Thursday, October 30, 2008

William Jennings Bryan: Imperialism vs. Expansionism

In his speech delivered on December 13, 1898 in Savannah, Ga., democrat William Jennings Bryan expressed his concern about America's increased interest in what clearly resembled the ideology of European Imperialism. He believed the concept of Imperialism to go against the very essence upon what America was based. In his own words:
"The imperialistic idea is directly antagonistic to the idea and ideals which
have been cherished by the American people since the signing of the Declaration
of Independence."

Bryan did not opposed the concept of expansion, as long as there were clear beneficial reason to justify it, such as securing contiguous territory for future settlement. Also, he was in favor of expanding to surrounding areas, but against expanding to remote areas, which he considered impractical.
"The Philippine Islands are too far away and their people too different from us
to be annexed to the United States, even if they desired it."
In this regard, Bryan believed that the issues with Cuba and Philippines should be handled in similar manner. He argued that the best policy was to take possession of this countries only to try to establish a stable government and then hand the government back to their people.

McKinley's Emancipation of the Phillipines

On February 17, in 1899 President William McKinley made a speech about the United State's involvement in the Phillipines. Almost immediately after the signing of the Treaty of Paris which officially ended the Spanish American War, conflict broke out between the United State's troops occuppying the Phillipines and Filipinos who felt that the Imperial Spain was being replaced with an Imperial United States.

In President McKinley's speech entitled "Emancipators not Masters" he denounces the claims that imperialism is the United State's motive. McKinley claims that American forces were responsibly standing up for the oppressed people of the Spanish territories. He states " But grave problems come in the life of a nation, however much men seek to avoid them. They come without our seeking... But the generation in which they are forced cannot avoid the responsibility of honestly striving for their solution." In this quotation McKinley admits the responsibility the United States had, and even refers to his earlier opposition of the Spanish-American War.

President McKinley goes on to state that the United State's will aid the Phillipines in constructing a new government. He states " That they (Phillipines) will have a kindlier government under our guidance, and that they will be aided in every possible way to be self-respecting and self-governing people...". This quote really caught my attention because it sounded so familiar. It seems to be the exact message that the Bush administration has put forth in order to justify the continuation of the War in Iraq. In addition to the justifications of the McKinley and Bush administration being similar, so is the criticism of both military efforts. The American occupation of formerly Spanish territories, also draws an uncanny resemblance to the continuing occupation of Middle Eastern territories and both Wars were criticized of having imperialistic motives.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

U.S. Grant: An Appeal for the Annexation of Santo Domingo

U.S. Grant, "Appeal for the Annexation of Santo Domingo," May, 1870.

"I transmit to the Senate, for consideration with a view to its ratification, an additional article to the treaty Of the 29th of November last, for the annexation of the Dominican Republic to the United States, stipulating for an extension of the time for exchanging the ratifications thereof, signed in this city on the 14th instant by the plenipotentiaries of the parties.

It was my intention to have also negotiated with the plenipotentiary of San Domingo amendments to the treaty of annexation to obviate objections which may be urged against the treaty as it is now worded; but on reflection I deem it better to submit to th e Senate the propriety of their amending the treaty as follows: First, to specify that the obligations of this Government shall not exceed the $1,500,000 stipulated in the treaty; secondly, to determine the manner of appointing the agents to receive and disburse the same; thirdly, to determine the class of creditors who shall take precedence in the settlement of their claims; and, finally, to insert such amendments as may suggest themselves to the minds of Senators to carry out in good faith the condit ions of the treaty submitted to the Senate of the United States in January last, according to the spirit and intent of that treaty. From the most reliable information I can obtain, the sum specified in the treaty will pay every just claim against the Re public of San Domingo and leave a balance sufficient to carry on a Territorial government until such time as new laws for providing a Territorial revenue can be enacted and put in force.

I feel an unusual anxiety for the ratification of this treaty, because I believe it will redound greatly to the glory of the two countries interested, to civilization, and to the extirpation of the institution of slavery.

The doctrine promulgated by President Monroe has been adhered to by all political parties, and I now deem it proper to assert the equally important principle that hereafter no territory on this continent shall be regarded as subject of transfer to a Euro pean power.

The Government of San Domingo has voluntarily sought this annexation. It is a weak power, numbering probably less than 120,000 souls, and yet possessing one of the richest territories under the sun, capable of supporting a population of 10,000,000 people in luxury. The people of San Domingo are not capable of maintaining themselves in their present condition, and must look for outside support.

They yearn for the protection of our free institutions and laws, our progress and civilization. Shall we refuse them?

I have information which I believe reliable that a European power stands ready now to offer $2,000,000 for the possession of Samana Bay alone. If refused by us, with what grace can we prevent a foreign power from attempting to secure the prize?

The acquisition of San Domingo is desirable because of its geographical position. It commands the entrance to the Caribbean Sea and the Isthmus transit of commerce. It possesses the richest soil, best and most capacious harbors, most salubrious climate , and the most valuable products of the forests, mine, and soil of any of the West India Islands. Its possession by us will in a few years build up a coastwise commerce of immense magnitude, which will go far toward restoring to us our lost merchant mari ne. It will give to us those articles which we consume so largely and do not produce, thus equalizing our exports and imports.

In case of foreign war it will give us command of all the islands referred to, and thus prevent an enemy from ever again possessing himself of rendezvous upon our very coast.

At present our coast trade between the States bordering on the Atlantic and those bordering on the Gulf of Mexico is cut into by the Bahamas and the Antilles. Twice we must, as it were, pass through foreign countries to get by sea from Georgia to the wes t coast of Florida.

San Domingo, with a stable government, under which her immense resources can be developed, will give remunerative wages to tens of thousands of laborers not now on the island.

This labor will take advantage of every available means of transportation to abandon the adjacent islands and seek the blessings of freedom and its sequence -- each inhabitant receiving the reward of his own labor. Porto Rico and Cuba will have to abolis h slavery, as a measure of self-preservation to retain their laborers.

San Domingo will become a large consumer of the products of Northern farms and manufactories. The cheap rate at which her citizens can be furnished with food, tools, and machinery will make it necessary that the contiguous islands should have the same ad vantages in order to compete in the production of sugar, coffee, tobacco, tropical fruits, etc. This will open to us a still wider market for our products.

