Monday, October 27, 2014

Reversing Napoleon's Changes

Congress of Vienna Overview

The essential question for the Congress of Vienna was what should people in power do when their power is threatened? Our first activity, the activator for the lesson, was to read a background essay on the Congress of Vienna. We had to analyze this essay by finding the general mood and nature of the Congress of Vienna, as well as finding the attendees from each country and the questions addressed by the Congress. First off, the general mood of the essay was pretty clear. The people in the Congress are wealthy, they grew up wealthy, and always got what they wanted. There were representatives from Austria, France, Prussia, Great Britain, and Russia. The representative from Austria was Prince Metternich, he was elegant, sophisticated, vain, and "excelled in the arts of seduction". From Prussia was King Frederick William III, and he brought one of the most educated and largest delegations to the meeting. Next, Viscount Castlereagh for Great Britain. He was an aloof and eccentric person, who had previously caused a scandal in London when, as a member of Parliament, he had hoped to end malicious political intrigues by challenging a rival cabinet minister to a duel. Representing Russia was Tsar Alexander. He was tall and blonde, and was a man of sudden impulse and excess. His sexual appetites were also insatiable. (We didn't need to know that). The end of the article wraps up by telling us that by the end of the historic gathering, the delegates accomplished what they had hoped to do – the treaty was signed on June 9, 1815.

A photo representation of the Congress of Vienna meeting.

Timeline of Congress of Vienna Events: 

September 1, 1814: Congress of Vienna covered
March of 1815: Napoleon returns to France and reaches Paris
June 8, 1815: Final act of the Congress of Vienna signed
June 18, 1815: Battle of Waterloo -- Napoleon's final defeat

Map of Napoleon's Empire in Europe while ruling

Balance of Power

With Napoleon defeated, Metternich had to adjust the map of Europe, and had to come up with a solution that all the representatives from the Congress of Vienna could agree on. His final decision involved a Balance of Power. The decision was to bring French territory back to its boundaries as existed PRIOR to expansion. Basically, it reversed the change of Napoleon's conquests and created a Balance of Power between Russia, Austria, Prussia, Britain, and France. The land redistribution ensured a balance of power for the allies in the face of any later attempts at French expansion. Ultimately, Napoleon was viewed as the enemy rather than France as a whole, so they were part of the list of countries in the balance of power. Stolen artwork was to be returned and France did have to pay reparations to the Allies. Overall, the peace settlement was not terribly vindictive, and I believe Metternich & the Congress of Vienna made a good decision by balancing out power among countries, to get things to how they were before Napoleon. 

The map of Europe AFTER the Balance of Power, and reversing Napoleon's changes.

Did They Make the Right Decision?

I do in fact think the Congress of Vienna made the right decision in using a Balance of Power among Russia, Austria, Prussia, Britain and France. I also agree with not viewing France as the enemy rather than Napoleon. Napoleon took over all these countries during his conquests and should be blamed if they are looking for someone to blame. I do think the powerful should be willing to sacrifice some of their power under certain circumstances. The Balance of Power was a good idea because it wasn't just one ruler ruling over all the countries. It was a way of using power with Allies. The powerful should always be looking out for their people, and should be up for some sacrifices every now and then. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Getting Competitive with Ideologies...

What are Ideologies?

Ideologya system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
In class, we were asked to define the following terms; liberal, conservative, and nationalism. I had no idea what a liberal was, or what nationalism was. I had the idea that conservative people liked old fashioned traditions. They like to save and spend money wisely. That was correct. The modern conception of a conservative is defined as "holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion". The modern conception of a liberal is defined as a person that is "open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values". These already seem total opposite to me. Finally, nationalism is described today as "patriotic feeling, principles, or efforts" and "advocacy of political independence for a particular country". All of these are ideologies. I keep saying these are the modern conceptions of these terms because the meaning has changed over the years. The essential question we had to end up figuring out was: What were the major political ideologies of the 19th century and how did they influence social and political action?  

