Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Does Skin Color Matter?

Source: http://goo.gl/gQC8FS

Latin American Revolutions Overview

Race should never be a problem, but it is. A person's race was and still is viewed as a big deal by many people. Even though I disagree with those who always make their decisions based on what race someone is, I have to acknowledge the fact that race played a big role in history. But today, we are here to find out; why is it essential to acknowledge human value regardless of race? We are going to
take the events of the Latin American Revolutions and use them as evidence of this social imperative. To start out the unit on Latin American Revolutions, we looked at a very essential map that shows when present-day Latin American countries received independence from colonial rule. The map can be seen below. First, let's learn about the different races in the population on Latin America in 1800. The largest percent of the population was made up of Indians, making up of about 50% of the population. These were people who lived in Latin America before the Spanish arrived. Next, the Creoles, who made up about 23% of the population. They were people of pure Spanish blood who were born in America. They owned the largest and richest mines and haciendas. However, they did not hold that many high-ranking jobs in government, the church, or trade. The African slaves, considered property, made up 11% of the population. Together, Mulattoes and Free Blacks made up about 8% of the population. Mulattoes were mixed people with African and Spanish blood. Mestizos, people of mixed Spanish and Indian heritage, mostly small farmers and shopkeepers, made up about 7% of the total population. Lastly, Peninsulares. They were born in Spain and migrated to the colonies. They made up less than 1% of the population, and they worked in high-ranking jobs in the government, military, and church. The highest social class was Peninsulares, then Creoles, Mestizos, Mulattoes, Indians, and African slaves in the lowest level. Now that we know about the people that made up the colonies, let's take a look at the events of the Revolutions.

This map represents when each country in Latin America gained independence.
Source: http://goo.gl/gQC8FS
This photo shows what the child of different race parents would be called. As you can see, every race was considered.
Source: http://goo.gl/gQC8FS

Brazillian Revolution Timeline

  • 1789: People who worked under Captain Minas Gerais revolted & protested for the imperial control and the imposition of new taxes.
  • 1793: Jose de Silva Xavier (Toothpuller) was hanged because he fought for Brazillian independence.
  • 1807 and 1808: Napoleon invades Portugal and Spain. Portuguese royalty fled to Rio de Janeiro. 
  • 1808: Spanish king Ferdinand VII is deposed (removed from office) and imprisoned.
  • 1815: King John VI of Portugal made Brazil a kingdom, placing it on equal footing with Portugal
  • 1820: Portuguese army started a revolution to get a constitutional government. John VI would be the constitutional monarch, but he had to return to Portugal
  • 1821: John VI leaves Brazil for Portugal reluctantly. His 23 year old son Pedro stayed in Brazil as the prince regent.
  • 1822: On September 7th, Pedro declares Brazil's independence. Pedro becomes Pedro the First, the emperor.
  • 1824: Pedro writes a constitution
  • 1825: Portugal recognizes Brazil's independence 
  • 1827: Brazil loses against Argentinians 
  • 1831: Pedro abdicates the throne and returns to Portugal

Brazil, Gran Colombia, and Mexico's Revolutions

My group read about Brazil's Revolution in this document for the activity. The timeline above is what we created using information from the document. After making this using the Brazil document, we shared our timeline with classmates from other country groups. (Mexico and Gran Colombia). We had to figure out what two things were similar between all three revolutions, and two things that were different. The two commonalities they shared was that all of the revolutions had success in gaining independence, and all countries broke apart from their ruling countries. Brazil gained independence from Portugal, Gran Colombia from Spain, and on August 24, 1821, Spanish Viceroy Juan de O'Donojú signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which approved a plan to make Mexico an independent constitutional monarchy. Race was an issue in all three revolutions and affected the events. Gran Colombia Revolution leader Simón Bolívar was born Venezuelan, so he was born in the new world. He wanted to lead an army against the minority of Peninsulares. The soldiers in his army were most likely Creole or in a lower class. In Brazil, the elites in the captaincy of Minas Gerais revolted against the imperial taxes, so they were possibly Creoles, and they revolted against the Peninsulares from Europe. Mexico's Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was a catholic priest, so he was also most likely a Creole. He and a group of Mestizos, people with white and Indian parents, and peasants revolted against the Peninsulares. As you can see, race had a big impact on the Revolutions and nobody really liked the high class Peninsulares. 

