Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Imperialistic Ideals Instigate an Era of American Expansionism #4

Today in class we viewed each groups slide shows and Videolicious presentations. We took notes and participated in the surveys for each group. 
The first group we viewed was European Imperialism. We learned that European powers saw the conditions in Africa as opportunity to exploit the countries to make a profit. One person in particular, was King Leopold of Belgium. He saw the advent of rubber as an important material, and wished to profit off of its production. A place that Leopold focused on, was the Congo. He forced many workers there to labor for him in terrible conditions. He terrorized the Africans in order to ensure that they continued to work for him. In these situations, the European countries had all of the power, and they controlled the countries in Africa militarily.
The second presentation was about Big Business. We learned that the people who had the majority of the money, also had a lot of power. People like Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Pullman who were extremely wealthy businessmen had influence over global markets, and often over government decisions. Sometimes, the low class workers would attempt to band together and demand higher pay and/or better working conditions. Meanwhile, the rich business owners are focused on expanding their company and trade to foreign places in order to make more profit.
The third presentation covered the topic of Native Americans and the West. We discovered that the people in power, the American government, wanted the land in the west, so they forced the Native Americans living their to move. This forced emigration was a terrible crime committed by the US Government. The Native American people were forced to leave their homelands behind, and walk hundreds of miles to new "homes" that were often unfit for their lifestyles. The Great Plains were ideal crop growing locations, and the United States wished to use them for this purpose.
The fourth presentation was about Immigration from Asia to America. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Japan and China entered the United States. However, their journey was no easy one. They were often fleeing places with troubled economies of governments. Upon arrival in America, they were forced through immigration centers, with strict, and sometimes obscure tests to determine someone's fitness for citizenship. The US Government used its power in 1913 to pass a law that prevented non-citizens from owning land, this impacted the immigrants heavily. 
The final presentation was about Immigration from Europe to America. Immigrants came to America through Ellis Island, the Golden Door, or New York Harbor. In these immigration centers, they had to undergo health checks, and sometimes humiliating tests. When and if immigrants were able to make it into America, they often lived in the relative safety of ghettos, where many immigrants went to avoid discrimination. The Yankees, and people who were 'native' to America believed that they had more power than the immigrants, and were better. Henry Ford, who was an anti-semitic, published a paper against jews, and soon after a law was passed restricting jew's rights. This shows how his power influenced the lives of immigrants.
After seeing everyone's presentations, I was able to connect the main theme of people, places, and power quite easily and thoroughly to each topic.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Imperialistic Ideals Instigate an Era of American Expansionism #3

For this section of the project we created a Videolicious project about Imperialism in America. We furthered our understanding by combining all of our ideas, and forming a Videolicious project, and an accompanying slide show and survey. We first corroborated our enduring understandings, to create a list of the four most complete ones. The first enduring understanding that I added to my existing list was; In a country's decision to gain power over other countries, the citizens of the country trying to take over debate the validity of taking over places and people of other countries. This means that even though some people were in support of American expansion, there were also some, such as the members of the American Anti-Imperialist League, who opposed it. Another enduring understanding that I added was; The goal of war is often time not solely to end the conflict but to gain control of strategic locations and political power of the place. This means that many countries will have ulterior motives to entering wars, because they believe that they can gain something from the war. We also furthered our knowledge of yellow journalism and propaganda. We found this image:
This image shows that the eye popping explosion of the USS Maine, and a headline that blames the Spanish or Cuban rebels for the explosion. This sparked massive public support for action in Cuba.

While we were making our Videolicious project, we had to consider our short time limit, and the essential information that we needed to include. Using concise sentences that conveyed the maxiumum information (courtesy of Ellie and myself), and fitting images obtained by Simone, we were able to form an effective Video Essay. Andrew's hard work on the SurveyMonkey formed a nice addition to our presentation.

