Archive for December, 2006


I had intended to post Part II of the WWI question last night, but got caught up doing movie reviews on Life of Ando.  So to slake your ravenous historical thirst in the meantime, here is my assignment from my history class this past week.  If you’re really into American history and how the politics of the early Republic shook out, Jefferson vs. Hamilton is a great study.  It’s also a little, I guess comforting, to know that as bad as we think today’s politicians are,  politics was always a very dirty game.  Like Bismarck said, “Laws are like sausages.  Better to not see them being made.”  And as Ecclesiastes says, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

1) How did the political philosophies of these men differ?

Most clear thinking Americans could probably tell you at least the rudimentary facts of who Thomas Jefferson was. Far fewer would likely have a definite idea of who Alexander Hamilton was and what his contributions as a Founding Father were. Yet his conception of an American government was just as important as that of Jefferson. Both founders foresaw the new nation as a great future power, and both had very different maps of how to get it there.

Jefferson believed the nation’s strength lay in its agricultural roots. He favored an agrarian nation with most powers reserved for the states. He was very opposed to a strong central authority and believed that the people were the final authority in government. Jefferson also encouraged active support for the French Revolution

Hamilton favored a strong central authority. He believed a strong government was necessary to provide order so that business and industry could grow. He envisioned America becoming an industrial power. To this end he sought to establish a national bank and fund the national debt in order to establish firm base for national credit. Hamilton believed that the government should be run by those who were educated and wealthy rather than by “the mob.” He opposed involvement in the French Revolution and worried Jeffersonians by appearing, and maybe even being, too cozy with Britain.

2) How was the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton a significant factor in the emergence of political parties?

The Jefferson/Hamilton conflict helped give rise to political parties by polarizing factions on opposite political sides. Those who backed Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans supported states rights, a strict reading of the Constitution, and support for the French Revolution. Those who back Hamilton’s Federalists preferred a much stronger central government, an “elastic” reading of the Constitution, and a hands-off approach to the French Revolution.

3) Which view do you think was best for the US – Hamilton’s or Jefferson’s – and why? [This part should be several paragraphs long]

I don’t know if either view could be considered better or worse for America. Forced to choose, I would probably lean toward Hamiltonian ideas, but I believe both served a vital and necessary role in forming the government. Hamilton was a visionary and saw the potential of a great industrial power. His support of a strong central authority was a key reason the young nation was able to sustain itself in the early days, especially in such crises like Shayes Rebellion. One reason he may have felt as strongly as he did was his service in the Revolutionary War. Being one of Washington’s staff, he experienced first hand the difficulty the Continental army had with an ineffectual congress to keep it fed and supplied. The weak congress was not able to raise funds to pay for supplies because it had no real power.

For all his vision and innovation, Hamilton’s ambition may have carried him too far if left unchecked. The federal government may have become too powerful and curbed the rights of citizens, which in fact did happen to a degree during the Adams administration. Jefferson and his policies provided an important counter balance to Hamilton. Jefferson’s support of states’ rights and agriculture helped to offset the influence of the Hamilton-supporting merchants and manufacturers. However, without Hamilton’s counter-balance Jefferson’s policies may have left the government weak and ineffectual to deal with major crises both at home and abroad.

Each viewpoint needed the other to create a government that would be strong enough to protect itself and it’s people from internal and external strife, but not so strong that it would infringe on the rights of the people as enumerated in the Bill of Rights and in the Revolutionary spirit. These issues, of course, weren’t resolved or ceased to be relevant after Hamilton and Jefferson left the scene. These are still very much the issues we deal with even now, over 200 years later. As much as we might dislike, or even hate, the position of the “other” party, without some balance both sides would undoubtedly abuse their power…more than they already do.

4) List at least 3 sources in proper bibliographic format. No Wiki sources.

