention of Peking, respectively. ...
user avatar
  • 95.8k
75 votes
Accepted

Why did a young George Washington sign a document admitting to assassinating a French military officer?

Short answer George Washington relied on the translation of a mercenary he knew well and who had previously acted as his translator, Jacob Van Braam, and did not think he was signing a document in ...
user avatar
67 votes
Accepted

Is the photograph "England’s Revenge in India" real, staged, or fake?

It seems to be the painting Suppression of the Indian Revolt by the English, a painting by the Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin c. 1884 According to the annotation on Wikipedia: It ...
user avatar
  • 76.2k
62 votes
Accepted

Why didn't the British Grand Fleet force an engagement with the German Imperial Navy in WW1?

tl;dr Sea control is good. Sea denial is not that much worse. Sinking an enemy ship at the cost of significant damage to your own is less desirable than keeping your enemy holed up in port (where his ...
user avatar
  • 11.4k
62 votes

Why were slave owners even offered compensation via the 1837 Act if they'd lost the power in parliament to stop abolition in 1833?

To safeguard legal system and rule of law While it may sound strange to us, slavery was considered as something usual and almost natural for a long time during human history. This is especially true ...
user avatar
  • 10.9k
58 votes
Accepted

Why were slave owners even offered compensation via the 1837 Act if they'd lost the power in parliament to stop abolition in 1833?

Lord Wynford, though speaking in opposition, illustrated the reasons in the House of Lords, on Tuesday, June 25th 1833, why a payment was being considered and what arguments such a payment should be ...
user avatar
  • 10.5k
51 votes
Accepted

Why did the UK allow India to be a republic rather than a democratic parliament under the British Monarch?

That's an interesting question. When India first gained independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947 it was as The Dominion of India, with King George VI as king and Head of State. India ...
user avatar
  • 76.2k
48 votes

When did Canada become truly independent?

There have been several stages in the history of Canadian independence. Canada became a self-governing dominion within the British empire on 1 July 1867 when the British North America Act was passed ...
user avatar
  • 76.2k
45 votes
Accepted

Why did the East India Company accept the Government of India Act 1858?

Because it didn't have a choice: it had neither the will to defy the British Government, nor the ability to do so. Remember corporations are not people; its shareholders and directors were. In this ...
user avatar
  • 95.8k
39 votes

Why does Latin America have a higher number of surviving Native Americans than North America?

I think you are missing the true pattern of that map. Note that it shows a higher percentage of natives in Canada than it does in the US, and shows the same lower percentage of natives in the USA as ...
user avatar
  • 109k
38 votes
Accepted

Was the British Army a millionaire factory in the early 20th century?

Richard Meinertzhagen is known to be a serious liar. Refer to his Wikipedia article: for example, he stole numerous biological samples and presented them as his own in Europe. That said, the ...
user avatar
  • 95.8k
31 votes

Why did Loyalists go to Canada during the American Revolution

Loyalists who lived in the 13 colonies fled to Canada because Canada was part of the British Empire. In Canada they could still be British. If they stayed in the colonies they would be traitors to ...
user avatar
  • 30.9k
30 votes

Why was Britain willing to return Hong Kong but not Gibraltar?

I find it interesting that many answers belong to "armchair generals", that point only to the military power, and logistics,¹ but forget to mention the issues that could lead to a war in the first ...
user avatar
  • 12.1k
28 votes
Accepted

Was the Somerset Decision in 1772 in England the real underlying cause of the American Revolutionary war?

He's not 100% wrong that the desire of slaveholders in the States to protect their "property" and the institution itself has been drastically underplayed by Americans in talking about their own ...
user avatar
  • 109k
28 votes
Accepted

Has the sun ever set on the British Empire? If so when?

The sun has not yet set on the British Empire, and is unlikely to for the near future. This question was extensively covered by xkcd. Britain [still owns] 14 overseas territories, [which are] ...
user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

In Britain, what was the "Junior Service" in 1913?

In British parlance the Royal Navy is The Senior Service due to having been created as a permanent establishment in Tudor times, while the Army only became permanent a few centuries later. The ...
user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

Why did Nepal and Bhutan not become a part of India like other princely states when colonial rule ended?

Legalities Modern India evolved out of the transitionary Dominion of India, which was created from territories of the British Raj. It is important to note that neither Bhutan nor Nepal were princely ...
user avatar
  • 95.8k
25 votes
Accepted

Had there been instances of national states banning harmful imports before the mid-19th C Opium Wars?

"Banning harmful imports" was often done. Prime example being the satanic brew. Coffee was banned in Mecca, Italy, Contantinople/Ottoman Empire, Prussia. Similarly: tea was banned in East Frisia, ...
user avatar
  • 73.7k
25 votes
Accepted

How could temporary surrender of self-government help Newfoundland with its debts?

Essentially, Newfoundland was put into a kind of receivership with its debt extensively restructured and then guaranteed by Britain, who additionally also supplied annual grants-in-aid. Suspending ...
user avatar
  • 95.8k
22 votes
Accepted

Were the borders of British India deliberately poorly demarcated?

It is difficult to prove a negative (that Britain did not intentionally create problematic borders), but there are good reasons to believe that there was no conspiracy to create problematic borders. ...
user avatar
  • 814
21 votes
Accepted

Purpose of Guinea in British monetary history

Financial Wikipedia answers: The guinea is a coin that was minted in the Kingdom of England and later in the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom between 1663 and 1814. It was the ...
user avatar
  • 25.5k
21 votes

Why was Britain willing to return Hong Kong but not Gibraltar?

Gibraltar was defensible, but Hong Kong was not. In the 1990s, the distance from the UK would have made Hong Hong impossible to defend. Also, Hong Kong is primarily occupied by Chinese, unlike ...
user avatar
  • 37.2k
19 votes
Accepted

Why hire Hessian troops?

The British army simply didn't have enough soldiers available when the war started. Per the Wikipedia page, their total military strength was around 45,000 men, and Lord North and General Howe didn't ...
user avatar
  • 5,902
19 votes

Is the photograph "England’s Revenge in India" real, staged, or fake?

Radio Yerevan reports that: "In principle, yes, the photo is absolutely real. Except, that it isn't a real photo, its name isn't 'England's Revenge in India', and the propaganda book never ...
user avatar
  • 73.7k
18 votes

World War 1 Indian propaganda posters

Indian WWI-recruitment poster was very peculiar. Material benefits, instead of patriotism, were employed to encourage recruitment. Indian recruitment poster. Urdu translation reads: 'Who will take ...
user avatar
  • 2,675
18 votes
Accepted

Why did United Kingdom not keep the colonies after Napoleon's defeat?

Unlike the earlier European wars of the 18th Century, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, from a British perspective, were not about acquiring or retaining territory. The purpose of war for ...
user avatar
18 votes

When did Canada become truly independent?

The subject isn't nearly as simple as it is for the USA. The event in the 1980s was Patriation of the Canadian constitution, which removed the power of the UK parliament to amend the Canadian ...
user avatar
  • 28.1k
18 votes
Accepted

Was the British Empire bigger than the combined empires of the Iberian Union in terms of claimed land area?

This question is a little more involved than it might appear, and has a few layers we need to tear through to solve. The basis is obvious, if the Spanish Empire was huge, and the Portuguese Empire at ...
user avatar
  • 33.8k
17 votes

Why does Latin America have a higher number of surviving Native Americans than North America?

Apart from other reasons here exposed, I think it is worth mentioning a) some groups of South American natives were adapted (culturally, and even in some cases, physically) to environments which ...
user avatar
  • 12.1k

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