candicel

Course Review

I have to say this semester’s class was one of my favorites. It was nice to take a refresher course on something I have already studied in the past. I do wish we had gotten the chance to cover more topics though. I really enjoy World War II and post WWII topics the most. We did cover WWII pretty well, which I was happy about. I would have liked to study such people as JFK or Ronald Regan, or such topics as the Vietnam War.

         I think this course was good in defining some repetitive concepts that are found throughout American History. For example, the fact that we are an imperialistic nation, and always have been. My past experience of history courses have put so much detail n the most popular stories of American history, and so I did enjoy that in this course we got to look at the other stories throughout history, and not just the same parts over again. One of example of this is not focusing heavily on the Holocaust, which I spent my entire sophomore year of high school studying. 

Thanks for a great semester!

-Candice Lucian

Turning Point of WWII: Battle of Stalingrad

         In my opinion, the clear turning point of World War II is the Battle of Stalingrad (Hitler’s failed invasion of the USSR). This is the moment when Hitler turns his back on Stalin, who he previously had an “alliance” with, and as a result also turns his back on any hope for winning the war. If many things during the war went differently, Hitler’s plan for world conquest might have actually been achieved, because Hitler did have power. He had the support of majority of the people in Germany, as well as support from many people outside Germany. Hitler also had a strong military, with new technologies such as submarines, and smart military leaders. No one was standing up to him, and if they were, they weren’t powerful enough to actually change anything. Hitler seemed for a long time to be getting his way. But once he set his imperial sights on the USSR, and went against Stalin, Hitler lost all hope. Stalin was militarily strong and ruthless himself, and led one of the largest countries involved in the war. By attacking the USSR, Hitler gave Stalin a reason to fight back against him – and that was powerful enough to change the course of the war. Germany were forced to surrender at Stalingrad, and the war would never be the same.

         It’s hard to say what would have allowed Hitler’s conquest for world domination to be achieved. If just a handful of things went differently, the history of the world could be very different. But it is definitely a valid point to say that if Hitler stayed on good terms with Stalin, he would have had a stronger chance of surviving the war. 

-Candice Lucian

Hitler's Power

At the end of World War I, Germany was given outrageous punishments for their involvement in the Great War, including blame for the start of it. This punishment was placed upon the nation when the leaders of the world met at Versailles and formed the Treaty of Versailles. Along with blame, Germany was given the burden of paying an incredible amount of debt to the multiple nations destroyed by the war. Germany was already in a depression, and the new added debt meant an economic collapse for the country. Germans were desperate to be lifted from the life they lived, and were therefore willing to follow anyone promising such a future. This was the perfect opportunity to give rise to the Nazi Party. Adolf Hitler was a persuading figure, and was very smart. When coming into power, he was able to lift the Germans out of their economic depression, gaining much support in the process. Germans became hopeful in their leader who promised a better life, and told them what was deserved to them as Germans.

With the power and influence Hitler was able to hold when he became the leader of the Germans, he held the platform to play out his campaigns of terror on the world. He had a large following and large political backing. Combining this with the allies he made in the beginning of the war, it seemed as though no one could stop him. He had the command of so many, and therefore was able to carry out his terrible campaigns. 

-Candice Lucian

The New Deal

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “First Hundred Days” consists of the 15 Bills he pushed in his first 100 days in office. This was part of his “New Deal” in which he pushed his “three R’s” – Relief, Recovery, and Reform. The goal was to give relief to economic stress, recovery with new jobs, and reform by implementing policies that would prevent this situation from happening again. In the “100 days” Roosevelt also issued the Nation Bank Holiday, in which the banks were given time to close their doors and recover from economic stress. During this time, Roosevelt also backed the banks financially in order to prevent the banks from failing in the future, and to keep people from losing money. By doing so, some faith was reinstated in the banks, and hope was given to the people in this time of economic stress.

Roosevelt’s policies issued during his first 100 days, along with his other New Deal policies, gave increasing strength to the federal government. These policies changed the role of the federal government in society and how government carried out its business. Roosevelt believed the government should interfere more on American society. His predecessors led by “sitting back,” allowing things to function as they would naturally. Roosevelt on the other hand believed in implementing policies and practices that would change and benefit American society. By doing so, he also changed the role of the President. He was an active leader, the first “modern” President. He encourages the American public, as evident through his weekly “fireside chats” and acted as the leader who worked with the people, meeting their needs in a time when they desperately needed his help. 