Presentation - Conservatism

Conservatism (19th Century): A very traditional ideology that argued that time-tested traditions were the only solutions to social and political problems. They believed revolutions and the expanding of innovation and reforms were wrong and resulted in violence.
Using basically any app we wanted, each group in the class had to make a one minute presentation that explained the ideology we were assigned. There were 3 ideologies and 6 groups, so 2 groups got the same ideology. They would then go head to head and see which presentation won the class over. My group was assigned conservatism, and we decided to make our presentation on Educreations. You can watch our presentation on conservatism here.
This presentation represents conservatism because the scene opens with a king, his son, and a noble in the king's bedroom. The king is dying on his bed. He tells his son that he wants him to be the next great king. The noble in the background asks why they don't vote for a new king, rather than just passing it onto the next generation. The son explains that this strategy has always worked and is a tradition. This portrays conservatism because conservatives believed that time-tested traditions were the only solutions to social and political problems, and that constitutionalism led to a lot of chaos. They also believed, in the 19th century, that monarchy (a form of government with a ruler) worked, as well as aristocracy and church power. The next slide of the presentation shows the noble who made the suggestion getting beheaded for putting out the idea that what they were doing wasn't working. 

Liberalism & Nationalism

The ideology article on Edline and our classmates' performances helped me understand what liberalism and nationalism were described as in the 19th century. First, liberalism. We watched a video made by a group of classmates that did their presentation on liberalism. After watching this, I had a better understanding of what exactly liberalism was. At first, I noted that it was the complete opposite of conservatism. Liberalists did not like old traditions, supported new ways of ruling - based on merit, freedom and rights, advocated for middle class participation, yet not for women or the poor. The liberalists were not accepting of all social levels. Next, nationalism. A group made a funny animated video using M&M's talking. The M&M's kept talking about how different they all were - because they are all different colors. However, a Skittle then comes and says he will rule over them. The M&M's team up and realize they are all the same candy (representing when people are all from the same country) and defeat the foreign, weird Skittle king. Nationalists in the 19th century were people with similar beliefs in traditions, languages, and other things that make them the same, who decided to 'team up' and prevent foreign rulers. This representation with M&M's was funny and at the same time really let me understand what nationalism was. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Napoleon: Good or Bad Leader?

A photo of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

Napoleon Bonaparte Overview

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15th, 1769 on the Mediterranean Island of Corsica. He was sent to a military academy at the age of nine. After graduating from this school in Paris, he became a second left tenant in the Artillery, and the French Revolution made him more prominent. Napoleon ended up conquering many different countries and gained a lot of military success. The countries he conquered included Italy, France, Belgium, Egypt, Austria, Australia, Spain, and Germany. In November 1799, Napoleon was part of a group that successfully overthrew the French Directory. After seizing political power in France, he crowned himself emperor in 1804. Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium. His forces were defeated by the British and Prussians. He was exiled to a remote island called Elba, where he died at age 51 in 1821. Napoleon is thought of as amazing to some, but horrible to others. Today, we will discover what experts think about Bonaparte's historical career, and the impact he had on both France and the world.

A full overview on Napoleon's life.

Napoleon's Impact: Political, Economic, Social

Napoleon had a huge impact on France itself, and the world. He also had huge social, political and economic impacts that changed how people lived their lives. In terms of political issues, Napoleon had both a positive and negative impact, depending on who is being affected. The political impact was positive for poorer, lower class citizens. This is because he created meritocracy. Meritocracy made it possible to get a job without needing family connections. Also, serfdom was abolished. However, his impact was negative for the kings of the countries he took over. The king had to follow the Napoleonic Code and follow his rules, whether they liked it or not. His political impact was also negative for churches, because church political power was significantly reduced. Now, onto his economic impact. For the most part, it was positive. Napoleon established the Bank of France and balanced the budget, encouraged growth of industry, controlled prices so more people had access to higher quality items, and built canals to encourage trade. However, his impact was negative for Italy because he stole a lot of money and wealth from them. Onto the last category of social impact. Napoleon's social impact was positive. He created meritocracy, which eliminated the importance of titles and abolished serfdom nobility, which made it possible for more citizens to have right to property and access to education. All of this tells me that Napoleon had mostly positive impacts on the lower classes, whereas the nobility would probably prefer to not have him in power.

