Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to be Remembered

                         DBQ: How should Toussaint Louverture be remembered?
                                                      By Kate McReynolds

     How would you want to be remembered? With a Memorial? Or perhaps with a long poem describing your many attributes? Well, that’s not really the choice of the person who is being remembered. The same goes for Toussaint Louverture, a freed slave from the island once known as Saint Domingue. The island was named Saint Domingue after the French took control of the western half. This island was a major contributor in agricultural ways. By 1780, the 8,000 plantations were producing more than half of the worlds coffee and 40% of the worlds sugar. When the French Revolution swept by in 1789, the slaves were inspired to start a revolution of their own. Toussaint rose through the ranks and emerged a leader. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the army. Soon slavery was abolished in the colonies in 1794.  But as Napoleon, the new emperor of France, talked of reinstating slavery Toussaint turned against France. His efforts were held at bay when he was captured and held in prison, where he later died. The work of the slaves against the invasion of the French forces in 1802 helped bring this small colony to it’s freedom in 1804. So how should Toussaint Louverture be remembered, in view of his work in the revolution? As a liberator of slaves, Toussaint did more good by freeing his people and giving dignity to the colony. He also used his stance as a liberator of slaves to help with being  a military commander or a ruler of Saint Domingue.
     As a man who was once a slave himself, Toussaint knew what the people felt as they worked for the empowered whites. Toussaint had been freed by a kind owner and had been able to become a respected man once the French began to speak of abolishing slavery and to have it turned on him when Napoleon came into power. The rage he felt was unimaginable when he wrote to the French government this letter, “Could men who have once enjoyed the benefits of liberty look on calmly while it is taken from them! They bore their chains when they knew no condition of life better than that of slavery. But today when they have it, if they had a thousand lives, they would sacrifice them all rather than be subjected again to slavery...”(Document B). Toussaint wrote this letter to Napoleon to hopefully stop the reinstating of slavery. The French Government received it and the message it installed was very clear: that Toussaint and the people in Saint Domingue would gladly fight for their freedom. As the deed was done and war was inevitable, Toussaint still tried to go about it in a diplomatic way. He still tried to keep the battlefield clean and fair, even if the odds were against Saint Domingue. In this way, he was able to help the people and keep them respected by bigger enemies. Toussaint also pointed out that taking the freedom from someone who had only ever had a taste of it was wrong and that it would almost destroy the people if they were forced to go back. He was helping the slaves by telling the French Government by telling them this.
     Military leaders are hard to come by but Toussaint was one that stuck. He Helped defend his people and helped do many things that helped drive the people towards freedom. Toussaint was able to get the confidence of the army he lead and keep the soldiers ready for the coming fight. Toussaint helps his army when he described here, “By his genius and surpassing activity, Toussaint levied fresh forces, raised the reputation of the army, and drove the English and Spanish from the island...”(Document F) Tousaint was able to keep the freedom of the people from the enemies. But he did have some questionable ways of going about it. He burned the town of Samana so as to keep Napoleon from gaining land and forced them to follow the armies to the alps. Toussaint taught the slaves to fight in a gentlemen style and Gorilla style so as to keep a leg up on the enemy. When Napoleon arrived in the mountains the black slaves overpowered their forces. Toussaint used his abilities as a liberator of slave to gain his victories. When he was seen as such, power emanated from him. He was able to give the slaves a right to fight for themselves by freeing them.
   Saint Domingue was technically still under French rule even under Toussaint Louverture. Toussaint did his best to be a good ruler. But even as he went on things began to get worse. As described here, “Any Manager or driver of a plantation upon which a foreign cultivator 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.”(Document D) As his rule progressed, Toussaint began to see the cracks in his country. The people needed stronger rules but suspected Toussaint of holding the hand of the whites on the island. He needed to keep people in line so he created different rules and restrictions. Anyone who was seen violating these restrictions would automatically be sent to jail or court. Toussaint was taking a stronger tone with the slaves he helped to free, because that they needed structure. And that worked for a time, until the slaves began to revolt. Whatever Toussaint did, he always had his credit to the slaves for freeing them. He had helped them discover their potential and freedom.
     Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as a man who helped set the Island of Saint Domingue free. He used all of his abilities to achieve that goal and was very successful, considering That the island was later named an independent nation in 1804. His life is credited to that great feat and always will be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Impact of Race in the Latin American Revolutions

Race is everywhere. In the news, on the adds we see. And in our class we have been studying the impact it has had the Latin American Revolutions. Why is it essential top acknowledge the human value regardless of race? How are the events of the Latin American Revolutions evidence of this social imperative? To further understand and answer these questions, our class split into groups and made timelines of the different revolutions. After that, we were asked to jigsaw and combine with other groups to identify what was the same and what was different about each revolution.