-Candice Lucian

Prohibition

Many of the supporters of the movement for prohibition in the United States were women who were also involved in the push for women’s suffrage and African American rights. These women, along with some other men, pushed for prohibition to “purify America.” They claimed such goals as working “for the children” of America. During this time, Americans were drinking on average more than any other time in history. Supporters of prohibition led others to believe that by riding the country of alcohol, other problems such as violence and poverty would be solved as well (which was not a result). At first, probation was seemingly working after the passage of the Volstead Act in 1920. But soon it was clear that a simple act could not deny citizens from getting what they wanted. Clubs and bars opened up “underground” and out of sight. With the simple bribery of the town police, who were also in the bars, one could enjoy their drink. Alcohol was given the purpose for “medical use only” as it was sold in convenience stores, such as Walgreens. Because of the high demand for people to own this product, such convenience stores soon popped up all around the country. With so many people clearly violating the act, it is no surprise that by 1933 it was repealed with the 21st amendment. Looking at it now, it is hard to imagine that such an outrageous act could ever be passed, and such a wonder that it lasted as long as it did.

-Candice Lucian

Old War Strategies Used in the Great War

Throughout the “Great War” evidence of the use old military tactics was displayed by most of the countries involved. Although new military strategies such as trench warfare were implemented, there was still evidence that these countries were “stuck in the past” and not developing with the technologies of the age. For example, during the “trench warfare,” soldiers stormed out from their side and towards the opposing trench (in am attempt to over take). Soldiers were forced to leave their own trench – sometimes at gunpoint – to run into open field, where their enemy was firing at them while hidden in their own trench. This kind of warfare led to millions of soldier’s deaths throughout the war. The total amount of loss was unnecessary and could have been avoided if such styles of fighting weren’t used.

When the end of war was in sight, both sides agreed to enact an armistice on November 11, 1918 at 11:11, at point at witch Germany would surrender. Another example of societal actions not caught up with the time. Both sides knew the end was coming, and knew when they were going to bring about the ending. Yet, they kept fighting until that point, allowing thousands of more soldiers to die in the waiting period – all because that kind of warfare is what they had always practiced. An “organized fighting,” or as much as it could be. Looking at it now, it doesn’t make much sense. And it is hard to see how multiple people could ever see that as a logical plan, when so many unnecessary deaths occurred while waiting for the known time of peace. 

Candice Lucian

Election of 1912

The Election of 1912 is considered to me one of the most significant in American History because its result would have an impact on the history of the world. With the growing tensions between nations in Europe, and the eventual outbreak of World War I, the President of the United States had a large role to play. How different might our foreign policy have been if Roosevelt were elected back to the Presidency, or if Taft remained in office? The Election of 1912 had the results that it did because of the division within the Republican party. Taft, the incumbent president, was the obvious choice for the Republican party nomination, and was chosen as so. Taft’s predecessor, Roosevelt, was feeling a growing regret in leaving the Presidential office. Therefore, he decided to run again. And since he was not chosen as the Republican Party nominee, Roosevelt formed his own third-party: the Progressive Party (also know as the Bull-Moose Party). In doing so, Roosevelt took many Republican Party supporters with him, dividing Republican votes. This then gave the Democratic party a stronger starting point, as there was less division amongst their voters, and chose Woodrow Wilson as their nominee. The fourth, and weakest candidate (running for the fourth time), was Eugene Debs, representing the Socialist Party of America. Wilson held the largest supportive backing and won the election with it. Wilson was then made a crucial President in American history, as he later became the President during the World Wars. 

-Candice Lucian

Elections of 1896 and 1900

Election of 1896:

The election of 1896 was a campaign between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryant. McKinley was backed by the men of big business (Carnegie, Vanderbilt, etc.) and conducted a “Front Porch Campaign” as a result. The industrialists’ funds meant he had to do little traveling/ campaigning to get his message out there. The use of new technology, such as small films, brought McKinley to people all over the nation. Bryant, on the other hand, moved around in his campaign as much as possible. Speaking on behalf of the poor, talking of trust-busting and evening out he economy field, meant Bryant did not have the support of men with big money. Bryant campaigned against the gold standard, while McKinley campaigned for it. The election itself displayed the divide between city/country and the development of “blue/red” states.

The election of 1900 was a “re-match” campaign between incumbent President McKinley and Republican candidate Bryant. Theodore Roosevelt was set as McKinley’s new running mate (VP), as his previous Vice President had died. Roosevelt was chosen for the role on the idea that the Vice President role was known as the position where “political campaigns go to die” (Vice Presidents didn’t do much). This would be the opposite reality of what the future would hold for Roosevelt. McKinley won reelection, after such successes as the Spanish-American war and imperialistic successes. 

-Candice Lucian

American Imperialism

I think the United Sates has always been an imperialistic nation. From the 19th century, to now, our goal has always been expansion and the gaining of more land and power. The political statement on such occurrences might have been stated as “bringing freedom to everyone” but if someone does not want freedom, pushing it upon them is not helping them.