The production of our own supply of these articles will cut off more than one hundred millions of our annual imports, besides largely increasing our exports. With such a picture it is easy to see how our large debt abroad is ultimately to be extinguished . With a balance of trade against us (including interest on bonds held by foreigners and money spent by our citizens traveling in foreign lands) equal to the entire yield of the precious metals in this country, it is not so easy to see how this result i s to be otherwise accomplished.

The acquisition of San Domingo is an adherence to the "Monroe doctrine;" it is a measure of national protection; it is asserting our just claim to a controlling influence over the great commercial traffic soon to flow from east to west by the way of the Isthmus of Darien; it is to build up our merchant marine; it is to furnish new markets for the products of our farms, shops, and manufactories; it is to make slavery insupportable in Cuba and Porto Rico at once and ultimately so in Brazil; it is to settl e the unhappy condition of Cuba, and end an exterminating conflict; it is to provide honest means of paying our honest debts, without overtaxing the people; it is to furnish our citizens with the necessaries of everyday life at cheaper rates than ever be fore; and it is, in fine, a rapid stride toward that greatness which the intelligence, industry, and enterprise of the citizens of the United States entitle this country to assume among nations."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The "Unwritten Law"

Ida Wells-Barnett can be applauded just for the fact that at the time of oppression against African- Americans, and women in the early 20th century she is credited for "enlightening the nation and the world about the powerful connection between lynching, patriarchy, racism, and cultural notions of white womanhood and black sexuality."

In her piece entitled "Lynch Law in America", Wells-Barnett attacks the social acceptance of lynch laws. With the rise of racist organizations such as the "red shirts' and the Ku Klux Klan the torturing and murdering of African Americans had become a trademark of the legal system. Wells-Barnett explains how this "unwritten law is not attributed solely to the South, but is actually a national injustice.

As her case against lynch laws progress Wells-Barnett displays how lynching is almost unavoidable.
"If a few barns were burned some colored man was killed to stop it. If a colored man resented the imposition of a white man and the two came to blows, the colored man had to die, either at the hands of the white man then and there or later at the hands of a mob that speedily gathered. If he showed a spirit of courageous manhood he was hanged for his pains, and the killing was justified by the declaration that he was a "saucy nigger." Colored women have been murdered because the refused to tell mobs where relatives could be found for lynching."

Wells-Barnetts' piece was written in 1900, thirty-years after the passage of the 15th amendment which guaranteed the right to vote as well as citizenship of the African-American population. With that amendment ratified, it meant that African American citizens were protected under the same federal laws as white citizens. Furthermore the Bill of Rights fully applied to all African-Americans. Lynch laws violate the Fifth amendment which guarantees due process, the Sixth amendment which guarantees trial by jury, and the Eighth amendment of cruel and unusual punishment. Ida Wells-Barnett also describes instances where the Fourth amendment of unwarranted search and seizure as well as the Seventh amendment of civil trial by jury had been violated. Even more distressing is the instances in which Wells-Barnett describes how witnesses, or family members, individuals who were guilty of no crime were murdered because the refuse to answer unlawful questioning.

The execution of completely Innocent bystanders, even children is exemplified in Wells-Barnett's story of a boy and girl executed, for no offense at all.

"In the case of the boy and girl above referred to, their father, named Hastings, was accused of murder of a white man. His fourteen-year-old daughter and sixteen-year-old son were hanged and their bodies filled with bullets; then the father was also lynched."

As I continued to read the article I was amazed at how the claims of white woman were openly accepted in so many cases. Wells-Barnett explains the popularity of white woman making unjustified claims predominately against black men. Sometimes it appears, due to the fact that they had been caught in an interracial relationship, had made false claims to protect themselves. I find this particularly interesting because it was common for the courts to disregard a woman's testimony in the court system without any male witnesses, especially in cases of rape.

Overall it appears that these lynching laws were prime examples of the horrors that can occur when a mob mentality dominates groups of people. I believe this period of time, will always be shamefully remembered on the pages of American History.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Samuel Gomper's Realization

Samuel Gompers was an outspoken advocate of labor reform. His distinctive view of "pure and simple" unionism called for labor movements to concentrate on "concrete, achievable gains" and better organization of specific workforces (Henretta, 496). His strategic genius and call for structure resulted in him becoming "the first and longest serving president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL)".
Samuel Gomper recalls the events that helped shape his opinion on unions in his writings titled "Chapter V: I Learn the Weakness of Radical Tactics ". In this passage he describes, first hand the events surrounding and leading up to the explosion of violence and police brutality against union movements at Tompkins Square in New York City. In his denouncing of radical tactics Gomper states:

"I saw how professions of radicalism and sensationalism concentrated on all the forces of organized society against a labor movement and nullified in advance normal, neccessary activity. I saw the leadership in the labor movement could be safely entrusted only to those into whose hearts and minds had been woven the experiences of earning their bread by daily labor. I saw the betterment of workingmen must come primarily through workingmen. I saw the danger of entangling alliances with intellectuals who did not understand that to experiment with the labor movement was to experiment with human life."
This quote identifies the key flaws in the early labor movement including division, untrustworthy and "out of touch" leadership as well as the public disdain for radical tactics. His analysis proved true for the labor movements of the 19th century, as well as social movements that have taken place throughout history.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A woman before her time, Elaine Goodale Eastman

American woman in 1889, don’t have the right to vote, yet Elaine Goodale Eastman is appointed as Supervisor of Education in the two Dakotas. She is given a budget of thirty thousand dollars a year to manage and build a day school system for Indian child. She travels independently through a territory known to most Americans as the Wild West. She’s smart, curious and brave in a time when women are perceived as second class citizens. But, her most important attribute is the strength of her conviction to follow her calling as a teacher, writer, and compassionate servant to the disenfranchised Indian Nation of the Northern Plains. She believes passionately that education is a key factor if the next generations of Indians are to assimilate into American society.

When she arrives in Standing Rock, North Dakota in 1890; the last stop on her trip to survey new school locations, she’s devastated by the state of the Indian people.‘

"Lean and wiry in health, with glowing skins and a look of mettle, many now displayed gaunt forms, lackluster faces, and sad, deep-sunken eyes.”(p. 137)
Most Americans blame the Indians for the poor conditions that exist on Indian Reservations. They stereotype the Native American Indian's as lazy and unwilling to work, just waiting for their next government handout. After living with the Indians, learning their language and culture, Eastman knows this is not true. Also, working as a government administrator, she understands both side of this sad story. In the follow quote she explains her point of view.

