Monday, November 25, 2013

Andrew Jackson: Democratic or Not?

Andrew Jackson The Great Father of The Indians
This painting is a satire on the removal of indians during the Jackson administration. The controversy of Indian Removal first arose when the Americans were "running out of room" in the east. The American leaders, including President Jackson believed that they needed to expand to the west in order for the United states to continue to grow. Jackson also said that America would be better off with white people throughout, instead of the "savages" (native americans) who currently live there. Andrew Jackson tells the indians that it would be in their best interests to leave where they are and head farther west. He tells them that the migration would be voluntary, but in reality he forces them to leave. Some tribes that refuse to leave have to be shut out and destroyed by Jackson. However, from the point of view of the indians, specifically the Cherokee, this is an unfair proposal. They have already taken many steps to integrate into the American society, and they have not broken any laws or infringed on other people's rights. They wish to remain on the lands that their ancestors have lived on for countless generations. Finally, they raise the point that the land in the west will be unsuitable for the Cherokee lifestyle, and they will be in danger. However, Jackson is ignorant of this fact, and forces the indians to leave along the "trail of tears." Along this "trail of tears," over 2000 Cherokees died, and they were forced to walk hundreds of miles. Throughout this whole ordeal, Jackson claimed that he was acting like the "Great white father" to the natives. It is unclear whether he was delusional in thinking that he was helping the natives, or if he was just trying to maintain his democratic image with the American people.
This artist seems to be portraying Jackson in exactly the way that Jackson thinks he is treating the indian people. However, the scene is so childish, that it seems that the artist is poking fun at Jackson's idea of being a "Great father" to the indians. In my opinion, Andrew Jackson definitely does not deserve the "people's president" reputation that he has. He treated the Cherokees and other indian groups brutally, and essentially deported them to a strange land. Although this may have been good for the whites of America, a true democracy includes everyone, and is fair and equal to all. This was clearly not the case in Jacksonian America.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nineteenth Century American Democracy

Although America has long been portrayed as a "beacon of democracy," The United States was not always as democratic as it is today. As a fledgling country, America was far from a true democracy.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of democracy is:
"1: a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting
2: an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights"
This is a good definition for democracy, however it is vital that the second part of this definition be followed strictly to maintain a true democracy. All people, no matter what the social or economic class, should have the same rights as all other people. Someone's beliefs or their appearance should not govern how they are treated. However, these things were often not the case in the early stages of American democracy.
In the 19th century, The United States were not completely democratic. In a 1852 painting by George Bingam, he depicts some of the flaws of the American "democratic" election system.
The County Election - George Bingam, 1852
One flaw portrayed in this painting is the presence of the men up for election. He is standing next to the voting stand and attempting to convince the voters to vote for him. Another flaw with this system is that people are forced to say their votes out loud, and that they are not sure that the name that they say is actually being written down. The man in the red shirt in the top/middle of the painting is saying his choice, and the men on the porch to the right are writing down his vote. One vital part of this painting is the man in the bottom right. He is slumped over and has a bandage, as if he was just in a fight. This shows that even though the system is democratic and is supposed to please everyone, it is not always peaceful and people do get hurt. Finally, only men are present in this picture, showing that women were not allowed to vote, or take any part in the "democratic" process.
The democracy of 19th century America was also restricted by strict voting regulations. In order to vote, one must: be white, be a male, and must own $50 of property. This vastly restricted the amount of people who could vote. In 1816, presidential electors were not elected by the people, they were all elected by legislature, therefore making the government highly undemocratic. Through time, however more states began to have the electors chosen by people's vote. By 1836, all electors were elected by the people, except in South Carolina. The American "democratic" system was far from democratic in the 19th century. There were many restrictions in voting that made it so that only certain few people could vote.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Pilgrim in a Rocky Valley
Carl Gustav 1820
Romanticism was a cultural and artistic movement during the nineteenth and early eighteenth centuries. Romanticism led to developments in literature, music and visual arts due to reactions to the order imposed in the enlightenment. There were five main artistic focuses of the enlightenment: awe of nature, emotion, importance of individual, grotesque/horrific, and irrationality.
This painting is a prime example of Romantic ideals. This painting shows: awe of nature, importance of the individual, emotion, and irrationality. Awe of nature is shown in the way that the landscape is depicted. The walls of the valley are fantastic and awe-inspiring; they are massive and looming. The star in the sky adds to the beauty of nature. Importance of the individual is shown by the sole pilgrim in the painting, he is the clear focus of this painting. Emotion is invoked by this painting by the humbling size and scale of the mountains. This makes the observer feel small, but also makes them appreciate nature. The pilgrim in the middle of the painting appears to be motionless, almost as if reflecting on himself. Irrationality is shown by the presence of the pilgrim in this seemingly isolated valley. What is he doing there? How did he get there?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Revolutions of 1830 and 1848

