Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Andrew Jackson: People's President or People's King?



Andrew Jackson is one of the most controversial presidents of all time. Some people of both the time and today call him the people’s president, while some call him a tyrant. One controversial action was his extensive use of the veto. The first six presidents used the veto ten times, while Jackson alone used it twelve times. Also, seven of those vetoes were pocket vetoes and he is considered to be the first president to veto for political reasons. This cartoon, King Andrew the First, criticizes Jackson’s use of the veto and shows how many viewed him.

In this image, the cartoonist depicts Andrew Jackson in king’s robes with a crown and an artistic representation of a veto in his hand.  The constitution is ripped up and on the ground. The cartoonist is saying that Jackson’s use of the veto makes him like a king. The torn up constitution shows that the cartoonist believes that Jackson was exceeding his power and disregarding the constitution. However, the right to veto is given to presidents by congress so what Jackson did was not unconstitutional. The cartoonist did not approve of Jackson or his actions. While Jackson was given the right to veto, it was meant to prevent laws that were unconstitutional or bad for the country. Instead, Jackson used his power for selfish political reasons. Since his actions were not for the people and were greatly disapproved of by the people, Andrew Jackson was not the people’s president.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Democracy or Not?

Democracy is a government in which the power is held by the people. However, democracy was different in 19th century America than it is today. Back then, people had less power in controlling the government. This means that the United States was less democratic in the 19th century than it is today.
One reason the United States was less democratic was less people could vote. Not only did voters have to be white males, there also were property and tax-paying requirements in many states for a large part of the 19th century. This limited the number of people able to vote significantly because many people did not own the required amount of property. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Today a man owns a jackass worth fifty dollars and he is entitled to vote; but before the next election the jackass dies….and the man cannot vote. Now gentlemen, pray inform me, in whom is the right of suffrage? In the man or in the jackass?” The property held the as much the right to vote as the person because they could not vote without property. The number of states with both the property and tax-paying requirements gradually declined as the century progressed. Also, in the beginning of the 19th century presidential electors were chosen by the legislature. This means that there was three degrees of separation between the voters and the president. As the century progressed most states changed to electing electors by popular vote as is still used today.
The County Election by George Bingham, 1852

 Some other problems of the election process were depicted in George Bingham’s painting, The County Election. One problem is that people could vote intoxicated. This is not a good thing because people can accidently vote for the wrong candidate or be easily persuaded. Also, votes were written down on a piece of paper the voter could not see so there was no way to know if the vote was counted and accurate. This also means the vote was not private. Only five people in the painting took the voting seriously, as few did back then, and a man is beaten up showing the violence present at elections back then. In most states reform in the election process was peaceful, but in Rhode Island it was violent and called the Dorr War. Thomas Dorr launched a campaign to draft a new state constitution and repeal voting restrictions. The governor declared Dorr guilty of insurrection and arrested him after he tried to take the state’s arsenal. Reforms in the state’s democracy were achieved as a result though. In the 19th century the United States was less democratic than today, though improvements were made throughout the century.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Romanticism Post


Grotto in the Gulf of Naples by Karl Blechen
Oil on oak panel, 37,5 x 29 cm
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

At the same time as the revolutions in throughout Europe were going on, an artistic age was blossoming. Romanticism was a movement in literature, music, and the visual arts. Both the revolutions and Romanticism were reaction to Enlightenment ideas and heavily influenced each other. The important themes of Romanticism were awe of nature, nationalism, emotion, the importance of the individual, the grotesque and horrific, and the irrational. One example of Romantic art is the painting Grotto in the Gulf of Naples by Karl Blechen. One theme in this piece is awe of nature. The painting depicts a large cave in front of the sea. Both of those things are massive, both in the painting and reality, and demonstrate the power of nature. Another theme is the importance of the individual. In the painting two men are sitting alone in the cave with no other signs of civilization in sight. The lack of other people highlights there importance and is symbolic of the importance of the individual. The painting is emotional as well. People only go to places like the one depicted to think, there is no other use, and deep thought and reflection is emotional. Also, this painting is irrational. Presumably, the grotto is far away from society and is very secluded. It is irrational to go out to it just to have a conversation. All four of these Romantic themes are key characteristics of the era and the painting.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 Post