“Yet all alike were victims of the natural calamity of the drought and of the broken promises of our government. It might well be said that we wronged the Indians most, not when we destroyed their wild herds or drove them from their vast ranges, but when we delayed too long the recompense of an equal share in the more advanced culture that inevitably displaced their own.” (p. 138)

Elaine Goodale Eastman ends her story without tell us what happened to the school program. Did it survive after the massacre at Wounded Knee?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Good Neighbor Policy

A symbol of America's Isolationism during the 1930's, the Good Neighbor Policy renounced "the use of military force and armed intervention in the Western Hemisphere." (America, pg. 782) This came while Germany was absorbing its neighbors by aggression and appeasement, and its belligerent antics were attracting allies in the form of Italy and Japan. It could be reasoned that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who supported this diplomatic initiative, wanted no part in trying to put out the fires over seas when the country he was running was in the throes of the Great Depression, leading to this Isolationism. Also, America's role in World War One had become a sour issue, in part because some politicians were accusing that America's involvement in the war was done to fill the pockets of profiteers.

The Good neighbor policy also advocated friendship with Latin American countries, and in spirit put a stop to America's meddling with Cuba and other Latin American countries by repealing the Platt Amendment. America did, however, continue to influence these countries through economic pressures. And by keeping a base in Guantanamo Bay, America still maintained its presence in Cuba.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bonus Army, summer, 1932

" 'We were heroes in 1917, but we're bums now,' one veteran complained bitterly." (America, p. 748)

The Bonus Army was a large group of World War I veterans who descended on Washington, D.C., in May of 1932, demanding early fulfillment of a promise made to them by the U.S. government. In 1924, Congress had voted to give a bonus to veterans of the war but they couldn't collect it until 1945. But when the Depression hit and the veterans were out of work and desperate to feed their families and to survive, they organized themselves and about 15,000 of them marched on Washington and set up camps in various places. They created well-organized makeshift camps, complete with dug-out streets and latrines. Whole families lived in these camps while the veterans waited for Congress to agree to give them their bonuses immediately. But the idea was voted down and in July, General MacArthur was sent in to clear the veterans out of the camp. An ugly scene ensued in which MacArthur and his men set fire to the camp, burning it to the ground, forcing 10,000 people to flee, injuring some. "Newsreel footage captured the deeply disturbing spectacle of the U.S. Army moving against its own veterans..." (America, p. 748)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stock Market Crash of 1929, "Black Thursday"

"Stock prices had been rising steadily since 1921, but in 1928 and 1929 they surged forward, rising on average over 40 percent. At the time market activity was essentially unregulated. Margin buying, in particular, proceeded at a feverish pace, as customers were encouraged to buy stocks with a small down payment and finance the rest with a broker loan. But then on 'Black Thursday,' October 24, 1929, and again on 'Black Tuesday,' October 27, 1929, the bubble burst. On those two bleak days, more than 28 million shares changed hands in frantic trading. Overextended investors, suddenly finding themselves heavily in debt, began to sell their portfolios. Waves of panic selling ensued. Practically overnight stock values fell from a peak of $87 billion (at least on paper) to $55 billion" (America, P.724).

The "roaring '20's" were supposed to be a time of huge economic prosperity and growth for the United States. While that may be true--on paper--it also saw the extreme overextension of American investors, consumers, lenders and banks. The huge boom in the market led investors to borrow large sums of money and invest it back into the market, believing that the stock market would be their ticket to great prosperity. Speculation ran wild and, unfortunately, as investors were increasingly putting loaned monies and using margin financing to invest in the unregulated stock market , they were artificially swelling a market that was already at record high levels. The week of October 21st was an especially unstable week of trading, with record numbers of shares exchanging hands. On October 24th, this level of trading went through the roof and a panic quickly ensued--a record 12.9 million stocks were traded that day. According to the SEC, it is estimated that of the app. $50 billion in new securities offered during the 1920's, 50 percent became worthless.

"Black Thursday" was just the beginning of the economic crisis that would soon ensue, however. Tuesday, October 29, 1929 or "Black Tuesday" would see 16.4 million stocks trade hands as desperate investors and consumers sought to get their (loaned) monies out of a failing market. The hysteria that ensued would lead to the run on the banks, where thousands of Americans went to their banks to withdraw money in a panicked state, only to find that the banks didn't have enough money on hand to distribute to it's customers. Banks failed or were forced to temporarily close and the economy was in shambles.

The stock market crash and the run on the banks would lead to the formation of two major Government agencies--the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The SEC would provide regulation of the stock market and the FDIC would ensure that all consumers' deposits are insured by the Federal Government.

PBS: The First Measured Century -- The Stock Market Crash

The Securities and Exchange Commission -- How the SEC was Formed

The New York Times Web Special: Looking Back at the Crash of 1929

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jazz Age

"Jazz was such an important part of the new mass culture that the 1920's are often referred to as the Jazz Age." (America, p. 705)

A cultural transformation took place in the United States in the 1920's. Magazines, tabloids, radio, movies and phonograph records all contributed to a whole new way of life for Americans. The first movie to be produced with sound was The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, in 1927. It is significant not only for being the first "talkie", but also because had to do with the newest form of music to come along, which was jazz. The 1920's are known as the Jazz Age. This new style of music has its origins in the music of the South, particularly New Orleans, and also has roots in African and European musical styles. Most of the early jazz musicians were black, and the popularity of jazz moved northward to cities like Chicago and New York. Some of the best known jazz musicians of this era were Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and "Jelly Roll" Morton.
Jazz is an improvisational style of music, meaning that musicians don't follow notes written on a page, but rather, improvise as they play and sing. Related to jazz are styles such as the blues and ragtime. It was, and still is, a very free style of music. Some of the main themes of the songs from the Jazz Age were women's freedom to enjoy their sexuality, and black opposition to white mainstream values.
The invention of phonograph served to spread jazz to a wide audience, not only in the United States, but in Europe as well.
Much like any new form of music, for example the rock and roll of the 50's and 60's, jazz was controversial and labeled by some as "the devil's music". It was liberating and sensual and broke the rules musically and socially. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, criticized it by saying that sounded better played backwards.