Current Issues with Race?

Race is still a bigger issue today than it should be. Everyday, stories are being reported on about whether or not race was an issue with a certain event. The most recent event is the verdict on the shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown on August 9th. The police officer that shot and killed Brown, Darren Wilson, was found not guilty last night. Many riots broke out, because Brown was unarmed. Since he is African American, a lot of people believe he was shot just because of his race. Whether that is true or not, it shouldn't even be something we have to worry about in this day and age. It is kind of depressing that kids in 2014 are growing up still with racism in their lives and on their TVs & computer screens. They shouldn't have to learn that some people don't accept others because of their skin color. It is very important to consider the issue of race because we need to put an end to it. A story from April of this year was about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling getting banned for life for saying racial comments towards blacks on recording. Race is still an issue in the U.S. today and should be paid attention to by people of all ages and put to an end. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Should We Remember Toussaint Louverture? (DBQ)

What makes a good leader? Political skill, toughness, honesty? President Lincoln showed all of these qualities and more, but it has been almost 150 years since he ended his term. Toussaint Louverture is definitely a name to remember when thinking about great leaders that had a big impact on their territories forever. Louverture worked as a young slave until the French Revolution occurred. He worked behind the scenes to encourage slaves to fight to fight for their freedom. By 1793, he commanded a rebel army against French forces on the island of Hispaniola. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in Saint Domingue (now called Haiti) in 1794 once the revolutionary government in France abolished all slavery in the French colonies. However, Napoleon Bonaparte had risen to power in France and was planning to reinstate, or bring back, slavery. Toussaint and Napoleon fought with their troops and Toussaint was captured and taken to France. While Toussaint was in jail, Napoleon pulled his suffering troops out of Saint Domingue and gave up the fight. Toussaint was dying of pneumonia in a French jail and never knew that Haiti became an independent nation on January 1st, 1804. The question is, how should we remember Toussaint Louverture? Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as a liberator of slaves, a military commander, and the ruler of Saint Domingue. His work as a liberator of slaves is most important because he was always fighting against reinstating slavery & had one of the most successful slave revolts in history.
First off, Toussaint Louverture should be most remembered as a liberator of slaves. To start off, he served as a doctor to troops and as a commander of a detachment of soldiers in the 1791 slave revolt (Doc A). This slave revolt started the Haitian Revolution, and it really proves how much Toussaint cared for the slaves. He later stopped his troops from their revolt against France, because Robespierre abolished slavery. Toussaint later defeats the British in 1798 and becomes ruler of Saint Domingue. He showed a lot of proof of caring for slaves and making sure slavery was not reinstated. In 1797 in his letter to the French Directory, Toussaint explains that “They bore their chains when they knew no condition of life better than that of slavery”(Doc B). He also even threatens the Directory, saying “we have known how to confront danger to our liberty, and we will know how to confront death to preserve it”(Doc B). This shows that him and his troops are willing to fight to the death if it means slavery will not return. The Saint Domingue Constitution of 1801 further proves Louverture is a very important liberator of slaves. It states in article 3 that “there cannot exist slaves in this territory, servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French”(Doc C). This article is very important, yet simple and to the point. It clearly states slavery will never exist in Saint Domingue. These are the many reasons we should remember Louverture as a liberator of slaves.
Another way to remember Toussaint Louverture in the future is as a military commander. As stated before, Toussaint served as a doctor to troops in 1791. He truly cared about their health and well-being. Also, Toussaint had a big impact and received mixed feedback on his work as a military commander. Hyacinthe Moyse, Toussaint’s adopted nephew, thought Toussaint was wrong to support plantation farming, so he decided to organize a rebellion. Moyse did not trust slave because of his “draconian [cruel] labor policy and gathering suspicion of his friendliness with the white planter class”(Doc E). On October 29th, 1801, the revolt broke out on the Northern Plain. Toussaint was so enraged that he ordered certain men to shoot themselves! He then ordered Moyse’s arrest and had him confined in the fort of Port de Paix (Doc E). These actions and decisions made it very clear Toussaint was a strong force and military leader, whether people liked him or not. Speaking of liking him or not, historian William Wells Brown wrote in his book that Toussaint had “superior knowledge of the character of his race, his humanity, generosity, and courage had gained the confidence of all whom he had under his command”(Doc F). Also, Toussaint made a good military decision when the French were coming to the port city of Samana to enslave people. Him and his generals burned down the cities that would have resources for the enemy, and fled to mountains so it became harder to fight. This was a good decision and deserves to be noted. Toussaint Louverture is a strong military commander and should be remembered as that, also.
Lastly, Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as the Ruler of Saint Domingue. Louverture was an exceptional leader, yet not everybody was in love with him and his ways of ruling. In Article 28 of the Saint Domingue Constitution, it states that “he is entrusted the direction thereof for the remainder of his glorious life”(Doc C). This proves that he was something special, if they stated that he would be Governor of Saint Domingue for life. There are advantages and disadvantages of this happening. The ruling could develop into a dictatorship, and people would have no say. An advantage is that the people trust him. The citizens had known Toussaint for a while at that point, so they knew they could trust him to start up Saint Domingue. They needed a strong leader to start out. Louverture really looked out for the people. There is also evidence of Toussaint being a strict ruler. It was stated in his proclamation that “any individual...tending to incite sedition [actions against the authority of the nation] shall be brought before a court martial”(Doc D). Another consequence he made for breaking the rules was “any manager or driver of a plantation upon which a foreign cultivator [field worker from another plantation] shall have taken refuge shall denounce him to the captain or commander of the section within 24 hours under penalty of one week in prison”(Doc D). This is saying that if a plantation manager did not report a runaway worker in 24 hours, they would get arrested. It is clear that Toussaint had strict rules, but at least he was trusted by his people, which is why remembering him as a leader of Saint Domingue is very important.
Although Toussaint Louverture accomplished a lot in his career, he should be most remembered as a liberator of slaves. Louverture was a great leader and military commander, but put the most time and effort into making sure nobody would get enslaved again. He made sure to tell the Directory that him and his troops would fight to the death if it meant slavery would not be reinstated. He did a lot to prove him and his work should be respected, and that is why we should remember Toussaint Louverture as a liberator of slaves.