The link to our Videolicious is here:

Picture Citation:
"The World Newspaper, February 17, 1898" Accessed June 16, 2014. (Sorry this is 3 days late)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Imperialistic Ideals Instigate an Era of American Expansionism #2

This is an update on the ongoing "Imperialism in America" project. Since the last blog post we have investigated an online interactive inquiry activity about the Spanish American war, and performed a WebQuest, from the same website. I have developed a new enduring understanding, and have added more information onto my existing enduring understandings. I also learned that I did not approach the first blog post to this assignment correctly whatsoever, and the information in that post is not formatted as it should be.

Key Terms and Phrases:

Monroe Doctrine: Document that declared that the United States was neutral in European Wars. It also warned other nations not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere.
Imperialism: When stronger nations attempt to create empires by dominating weaker nations- economically, politically, culturally, or militarily
Annex: to join a new territory to an existing country, led to growth of empires
Surplus products: excess products that the citizens of America were not able to consume themselves. The goods needed to be exported to foreign markets.
Natural resources: Resources that are obtained from the Earth. (i.e. rubber and petroleum) often come from underdeveloped countries
Manifest Destiny: American settlers believed that they were destined to expand throughout the entire continent.
Captain Alfred T. Mahan: He believed that America’s economy depended on gaining new markets abroad. US required a powerful navy to protect foreign markets from foreign rivals.
Open door Policy: allowed for free trade in foreign markets
Theodore Roosevelt: He was president of the United States from 1901-1909. He believed that imperialism and war would improve the American spirit and life..
Nationalism: a devotion and feeling of superiority for one’s nation
Platt Amendment: an amendment that stated America would remove troops from Cuba, but only if Cuba would not enter any foreign agreements and would allow the US to form naval bases and intervene with Cuban affairs whenever necessary.
Teller Amendment: said that that the United States would not annex Cuba.
Naval Act of 1889: this act demanded the construction of a more powerful navy, made the US’s navy one of the most powerful in the world.
Sphere of influence: an area of economic, military, or political control, in which an imperialist country can use for economic benefit
Jingoism: an intense spark in American pride and a demand for aggressive foreign policy
The Cuban Rebellion: Cuban rebels fought against the Spanish, but the Americans intervened and defeated the spanish. War ended with the Treaty of Paris
The Treaty of Paris: The Spanish gave the US the Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. These territories were known as ‘unincorporated’ territories of the US, which meant they weren’t intended for eventual statehood.
Joint Resolution: A resolution passed on April 20, 1898 that allowed the US to go to war with Spain
Patriotism: A devotion to someones country, and/or a cultural attachment
American Anti-Imperialist League: Members of this organization believed that the expansionism and imperialism went against American Principles of consent of the governed and true freedom.

Enduring Understandings:

  1. Often people who have the most money and influence (power) can control the government's actions.
    • Rich company owners were able to pressure the government into pursuing a more aggressive foreign policy in order to open more opportunities for trade. "By 1891, the Rockefeller family's Standard Oil Company accounted for 90% of American Exports of kerosene and controlled 70 percent of the world market" (The Empire and the People, 301)
    • Some important political figures were used to create propaganda and inspire the american people to follow the ideas of the politicians, one such individual was Captain, Alfred T. Mahan. "They [Roosevelt] tried to get Mahan off sea duty 'so that he could continue fulltime his propaganda for expansion.'" (The Empire and the People, 300)
    • President McKinley believes that America must go to war to protect his own citizens and their property. "when the lives and liberty of our citizens are in constant danger and their property destroyed and themselves ruined; where our trading vessels are liable to seizure and are seized at our very door by warships of a foreign nation" (Excerpt from President William McKinley’s War Message to Congress, April 11, 1898.)
  2. Power, which can swing public opinion, can come from many places; such as a newspaper editor, a company owner, and a government official.