Decembrist Revolt Educreations

In the years 1830 and 1848 revolutions sprung up all across Europe. Liberals and radicals from several different countries wanted a constitutional monarchy, and, in some cases, no monarchy at all. Another thing these revolutions have in common is they are generally regarded by historians as failures. This is true of the revolutions because they only achieved change temporarily, if at all, before the conservative ways were restored and many revolutions were very violent.

The Decembrist Revolt

One failed revolution, the biggest failure of all, was the Decembrist Revolt in Russia in 1825. In this revolution, liberals attempted to overthrow Tsar Nicholas I and create a constitution. This revolution was poorly planned and organized and failed miserably. No change was achieved at all and the revolt was very violent for the short time before it was crushed. As Nicholas I said, “The leaders and the instigators of the conspiracy will be dealt with without pity, without mercy” and he did deal with them harshly, killing or imprisoning most. The revolt was crushed entirely. Another failed revolution was the Polish Revolution of 1830. In this revolution, nationalists wanted independence from Russia. Poland did gain independence for 5 months, but it was then taken back under Russian control and no permanent change was achieved. Tsar Nicholas writes in March 1832, “an end has been put by force of arms to the rebellion in Poland, and that nation, led away by agitators, has returned to its duty, and is restored to tranquility.” Everything returned back to the way it was before the Polish revolution. The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was also a failure. This revolution was also led by nationalists. They wanted to form a government independent from Austria, abolish serfdom, and also write a constitution. The feeling that “the future of Hungary can never be secured while Austria maintains a system of government in direct antagonism to every constitutional principle” led Hungarians to revolution. The revolutionaries actually had enough power that Metternich fled and Austria allowed reforms. However, not long after, Russia intervened and crushed the revolution. In all of these revolutions, permanent change was not achieved and instead the revolutions were crushed violently. It is for these reasons that the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 were failures; a revolution cannot be successful if nothing is changed.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Monroe Doctrine Selfie Post

At the Congress of Vienna in 1814, Europe’s major powers joined together to create the Quintuple Alliance. The Quintuple Alliance was conservative, as all the countries in it had monarchies, and it was created to stop revolutions throughout the world and to restore the monarchy to those countries.  The Quintuple Alliance created many issues for the United States. The United States responded to these issues with the Monroe Doctrine which was received in different ways in different parts of the world.

The Monroe Doctrine was the United States response to many issues posed by the Quintuple Alliance. One of those issues was Russia wanting to create a colony on the west coast of North America. The United States did not want Russians in the Western Hemisphere because they could help the alliance take back independent countries in Latin America. Also, the United States had claimed that land. This was resolved by negotiations with Russia. The Monroe Doctrine says, “a full power and instructions have been transmitted to the minister of the United States at St. Petersburg to arrange by amicable negotiation the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the northwest coast of this continent.” Another issue was the possibility of the Quintuple Alliance fighting to win back their former colonies in Latin America. The United States did not want to get involved in a war, but did not want to lose its major trade partners. The solution in the Monroe Doctrine was to say that interfering with the Latin American countries is a direct threat against the United States. It says, “we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly d United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.” The other issue was Great Britain wanting to form an alliance with the United States against the Quintuple Alliance attacking Latin America. The Monroe Doctrine declined the alliance, but said the United States are friendly with everyone and set up the United States own foreign policy. It read, “Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers.”