Document A: Created from various sources.
Document B: Toussaint Louverture “Letter to the French Directory, November 1797.”
Document C: The Saint Domingue Constitution of 1801. Signed by Toussaint Louverture in July 1801.
Document D: Toussaint Louverture, “Proclamation, 25 November 1801.”
Document E: Madison Smartt Bell, Toussaint Louverture: A Biography, 2007.
Document F: William Wells Brown, “A Description of Toussaint Louverture,” from The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, 2nd edition, 1863. Engraving of Toussaint Louverture, 1802.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Were All Revolutions Failures?

The Revolutions of 1830 and 1848

In class, we started to learn about the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848: The Decembrist Revolt, French Revolution of 1830, French Revolution of 1848, the Frankfurt Assembly, and the Hungarian Revolution. To help guide us, we were given the essential question, the question we had to figure out by the end of the lesson using what we learned. Were the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 really failures as many historians have concluded? We started out by learning a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville, a liberal French political thinker and historian. He said "We are sleeping on a volcano. Do you not see that the Earth trembles anew? A wind of revolution blows, the storm is on the horizon." We looked at a map portraying the Revolutions, seen below, and were asked how the map illustrated the quote said by de Tocqueville. The map symbolizes a volcano because peoples' rights have been oppressed, and them being unhappy represents the energy beneath the volcano, before exploding. At first, in 1830, there were only a couple revolutions. By 1848, they were much more widely spread throughout the south, and not just the north. The 'wind' of revolution, referring to the quote, means that the idea of revolting spreads, as well as the revolutions themselves. Once these ideas spread, the revolutions become harder and harder to shut down. And the 'volcano' explodes in 1848. My group and I then made a scale of measuring the success/failure of a social/political revolution. We showed that a complete failure would result in monarchs gaining more power and revolutionaries getting killed. Also, no goals getting reached. A complete success would result in no monarchy, a completely fulfilled goal, and no one killed in the Revolution. After doing this, we split into groups and got down to analyzing documents from the different Revolutions.