Frank, Mitch. “Jefferson vs. Hamilton or Group Hug.” American Partisan. Dec. 28 2006. http://www.american-partisan.com/cols/frank/111799.htm

“Hamilton vs. Jefferson.” Dec. 28 2006. http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-41.htm

Kennedy, David, Lizabeth Cohen, Thomas A. Bailey. The American Pageant. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 2002.



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The Heat of BattleDue to recent scholastic developements, namely I’ve gone back to school, Part II of What Started WWI has been delayed.  In the meantime, here is a little something I had to whip up for my history class to tide you over.  I had to choose a battle from the Revolutionary War and answer several questions about it.  I have to do a few of these, on all different subjects, and I’ll probably post them here weekly.  Enjoy!

1)How does the USA commonly refer the battle to (what is it called)?

The battle is usually known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm. Sometimes it is also called First Saratoga.

2)What were the events that lead to the battle? In other words how did the course of the war lead to this battle? [This should be several paragraphs long and explain the strategic and tactical considerations at that point.]

Things were looking grim for the American cause by the middle of 1776. Despite early victories in the north at Ticonderoga and Montreal in 1775, a defeat at Quebec late in that year left one general dead, Richard Montgomery, and one, Benedict Arnold, limping back down the St. Lawrence River…literally. By the summer and fall of 1776, George Washington had been driven out of New York and finally across the Delaware into Pennsylvania. However, British commander Howe did not pursue and destroy Washington’s army and in late 1776, early 1777 the American forces scored stunning victories against the British and their Hessian allies. Washington led successful attacks in New Jersey in the towns of Trenton and Princeton. The British were in need of a decisive plan to end the conflict quickly and spent the time in winter quarters of early 1777 coming up with one.

British General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne, then in London, proposed a plan of invading the colonies from Canada by way of the Lake Champlain-Hudson River route and capturing Albany, New York. He would link up with Howe who would be coming up the Hudson from New York City. This would cut New England off from the rest of the colonies. The mission was ill-fated however. There were no roads between Lake Champlain and the Hudson River and Burgoyne’s large and unwieldy column had to cut its way through the dense New York forest, exhausting his men.

The two sides finally met at a clearing near the farm owned by erstwhile loyalist Freeman, when a reconnaissance in force led by Arnold encountered one of Burgoyne’s three columns. The Colonials took the initial advantage, but overextended themselves and were driven back. Arnold rushed back to his commander, Horatio Gates, requesting a greater force to challenge the British, but Gates would not allow a full attack. The battle flowed back and forth and the British lines began to waver before Burgoyne ordered his column under command of Baron von Riedesel, Brunswickers, to leave their river road route and attack, thus taking the field.

3)Where and when did the battle take place?

The battle took place near Freeman’s farm in upstate New York on September 19th, 1777.

4)Who were the commanders on both sides?

The commanders for the Americans were Benedict Arnold, Daniel Morgan, Henry Dearborn, and Enoch Poor. Horatio Gates was in overall command of the theater. For the British, Simon Fraser, James Inglis Hamilton, and Baron von Riedesel each commanded a column, with John Burgoyne in overall command.

5)How large and what type of forces were on both sides? List the number of soldiers. If there were ships, what were the names of the ships and what kind of ships were they?

Both sides numbered about 3000 men. The American forces consisted of Continental Army regulars as well as militia. The British forces consisted of British red coats and foreign mercenaries from the German principality of Brunswick.

6)What was the aftermath of the battle? In other words how did this battle affect the course of the war? [This should be several paragraphs long and explain the short term and long term affects.]

The Battle of Freeman’s farm was the first major engagement of Burgoyne’s Saratoga campaign. Though the British won, their subsequent defeat at Saratoga would virtually end major British action in New York and New England. General Howe, who chose rather to march on Philadelphia than to travel up the Hudson to meet Burgoyne, eventually returned to New York City where he stayed hemmed in more most of the rest of the war. British action was mainly restricted to the South thereafter. More importantly, the American victory at Saratoga convinced the French that the rebellion was for real and led them to overtly support the American cause.