German Unification

The late 1800's and early 1900's were turbulent times in Europe. One of the driving forces of these uneasy times was nationalism. Nationalism, or love for ones nation or homeland, had led to two different types of events in Europe. This great love for ones country led to unification or it led to the downfall of empires as countries sought their freedom and own identity from foreign rule. The force of nationalism acted as a magnet or a explosion, either pulling people together or breaking them apart. This force of nationalism eventually would be one of the causes of World War One as countries wanted to show their strength and dominance. Before the war nationalism also led to German Unification. The Prussian Empire in the 1800's controlled many of the German States, and within these states were people who shared the same culture, the same religion, language, national origin, and history, which led to a feeling of unity, of nationalism. These feeling of nationalism led to the desire to unify the German States under Prussian rule, and then create a German State. This was led by Otto von Bismarck, who was appointed by chancellor by King William I of Prussia. Bismarck used the idea of "real politik" or the politics of reality, a direct and realistic view of the world, this view was the need for power. He strengthened the army using his idea of "blood and iron" the need for a strong military. Within the next decade Bismarck led Germany into three wars, gaining land and control over the rest of the German states. Bismarck annexed lands, made alliances with Austria to gain land, and then eventually attacked Austria to gain even more land. When Prussia had gained control over the German states, and defeated Austria the French became very worried of this growing power and soon the Franco-Prussian War started in 1870, the power of the German "blood and iron" mentality defeated the French, thus leading to an even stronger feeling of nationalism in the German states. After the war the remaining German states not under Prussian rule encouraged King William to unify the states, and form the Second Reich or great empire of Germany, and thus in 1871 Kaiser William I unified Germany.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pro- Allied Involvement Propaganda

In the early 1900's European politics developed into a powder keg waiting to explode and drag the world into war with it. Militarism built up European nations to the point where they were war ready without a war, in essence a loaded gun looking to be used. Imperialism had led to Europe carving up Asia and Africa each seeking global power and domination, and all the while creating feuds and conflicts between the Europeans over who would have that top spot amongst the imperial powers. Between the growing military power and the growing empires of Germany, France, and Britain came such strong feelings of nationalism and pride. Each nations people feeling empowered to dominate the world. This powder keg finally exploded with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the start of WWI. While the assassination started the war it was the conflict created by imperialism, nationalism and militarism that laid the foundation for war. Once the war began it engulfed all of Europe and from the start pulled the United States towards having to make a crucial decision; to enter the war or not to enter the war. Obviously if entering the war a choice on who's side to join would have to be made as well. There were the Allies France, Britain and Russia, each having long friendly ties with the United States, both politically and economically, and of course ties from the birth of our nation. Then their were the Central Power, Germany, Prussia and the Ottoman Empire, which each had a government far from democracy and American ideals. The choice that the US would ultimately make was swayed by propaganda as much as political and social reasons.

Economically speaking the US had closer ties with France and Britain, and the war helped those ties. The US was supplying much of the supplies needed by these countries, leading to great economic growth.

" Briefly, the situation, as I understand it, is this: Since December 1st, 1914, to June 30, 1915, our exports have exceeded our imports by nearly a billion dollars, and it is estimated that the excess will be from July 1st to December 31, 1915, a billion and three quarters. Thus for the year 1915 the excess will be approximately two and half billion dollars.

- Robert Lansing- " Letter to the President" 1915

This type of economic growth obviously was favored and led to the growth of loans for the Allies so that they could continue to purchase US materials. These loans though led to the US having a greater interest in the Allies winning, the Allies losing could hinder loan repayment, and cripple the US economy in the future, which caused the US to have a much greater interest in the Allies winning, and may have led to the US joining the war.

Politically speaking propaganda was much more of a simple subject to get across to the US people. Articles discussing Germany's plans of bringing down all democracies and building an empire with a dictator caused people to fear a German victory. German involvement in Mexican affairs causing anti-US feelings brought that idea of an evil empire to the doors of the US itself. Stories of German involvement in Latin America furthered this image. Propaganda mixed with reality painted the German people as war hungry, empire hungry people, seeking to dominate Europe and then the Americas, bringing down all democracies.

"these three great empires would constitute an almost irresistible coalition against the nations with republican and liberal monarchical institutions"

"I imagine that Germany would be the master of Western Europe, Africa and probably the Americas"

- Robert Lansing 1915

Ideas like these pushed US views to focusing on Allied success, by means of loans or if needed US military involvement.

Social aspects of propaganda existed as well. Of course there was the obvious that the Central powers opposed democracy and wanted to imperialize the world, thus threatening freedom and liberty world wide, issues close to the hearts of US citizens since it was these issues that led to the birth of America. These heart strings were pulled to the fullest extent, the idea of saving liberty and democracy and fighting for freedom rifled through any propaganda aimed at US involvement in the war. Another issue was German war tactics. German submarine warfare led to many ships with innocent citizens being killed, the US Lusitania the most famous of those. Their use of poison gas, killing of regular citizens, women and children were subjects that made US involvement seem needed. Political cartoons of Germans killing babies, crucifying people, and using poison gas were regular propaganda methods. Propaganda is meant to make one side look evil and these issues worked well, the thought of German success, and maybe even war in our soil made Americans see entering the war as needed, in order to battle the evil that was Germany.

The pro-war propaganda from WWI was very much on the side of the Allies, and one looking at history could say it worked. The US entered the war and soon after the Allies were victorious. The anti Germany works of literature and art may very well have changed history, and these ideas of pro or anti war propaganda still fill our lives.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chinese Republic, Sun Yat Sen, 1912

"An individual should not have too much freedom. A nation should have absolute freedom." - Sun Yat Sen

Sun Yat Sen is known as the Father of Modern China. He was born in Guangdong, China in 1866 and died in Beijing in 1925. A member of the Kuomintang Party, he is best remembered for his political philosophy outlined in his Three Principles of the People. These three principles were nationalism, democracy and equalization. He believed that China should be controlled by Chinese, not by foreign imperialist powers and that the government should be republican with democratic elections. His equalization theory said that wealth should be more evenly distributed and ownership of land by private citizens should be prohibited. Much like the government of the United States, his idea for a democratic state included executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as the censurate and the civil service branches.
Sun Yat Sen fought for many years to establish a republic in China. He achieved this goal in 1912, only to be overthrown by the dictator Yüan Shih Kai after only four months as provisional president of the Republic. Despite this failure, his work opened the door for the formation of the Chinese Republic by Chiang Kai-Shek in 1928.