Madame de Staël vs. Marshal Michel Vey

Madame de Staël and Marshal Michel Vey had certain views on Napoleon. Very different views. We will start off by looking at what de Staël had to say about Napoleon as a ruler. She claims that he liked to "persuade men by force and by cunning", and he "considers all else to be stupidity or folly". This quote tells me right away that she clearly did not think of Napoleon as a good and smart ruler. She went on to say that his system included intruding daily upon France's liberty and Europe's independence. Her opinion made it clear that she was a noble, and she thinks Napoleon is evil. Nobility didn't benefit from Napoleon's ruling, so this is predictable for a noble to think of him like this. Marshal Michel Ney had a totally different opinion than de Staël. He says that Napoleon has the right to rule over "our beautiful country", referring to France. He goes on to say that Napoleon is an august emperor, meaning a respected/impressive ruler. This piece of information given to us tells us that Napoleon impacted Marshal Michel Ney in a good way, and he clearly likes Napoleon more. He was a soldier to Napoleon, and he realized while working how much of a great leader Napoleon was.

"While we do not hesitate to speak with proper severity of Napoleon's reckless course in 1813 and 1814, of his obstinate adherence to a military solution of the difficulties which encompassed his Empire, of his indifference as a soldier to the evils of war, of his forgetfulness as soldier of his duties as a sovereign, -- while we recognize these defects and faults, let us be equally frank in acknowledging his great qualities, -- his untiring industry, his devotion to the public service, his enlightened views of government and legislation, his humanity."

-John C. Ropes, The First Napoleon: A Sketch, Political and Military 

The quote above was included in the reading about historians who spent most of their lives researching Napoleon, called The Lost Voices of Napoleonic HistoriansI thought this quote was important to include because it shows more of what people thought of when they heard Napoleon's name, as well as the impact he had on the world. The author who wrote this pointed out that so many people easily point fingers at Napoleon for his bad aspects. Ropes wants people to rather note that he had plenty of good to offer, including his devotion to public service and his humanity. This quote shows that people could see what made Napoleon both a good and bad leader, even though most people just focused on the bad parts. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Marx vs. Smith: Helping the Poor

Rock Paper Scissors...with Chocolate.

History class on Friday was very interesting and different. Once we sat down, we were given Hershey Kisses. I received 2, the same amount of the rest of my group. However, there were a couple students that received around 7 or 8 pieces of chocolate. This did not frustrate me, even though I am obsessed with chocolate, but it frustrated a lot of people. We were then given an activity. We were told to play rock paper scissors with other kids in the class. If you lost a game, you gave that person a piece of chocolate. Once you ran out of Kisses, you had to sit down. Everyone was told to play, nobody could just keep their chocolate and stay sat down. This was frustrating because I lost my first two games and lost all my candy after only two games of this. I'm probably really bad at rock paper scissors. Once most people had lost their candy, we got back to the lesson. A lot of people revealed that they thought the game was unfair, and based on luck. We starting learning about Karl Marx's Theory of Communism, which will be described in more detail in the next paragraph. Mrs. Gallagher then collected all the candy back from people that had some left, and redistributed two pieces to every person in the class. This was an example of socialism, because there was economic equality. Mostly everyone in the class was happy because we all had the same amount of "wealth", as in candy. We then were asked if we would play rock paper scissors again, with the risk of losing all our candy without getting it back. A few people wanted to play again, but most didn't. We never ended up playing, to explain communism. The goal of the classless society had been achieved, and no government was necessary. (Mrs. Gallagher, the distributer, represented the government). The class ended and we finally got to eat our delicious chocolates.

Marx and Smith

The Industrial Revolution changed how people looked at "rich vs. poor". Karl Marx, a German philosopher, had to think of a way to help the dramatic difference between the nobility and wealthy people, and everyone else. He wanted to help the poor people and get them to be treated as fairly as the wealthy ones. He came up with his Theory of Communism. It started with capitalism. Private ownership of industry, unequal economic classes, where some win (bourgeoisie) and most lose (the proletariat). Marx didn't like this, and we now move onto the next step. He said, in order to make things more fair, people would create a government system of socialism. The goal of socialism is to bring economic equality. It aims for a classless society. To finish off Marx's theory, he said that the majority of people would not accept the possibility of sharp divisions between rich and poor any longer. By any means necessary, even violence, they would create communism. Communism is when the goal of classless society is achieved, and no government is needed to run a nation. All the parts to the theory are explained in more detail in our class notes. Marx came up with this theory because of the conditions in England during the Industrial Revolution. Poor people were treated with no respect, despite ability or work ethics. Marx was sick of how defining the classes of society were, so he wanted to make a change. Many people would have hated Marx's theories during the Industrial Revolution, including nobility and wealthy citizens. Most likely, wealthier people probably would not want to help the poor. The nobility was happy with the amount of power they had, and did not want a classless society to make them seem less important.