Different groups responded to the Monroe Doctrine in different ways. Russian diplomats, as the image below shows, were annoyed that America thought it had enough international power to negotiate with them. While they did not have any colonies in Latin America, they were part of the Quintuple Alliance and supported the countries that had colonies there. They also were not happy that the United States was threatening their power and was nervous about their potential alliance with Great Britain because it had the strongest navy in the world. United States congressmen were happy about the negation with Russia because they wanted to maintain good relationships with everyone. They also agreed with Monroe’s decision to turn down the alliance with Great Britain and to support the Latin American countries because they were important trade partners. Latin American revolutionaries did not want Russia to become a threat to them so they supported the United States negotiating to keep them away. They found it empowering that the United States turned down the alliance with Great Britain because it shows that a new country can have its own foreign presence. They were also happy that the United States was supporting their independence and willing to defend them. However, they were wary that the United States would try to influence their government.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Congress of Vienna Post

The Congress of Vienna in 1814 made many important decisions about foreign policy for the European nations involved. One of the new ideologies adopted during the Congress of Vienna was the Principle of Intervention. This ideology gave the Holy Alliance the right to send troops into foreign countries to stop revolutions and restore the monarchy. The Holy Alliance was the alliance of the countries that attended the Congress of Vienna, minus England and was founded by Tsar Alexander. All countries of the Congress of Vienna except England agreed with this ideology. This provided a solution to the problem of how to prevent future revolutions. This “privilege” of the Quintuple Alliance was acted upon several times in the years after the Congress of Vienna. In the 1820’s, the powers met to decide what to do about the rebellions in Spain and the Spanish colonies. Ultimately, Louis XVIII sent an army to crush the uprising in Spain, but the alliance left the colonies alone. Also, in 1820, Austria crushed a rebellion in Italy that intended to unify the country.
The ideology of Principle of Intervention was agreed upon by Klemens von Metternich, the foreign minister of Austria and its representative at the Congress of Vienna. Metternich was a conservative so he believed that the old system of government of absolutism was the best one. He thought the subjects of a country were like children and needed to be told what to do. Because of this he supported efforts to maintain and restore absolute monarchs throughout the world. He was willing to use military force to enforce conservative government, as shown by Austria crushing the rebellion in Italy. Metternich supported the Principle of Intervention and Austria used it as a reason for invading. The Congress of Vienna set the formal policy on intervention and the decisions made there were followed for decades to come.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ideologies Vine Post

Liberalism was a nineteenth-century ideology that professed that the job of the government is to promote individual liberty. Liberalism supported innovation and reform and was against absolutism and aristocracy. Instead liberals believed in constitutional monarchies and meritocracy. This vine represents the beliefs of liberals in several ways. One part of the vine is the word tradition being torn in half. Liberals were against doing things just because they were traditional and instead insisted that countries should reform and support innovation. The social pyramid morphing into a circle is another symbol of the social beliefs of the liberals. It represents how liberals wanted to get rid of the privileges of the aristocracy and church and instead establish a meritocracy where people are rewarded based on skill, hence the circle for equality. Another part of the vine is a shrinking crown. This is representative of the political beliefs of liberalism. Liberals were against absolute monarchies and wanted the power of monarchs to shrink, like the crown did. Instead liberals supported the political system of a constitutional monarchy, where the people have some say in the government in the form of a parliament or similar governing body. The vine also has a scale with a crown and constitution on it that goes from the crown outweighing the constitution to them being equal. This represents the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. This support of a constitutional monarchy and the idea of more equal social classes were the main beliefs of liberalism.
Conservatism and nationalism were also nineteenth-century ideologies. Conservatives were in favor of absolute monarchy and traditional political and social systems, like aristocracy. Conservatives were resistant to change and instead used tradition as a reason for keeping things the same. They wanted to stop social change and believed in keeping the minority in power socially because they believed giving average citizens power would create chaos. Conservatives were against the beliefs of liberals and believed in keeping with tradition. Nationalism asserted that countries should be defined by people sharing culture, religion, language, and more, instead of who ruled it. They also believed that countries had natural borders based on these things. Nationalists were against being ruled by foreign countries and tried to expel those leaders. They also were in favor of unification of divided city-states, like in Germany and Italy. Nationalists shared many of the same beliefs that liberals had.