Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Independence in the Americas Post

Within 100 years of each other, the United States and many Latin American countries, including Haiti, declared independence from their colonial powers. All of these revolutions involved major political change and the ones in Latin America also involved social and economic changes. The United States was better prepared for independence than the Latin American countries that followed it because it had more political experience and less racial tensions than the Latin American countries.
In many Latin American countries, there was great racial tension prior to their revolution and it made independence more difficult. In Haiti, in 1789, approximately 90 percent of the population was enslaved and half of the free population was non-white. For Haiti, abolishing slavery was the main reason for seeking independence and in doing so Haiti received major social change along with political change. Since Haiti’s entire economy depended on free slave labor, Haiti also had to undergo economical change after the revolution. All of these changes are much harder to handle than just the political changes that the United States underwent so it was much harder for Haiti to be prepared for independence than it was for the United States. Not only were there major changes that needed to happen when Haiti achieved independence, the colored and white populations did not get along well. In a primary source about the slave rebellions it is written that “the carnage that the slaves wreaked in northern settlements, such as Acul, LimbĂ©, Flaville, and Le Normand, revealed the simmering fury of an oppressed people.” Years of oppression under slavery made the slaves hate the whites and seek revenge. The white population was no better and “reprisals against nonwhites were swift and every bit as brutal as the atrocities committed by the slaves.” All of this fighting is a clear sign that the slaves and whites did not get along and it is even harder to fight a revolution and create a new country when the inhabitants hate each other and will not work together. In the United States, none of these problems existed. The slave population always remained the minority throughout the United States. Also, neither slavery or racial questions were ever at issue between Britain and America at the time of the Revolution.” At the time of the revolution, people did not even consider abolishing slavery or giving rights to colored people. Because of this, it did not play a role in the revolution and provided one less complication. In the United States pursuit of independence, the people were united and only focused on political change while it was much harder in Latin America, especially Haiti, because of the racial division and larger goals of revolution.

The United States also had more political experience than the Latin American countries. In Latin America, the colonies had little say over their own government. Most important offices in the governing of the colonies were located in Spain and occupied by people who had never been to the colonies. Also, political office could only be held by Pennisulares. The government in Spain “regulated trade, appointed officials, made laws, and determined who should be allowed to emigrate.” The colonists and natives had very little say in making laws. In the 13 colonies, the people were able to participate in the government. The colonists were able to be elected to the colonial assembly which made the laws of the colony. While the assembly was under the control of the governor and had little actual power, it gave the colonists some experience in running a government and “North Americans had developed largely autonomous economics and policies.” This experience made it much easier for the colonists to set up their own government after they achieved independence. The colonists were already doing the day to day job of the government and making most of the decisions so the transition was much less drastic than in Latin America where the people had barely had any involvement in or experience with the government. The United States was better prepared for independence than Latin America because it knew how to run a government.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hatian Revolution Post

The hard times in Haiti did not end when it won its independence from France and Napoleon in 1804. Instead the hard times continue to today because the new Republic of Haiti was not well received by other important countries of the time, especially the United States and France. In 1825, after Haiti won its independence, instead of leaving Haiti alone, King Charles X of France “demanded that Haiti pay an ‘independence debt’ to compensate former colonists for the slaves who had won their freedom in the Haitian Revolution.” He demanded 90 million francs, equivalent to 17 billion dollars today, and sent warships to Haiti to force them to pay. This shows that France was not happy with Haiti winning its independence. It was their most profitable colony so they were not happy to loose it. They did receive Haiti’s independence, but neither did the United States. The United States was not supportive of Haiti because they did not like the idea of a Black nation and slave rebellions. The United States relied heavily on slave labor and did not want slaves to be inspired by the successful rebellion in Haiti, as was feared by many. Thomas Jefferson tried to get Congress to stop trade with Haiti, but it was too profitable so they refused and the US did not recognize Haiti’s independence until 1862. Neither the United States nor France were supportive of Haiti’s independence.

Instead of helping Haiti, both countries actions were crippling to the country. France’s indemnity payment was not paid fully until 1947, 120 years later. This payment crippled Haiti’s economy and doomed them to poverty. The payment was six times Haiti’s annual revenue at the time. Having this huge debt to pay, Haiti was unable to grow and improve for a huge part of its time as a country. The effects from this are still felt today because Haiti is still very poor. The United States being unsupportive of and essentially ignoring Haiti allowed France to force Haiti to pay the indemnity. If the United States and other powerful countries supported Haiti, it would have prevented France from demanding an indemnity. Also, since Haiti was ignored, its ability to trade was limited which also prevented the economy from growing. The actions of both France and the United States prevented Haiti’s economy from growing which hurt the country greatly.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Napoleon Reflection Post

Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest generals and most important leaders of all time. He had a great impact on the social, economic, and political systems of not only France, but all of Europe. Socially, Napoleon reduced class division and increased equality. Many upper class citizens were not happy about this because it reduced their privileges. One member of the upper class, Madame de Stael, was quoted as saying, “What particularly characterizes Bonaparte’s government is his profound contempt for all the intellectual riches of human nature: virtue, dignity, religion enthusiasm.” She believes that Napoleon as taken away all of these things by taking away upper class privileges and not focusing on developing these riches, but instead improving the conditions of the working class. Napoleon started great reform and did many things to improve the lives of the many, but all the rich cared about was the loss of privileges of the few.
Napoleon also reformed the economic systems of France and the rest of Europe. Napoleon abolished serfdom and gave people the right to own property and freely conduct business. As Marshal Michel Ney said, “The times are gone when the people were governed by suppressing their rights. Liberty triumphs in the end.” Napoleon ended the system of the rich controlling the poor and all of their actions. He also regulated prices and improved transportation infrastructure. All of these actions improved the economies of Europe and the lives of the people in them.
            The political systems of Europe also experienced significant changes under the rule of Napoleon. Napoleon abolished the monarchies of the countries he conquered and granted the people many new rights like the ability to own land and freely travel. Under his new system of ruling people were more equal than under monarchies. Napoleon also put in place a system where people were rewarded based on ability, not social standing. Joel Tyler Headley wrote, in Napoleon and His Marshals, “Napoleon's moral character was indifferent enough; yet as a friend of human liberty, and eager to promote the advancement of the race, by opening the field to talent and genius, however low their birth, he was infinitely superior to all the sovereigns who endeavored to crush him.” Napoleon was in favor of liberty and his changes were in line with that. He viewed everyone except himself as equal, so he removed the monarchies that posed a threat to his power. The political systems of Europe under Napoleon shifted from absolute rule of monarchies to a meritocracy where people were more equal and enjoyed more liberty.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and the United States

The Industrial Revolutions in Great Britain and the United States both had many advantages and disadvantages compared to each other. While both the United States and Great Britain had many opportunities for industrialists, Great Britain was the better place for them. One reason that Great Britain was the better place is that labor was plentiful there. Rich landowners took farmland from the peasant farmers, forcing them to move to the cities and work in factories. All of these farmers looking for jobs gave industrialists a plentiful source of labor whereas in the United States there was plenty of unclaimed land for people who travelled far enough west. This abundance of labor allowed factory owners to pay their workers very little and make them work in dangerous conditions for long hours because they could always find a replacement for an unhappy worker. Great Britain was also advantageous for industrialists because of the lack of labor laws in place. The laws about child labor in Great Britain were far less restricting than those in the United States. Children were allowed to work longer days and in more dangerous conditions, like mines. Child labor was the cheapest form of labor so having minimal restrictions on it is ideal for industrialists. The interests of the government also were better in Great Britain. The government in Great Britain was easily corrupted by money and served the interests of the wealthy industrialists. The British government had always been controlled and influenced by the upper class, so the industrialists were more likely to get what they wanted as opposed to the working class. Because of these reasons, industrialists were more likely to succeed in Great Britain.

While Great Britain was the better place for industrialists, the United States provided the more positive experience for workers. One reason is the workers worked less hours and had more breaks. Emily Nutter, an average Lowell mill girl, worked 12 hour days and got breaks for all three meals. In comparison, William Cooper, a young British factory worker, only received a break for lunch and worked 16 hour days, while his sister worked 18 hour days. Another reason the United States was the better place for workers is the conditions in the factories. As Charles Dickens said in his visit to the Lowell mills, the girls “were all well-dressed: and that phrase necessarily includes extreme cleanliness” and “they were healthy in appearance, many of them remarkably so, and had the manners and deportment of young women.” Dickens was comparing the mills to his experience in the factories of Great Britain. He thinks that the girls are being treated well because they are clean and healthy and also had developed the manners of a woman while working in the mills. He also describes the factories themselves as places with “as much fresh air, cleanliness, and comfort, as the nature of the occupation would possibly admit of.” In Great Britain, the factories were much filthier and more dangerous. Overall, the experience for workers in the United States was much better than in Great Britain.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mary Paul Post


Throughout her letters, Mary Paul’s experience and attitude gets progressively worse and shows both the successes and failures of the “Lowell Experiment”. In her first letter, Mary begs her father to let her go to Lowell and work in the mills. She wants to help provide income for her family and she also wants to be able to buy clothes by working in the mills. This shows the success of the experiment because it is able to attract farm girls to work in the mills. In her next letter two months later Mary is disappointed that she is not making as much money as she thought after paying bills, but she is still happy and recommends that other kids go to work in the Lowell mills. The “Lowell Experiment” succeeds in attracting people because current workers recommend it to other people as well as going themselves. Mary is also homesick because she asks for paper so she can write to her family and friends. In the third letter to her father, Mary talks about the many deadly accidents that had occurred at the mill she worked at and how she still is not saving much money. The negative events she describes indicate that Mary is not very happy with working at the mills anymore. Nevertheless, Mary still encourages other girls to go work at the Lowell mills, causing the “Lowell Experiment” to succeed. In the fourth letter, Mary is still homesick and not very happy. She is being underpaid because of backwater in the factory, but she still tries to stay positive in here letter and writes about her schedule and how she likes the other girls. In the next letter, Mary talks about how hard her labor is and says sometimes she thinks she cannot endure it. She also talks about how the mill is lowering wages even though they do not need to. She says that she moved to a lower quality boarding house just to save twelve cents per week. She is clearly unhappy in this letter and many other girls like her are unhappy about the wage cuts. This is a failure of the “Lowell Experiment” because it angers the workers. In Mary’s last letter, she explains how she had been sick and did not expect to get paid a lot even though she worked hard. After this letter Mary goes back home to Vermont. This is another failure of the “Lowell Experiment”. After a few years most workers decide to leave. Overall, the “Lowell Experiment” was a success. It was able to bring in many teenage girls as the labor force and kept them for several years. While most girls left eventually, they also encouraged more to come which is how come the “Lowell Experiment” was successful in providing labor for the mills.