Posts tagged history

nprontheroad:

This map isn’t much use for driving directions, but is in our heads as we drive: The United States and Mexico as they looked in 1830. What are now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California and parts of other states were in Mexico; Louisiana was a border state.

nprontheroad:

This map isn’t much use for driving directions, but is in our heads as we drive: The United States and Mexico as they looked in 1830. What are now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California and parts of other states were in Mexico; Louisiana was a border state.

Why did the Ming allow itself to become isolationist, stagnant, and backward-looking? Historians are divided, but the leading explanation is simply put, when a country thinks it’s in a golden age, it stops focusing on progress. America shows troubling signs of falling into this trap.
kohenari:

Like American history and political theory? Interested in the American Founders? Want to double-check the reasoning of Justices Scalia and Thomas?
Well, now you can check out more than 100,000 documents written by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, and Franklin, thanks to this very cool project by the National Archives.

Nice!

kohenari:

Like American history and political theory? Interested in the American Founders? Want to double-check the reasoning of Justices Scalia and Thomas?

Well, now you can check out more than 100,000 documents written by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, and Franklin, thanks to this very cool project by the National Archives.

Nice!

Today in 1963 (todayin1963) on Twitter

Another great use of Twitter to retell history.

From haaretz:

Six Day War breaks out, this time on Twitter: Over six days in June, the Israeli army will reenact the 1967 war with minute-by-minute updates from the front on its Twitter page.

This seems like a really interesting way to teach history, perhaps? 

From haaretz:

Six Day War breaks out, this time on Twitter: Over six days in June, the Israeli army will reenact the 1967 war with minute-by-minute updates from the front on its Twitter page.

This seems like a really interesting way to teach history, perhaps? 

Austerians don’t get off on other people’s suffering. They, for the most part, honestly believe that theirs is the quickest way through the suffering. They may be right or they may be wrong. When Krugman says he’s only worried about ‘premature’ fiscal discipline, it becomes largely a question of emphasis anyway. But the austerians deserve credit: They at least are talking about the spinach, while the Krugmanites are only talking about dessert.

Paul Krugman’s Misguided Moral Crusade Against Austerity by Michael Kinsley (via thenewrepublic)

Perhaps.

But here’s a historical analogy that I remember from an ancient civilizations class so many years ago. The anecdote was so radically counter-intuitive to anything I had ever been taught, that it blew my mind. I’ve been thinking about citizenship and democracy in different ways ever since. It’s a story about the Roman Republic.

As a republic, Rome relied on citizen-armies to fight its wars. When Rome was setting off for war, the male citizens would gather in the Field of Mars (the god of war). Military needs would dictate the number of troops that needed to be raised for a campaign. Then, the citizens would be drafted, one by one, until they made up the requisite number.

But here’s the counter-intuitive part: Because Rome’s was a citizen-army, the citizen-soldiers had to provide their own military equipment. So the wealthiest citizens were always drafted first. (According to my professor, in the history of the Roman Republic the poorest class of citizens were never drafted.) Even when they fought, the wealthier (better armed) citizens always took the front ranks.

This seemed to me remarkable. The wealthiest Roman citizens held the most power in the republic. Only they could enter the Senate or hope to serve as consuls or tribunes. And yet they were the most exposed to the risks of war. Because those who exercised the most power also bore the greatest responsibility—and put their own skin in the game.

Today, America’s military is predominantly manned by the lower social classes. Few members of the social elite ever enter military service. Not surprisingly, austerity politics has followed suit. We’re more likely to cut services for the poor than subsidies for the wealthy or middle class.

I wonder. Would an average ancient Roman citizen even recognize our system as a “republic”?

BTW, it’s perhaps not immaterial to point out that the Roman Republic lasted nearly 500 years (that’s almost three centuries longer than the US has existed). By around 50 BC or so, the citizen-army model gave way to “professional” militaries, often recruited from among the poor. These private armies served under individual (wealthy) generals—like Julius Caesar, who gave us the Roman Empire.

Via globalvoices:

History Retouched: Two Versions of Mao’s China One of China’s top ten micro-blogs published historical photos showing two versions of Chinese history during Mao’s Era (1949-1976). See the complete photo set here.