  3. The natural resources and economic potential of a place can attract other imperialistic countries to it. 
    • The American people wanted a way to expand their economy and the success of their country. "William McKinley said: 'We want a foreign market for our surplus products.' Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana in early 1897 declared: 'American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume.'" (The Empire and the People, 306)
    • After Spain was defeated in Cuba, Americans in search of economic opportunity swarmed to this rich island. "Foner writes: 'Even before the Spanish flag was down in Cuba, U.S. business interests set out to make their influence felt. Merchants, real estate agents, stock speculators, reckless adventurers, and promoters of all kinds of get-rich schemes flocked to Cuba by the thousands." (The Empire and the People, 310)
  4. The disposition of a people can impact a countries military and political action
    • Some people opposed expansion. "American Anti-imperialist League was organized in opposition to the annexation of the Philippine Islands. Among its members were Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James, David Starr Jordan, and Samuel Gompers. George S. Boutwell, former secretary of the treasury and Massachusetts senator, served as president of the League." (WebQuest: http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/chronphil.html)
    • Many Americans supported the Spanish-American war for moral reasons. "Popular support of the Cuban Revolution was based on the thought that they, like the Americans of 1776, were fighting a war for their own liberation." (The Empire and the People, 303)
In order to think about the information which I have learned in a new light, I was assigned to interpret the events of American Imperialism from the absolute bottom of the power pyramid. To me, the persons with the least power were Cuban citizens. They had no say in the events that swept through their country. They were forced to enter 're-concentration camps' (American History textbook) during the Spanish control. Once the Spanish were defeated, and the Americans signed a treaty with the Spanish, no Cuban citizen was allowed to be present when it was signed, let alone have any input on the content of the agreement. (The Emepire and the People). Once the Spanish were removed, the Cubans were forced to live under military occupation by the United States, and were heavily influenced by American profiteers coming to Cuba seeking their fortune. (Inquiry Activity). The American Imperialism of Cuba had a severe detrimental effect on the lives of Cuban citizens; although the aid in defeating the Spanish was helpful, the residual American Influence on Cuba was not.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Imperialistic Ideals Instigate an Era of American Expansionism

In this unit, we are analyzing how three major factors influence history; people, places and power. We will analyze how specific people can shape the way a country, society or even the world can change depending on their actions. Certain places may have an impact of many countries. Behind it all is the bottomless thirst by all people and countries for power; which they will wield to defeat their enemies and become the greatest country on Earth. My group chose the topic "Imperialism In America" which focuses on the expansion of American economy and the political influence throughout the world. 
There are many important events, topics, and people who factored into this era in America. The most important idea in this topic is imperialism itself, which is when a stronger country attempts to dominate weaker nations politically, economically, or socially. Annexation played an important role in imperialism, as many of the stronger countries annexed the small nations to become part of the strong country. This meant the the empire could grow, and the political and economic control of the leading country could grow. One factor that led to imperialism was a nationalistic movement in various countries. This meant that the people of a country felt that their country was the greatest, and sought to prove this by dominating other countries in whatever way possible. One branch from nationalism was called jingoism, which was an intense spark in national pride which helped fuel an aggressive foreign policy. By annexing countries and expanding their empire, Americans and other imperialists intended to spread their sphere of influence. This was the area where they had obtained economic and political control, and were profiting from trade. An open door policy was an integral part of expanding the sphere of influence, as it allowed for free trade in foreign markets. An increase in surplus products in America meant that the American economy was producing more good than it could consume, and therefore fostering an unstable economy. The best way to solve this was to expand the American trade to foreign markets.
One vital event to the era of American imperialism was the Spanish-American War. This war between Spanish and American forces was caused primarily by the rebels in Cuba who had been fighting Spanish forces for 3 years. Afraid of the Cuban Rebels forming their own independent republic and cutting off trade from America, McKinley decided to intervene. After defeating the Spanish, the American government remained some influence in Cuba. As a result of the Spanish-American War, the US also obtained Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Another event was the global trade expansion to China. Many European countries began to flock to China's rich and untainted markets for hopes of bountiful trade. The United States began to see the prosperity gained from the trading in the far east, and sought to form trade routes and gain control in China as well. 
Some people who helped define this period of American Imperialism were Government officials, but others were military members, company owners, and most importantly - the American people. Theodore Roosevelt was a soldier during the Spanish-American War, who, upon returning to the United States was elected president in 1901. He believed in an aggressive foreign policy and thought that war was the ideal state of human society. Another great influence was Naval Captain A.T. Mahan, who was a leading propagandist who aided Roosevelt in convincing the American people to believe in expansionist policies. The Rockefeller brothers, John and William were in favor of expanding American markets because they allowed their massive Standard Oil Company to expand its massive reach even farther. 
One important thing that we learned was that often the people who have the most money and influence can control the governments actions. Rockefeller standard oil controlled 70% of the international oil trade in 1891, and had amassed millions of dollars of wealth for John and William. (The Empire and The People, page 301). Along with other wealthy members of the American corporate class, they pressured the government to pursue aggressive foreign policies. This would allow them to expand their markets and make more of a profit.I also noted that the natural resources and economic potential of a place can attract other imperialistic countries to it. This was evident when American government officials and entrepreneurs saw the economic potential of the Caribbean islands for growing crops (American History: Pathways to the Present Chapter 17 Section 1) and took advantage of them. The islands in the Atlantic were colonized and annexed by the United States for profit.
In addition, power, which can swing public opinion, can come from many places, such as newspaper editor, a company owner, or a government official. The newspapers in the North, were able to spark public opinion to join in the Spanish-American War in support of the Cuban Rebels. (The Empire and The People, page 302). The Spanish-American War lacked strong public support, but then newspapers seeking readers began publishing stories about the rebellion in Cuba. This sparked interest in the war and garnered public support for US intervention.Our topic is showing the theme of people, places and power. People and their influence on society, the government,and the economy can be seen in people such as Roosevelt, Rockefeller, and McKinley. Places in the Caribbean and in other foreign markets attracted American investors and the military to secure spheres of influence in other parts of the world. Power can be wielded by myriad people, from government officials, to newspaper editors. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

