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74 votes
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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 ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
58 votes
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Why didn't Portugal found universities in its colonies like Spain?

SHORT ANSWER Spanish policy was rooted in the tradition of setting up universities in conquered territories, accompanied by the aim of converting the local people to Catholicism in order to bind them ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
46 votes
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Would colonial Maryland have been tolerant to all religions?

No. You can read some on the Maryland Toleration Act in the wiki article, but it basically was for Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, Anglican, Puritan or Quaker. The Maryland Toleration ...
justCal's user avatar
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40 votes
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Why was the Spanish kingdom in America called New Spain if Spain didn't exist as a country back then?

‘Spain’ in the sense of ‘Hispania’, alluding to the Roman province, certainly existed as a concept at the time, even if the Kingdom didn’t (yet). Indeed, there’s several medieval Kings in the Iberian ...
user22453's user avatar
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35 votes
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Is the scarlet letter 'A' a real historical thing?

tl; dr There were certainly laws requiring that adulterers had to wear the letter 'A' stitched upon their garments in the late seventeenth century. The letter was not required to be scarlet - just a ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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35 votes
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How did slavery become permissible in the French West Indies when it was forbidden in France?

Louis X's decree in 1315 did not abolish slavery. That's a historical myth. First, the ordonnance did not say anything about slaves, and explicitly mentioned that it was applicable to persons "...
Semaphore's user avatar
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32 votes
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What's the rationale for shipping coins back to Spain from its colonies?

According to Manuel Moreyra Paz Soldán, El Virreinato de Perú, 1980, p. 79, the coinage embarked on ships corresponded to: Taxes obtained from the provinces and citizens in America: "recaudación para ...
Alberto Yagos's user avatar
28 votes
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Why did it take over 100 years for Britain to begin seriously colonising America?

Here is a list with the major factors. This list focuses on the period Oct 1492 to April 1607 and is extracted from this Timeline of Colonial America. The timeline already contains links to sources ...
James's user avatar
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27 votes
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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 ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
26 votes

What's the rationale for shipping coins back to Spain from its colonies?

I'm hoping that this answer will resonate with your "theory of colonial economy", although it is not based on historical sources. Coins shouldn't be viewed as end products manufactured from a raw ...
Jirka Hanika's user avatar
18 votes

Were beaches red with lobsters upon arrival of Columbus?

Adding to what @Alex said "typical" lobsters (i.e., the lobsters that humans eat and the ones that turn red when you cook them) don't even extend as far south as Hispaniola. They are a cold-...
user2352714's user avatar
18 votes

Were there any well-established land trade routes in the US colonies around 1700? What did they look like?

In 1700, the population of the British North American colonies was concentrated mainly along the coast. Roads were terrible and dangerous, and most people would have used the natural highways, the ...
Spencer's user avatar
  • 5,295
17 votes

What's the rationale for shipping coins back to Spain from its colonies?

Many of the coins shipped to Europe were quickly and crudely minted. These were called cobs. According to a page at Notre Dame University, The intention in minting these crude but accurately ...
StackOverthrow's user avatar
17 votes
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Did any Moors accompany Hernando de Soto in his exploration of Mississippi?

I understand that there are four surviving accounts of de Soto's expedition. Three of those accounts were written by survivors: Rodrigo Rangel or Ranjel, who was de Soto’s personal secretary; Luys ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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17 votes
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What was an "alower of Society debts" in colonial America?

Presumably you are referring to an extract from the Essex Historical Records on Richard French, born 1675: Richard French, born in Topsfield, Aug. 18, 1676, called husbandman and yeoman in deeds, ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
16 votes
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What happened to the British convicts transported to America after the American Revolution?

Transported convicts weren't imprisoned in the North American colonies. Much like the convicts transported to Australia after the loss of Britain's American colonies they were set to work. American ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
15 votes

How did Britain govern the thirteen colonies?

Britain governed the 13 colonies through trading companies that were much like the East India Company. The one for Virginia was called the Virginia Company. The one for Massachusetts was the ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k
15 votes
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Did Continental Army officers wear wigs or keep their hair white like their British Army counterparts?

It's important to note here a key distinction between British (army) officers and Continental officers. The former, overwhelmingly, had purchased their commissions into a specific regiment; and were ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
14 votes

Why did the colonies fight Cresap's War?

The colonies had governors/owners but all of their governing rights came from the king. Officially, colonies were not permitted to go to war but the governors/owners still occasionally participated in ...
Clint Eastwood's user avatar
13 votes
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What was the price of going from England to New England as a passenger in the 1600s?

It seems that the Massachusetts Bay company had a rule setting out some costs and the limits on the number of passengers that ships could carry. A ship of two hundred tons should not carry more than ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
13 votes

What's the rationale for shipping coins back to Spain from its colonies?

Gold and Silver are worth so much that their "bulk" is very rarely a problem. Coins make it easier to count them. Their bulk is increased slightly; say by a factor of 2. This makes gold 10 g/cm^3 ...
Yakk's user avatar
  • 350
12 votes

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

I think that there were probably a great many factors that led to the American Revolution. Concerns about the growing anti-slavery movement in the UK were undoubtedly among them. Although it is true ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
12 votes
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How did the education system in Colonial North America work?

(There are quite a number of sources on the internet concerning colonial education, some of which are provided at the end for those who want more than the 'highlights' below.) The education available ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
11 votes

Who were the chief executives of the United States in the thirteen years before George Washington?

George Washington was _not the “first president of the United States”; he was the first president under the Constitution. Before Washington took office in 1789, the United States had sixteen “...
George A. Solodun's user avatar
11 votes
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Why did the colonies fight Cresap's War?

@ClintEastwood is correct, but I think understates the problem. The fundamental problem is that the Crown relies on colonial Governors for all executive functions. At one point (sorry - cannot ...
MCW's user avatar
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11 votes
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What is the origin of straight municipal boundary line in NJ?

The Keith Line was the result of the East Jersey Surveyor-General's attempt to settle disputes "resulting from the 1676 Quintipartite Deed, which created the two territories". This was ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
11 votes
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How did the Boston Tea Party protest affect the British?

They prevented the tax from being paid, since it was paid on the sale. This paralleled the earlier boycotts on the much large number of items that Parliament attempted to tax. To make it clear that ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 2,066
11 votes

Was the Native American population already decimated before settlers and conquistadors arrived in America?

Let's address the easy issue first. At the time of the Colombian Exchange, the Germ Theory of disease was still about 300 years in the future (and its acceptance more than 400). An educated European ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
11 votes
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What was the nature of a widow's personal estate in Colonial America?

In the case of Washington, at least, things were a bit complicated, because of the time and place. Daniel Parke Custis was the first husband of Martha Dandridge, later Martha Washington. It was this ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k

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