Woodrow Wilson -- Flag Day Address

"What great nation in such circumstances would not have taken up arms? Much as we had desired peace, it was denied us, and not of our own choice. This flag under which we serve would have been dishonored had we withheld our hand." --Woodrow Wilson, Flag Day Address; June 14th, 1917.

President Woodrow Wilson delivered his "Flag Day Address" in June of 1917, just twelve days before the first American troops would land on European soil, officially entering the U.S. into World War I. It was a strong and heavily patriotic speech, which sought to explain to an unsettled and undecided American public that the United States was essentially forced into the war by the Germans, and that to sit passively by would not only be dangerous, it would be very un-American. The Germans, Wilson says, have left us no choice through their insults, aggression and espionage. He also points out that Germany tried to incite Mexico into starting a war with us, and attempted to recruit Japan as their ally.

But President Wilson explains to the people that the offenses committed against America are not the only reason why our men are being sent overseas. President Wilson acknowledges that the German people themselves did not want this war machine, but was subject to it nonetheless. President Wilson details Germany's plot:

"Their plan was to throw a broad belt of German military power and political control across the very center of Europe and beyond the Mediterranean into the heart of Asia; and Austria-Hungary was to be as much their tool and pawn as Servia or Bulgaria or Turkey or the ponderous states of the East."
Germany was attempting to control the whole of Europe, and then Asia, through force, political and economical control. President Wilson reminds the people that the Germans have control over many countries in Europe and the Ottoman empire, and has partial control of France and Belgium. President Wilson stresses that it is simply not enough to stop the Germans with what they currently have, they must be defeated fully.

According to President Wilson, this serves two purposes: the Germans will have to relinquish rightful control of the territories and will be punished for their aggressiveness. By allowing the Germans to retain control over countries they overtook with force, it would reinforce and justify their methods of taking real estate by force. Secondly, when they are defeated, the Government will forced to relinquish power, thus paving the way for a democratic government to come into power:
"If they can secure peace now with the immense advantages still in their hand which they have up to this point apparently gained, they will have justified themselves before the German people: they will have gained by force what they promised to gain by it: an immense expansion of German power, an immense enlargement of German Industrial and Commercial opportunities. Their prestige will be secure, and with their prestige their political power. If they fail, their people will thrust them aside; a government accountable to the people themselves will be set up in Germany as it has been in England, in the United States, in France, and in all the great countries of the modern time except Germany."
President Wilson then waxes philosophical about protecting the liberties, rights and freedoms of the people of Europe and explains to his audience that we, as Americans, must be there to help "set the world free." If we do not, President Wilson assures, freedom and democracy will be pushed aside and crushed by the great armies of our enemies.

President Wilson is careful not to mention too bluntly some of his forthcoming intentions in this speech. He cloaks them in a shroud of strong patriotism, noble causes and threating enemies. He attempts to provoke strong feelings in the audience, in hopes that they will act on impulse and not try to dig too deep as to what other motives there may be (as many leaders have done throughout history and continue to do) for sending millions of American troops across the Atlantic.

That is not to say that WWI wasn't justified--it absolutely was. However, there were ulterior motives behind the fully noble and charitable causes the President told the nation that we were fighting for. Our own Economic interests played a large part in the war. All of our economic partners in Europe were coming under fire from Germany. Our ability to further own our economic interests would be greatly diminished if the Germans controlled the majority of the Ottoman empire and Europe.

If the Spanish-American war was our introduction as a "Superpower" and "World Police," then World War I was our prime-time slot. President Wilson wanted to ensure that when those countries that had been under German control were eventually freed, and the map of Europe and the Middle East were re-drawn, the United States would be right there to divvy up the spoils and assert our power and interests. We were not going to miss out on this momentous re-distribution of power.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Social Darwinism

During the second great age of imperialism in the 1800’s Europeans looked to expand their empires for several reasons. There was the quest for power, having more land meant having more power. There was the need for natural resources, as industrialization grew so did the need for raw materials, and markets. There was also a social component, a belief that it was their duty and their right. Stemming from the idea of the White Man’s Burden, Europeans believed that it was their duty or obligation to imperialize, modernize and civilize less advanced peoples. Coupled with that idea was the concept of Social Darwinism.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Theodore Roosevelt and The "Rough Riders"

"Hostilities formally began when Spain declared war on the United States on April 24th, 1898. Across the country regiments began to form. Theodore Roosevelt immediately resigned as assistant secretary of the navy, ordered a fancy uniform, and accepted a commission as lieutenant colonel of a volunteer calvary regiment soon to become famous as the Rough Riders" (America, p.639).

Perhaps the most publicized and well-known volunteer fighting force from the Spanish-American war is Theodore Roosevelt's famous "Rough Riders." Roosevelt had been the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, but resigned in order to form a volunteer calvary regiment to fight in the Spanish-American war. With the help of Colonel Leonard Wood, Roosevelt began publicizing the regiment and recruitment. Thanks to his notoriety and colorful nature, Roosevelt's new regiment had twenty three hundred men volunteer in the first twenty-four hours, but only a fraction of them could be accepted.

Due to his lack of combat experience, Roosevelt initially positioned himself as Lieutenant-Colonel of the new regiment, relegating command duties to Colonel Leonard Wood. The regiment was made up of men from all over the country, with all different backgrounds ranging from Ivy-league educated to ranch-hands. The common thread that landed all these men in the Rough Riders was their ability to ride horses and shoot, as well as their physical fitness. The regiment was organized in San Antonio, TX and set sail for Cuba on June 14th, 1898. Unfortunately, due to poor organization and logistics, the Rough Riders arrived in Cuba on June 22nd without any of their horses.

Only two days after arriving in Cuba, the Rough Riders saw action in the field, during the Battle of Las Guasimas. Shortly thereafter, Colonel Leonard Wood was promoted to Brigadier General and Roosevelt was made Colonel of the Rough Riders. The Rough Riders would become famous through Roosevelt's writings of the war afterwards, and the amazing bravery and tenacity of the Rough Riders, particularly in the famous battles of "Kettle" and "San Juan Hill," positioned just outside the city of Santiago. Led by Colonel Roosevelt, the Rough Riders took Kettle Hill, and continued on to San Juan Heights. Along with help from the Ninth and Tenth Regiments, the "Buffalo Soldiers," and other regiments of the U.S. Army, the Rough Riders took the city of Santiago. It was a major achievement in the war, and directly contributed to the surrender of the Spanish.