In such cases of Hawaii and the Philippines, this type of “forced freedom” can be seen. Hawaii was its own land, its own nation. The people of the Kingdom of Hawaii had no desire to be another extension of the United Sates. But the desire to expand, along with the ideas of “American exceptionalism” led Americans to push for the annexation of Hawaii. In the Philippines, the United States believed they were “saving” the Filipinos from Spanish rule. And on one note, they were helping them (along with Cuba) to become independent nations. Independent nations, not another United States territory. But the U.S., with its imperialistic ideals, pushed and pushed for more.

In other U.S. expansions, there seemed to be no point to the expansion but for expansion itself. The annexation of Alaska is an example of this. At the time, there was no seeming benefit to owning Alaska. Today, of course, with the known source of oil and other raw materials, it is known as a valuable purchase. But at the time, the motivation was for the United Sates to build an Empire. Although we don’t have the same direct mindset of an “empire” today, we continue to be an imperialistic nation as we always have been.

Candice Lucian

Horizontal vs. Vertical Integration

Vertical integration in American business is a version of absolute rule. Businessman Andrew Carnegie used this practice with the steel industry in the 19th century. Carnegie operated everything having to do with the production of steel. From mining, to manufacturing, to distribution, Carnegie controlled every aspect. Vertical integration, specifically at the time, helped grow business. Carnegie Steel became the biggest business of its time, and Carnegie the richest man. Vertical integration allowed efficient work to be done, and a good product to be put out. With all the steps to make this product essentially under one hand, it is more likely that the product will hold value and be what the original idea of the product held. There is also a reassurance that product work will get done all the way, as all the steps operate under one business. The pitfalls to vertical integration are that it can eliminate other suppliers, who now won’t be able to sell their product. It also can put out other businesses that may have to go through other steps and other people to get their product made.

Horizontal integration is the business practice in the 19th century that is known as “monopolizing.” In this practice, a business completely operates one part of industry. The 19th century prime example of this is John D. Rockefeller’s oil industry. Rockefeller bought out many companies, and made even more run out of business. By doing this, he made sure he was the only one left selling oil. Results of doing such a thing can mean higher prices for consumers, as the company in control could set the price at whatever they wish. Horizontal integration also gives one man way too much control, which can also affect the economy. Although horizontal integration may be beneficial for the man/company in control, over all the practice does not result in a healthy economic/business world. 

-Candice Lucian

American Industry

The period after the Civil War was filled with many revolutions of various kinds that all contributed to the emergence on the American industry. The growth of cities was a major movement that brought about American industry. American Industrial centers were located in major cities. These cities contained the populations that would become the workers that would keep the industry growing. In particular, port cities experienced some of the most growth as American industry began. New products could be sent across the oceans, and materials received, which both contributed to even more growth in the American industries. The urbanization of America, along with the influx of new immigrants after the Civil War era, gave the cities the populations, and the manpower, needed for the United States to become the powerhouse of industry it had the potential to be.

The transportation movement also had a large impact on industrial growth. The development of canals and railroads both connected the American population and allowed for products and other things to be shared amongst all the people in the United States. The rapidly expanding railroad system that was developing after the civil war connected the nation more so than it even had been. Now people and product could reach both coasts in a fair amount of time.

The development of the steam engine during this same period served as the starting point for the standard of new technology. Other technological advancements that happened in this ear improved the efficiency and quality of work. Everything was expanding, and the American industry was growing with it. 

-Candice Lucian

The Europeans

Other factors besides the idea of “the American Dream” pushed many Europeans to immigrate to the United States. The Irish famine was a major natural disaster that caused many Irish people to leave their homes and their rotting potatoes to travel to America in search of new prosperity on a new land.

During the same time, as Europe seemingly flourished in the new age, the economic gap between different classes had risen. As a result, peasant economies suffered in places such as Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and the Balkans. Many of these people fled their countries for the United States.

Upon arriving in America, many of these men came skilled in different forms of labor. Others, coming form backgrounds of farming, were considered to be unskilled laborers and were given jobs as such. Workers were needed for low-paying, unskilled labor, and companies used these new immigrants to fill those positions.

Immigrants idea of life in America held a much highly quality of life than what was given to them. Beginning from the long and unsanitary boat ride over from Europe, America was not the “gold handing” land it was made out to be. Many groups of immigrants were met with discrimination by those already living in the States. They were given specific jobs because of where they came from, and treated accordingly.

Chinese immigrants faced harsh forms of discrimination. Many workers tried to fight for their rights, but in those days workers right were not held to high esteem. Eventually, the stigma against the Chinese lead to the Chinese Exclusion Act in which Chinese men were no long admitted in to the country (until it was revoked in the 1900s). 