   The timeline above is a summary of the revolution in Brazil. Brazil had it's own problem in race because, after the ruler John VII was of the throne, his son Pedro began to discriminate on who he kept in office based on if they were Born in Portugal. Pedro VI didn't want anyone who was different from him. The other countries, Mexico and Gran Colombia had similar problems. All three countries had started the revolutions in order to change their form of government and get rid of monarchies. Mexico had wanted a constitutional monarchy, as had Brazil, and both had found it in another ruler. Gran Colombia, however, had wanted a Republic. The way all three countries had gone about it was different. Brazil had been very peaceful in the way it had transformed it's country. There hadn't been any huge battles or blood baths. Mexico had been peaceful but forceful, so right down the middle. Gran Colombia had been very military in the way it had performed it's own revolutions. Things were handled very promptly.
    Race is always an important topic. Especially today, when even the smallest mentioning of a racial joke is met with firearms and a prison sentence. We see Race a a thing that needs to be dealt with and talked about so it doesn't put up barriers in the future. This is evident in the classes we have in school or the programs people are forced to take in the different jobs they have. The killing in Ferguson is one of the more extreme incidents that had to with race. It had to do with a white police officer shooting a black man for looking suspicious. The problem with racism and race is the fact that we all take it way too seriously. I do not excuse the fact that a man was shot and killed because of it. But there will always be differences between race. And we make it much worse by talking about it. If everyone would accept the differences and be open to the similarities then the problems would most likely disappear. However, this is only a theory. Race will always remain one of the subjects we either avoid or over analyze.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Amazingly Disastorous Revolutions in 1830 and 1848

Were the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 really failures as many historians have concluded? That is the question. My class has delved deep into the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848. We have learned many things about how the different Revolutions functioned. To further help this endeavour, we were asked, in groups, to make a survey and test each other on what we knew. My group created a survey on the Great Revolution of 1830. The link to the survey is below. 
French 1830 #1
French 1830 #2

    Revolution of France in 1830 was a moderate success in the fact that nothing was done. The people were able to get a new king but the only the middle and upper classes were able to prosper. The revolution started on July 25 with the death of Louis XVIII and Charles X taking the throne. Charles X was and absolutist so he was very strict in how he ran his kingdom. In this quote he suspends the press and basically takes away freedom of speech, "The liberty of the periodical press is suspended. …In consequence no newspaper or periodical or semi-periodical work, established or to be established, without discrimination as to the matters which shall be treated therein, shall appear, either in Paris or in the departments, except in virtue of an authorization, which the authors and the printer thereof shall have separately obtained from us."(1) Charles X basically takes away the rights of the people in one foul swoop. And he doesn't stop there. He also revokes the right to vote and limits it to certain people.
    The peoples natural reaction is to revolt and to take back the throne. Charles X was forced to leave Paris and abdicate his throne. After the horrible fiasco, the french people wanted a king who would do what they wanted. So they elected Louis Phillipe, also known as the citizen king. He was much more understanding to the people and would take their opinions to heart. The French people rejoice in the new king in this quote, "The Duke of Orleans (Louis Philippe) is devoted to the national and constitutional cause; he had always defended its interests and professed its principles. He will respect our rights…we shall assure ourselves by laws all the necessary guarantees in order to render liberty strong and durable:"(1) Louis Phillipe was so beloved because he kept the Interests of the people at heart. He often would go around in the street and shake hands with well wishers. The revolution was a moderate success because they were able to get rid of the tyrants but not able to help everyone on the whole. 
    The revolutions we read and researched are basically all the same. Most of them are failures. Like the French revolution of 1848. Louis Phillipe gradually fell into corruption and the time for revolution was once again in the air. The economic state fell into a recession and the people were forced to make some hard decisions. The revolts that began started to get out of control and Louis Phillipe abdicated. The Second Republic was formed. The nephew of Napoleon, Louis Napoleon took over and did nothing but bring France down into further decay. This revolution was a failure because it did not end up resulting in anything good. The french people did nothing but get out of one political pyramid and then fall back into another. Nothing was accomplished and nothing good came from the chaos. 
   Another fruitless revolution was the Frankfurt Assembly. The Frankfurt Assembly's goal was to give Germany a constitution. This was decided after years of hard famine and economic times. The people were forced into struggle and the upper and middle classes had most of the perks. The assembly met and offered Prussia's Frederick William IV the crown of a united Germany. To their dismay, the conservative king rejected the offer because it had no divine right in it and had come from the general populace. Many people revolted, again and were killed and sent to prison. Others left for America and the promise of a better life. This Assembly had a purpose but was unable to fulfill it and then gave up, resulting in deaths by the hundreds. Not an ideal outcome. 
    In 1848, Hungary had it's own little revolution. Austrian revolts broke out, taking everyone by suprise. Metternich, who had dominated Austrian politics for more than 30 years, tried to get them to stop but couldn't and fled in disguise. The Austrian King refused to do anything about it. Many other revolutions sprouted up. Eventually the king was forced to reconsider and change. But it was short lived and many died as the Austrians gained control again. The only reason that this is a moderate failure is that the people were able to get Metternich out. he had been horrible for the country. But since everything was reversed and undone, no actual change occurred and the revolution was another bust. 

1- All documents below were published in: Anderson, Frank Maloy, ed. The Constitutions and Other Select Documents Representative of
the History of France, 1789 – 1901. (Minneapolis: HW Wilson Company, 1904) p. 495- 515.