Most of the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 were failures, just as most historians conclude. Nearly every rebellion was crushed, and any gains made during the revolutions were lost. Thousands of rebels, and government forces lost their lives in bloody, unproductive wars.
One of these such wars was the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. This revolution was led by Louis Kossuth, and consisted primarily of Hungarian students and young adults rebelling against the foreign Austrian rule. The revolution gained ground temporarily, when Metternich was forced to flee Austria. When this happened, the Austrian emperor was forced to concede to the requests of the rebels. This revolution was powered by a strong nationalist movement, this is an excerpt from the Hungarian National song, "We truly swear the tyrant's yoke/ No more to bear!/ A miserable wretch is he/ Whofears to die, my land, for thee!/ His worthless life who thinks to be/ Worthmore than thou, sweet liberty!" This fierce nationalism, led by Kossuth did not last forever. The Russian Tzar used the principle of intervention and assisted the Austrians in crushing the rebellion.
This shows Russia and Austria "Overwhelming the Hydra of the Revolution"
The country was reverted almost entirely back to how it was pre-revolution, however, Metternich never did return to power. The revolution was rated to be a 2/5 on the success scale.

Another rebellion was the Frankfurt Assembly of 1848-49, this rebellion was a liberal, nationalist movement. The rebellion was against the conservative government and forces of Fredrick William IV of Germany. The rebellion was very successful for almost a year, a constitutional monarchy was established. However, after some time, Fredrick William IV rejected the constitution and put down the rebellion. Many people either died, were imprisoned, or fled the country. This image shows that Fredrick William did not believe that a piece of paper should diminish his power.
The Frankfurt Assembly was temporarily successful, but it was eventually crushed and all change accomplished was reverted, so it was rated a 2.5/5 on the success scale.
Yet another rebellion was the Decembrist Revolt of 1825. This revolution took place in Russia. The goals of this revolution were to make the system of rule more liberal, a written constitution, and social reform. However, their opponents, Tzar Nicholas and the Russian government had other things in mind. Tzar Nicholas says, “The leaders and the instigators of the conspiracy will be dealt with without pity, without mercy.  The law demands retribution and, in their cases, I will not use my power to grant mercy.  I will be unbending; it is my duty to give this lesson to Russia and to Europe.” The revolution was a complete failure, nearly all of the rebels are killed and the Russian Government instates even tighter restrictions. The revolution was poorly planned and spontaneous, this caused it to be stopped easily. This revolution was rated a 0.5/5.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Monroe Doctorine

The United States reacted with strong opposition to the strongly conservative ideologies of the Quintuple Alliance. The Americans felt threatened by the settling of Russian people in the north-west of the American Continent. In the Monroe doctrine, he says "It is only when our rights are invaded, or seriously menaced, that we resent injuries, or make preparation for our defence. With the movements in this hemisphere, we are, of necessity, more immediately connected." This means that the Americans now feel more connected to the politics of Europe, now that a major European power is again attempting to colonize America. Before the advances of Russia on the north-west territories, Americans were able to take a spectators role, and avoid conflict. In response to the Latin American Revolutions, the European powers were proposing to use the principle of intervention to put down many of the rebellions and reinstate a European ruler for each colony. The United States strongly disagrees with this, Monroe says, "We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere, as dangerous to our peace and safety." This means that if any European power attempts to re-conquer any of the Latin American countries, then the Americans will take this a direct threat, and will take action.
The Latin American Revolutionary
Latin American Revolutionaries were pleased with the American stance in the Monroe Doctrine. The Revolutionaries would have been happy that the Americans are preventing the Russians from settling in America, because they are part of the Holy Alliance, and would be closer to the Latin American countries. The Latin American leaders were grateful for the protection offered by America, however, they were wary because the Americans may attempt to influence the new countries. Finally, the Americans were remaining relatively neutral towards Europe, therefore maintaing stability, and the safety of all people.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Congress of Vienna

Klemens Von Metternich was an integral member of the congress of Vienna. He was the representative from Austria, and because the congress took place in Austria, he had great control over the proceedings.
Klemens Von Metternich

The congress decided upon four important ideas: a balance of power, the principle of legitimacy, the holy alliance, and the principle of intervention. The principle of intervention was agreed upon by all countries present except England. This principle meant that if a revolution was ever to begin in any country, then the armies of the other countries in the alliance would help them to put down the rebellion and restore order. The members of the congress of Vienna recognized that war was bad not only for their own countries, but that it also caused instability in all surrounding countries. The revolutions that were prevented or stopped were often intended to remove the monarch, and this was against the intentions of the congress of Vienna, so the monarch was reinstated after the rebellion was crushed. Not all rebellions that occurred were stopped before damage was done, in 1848 a revolution occurred in Vienna and caused Metternich himself to be rousted from power. This principle of intervention pleased all of the rulers because it helped them retain power and keep a stable society. The congress of Vienna resulted in many new rules that benefited the peace of Europe, and the well-being of the aristocracy. However, in many cases, the people were not given a constitutional monarch, so they still had no say in government.