The Rough Riders were quickly sent back to the United States in order to escape the tropical diseases beginning to take hold of the troops. They were shipped back to
Montauk, Long Island, where they received a hero's welcome. By this time, the Rough Riders had been highly publicized in the United States and were already becoming legends in their own right. Roosevelt was nominated for a medal of honor (although he did not receive it at the time, he was awarded it in 2001, posthumously) and was elected Governor of New York later that year. He would serve as Vice President to William McKinley and eventually became the President of the United States when McKinley was assassinated in 1901.

Theodore Roosevelt Association
Library of Congress
Spanish American War Centennial

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Atlanta Compromise

"The Atlanta Compromise" is the term that coined a speech made by the famous African-American civil rights leader, Booker T. Washington, in 1895 at the Atlanta Exposition. Washington, who thought "the agitation of the question of social equality an extremist folly" (America, pg. 605) stressed the development of economic equality first, whereby social equality would follow.
In the speech he detailed what he felt to be the reason for the African-American man's troubles as having "began at the top instead of at the bottom; that the seat in congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill..." (Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, pg. 106) While he expounds upon this statement for the remainder of the speech, this statement represents his feeling that by having sought social equality only, the African-American man had neglected developing economic equality, and ultimately achieved neither.
By appealing to the southern white man's quest for industrial growth, he argued "nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load upward, or they will pull against you the load downward" (Up From Slavery, pg. 108) while listing the virtues of his people as a quality, hardworking people. He argued that looking to foreign born workers instead would be a hindrance to the south's prosperity. Having linked the prosperity of the white and the African-American man, his message was well received. He went on to establish the Tuskegee Institute as a testament to these views.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

José Marti, Cuban Revolutionary Party, January 5, 1892


José Martí, born in 1853 in La Habana, Cuba, was a poet, a revolutionary and is known as Cuba's National Hero. He was sentenced to 6 years of hard labor at the age of 16 for his political activity and later was exiled to Spain. He also lived in the United States where he was able to mobilize support for the Cuban revolution among Cuban exiles. He was a founder of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and spoke out against U.S. imperialism in Latin America. In 1895, he was shot and killed during an invasion of Cuba, giving his life to help make Cuba free. His dream was realized, but not until after his death. In 1898, Spain gave up control of Cuba as a provision of the Treaty of Peace of Paris between the United States and Spain, ending the Spanish-American War. The Cuban Republic was instituted in 1902, but did not return to home rule until 1909.
The day before he died, Martí said in a letter that it was his duty “to prevent, by the independence of Cuba, the United States from spreading over the West Indies and falling, with that added weight, upon other lands of our America. All I have done up to now, and shall do hereafter, is to that end… I have lived inside the monster and know its insides.”
As a student of Spanish literature, I have read Martí's poetry and see him as more than just another revolutionary fighting for his country. He, like Cuban exiles today, longed to see a "Cuba Libre" - a free Cuba. His longing for his homeland is seen and felt in his poem "Dos patrias" (Two Homelands) from his collection of poems, "Flores de destierro" (Flowers of Exile), written during his exile, and his identity as a son of Cuba is clear in the poem "Soy un hombre sincero" from the collection, "Versos sencillos".
Interesting note: an adaptation of this poem was set to music in 1929, called "Guantanamera", and due to Martí's status as National Hero, became an unofficial Cuban anthem. It was made popular in the United States later in the 20th century by The Sandpipers.

T.R.'s New Nationalism, 1910

"The object of government is the welfare of the people."
"This New Nationalism regards the executive power as the steward of the public welfare." - Teddy Roosevelt

On August 31, 1910, Teddy Roosevelt delivered his famous speech, known as the "New Nationalism" speech. The main issue of the speech was human welfare. He believed that it the government's chief responsibility was to protect people and property, but if there had to be a choice, the welfare of the people should come first. His agenda for public welfare included these goals: 1) a federal child labor law; 2) regulation of labor relations; 3) a national minimum wage for women.
Roosevelt gave this speech about a year and a half after he had left office as President of the United States and and about a year and half before he tried to win his party's nomination in 1912 (in which he was defeated by Taft).
This speech is important in that it shows Roosevelt's progressive philosophy of the need for reform, as we read in "America" on page 621: "This formulation unleashed Roosevelt's reformist bent."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Panic of 1893

"By the time of Cleveland's inauguration, farm foreclosures and railroad bankruptcy signaled economic trouble. On May 3rd, 1893, the stock market crashed." (America, pg. 588) This crash led to a depression, which in effect left the country with an unemployment rate of over 20 percent. The democrats, who had gained power in the House of Representatives and governorships, "bore the brunt of the responsibility for the economic crisis." (America, pg. 592) From this crisis arose the hard focus on the silver question, and the bimetal standard became a critical issue as many were calling for more money to be put in circulation. The depression and dwindling money supply also led to the gold purchase by J.P. Morgan and other private bankers to replenish the country's gold supplies. Other events spurred by the Panic of 1893 include the Pullman Strike and Coxey's Army marching on Wasbington.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tammany Hall

"These favors came via a system of boss control that, although present at every level of party politics, flourished most luxuriantly in the big cities. Urban political machines like Tammany Hall in New York depended on a loyal grassroots constituency, so each ward was divided into a precinct of a few blocks" (America, p. 556).

In the days of the ultra-powerful and corrupt political machines, perhaps the most powerful in all of the United States was Tammany Hall, located on 14th Street in Manhattan. Associated with the Democratic party, Tammany Hall was founded in 1786, but did not gain it's real political power until after Andrew Jackson was elected president in 1828.

Tammany hall was known for its influence in the vast immigrant community in New York City. Among other nationalities, Tammany Hall helped many Irish Americans rise to power in politics. The "spoils system" of the times allowed Tammany Hall to control much of New York City through patronage, political support and other corrupt practices. Fernando Wood was the first Tammany Democrat mayor, elected in 1854. In 1860, the infamous William "Boss" Tweed became chairman of the New York county Democratic Party and the leader--known as "the Grand Sachem"--of Tammany.

Tammany Hall remained powerful in New York City all the way through the early twentieth-century, up until the 1930's. The Great Depression took a heavy toll on Tammany, and in 1932 friend of Tammany Hall, and Mayor of New York City, James Walker was forced from office. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president and under his famous "New Deal," he removed most all of Tammany's power, including their mayor, helping Republican Fiorello LaGuardia become Mayor in 1934.

