Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Selling the Truman Doctrine: How the Truman Administration Changed the Course of American Foreign Policy

President Truman and Sec. of State Dean Acheson
President Harry Truman with the help of key members of his administration managed to transform the scope of America’s foreign policy through superb salesmanship, laden with emotional appeals to the nation’s sense of moral responsibility and collective ego. His speech to Congress in 1947, urging aid to Greece and Turkey, marked the subtlest and most sweeping pronouncement of an American foreign policy shift to that date. It fundamentally altered the course of future American foreign involvement and solidified the Cold War status that had quickly developed after World War II. By painting the world scene as a struggle between good and evil—liberty and tyranny, and appealing to American traditions and governing principles, Truman’s administration and its allies in the media managed to convince the conservative Republican Congress, as well as a majority of the American people that if the United States did not fight tyranny abroad, it would have to do both at home. While the voices of opposition were loud and many, the interventionists carried the day and succeeded in changing both the way the U.S. was perceived throughout the world and the way Americans viewed their own role in global affairs.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Review of "Why Study History" by John Fea;
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In Reflecting on the Importance of the Past: Why Study History? American historian John Fea looks into the reasons why the study of history is important from a civic, moral, and professional point of view and makes the case that it can strengthen and enhance the witness of the Christian church.[1] As a Christian professor at a like-minded school, Why Study History is primarily directed at Christian students and teachers as a means of correcting some of the misconceptions and poor methodology but also contains keen historic insights from which even the non-believing history buff can gain. 

Fea shows what it means to be a good historian and shows the benefits of following the methodology he lays out. He is highly critical of historians who moralize rather than analyze and educate. He shows the moral benefits of learning to think like a historian and how these positively affect society as a whole. In addition to showing the way in which Christians can benefit themselves and the world around them through the study of history, Fea also shows the worldly benefits that come with a history major, which he points out do not all revolve around teaching in a classroom.[2]

Summary of a Basque Nun's Memoir of her Life as a Conquistador

Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World is a firsthand account of the cultural aspects of the 17th-century Spanish colonial empire. 

The Spanish world that Catalina de Erauso is born into is an extremely violent one in which lethal duels are only a matter of a day’s work in the life of a Spanish conquistador. A man’s life depends on how well he can handle a sword, and his honor depends on how quick he is to use it when insulted or defrauded, and it is this world that Erauso has to quickly adapt to when she assumes a man’s life.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Cause Behind the Glorious Revolution: The Final Straw that Overthrew James II

William of Orange and English opposition leaders dethroned James II in 1689 as a result of James's having a son whom they assumed he would raise a Catholic, thereby ensuring continual Catholic rule in England after James’ death.  
The prospect of James's becoming king had enabled the rise of an exclusionist faction in Parliament that had sought to pass a law keeping James from succeeding his brother King Charles II. Charles and his supporters, the Tories had successfully opposed this law, and upon Charles’ death, James became king. He quickly confirmed the fears of many anti-Catholics by replacing Protestants in positions of power with Catholics and allowing greater freedoms for Catholics. Most Protestant MPs did not support James’s overthrow because they were confident his Protestant daughter Mary would succeed him upon his death. When Charles had a son in 1688, the prospect of the throne passing to another Catholic for successive generations pushed moderate MPs in favor of revolution.

The Motives and Men behind the Restoration of Charles II in 1660

 “I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and blessed God. And all this was done without one drop of bloodshed, and by that very army which rebelled against him: but it was the Lord’s doing, for such a restoration was never mentioned in any history . . . nor so joyful a day and so bright as ever seen in this nation.” – John Evelyn, 29 May 1660[1]
The above quote describes Charles II’s triumphal entry into London on his thirtieth birthday after Parliament had voted to restore him to the throne. The restoration of Charles after the Interregnum came partially because the masses in England in 1660 were not ready for a republic, but also because of the oppressive nature of the Puritanical military-dominated government that followed the English Revolution. There were many who joined Charles II who had fought against his father, but had been horrified at the execution, and most importantly, at the Puritan rule that ensued after the regicide. The Army had ruled for eleven years and had enforced a tight system of strict, religious dogma on the people. This made Parliament, and especially the army, extremely unpopular with the masses.[2] 
Oliver’s son, Richard Cromwell’s failure to control the army resulted in his resignation on May 25, 1659, and a year of Parliamentary instability and military rule. General George Monck, governor of Scotland occupied London and helped create the Convention Parliament in April 1660 that restored Charles the following month. The restoration was not inevitable after the end of the Cromwell Protectorate, but it became the most likely option for the masses who wanted stability in government and for the army who wanted their position maintained.[3]

The Real Victors of the Second English Civil War: How the New Model Army Devoured its Maker

The English Revolution from 1647-49 was a victory for the propertied leaders of the New Model Army more than anyone else. The First Civil War had ended mostly in a stalemate between King Charles II and Parliament, however, the second English Civil War ended in 1649 with Charles's losing his head. The New Model Army that Parliament created in 1645 to provide a more organized, professional fighting force rather than relying on local militias ended up dictating the terms of the solution to Charles II and ruled behind the scenes during the Interregnum. This new army was unique in that it mostly came from members from the lower ranks of society rather than the gentry that had traditionally run professional armies. The infiltration of revolutionaries looking to overturn society provided challenges to men like Oliver Cromwell who sought to overturn monarchy while maintaining property rights. In the end, though, Cromwell and the gentry supporting the Roundheads turned the revolution into a religious revolution rather than a democratic revolution.

Why did monarchy and Parliament become estranged in the 1620s?

The English Monarchy and Parliament became estranged in the 1620s because of differing beliefs on the role of monarchy and Parliament, religious disputes, financing the nation’s war with Spain, and most of all, because of a lack of trust between Charles I and Parliament. This ultimately led to autocratic rule the following decade and Charles’s deposition two decades later. 
          James I did not leave Charles a harmonious or even solvent government. To make matters worse, when his father died, Charles inherited a nation at war. The favoritism the king showed the Duke of Buckingham and the Duke’s military failures brought war strategy and financing to the fore of parliamentary debates. Charles’s lack of political skills only exasperated these and other problems with Parliament, such as doctrinal debates, Catholic influence, royal taxation, and martial law. The continued friction between Crown and Parliament eroded trust between the two institutions, which led to a deteriorating political situation in England that ultimately led to a lapse of parliamentary rule and Charles’ execution.