South Slaughters Scalawags and Stops Reconstruction

The south did not just cause reconstruction to fail, they murdered it, literally. Rampant violence throughout the South against all people who wished to advance the rights of blacks and the Reconstruction was the main reason for the failure of the Reconstruction. Although it is clear that the failure of the Reconstruction was facilitated by both the northern neglect and the southern violence, the south is more at fault for the tragedy. The Reconstruction begun following the Civil War, in 1865, and continued through the late 1860’s and most of the 1870’s. Despite the best efforts of the Radical Republican party to enfranchise blacks, and the efforts of the Grant to reinvigorate the southern economy, the southern violence all but stopped their efforts.
Even though the failure of the Reconstruction was primarily caused by the south, the north also played a role in its downfall. Many northerners were in favor of the Reconstruction when it begun, and advocated for Black equality. However, by the mid-late 1870’s the Northerner’s interest in the south began to wane, and it lost public support. (Doc C). The people of the north begin to swing their opinion toward more national problems such as corruption in Grant’s Administration. In addition to this shift in public opinion, Grant himself began to lose focus on the problems of the south and civil reform. Grant is determined to root out any and all corruption in his administration that he did not pay attention to other problems in the country.
This cartoon shows that Grant cannot "see out of the barrel of government"

Grant is so absorbed in the government’s problems that he was not able to attend to the ongoing problem of reconstruction. In addition, most northerners did not think that freedpeople; the blacks who were recently freed from slavery, were fit for government. Northerners were anti-slavery, but also believed that blacks needed time to adjust to their newfound freedom, and to be educated on how the system works. (Doc D). The white northerners viewed the blacks as rambunctious and “monkey-like” in government; limiting effectiveness of the governing body.
Despite the neglect by northerners and the government, the south is still more at fault for the failure of the reconstruction. Violent terrorist groups who opposed reconstruction and rights for freedmen such as the Ku Klux Klan targeted blacks, and white scalawags and carpetbaggers. (Doc A). Scalawags and carpetbaggers were whites who supported the reconstruction and expanding the rights of blacks One case was when the KKK targeted a black member of the Georgia State Legislature; Abram Colby. They first tried to pay him off to prevent him from voting on the radical republican ticket, which favored civil rights. However, Colby bravely stood by his own conviction and risked his life in defying the white men. A couple of days later, the KKK took Abram Colby into the woods and beat him mercilessly. They left him for dead, but by sheer determination and the grace of god he was able to survive and continue his quest for equality. Colby believed that “no man can make a free speech in my county. I do not believe it can be done anywhere in Georgia.” (Doc B). This shows how the terrorist actions of the KKK and other groups are restricting the Democratic process of America, and threatening the government and the economy. In other case, a white Republican Senator for North Carolina was brutally murdered in the courtroom. They KKK scared politicians and advocates for advancement of civil rights from the south.
This cartoon is a threat from the KKK to carpetbaggers