University of Albany: "Boss Tweed" and the Tammany Hall Machine
Elanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Monday, March 3, 2008

Industrial Education


The name most closely associated with Industrial Education is that of Booker T. Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute. Washington espoused the philosophy that black people needed not only to learn academics, but to become skill in industrial labor, such as farming, carpentry, brickmaking, etc. to assure them a job when they returned to their communities. When he founded the Tuskegee Institute, he had his students do all the manual labor of building the buildings for the school, from digging the foundation to making and laying the bricks to installing the electrical fixtures. His critics, among them W.E.B. DuBois, claimed that he was contributing to keeping African-Americans subordinate to whites in the social order by training them to be manual laborers. Booker T. Washington felt that he was teaching his students not only self-reliance but "how to lift labour up from mere drudgery and toil, love work for it's own sake. to make the forces of nature - air, water, steam, electricity, horse-power - assist them in their labour." (Up from Slavery, Ch. X)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jim Crow Laws

"The enforcing legislation, known as Jim Crow laws, soon applied to every type of public facility--restaurants, hotels, streetcars, even cemeteries. In the 1890s, the South became a region fully segregated by law for the first time" (America, pg. 586).

The "Jim Crow Laws" were a series of legislation, mostly passed in the south, at the local and state level. These laws made segregation of blacks and whites not only legal, but in certain instances--such as public schools and transportation--required. They began in the late nineteenth-century and continued all the way through until the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s. The laws mandated that blacks and whites have "separate but equal" facilities. However, the reality was that the black facilities were almost never "equal" to the white facilities and Jim Crow laws were simply a legal way to promote the perceived "inferiority" of blacks.

The term "Jim Crow" is derived from a popular minstrel show in the early-mid nineteenth-century, which featured a white performer with charcoal or burnt cork applied to his face, singing and dancing to the song "Jump Jim Crow," and in essence, portraying a ridiculous caricature of a black person. The character became a staple of minstrel theater and was a derogatory stereotype of blacks, which was beginning to become common in the period.

The famous Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 validated the South's Jim Crow laws, ruling that segregation was not discriminatory, and therefore did not violate any civil rights in the fourteenth amendment, as long as the segregation provided equal treatment to blacks--hence the term "separate but equal." Racism and discrimination was becoming more prevalent and more intense during the late nineteenth-century, and thus the Jim Crow Laws reflected the zeitgeist.

The History of Jim Crow: Creating Jim Crow
What was Jim Crow?
PBS: The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow

Monday, February 25, 2008


Mechanization is the term used to describe the new form of manufacturing in the late 19th century. Due to this process, called "Mass Production" by Henry Ford, "workers increasingly lost the proud independence characteristic of the nineteenth-century craft work." (America, Pg. 523) This was because machines such as the typewriter or bicycle, were made using standardized parts created by machine tools. These machine tools were operated by machinists. What mechanization led to was the creation of "dedicated machines--machines set up to the same job over and over without the need for skilled operatives." (America, pg. 523) Instead of creating machines, machinists were made to create a single part many times over. "With each advance the quest for efficiency eroded their cherished autonomy, diminishing them and cutting them down to fit the industrial system." (America, pg. 524) Mechanization inspired Frederick W. Taylor, and was a basis for scientific management.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pullman Strike, 1894

The Pullman Strike of 1894
In May 11, 1894, workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company, which manufactured the famous Pullman sleeping railroad cars, staged a walkout. The basis of this walkout was the fact that George Pullman was cutting wages but not the rent on the company-owned housing. The workers were members of the American Railway Union (ARU), headed by Eugene V. Debs (see post on Debs). Debs directed all ARU members not to handle any of the Pullman cars, an action that not only hurt the Pullman company, but had a secondary and even bigger effect of crippling the railroad industry. The strike continued until mid-July when both the boycott and the union were broken, but not without violence and vandalism. Government soldiers were brought in to get the trains running again. Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to prison for his part in the strike. Although the new ARU had strength and a lot of members, they were not successful in their strike due to the government's intervention on the side of the railroad companies.

"No one could doubt why the great Pullman boycott had failed: it had been crushed by the naked use of government power on behalf of the railroad companies." (America, p. 531)

Eugene V. Debs

Eugene V. Debs

"A spellbinding campaigner, Debs talked socialism in an American idiom, making Marxism understandable and persuasive to many ordinary citizens." (America, p. 532)

Eugene V. Debs is known for his role in making Marxist socialism appealing to the American people. His union involvement began in 1880 when he worked for a craft union for skilled workers in the railroad industry. He then moved on to work with the American Railway Union, an industrial union (industrial unions organized all workers, not just skilled workers). After a 6- month stay in prison for his involvement in the Pullman strike (see post entitled "Pullman Strike"), Debs became a radical and a Socialist.
In 1901, Debs helped start the Socialist Party of America and devoted the rest of his life to the propagation of socialism in the United States. He was the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party five times. As is stated in the quote above, Debs was a convincing speaker and knew how to take Marx's ideas of a revolution to abolish private ownership and the establishment of a classless society and make them easy for the people of the U.S. to understand and accept. His intense devotion to socialism and his tireless efforts to propagate it in this country strengthened the influence of socialism in the U.S.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Henry George - Progress and Poverty

Henry George saw first-hand the plight of the American worker at the end of the ninetieth-century. He grew up in Philadelphia in 1839, in a poor family, and like many working-class Americans at the time, he was forced to end his formal education early in order to survive--he was just fourteen years old. When George when out into the world of work, he began to see the ever-growing gap between the wealthy and the working class poor. He wondered why there was such a discrepancy in a society that was supposed to democratic and humanitarian.

In 1857, George moved west to California, and after having difficulty holding down work, he eventually became a newspaper reporter in San Francisco. He decided he would educate himself in economics, in an attempt to understand the situation he saw in America. George came up with the "single tax" concept, which would be published in his 1879 book, Progress and Poverty. The book sought to explain why poverty rates were growing as progress was being made in leaps and bounds.

George theorized that much of the disparity between the wealthy and the poor had to do with land speculation, which made the already wealthy land owners even more rich, while the poor working-class worker received the same meager wages and had to pay more and more in rent. George's "single tax" idea proposed that the unearned appreciation of land value be taxed and taken from the owner, and given back to the community, for the greater good of the people.