Map representing the revolution and repressions spreading.
Source: http://goo.gl/cX3R4L

The French Revolution of 1848

My group was assigned the French Revolution of 1848. We were given primary source documents as well as a summary of this Revolution to help us get started. First off, we needed to know the goals, opponent(s), and outcome(s) of the Revolution, along with the reasons it was a success/failure. The goals of the Revolution varied. The middle-class liberals wanted moderate political reforms. The socialists wanted far-reaching social and economic change that would help hungry workers. The opponent was the French government. Why? They shut down the lower class citizens' jobs and numerous workshops. The other opponents were the upper/middle class citizens, because they received the jobs that were taken away from the lower class. There were two parts of this Revolution: February Days and June Days. The outcome of February Days was the government, under Louis Philippe, created more jobs for the poor. The June Days outcome involved the upper and middle classes winning over the government and shutting down the workshops. The working class still didn't have enough money, and Louis Philippe gives up his throne. The final outcome of the French Revolution of 1848 included the amount of Frenchmen able to vote going up from 200,000 to 9 million men. Louis Napoleon is voted president and rules during a time of rapid economic growth. He ends up making himself the emperor. Now, let's go through the reasons for success and failure for the Revolution. Overall, it was a very neutral outcome. The pros included; gaining the jobs they wanted (February Days outcome), more people getting to vote (resulting in people having more power and more of a say), and Louis Napoleon helping with France's economy. the failure is the fact that the government took jobs away and gave them to middle and upper class citizens. 
The primary sources helped us and our classmates answer the essential question as well. The first source, written by Alphonse de Lamartine, from the History of the Revolution of 1848, describes to us the streets of Paris after the troops were waiting overnight. This shows that the revolution was small, along with the following quote: "The people were not numerous in the streets; they seemed to allow the invisible spirit of revolution to fight for them, and that small band of obstinate combatants who were dying for them in the heart o Paris." Another primary source was very interesting and describes everything that was being thrown into the streets to build barricades for protection against the French army. This depicted a goal of the Revolution. After analyzing the primary sources, we made a survey online using Survey Monkey. Our classmates were given the document we used and the online survey, and they took it in class with our help. For the most part, the students understood the lesson as well as we did, as you can see in the screenshot below, showing a question everyone got right. Most of the class agreed with us in that the outcome was mostly neutral, or in between a success and neutral. 12 people voted for neutral, whereas 14 voted for neutral/success, (not a complete success).

A screenshot from our survey, showing that everyone in the class understood this question asking about who abdicated (gave up their throne).
Take our survey: http://svy.mk/1xgjJ0Z

Agree or Disagree?

To start off, I disagree with the historians. I do not think all of the Revolutions were complete failures, but some may have been. First off, the Decembrist Revolt. The Decembrist Revolt is considered a complete failure because no goals were accomplished. The people wanted Constantine in power rather than Tsar Alexander I, but Constantine refused to take the throne. After Alexander I died, Nicholas discovered he would be the next tsar rather than Constantine. All of this was not a good thing at all for the revolters, and that makes the Decembrist Revolt the only revolution we studied that was a complete failure. The French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 both were either neutral or in between neutral and successful. Neither of them would ever be considered complete failures. The French Revolution of 1830 was interesting, because things were accomplished, but not completely. Louis Philippe, the new king, let more people vote, but only the wealthier citizens of France. Under his ruling, the upper bourgeoisie prospered, and the majority of the people were still unable to vote. This tells me there are pros and cons, just like the French Revolution of 1848. In this Revolution, the number of voters went from 200,000 to 9 million people, which was very positive and helpful, and Louis Napoleon helped with France's economy. However, jobs were taken away from some lower class citizens and given to the middle and upper classes. This all shows that no, not all the Revolutions were failures, even if there were some faulty parts of them.