7)List your sources in APA format

(2006) Wikipedia. The Battle of Freeman’s Farm. Retrieved on December 21, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Freeman’s_Farm

(2006) US History.com. War for Independence: The Battle of Freeman’s Farm September 19th, 1777. Retrieved on December 21, 2006 from http://home.u-s-history.com/pages/h1303.html

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Archduke Franz FerdinandWorld War I is a fascinating, yet often overlooked historical event, usually overshadowed by it’s larger and bloodier successor World War II.  It’s a topic I’ve been wanting to study more in depth for a long time, but for one reason or another I just haven’t.  But what I do know I will share with you here and I’ll be learning in the process as well.  I’m going to divide this question into three posts: The Short Answer: Assasination at Sarajevo, The Long Answer: What Tangled Webs We Weave and The US Enters the War.  Consider this post the first.

The short answer to what started WWI is the asassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914.  No, not the Scottish indie-rock band, but the Archduke.  Franz Ferdiand was the Archduke of Austria and heir apparent to the throne of aging monarch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, his uncle Franz Joseph.  The Arhcduke was in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914 to observe military manuevers, open a musesum, and celebrate his annisverary with his once-common wife.

Seven young slavs who were a part of a Serbian nationalist organization called the Black Hand were milling about the streets that day with the intent of assasinating the Archduke.  The Black Hand was part of a greater movement known as Pan-Slavism.  The aims of the movement were to foment an uprising among the Slav population of Austria-Hungary in order to bring about the creation of an independant Slav state, Yugoslavia.  (We’ll talk more about this in The Long Answer: What Tangled Webs We Weave.)As the Archdukes motorcade made it’s way through the city, it passed several of the would-be assasins, but for one reason or another none made an attempt to carry out the plan.  Except one.  Despite this very day being a Serbian patriotic holiday, Vidovdan, and Sarajevo being in a heavily Slav province, security was light and the Archduke insisted on riding in the car with the top down.  As the ragtop passed one of the assasins on it’s way to the Town Hall, Nedeljko Čabrinović threw a bomb at it.  Fortunately for the Archduke and his wife Sofie, the would-be assasin was no Greg Maddux and his toss missed, hitting another car in the motorcade and exploding.  When the Archduke arrived at the Town Hall, he interupted a prepared speech from the mayor by saying, “One comes here to visit and is received with bombs. Mr. Mayor, what do you say? It’s outrageous! All right, now you may speak.”  After a tense but otherwise peacful reception, the Archduke requested to visit the hospital to check on Gavrilo Principthe bomb victims.

The remaining assasins meanwhile, either because they thought the bombing had succeeded or because they knew they had failed, began to go their seperate ways.  Gavrilo Princip stopped at a sandwhich shop to grab a bite.  You wouldn’t believe the appetite you can work up after an attempted assasination.  As he emerged from the shop, no doubt slurping down a bite of his rueben, he came face to face with the Archdukes car which, as providence would have it, had made a wrong turn down this very street.  Seizing the opportunity, he pulled out his pistol and fired hitting Sofie in the stomach and the Archduke in the neck.  As blood began to stream from Franz Ferdinand’s mouth Sofie cried, “For heaven’s sake, what’s happened to you?” then she lost conscienceness.  Ferdinand pleaded with his wife, “Sophie dear, Sophie dear, don’t die. Stay alive for our children.”  The mayor, who was also in the car, asked the Archduke if he was hurt to which he replied, “It is nothing, It is nothing…” and then died.

 The question then is how did this one event spark a worldwide conflict that would become the bloodiest and most destructive war to that point in history?  Why did the assasination of an heir to the crown by a rogue youth have such dire global consequences?  These questions will be answered in next weeks post, The Long Answer: What Tangled Webs We Weave.

 Questions, comments, concerns?

 Sources other than my brain for this post are:


Trenches on the Web

History According to Bob

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