The book was a big success, with over one hundred editions and an estimated six million Americans having read it by1906. Progress and Poverty also spawned "single tax clubs" and movements all over the country. One important aspect of the book was that it broke down the economics very simply, so that the average American could understand. While George and his book never directly caused any change in the legislation, it served to help make Americans aware of the increasing problems that the growing Industrialism in the country was causing. Average citizens could see, simply, how the country's economy was working and why they were having such a hard time earning a wage that could support a family.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"The Song of the Shirt"

"The Song of the Shirt" is a poem written by British poet Thomas Hood, Esq. It was published anonymously in a London publication in 1843 as a means of informing the public of the exploitation of workers in Britain. It was quickly taken and printed on sheets and handkerchiefs and was even hailed by Charles Dickens, among other writers of the era. In 1908, famed director D. W. Griffith made it into a movie by the same name.
Although this poem was written to describe working conditions in Britain, it could easily have been a description of the exploitation of garment factory workers in the United States as well. Most of these workers were women and it is from this point of view that Hood wrote the poem. In it, we can get a sense of the tedium and long hours that these workers were forced to endure: "Work, work, work, while the cock is crowing aloof, and work, work, work, till the stars shine through the roof".
We can also see clearly what reward they received for these long, hard hours of work: "Work work, work, my labor never flags, and what are its wages? A bed of straw, a crust of bread - and rags."
Lastly, we can hear the questioning of this woman as she sits and sews all day and into the night, asking why things are the reverse of how they should be: "Oh, God - that bread should be so dear and flesh and blood so cheap!"
Most of us think of worker exploitation, poor working conditions and little pay as problems of a by-gone era, but unfortunately, these conditions still exist today for many workers in various countries around the world, the United States included.

Friday, February 8, 2008

John D. Rockefeller, Standard Oil Company

"In most fields no single innovation was as decisive as Swift's refrigerator car. But other entrepreneurs did share Swift's insight that the essential step was to identify a mass market and then develop a national enterprise capable of serving it. In the petroleum industry John D. Rockefeller built the Standard Oil Company partly by taking over rival firms, but he also built a distribution system to reach the enormous market for kerosene for light and heating homes" (America, p.512).

After the civil war, with the United States' population spread across the whole of what is now the lower continental 48 states, large-scale enterprise began to form in order to reach a wider market. With the mass-immigration and rise in birth rates, the population of the U.S. shot up from approximately 40 million in 1870 to over 60 million in 1890. John D. Rockefeller was one of the pioneers of large-scale enterprise, and is a legendary figure in the history of U.S. business. He created an oil empire that was rivaled only by the largest monopolies in the country. Rockefeller used both Vertical Integration (owning companies that can create a product from start to finish -- i.e. refineries, storage, transport, etc.) and Horizontal Integration (buying out competing businesses in order to reduce competition) in order to create one huge monopoly.

By creating an oil company that was efficient, as well as getting into the industry at the right time--kerosene was in high demand for heating and lamps, and gasoline & diesel fuels were becoming more and more demanded--he was able to grow his business tremendously. Rockefeller's company, the Standard Oil Company, negotiated with the Railroad industry to get rebates, not only for his use of the rail, but also his competitors'. To get around laws of the time which made it hard to operate your company outside of it's home state, Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company created the "Standard Oil Trust" in 1882. This allowed Rockefeller and his partners to merge all of their businesses from around the country under one "trust," which was essentially a large corporation. In 1911, the Supreme Court found The Standard Oil Company to be a monopoly and the company was divided up into over thirty smaller companies. By this time, Rockefeller had become the richest man in the U.S., and the first Billionaire, and he retired from the Oil Industry. Rockefeller then used his enormous wealth to help others. He is one of the great Philanthropists of our time and gave most of his fortune back through Philanthropy, donating large sums of money into education, health care and various other public domains.

The Rockefeller Archive Center

PBS: The Rockefellers
The Rockefeller Foundation

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coeur d'Alene

"By the mid-1850's, as easy pickings in the California gold country diminished, prospectors began to pull out and spread across the West in hopes of striking it rich elsewhere. Gold was discovered on the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada, in the Colorado Rockies, and along the Frasier River in British Columbia. New strikes occurred in Montana and Wyoming during the 1860's, a decade later in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and in the Coeur d'Alene region of Idaho during the 1880's" (America, p.492).

During the 19th century, the "Far West" (anything west of the Rocky Mountains) was considered almost inhospitable. Aside from the difficulties associated with crossing the Rockies, most of the area south of Washington and Oregon was considered too dry and mountainous for farming and sustaining life. But in 1848, gold was discovered in Sutter's Mill in California, and sparked the famous Gold Rush. Out of the Gold Rush came settlement of the "Far West." Settlers created "islands" of civilization in an inhospitable land. Cities began to sprout up in the middle of barren areas in California, Colorado, Nevada, and other surrounding areas. As hundreds of thousands of Gold Rushers flooded into California, the Gold resources began to become depleted. In the mid-1850's, prospectors started moving North and East to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Idaho. In the 1880's, gold was discovered in the Coeur d'Alene area of Idaho, sparking the usual spike in population from prospectors in search of gold.

Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882

The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress in 1882 as a means of restricting Chinese immigration. Chinese immigrants were banned from entering the United States under penalty of deportation or imprisonment. It was the culmination of more than 30 years of growing anti-Chinese sentiment which began during the California Gold Rush when many Chinese left their homeland to seek their fortune. Unfortunately, their labor was exploited and they were treated unjustly.

The Chinese Exclusion Act was not repealed until the middle of the twentieth century. It is a significant document because it marked the first restriction on immigration in U.S. history.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Pony Express

"Talk about the need for a railroad to the Pacific soon surfaced in Washington...Meanwhile, the Indian country was crisscrossed by overland freight lines, and Pony Express riders delivered mail between Missouri and California" (America, P.479).

The Pony Express was a fast-paced, but short-lived mail delivery system founded in 1860 by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell and Alexander Majors. Aside from the westward expansion that had been ongoing for the past two decades, the need for swift lines of communication arose at the time amid concerns of an impending Civil War. The courier service used a relay of men and horses, riding a very dangerous 2,000 mile long trail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. Riders would carry mail bags, and change horses at Pony Express stations along the route. While the Pony Express was effective, delivering mail in less than 10 days with only one delivery ever lost, its expenses far outweighed its revenues. Making matters worse, the Pacific Telegraph was introduced on October 24th, 1861, rendering the Pony Express obsolete--the service lasted only 19 months.

The Pony Express National Museum