This allowed more racist politicians to take their place, and to further oppress the newly-freed black population. Congress is urged to take action against these “outrages” which are restricting American freedom.

The South’s violent actions against republican whites and freed people caused the downfall of the reconstruction. Although the neglect of the north made it easier for the southern terrorist groups such as the KKK to perform violent acts, it was the fault of the southerners for committing the acts in the first place. The northerners and southerners were both unprepared for the equality of blacks, and the residual racism allowed the white supremacist groups in the south to scare Radical Republicans and black seat holders out of the governments. This meant that less progressive, racist government officials were able to obtain seats and put a halt to the reconstruction.

A: Independent Monitor, September 1, 1868. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.
B: Abram Colby, testimony to a joint House and Senate Committee in 1872
C: Cartoon of Ulysses S. Grant, Harper’s Weekly, 1876
D: Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gettysburg Gets the Union Going

The Civil War was by no means an easy venture for either the Union or Confederacy; however, leading up to the battle of Gettysburg, the Confederacy had an advantage in the eastern theatre. The events at the battle of Gettysburg result in a major turning point in the Civil War. Under the aggressive and opportunistic leadership of Robert E. Lee, the confederate army was winning the majority of the battles in the east. However, these victories came at a cost. The southern resources were being ravaged by the armies that needed them to continue fighting. The presence of the armies was taxing the southern towns and farms beyond their capacity, and Lee needed to press north for more resources. As can be seen from this war map, the majority of major campaigns took place in the south.
Dashed lines represent Confederate campaigns, solid lines represent Union campaigns
A win in the north would not only have helped resupply Lee's army, but it also would have served as a massive morale boost to the Confederacy. The potential reward of winning a battle in the north, and forcing the Union to retreat, along with the need to travel north to resupply, forced Lee to make a daring move into a battle at Gettysburg. The northern people were afraid of the damage that Lee could potentially cause with a northern campaign. The newly appointed Union general, Meade, wrote to his wife saying, "(Lee) has assumed the offensive and is going to strike a blow... and that it will be a very (big blow) is equally certain." This shows that the Union generals themselves are in apprehension of the arrival of Lee's army. Although the amount of casualties for both the Union and Confederacy were similar, the Union had much more troops to replace those lost, so the impact was greater on the Confederate armies. Fortunately (for the union) the defeat of Lee's army at Gettysburg resulted in his retreat, and Lee conducted no more offensives for the rest of the war, Lee only responded to Grant's advances. After the victory at Gettysburg, Lincoln was able to deliver his famous "Gettysburg Address" which eloquently inspired the Union to continue its fight for a "new birth of freedom." Even with such a strategic victory such as the one at Gettysburg, the war was still far from over, and the Union wished to find a new tactic that would expedite the war as much as possible. 