Custer's Last Stand

         All history “changes” over time. As years, decades, and centuries pass on, the exact story of a past event changes for many reasons. The general idea of an event and its impact are never lost, but it is the details of the story that seem to morph over the years.

         In the case of Custer’s Last Stand during the Battle of Little Big Horn, the general idea of the story is simply that Custer and his 210 men were all killed in an attempt to attack Sitting Bull and his people. The immediate response of the news served as justification for American conquest. Looking back at the story, historians many years later see that this attack was not a smart move. Custer had not considered the consequences of this attack all the way through, especially the possibility of other tribes stepping in to help Sitting Bull (as they did).

         As the Battle of Little Big Horn’s story is told over the year, Custer is displayed in different ways. In some depictions, he is the strongest of his men, the last one standing, who fought long and hard against the Natives. In reality, Custer was most likely one of the first men shot, and was not actually this great hero that he is often depicted as.

         The reason history seeming “changes” over time is because new facts and stories surface. Whether it is a tale told through generations of families (which itself often changes from person to person), or a new piece of historical evidence to give detail to an event, new outlooks on a story always surface. Even when talking between historians, one may argues something different from the other. The fact is, no one exactly knows what happened in the past besides those who actually lived through it. 

The Pioneer Spirit

The “Pioneering spirit” is the drive Americans in the mid-1800s had to move their lives out West. At the time, the West was an unknown land. Some people had moved there, but most of this new American territory was unsettled upon (not counting of course the Natives that had been there for decades, who the new settlers always seemed to skip over). Americans had many reasons to move out to the West, and many did. Whether they were looking for a new start, more freedom, or simply for economic reasons, many took the journey to the West, most bringing their families along with them. The other major economic push towards the West came with the promise of gold in California. For this, many men and families packed up their belongings and pushed West.

The Homestead Act was an act of government to persuade Americans to settle on the Western land. It gave free public land to anyone who was willing to settle on it for at least five years and “improve the land,” as the act stated. With this, Republicans sought to attract families to the West, and did. Other lands in the West were owned by the newly built Railroad. In an effort to sell this land, the companies campaigned the large grassland (known by many as the Great American Desert) as the “garden spot of the world.” In these cases, Americans willing to take up settlement in the West were persuaded by the promise of land that was their own, land they could settle, work, and harvest on. Because of this, farming became a business in the West. It gave promise not only in profit from product sales on the worldwide market, but also from the selling of land.

Other Western settlers were drawn to the land for more freedom. In these territories where not many lived, there were less restrictions placed on people, and more of a chance for them to live the way they wanted. The Mormons are a group of people who took this concept to Utah. There, they practiced their faith in their community – with such practices as polygamy and giving women rights that became controversial topics in the nation. African Americans were another group of people who migrated to the West. They saw leaving the South as leaving poverty and white vengeance. Many moved from Louisiana and Mississippi to states such as Kansas and Texas. The Western lands were a promise of hope and freedom where new standards could be set.

The push West was no always easy – many, many people died before even reaching their destination. But it was the promise of reaching something greater than what their steady lives had been that instilled the “pioneer spirit” in the hearts of Americans.

Conspiracy of Lincoln's Assassination (Week 1 Post)

Although I can understand the actions taken regarding the alleged conspirators of the Lincoln Assassination, I disagree with the speedy trial and execution of those men and woman. Clearly, the assassination of a president is something we cannot tolerate as a government. And therefore, I do believe it to be important that there be justice served for the former president. But I think in this case, the actions taken were not clearly seen through.

As the Great War within our nation had just finished, the men leading our country felt powerful, strong, and wanting to show that power to anyone that may challenge them. With the assassination of the beloved President Lincoln, the nation was emotional and distressed. These high emotions and strong feelings of self-power is what led to such a quick trial and execution to anyone who was seemingly involved in the conspiracy to take down the government. Even if a person never took action, they were still tried and possibly hung for the thought that they could have been involved with this conspiracy.

For instance, George Atzelrodt who was supposed to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson, but did not follow through with his plans, was still executed. Mary Surrat, in whose home the conspirators supposedly met, was the first woman executed in our nations history. Did these citizens receive a fair trial to reveal whether or not they were actually guilty? Did their punishments justify their supposed crimes? Because the trials and executions happened so quickly, the true answers to these questions could not have been clear. And as a result, executions may not have been the proper punishment for a majority of these people. A lifetime spent in prison perhaps, but the end of a life most likely was not necessary.

In the clear cases of Lewis Powell, who (without question) was the one who attacked William Seward, and of John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin, severe punishments were in order. But in an over-all look at the trials and executions of the conspirators in the Lincoln assassination, it is clear to see that the leaders of our country did not handle things in the proper manner.

Candice Lucian