A mini biography on Karl Marx, creator of Marxism.

Economist Adam Smith also wanted to help the poor, but had a very different approach than Karl Marx. He came up with The Invisible Hand. Adam Smith basically told the government to leave people alone to buy and sell freely among themselves. To just leave self-interested traders to compete with one another. People want to pay less for high quality goods. The people of the nation will buy whatever is the cheapest. If two items are the same price, they will buy the higher quality and better product. This system helps the poor because products will be cheaper and more affordable because of the market competition. More things will become affordable, making it possible to live easier in the society.

Video on The Invisible Hand, explaining the system in detail.

Theory vs. Theory

Both theories obviously required a lot of work and creativity. But which one is better? In my opinion, The Invisible Hand theory is better. I also think that Marx's theories would work, and poor people would benefit with Marxism, too. However, I believe that The Invisible Hand is a better approach. It makes more sense to me to let people work things out on their own, and see what happens. I also agree that this would benefit the poor, because products would gradually become cheaper and those in poverty could buy more things for everyday life. I believe that both are good solutions, and don't think a third alternative system is necessary. Either of these systems could work in a society.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wanting to Work in the Mills?

Video: Daughters of Free Men

Factory conditions during the Industrial Revolution were torturous and horrible. Even though everyone knows that, there were reasons girls wanted to go to the mills and start working there. A lot of girls, including Lucy, begged their parents to let them work. Lucy is the girl from the Daughters of Free Men video. Lucy Hall wanted to go to the Lowell Mills to work, and make money to send back to her home to help pay for mortgage. Her father was very hesitant to send his little girl away to work in Lowell. We were asked what we would do if we were Lucy's father, and I said I would be fine with sending her. If she really wanted to work there, and would make more money for her family, I would think it was a good idea. The rest of the video revealed more about Lucy and the girls she worked with in Lowell. Once the girls got to Lowell, they were very excited. It was a real city! There were many people and places to see, and they were excited to buy city dresses during their time there. They were all very interested in the general atmosphere. However, once the work started, the girls became frustrated. The wages weren't very high, and they didn't have much time for meals and relaxing. The girls decided to protest. Harriet is a girl who shows Lucy how to run the weaving machine. It is clear that Harriet is much more determined to protest and fight for better wages than Lucy is. This is because Lucy has a home, and somewhere to go. Harriet does not have a home she can easily return to, so she wants to be treated more fairly. The strike failed and the mill owners ended up hiring new people.

Benefits of Working at Mills

The decision to go to a mill and work was a huge decision for a girl in these times. They had to consider both the costs and benefits of working at a mill. The benefits are mostly based on independence. Benefits of being a "Mill Girl" also included the girls sending home money. The girls sent home money to help pay the mortgage for their families. Also, they learned to care about money more and be more independent. It was good for the girls to earn their own money and buy their own clothes because they felt like their own person. If they stayed home, they would most likely make their own boring clothes, rather than going into the city and buying dresses. In Lowell, the girls got 3 months of education, and there is even a book containing a collection of articles written by factory girls. The cover of the image shows that the girls were educated and had a life outside of the mills. It was also good in the social aspect, because the girls met friends at the mills as well as family figures. Even though a lot of good seemed to come out of working, the mills were definitely not all fun and games. 

Cover of book with my edits on it.

Costs of Working at Mills

A lot had to be sacrificed in order to work at the mills in a factory. The family the girls belonged to had to give their child away. It was very emotional for families to let their child go, as one can tell in the photo below. At the mills, a new set of problems had to be faced by the girls working there. First of all, health and injuries hugely impacted the workers. A lot of injuries and accidents are explained in this article about factories in Great Britain. Even though this is not about Lowell Mills, many of the same accidents may have occurred. Machinery was being handled all day, which is bound to cause injury. Health was also a big issue. Many girls were working in the same room, so once one worker got sick, mostly every other one did too. Another cost was being away from family. One of the biggest downfalls was being treated unfairly by the overseers and mill owners. The girls were not treated with the respect they deserved when working in the mills. It is not fair to punish a worker because they don't do something right only once. 

Photo showing a family letting their daughter go to work.