The tactic that was developed is called "total war," which involves intentionally pillaging and destroying all of the supplies and infrastructure in an area so that the opposing army loses the ability and the will to fight. This method of total war has been frowned upon by many as destructive and excessive, but in my opinion, it was necessary and justified. By destroying the crops, railroads, cities, and towns, the Confederate army loses its ability to support itself, and it's ability to effectively fight a war. Not only were the union armies preventing the Confederates from having the resources, but they were taking them for themselves. Sherman's advance through the south can be summarized in this quote; "After leaving Atlanta in ruins, Sherman's soldiers cut a nearly 300-mile-long path of destruction across Georgia. The Union troops destroyed bridges, factories, and railroad lines. They seized and slaughtered livestock. Grain that had recently been harvested for the Confederate troops went to Union soldiers instead." The method of destroying railroads became known as "Sherman's Neckties" and involved heating and then bending railroad tracks so that they became unusable.
The railroad tracks are bend out of shape.
 This violent and crippling form of war obliterated the Confederate army's ability to fight. This gruesome form of war was acknowledged by Sherman himself, saying; “War is cruelty, There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” This means that war will always be terrible, but if the war is more terrible, the opposing army will lose the will and ability to fight, and surrender. The method of total war definitively resulted in a quicker end to the war, and helped cause the Confederate surrender. 

The Confederate surrender had a myriad of impacts on people throughout the now re-United States of America. The Union soldiers present at the site of the surrender were excited, but also reflective on the hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and the hard fought war. Ulysses S. Grant was full of respect for his opposing general, Robert E. Lee. Back in Washington, there were massive celebrations, and many people were ecstatic for the long-awaited news. The soldiers of both sides were emotionally ravaged, and tired both physically and mentally tired beyond any reasonable measure. President Lincoln was relieved, as well as exhausted after finally having the weight of the Civil war lifted off of his chest. For the southern men, they were honored to have served under a general as honorable, and intelligent as Lee, and they understood that they were now needed to help rebuild the south. However, the end of the civil war was tainted by the horrific assassination of President Lincoln. The Lincoln supporters were outraged at the conspiracy and murder of their beloved President. The conspirators were apprehended and hung for their crimes against the country, and the feelings of the American people were now fully converted into mourning. The citizens of America were devastated by the loss of their president, and appreciative of all that he accomplished for them while he was in office. 

These poems show how "The Nation Mourns" and "our hearts felt sick and sore." The solemn funeral procession in New York shows a massive turnout of citizens to see their president off to his final resting place. The death of Lincoln tainted an otherwise magnificent celebration for the north, and it is not likely that Americans will forget the things that Lincoln accomplished in his shortened life.

Sources for information:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Was Lincoln A "Flip-Flopper"? Or Simply Opportunistic?

Throughout the Civil war, Lincoln's public statements on the subject of slavery were not always consistent. Lincoln is always personally in favor of freeing all men, but he realizes that if he pushes all Americans to abolish slavery, he will lose support for the Union and possibly lose the war. In his open letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln says: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery... I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free." He values the preservation of the Union and winning the war over the freedom of the slaves. He is willing to do whatever it takes to win the war and save the Union, and if that means freeing slaves, then he will do it; if that means not freeing slaves, then he will do that also. Personally, Lincoln believes that all people should be free.
In the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863, Lincoln's policy on the freedom of slaves changes. He says: "all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall
then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." This means that all slaves in rebelling confederate states are now free. Although this does not free all slaves, this does aid Lincoln in achieving his final goal of obtaining freedom for all Americans. Lincoln's personal feelings are still consistent, in that he is striving to free all enslaved Americans.
In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln dedicates the victory and sacrifices made by the tens of thousands of lives lost to continuing the cause of the Union. He also says: "they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom." This states that these brave men fought and died for what they believed in, and their deaths should be but a reminder that the Union must push on towards the ultimate goal of success, and now obtaining freedom for all people. Lincoln publicly states that all people should be free regardless of race, and says that the best way to honor the dead, is to drive forward in supporting the cause which they died for.
Lincoln At Gettysburg

Lincoln's views on slavery never change, for he always wishes that all people would be free. However, he sees that it would not be tactically viable to attempt to free all of the slaves at once, and early in the war. He knows that he will lose a great amount of support for the war, so he waits to free slaves until it is beneficial to the union, and once victory is imminent.

Lincoln's Views Documents
Image Link