Thursday, August 16, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Its amazing what people do not know. I was amazed to hear how President Polk was so determined to get everyone out of California who wasn't "white". My opinion, he is up there with Jackson. (see what Columbus started!)
The Gold Rush is covered with the blood of thousands of victims. Writing at the time, author Henry David Thoreau called it "the greatest disgrace to mankind." For the indigenous native people, non-European immigrants, and African-Americans, the story of the Gold Rush is one of oppression, discrimination, and genocide.
From the lectures in class we learned about the 1857 Dred Scott case. Dred Scott was a slave who fought for his freedom in front of the Supreme Court, but was denied. Scott’s argued that he had lived as a slave with his owner in territories where slavery was illegalj and should therefore be set free. The Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 against Dred Scott. Their decision was based on the fact that Scott owned no property and was not a citizen of the
I was interested to learn of the repercussions of this court case. As a result of the court’s decision the Missouri Compromise was made void. It was also asserted that any person descended from black Africans (whether slave or free) is not a citizen of the
This is jumping ahead of the time period that we are covering in class, but it is important to remember that the idea of manifest destiny and US expansion did not stop with the closing of the frontier. Some historians believe that this idea carried into the Spanish-American war and the lesser known Phillipene War which was immediately after. The US role in Cuban independence and especially the Phillipene war is less than honorable. Approximately 200K+ Phillipinos were killed during their uprising against us and the fight against the Spanish in Cuba was a complete lopsided route that could have probably been avoided. This time period is a black eye on the history of the US and there is a credible argument that this was the beginning of US "Imperialism". Some people today feel that the US is the "world police" and should drawback our "unnecessary" global influence that started after the Spanish-American war.
This supposed US "imperialsim" comes up any time that US involvement (or non-involvement) in a foreign conflict becomes difficult. We are called imperialists if we liberate a country in which a brutal dictator killed 300K+ of his own people and we are told that we did not do enough if we standby while a genocide in Rwanda or Darfur happens. Which is it? Can it be both?
The answer is simple. Does the good outweigh the bad when it comes to US foreign affairs? The US donates 80% of all the worlds foreign aid and charitable donations. Germany (which took four years to have its first democratic vote) and Japan (which took 7) are now our allies. South Korea was virtually taken over before Gen. MacArthur invaded Inchon. Women are now going to school in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bosnia and Kosovo are now stable and free from ethnic cleansing. The worlds sea trading routes are kept open and free by the US Navy at a cost of $0 to anyone else in the world.
Yes, the US has had it's fare share of foreign affairs debacles. However, I believe that the good outweighs the bad and evenmore there is no going back to isolationism, the world is too small now. The original idea of manifest destiny was wrong. However, what I am arguing is that is has evolved into the realization that the US has been blessed as the strongest country on earth and now it is our responsibility to intervene when evil rears its ugly head. Maybe we can make amends for all the misdeeds against Native Americans by intervening against evil when it is necessary.
"Hey Americans, what nothing better to do?/Why don't you kick yourself out, you're an immigrant too!"
When Frederick Jackson Turner's book "Significance of the Frontier in American History" came out, it was just another not-exactly brilliant book that hade a huge impact, hardly rare in American history. However, the message that was eventually extracted out of it, the concept of "Manifest Destiny," was perhaps a severe twist.
When Charles Darwin first wrote "the Origin of Species" and talked about natural selection, people assumed that meant that only the best and brightest survived, and the concept of "Social Darwinism" arose. This is not what Darwin meant at all--natural selection favored the best adapted in an environment, not the smartest or strongest, just whomever had favorable genetics. This is sort of the turn Turner's ideas took. Manifest Destiny became the solution to the problem with the Natives. It was their God-given right to take the land out west.
In the back of my mind, I have always wondered whether Americans would take all of this cruelty back. If it meant that Mexico included about half of the modern day US, would people be ok with that? Would they overlook the total slaughter of Native Americans?
Turner's ideas suggested economic independence and an agrarian republic, which are some major concepts that our country was founded on. The reality was much, much more ugly. I left the post short so people would comment more; would you take it all back?