A fascinating look at how history was “retouched” in China for political purposes.

Via globalvoices:

History Retouched: Two Versions of Mao’s China 

One of China’s top ten micro-blogs published historical photos showing two versions of Chinese history during Mao’s Era (1949-1976). 

See the complete photo set here.

A fascinating look at how history was “retouched” in China for political purposes.

A referendum in which the colonists will take part, the descendants of those who evicted the true inhabitants of those islands, means a disrespect to intelligence and to national and international law,

Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou, who apparently doesn’t know Argentina’s history with its own indigenous populations or has no sense of irony. Via Argentina attacks Falkland Islands referendum - Telegraph (via westernhemisphereanalysis)

Oh, historical anachronisms! 

Why the history of the Constitution matters

Let’s be very clear on something: The US Constitution, as every textbook (at any level) makes very clear, was not written with the primary intention of limiting the central government. 

Sure, the Founding Fathers (peace be upon them) were motivated by a liberal suspicion towards strong central government.

But the Founding Fathers had already created a government with a weak central government. It was called the Articles of Confederation. It was the failure of that government (which lasted until 1789) that prompted the Founding Fathers to create a new constitution that gave more powers to the central government and took powers away from the states. (I’m also pretty sure the Civil War definitely answered this issue.)

In fact, one of the things that prompted the creation of a new, stronger central government was Shay’s Rebellion. My old office (at Dickinson College) was on the very corner where General George Washington assembled the militia that marched off to put down Shay’s Rebellion (there’s a plaque and everything).

It’s also useful to remember that the original Constitution included a number of things we would probably find distasteful today. And not even in the Bill of Rights (which, remember, only came later—years after the Constitution was adopted). For example, slavery was legal and slaves (African-Americans) only counted as 3/5 of a person. And women weren’t allowed to vote. Stuff like that.

I love the US Constitution. It’s not perfect (no such document is). But it’s not a sacred text. I do, however, wish more people got sworn in with it (like Rep. Kyrsten Sinema did). 

From theatlantic:

Study: American Income Inequality Was Better in 1774 Than It Is Today

Here’s a finding that would have made for great Occupy sign last year: American income inequality may be more severe today than it was way back in 1774 — even if you factor in slavery.
That stat’s not actually as crazy (or demoralizing) as it sounds, but it might upend some of the old wisdom about our country’s economic heritage. The conclusion comes to us from an newly updated study by professors Peter Lindert of the University of California - Davis and Jeffrey Williamson of Harvard. Scraping together data from an array of historical resources, the duo have written a fascinating exploration of early American incomes, arguing that, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, wealth was distributed more evenly across the 13 colonies than anywhere else in the world that we have record of. 
Suffice to say, times have changed.

Read more. [Image: Jordan Weissmann]

Historical economics is fascinating—and often also illuminating. But here, I’m left with a very uncomfortable question: Does the 1774 figure include slavery? If so, does this mean that today’s America is more unequal than an America that widely practiced slavery? Read the first sentence again. Yes, yes it does.

From theatlantic:

Study: American Income Inequality Was Better in 1774 Than It Is Today

Here’s a finding that would have made for great Occupy sign last year: American income inequality may be more severe today than it was way back in 1774 — even if you factor in slavery.

That stat’s not actually as crazy (or demoralizing) as it sounds, but it might upend some of the old wisdom about our country’s economic heritage. The conclusion comes to us from an newly updated study by professors Peter Lindert of the University of California - Davis and Jeffrey Williamson of Harvard. Scraping together data from an array of historical resources, the duo have written a fascinating exploration of early American incomes, arguing that, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, wealth was distributed more evenly across the 13 colonies than anywhere else in the world that we have record of. 

Suffice to say, times have changed.

Read more. [Image: Jordan Weissmann]

Historical economics is fascinating—and often also illuminating. But here, I’m left with a very uncomfortable question: Does the 1774 figure include slavery? If so, does this mean that today’s America is more unequal than an America that widely practiced slavery? Read the first sentence again. Yes, yes it does.