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.

How Successful was James I?

King James I of England, formerly James VI of Scotland, was a successful monarch in most aspects during his 23-year rule. Like most kings he did have glaring shortcomings such as a streak of laziness, uncouthness, spendthrift habits, and poor adaptation to English politics. However, he successfully united the two kingdoms of England and Scotland under his rule, kept them at peace domestically as well as externally, artfully maneuvered the factionalism that was developing on the religious front, and patronized the arts. His reputation suffered from the fact that many English were not comfortable with having a Scottish monarch. He alienated a minor courtier named Anthony Weldon because he dismissed Weldon on account of the latter’s xenophobic writings toward his native Scotland. Weldon later turned his pen viciously against James and historians have mostly taken Weldon and other Englishmen’s accounts and concluded that James was well-meaning, but lacking the political competence and morality necessary to successfully rule the English.[1] A critical examination of his reign, however, reveals that when matched with the challenges he faced, in the end, he rose to the challenge fairly well.

Reformation without the People: How Royal Politics Made Religious Reform Possible in England

This is a paper I presented at the 2016 Tennessee Phi Alpha Theta Annual Regional Conference at Union University, on April 2, 2016.

The Protestant Reformation did not come to England because of a religious revival or a change of heart on the part of the common people, but rather politics led to the formation and survival of that nation’s church. Only much later did public opinion become Protestant. In fact, the creation of the Church of England was premature when viewed in light of the Reformation in other parts of Europe. King Henry VIII created it for personal reasons, and he never truly became Protestant in belief and practice. The schism with Rome did, however, allow for the political and ecclesiastic infiltration of Protestants that set in motion a thorough reformation under Edward and Elizabeth that would not have come at all in the 16th century had it not been for Henry’s feud with the Pope.
      The people mostly did not convert until the end of the century after itinerant preachers had waged conversion campaigns toward them for decades; and even then, much of it was only acquiescence to the new order. Therefore, it is not that difficult to imagine how different England and, through it, the world would have been had Henry VIII remained faithful to his first wife.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

How does the English Church change under Edward and Elizabeth?

The English Church became fully Protestant, not just politically, but theologically under Queen Elisabeth, who put many of the Protestant bureaucrats that Edward had used back into power. 
           The English Church had become recatholicized a great deal under Henry VIII during the 1840s. Edward however, was a staunch Protestant, as were both his lord protectors.[1] A political reformation was continued during the six years of Edward’s reign that Mary reversed. The significance of Elizabeth’s reign was the length of its duration. Henry turned on the most passionate of his Protestant reformers before Protestant doctrine had a chance to infiltrate the nooks and crannies of Catholic England, and Edward died before Protestant preachers and propagandists could successfully reform the Church and society. However, with time, as a new generation of English Christians was raised in the reformed Church of England, the majority of the population came to acquiesce to the new order while a large minority became convinced Protestants. The percentage of the population that remained true to Catholicism, however, dwindled into near insignificance. [2]

Was Henry VIII a Renaissance Monarch?

In this paper, I will argue that King Henry VIII was a Renaissance monarch and England was a Renaissance nation during his reign, based on Henry’s extensive education, the humanist influence on his court and nation, particularly through the creation of schools, and the religious reform he implemented, which was in line with the Renaissance in northern Europe. The Renaissance refers primarily to the rebirth of society. Both secular and spiritual traditions were combined in early concepts of the Renaissance, the secular being the restoration of society to a former, greater era, and the spiritual being the rebirth of society in Christ.[1]
       Henry’s father, Henry VII had surrounded himself with Renaissance men of the “new learning” and had his son educated by tutors who had visited Italy and seen the Renaissance firsthand.[2], [3] William Grocynn and Thomas Linacre were two Renaissance Englishmen who visited the Italian states and took what they had seen and learned back to their country.[4] Unlike the secular rebirth in Italy, the English Renaissance followed the path of northern Europe, which as a whole was more pious than their neighbors to the south. This manifested itself with a sharp rise in literary pursuits, the difference being that these pursuits were almost all of a Christian nature rather than producing an infatuation with the classics of ancient Greece and Rome.[5]

Robert Browning, a Man of his Times: A Look at how three of his Poems Represent the Romantic and Victorian

Robert Browning’s poems “My Last Duchess," "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church," and "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" all show considerable influence from the Romantic and Victorian Age in which Browning lived. 

Browning was a Victorian, English poet who became famous in the latter part of the 19th century. After writing poetry for nearly four decades, his major breakthrough came with the publication of his narrative poem “The Ring and the Book” which was twenty-one thousand lines long (Robert Browning). Browning was known primarily for his dramatic monologue which was a common poetic technique of the Victorian era (Landlow).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is the Tudor Dynasty Illegitimate at the Beginning of Henry VIII’s Reign?

Importance of the male ancestral line in medieval England

Medieval England was a male-dominated society in which each head of household was like a little king in his own right, ruling over his wife and children. If the man of the house was wealthy enough to have servants, it only added to his position as a mini sovereign. The importance of ancestry in this arrangement cannot be understated. Claims to a strong genealogy dating back deep into time provided desired legitimacy to authority regardless of how substantial those claims were. In order to validate the Tudors’ legitimacy to the throne, that dynasty’s historians have made such claims of lineage dating back to legendary kings like Arthur. Henry VII made his dubious claim to the throne through his mother and the illegitimate Beaufort line, which brought the Tudor line into question even after the family no longer ruled.[1]

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Waning of Nationalist Expansionism: Intra-Regional Economic and Political Cooperation in the Post-Communist Balkans

This is a paper I presented to the 2016 History Graduate Student Association Southeast Conference at Florida State University, on April 19, 2016.

Brutal, ethnic conflict has characterized the Balkans in the minds of many Westerners, primarily because of its persistence into the era of post-communism in a time when many assumed that ethno-nationalism had been wiped away by economic cooperation and neo-liberalism. The secession of Yugoslavian states in the 1990s that led to ethnic cleansing and genocide not seen on the continent since World War II reminded the West that ethno-nationalism had survived quite well on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The violent, nationalist outbreaks over the past two and half decades have been produced by local hatreds, external intervention into the region going back decades and even centuries, as well as the instability and precarious economic situation that the region found itself in after the fall of communism. In this paper, I will focus on how the economic transition of the former communist countries in the Balkans has laid a roadmap for a lasting peace in the region and will look at ways in which the European Union can help the western Balkan states where the danger of ethnic violence still persists to put aside their national differences in the pursuit of economic prosperity.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Alfred Crosby’s Columbian Exchange: Native American Indian Genocide and Food Sustainability

The Columbian Exchange is a term used by historian Alfred W. Crosby to describe the biological and environmental exchanges that took place between the New World and the Old World after Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean. The Europeans brought with them diseases for which the Native American Indians had no immunity, causing a massive depopulation among the natives. Likewise, the Indians gave the Spaniards and Portuguese venereal diseases for which they had no immunity, thus returning the lethal favor, albeit to a lesser extent. Europeans greatly enriched the animal life of the New World by introducing Old World livestock that was unknown in the New World. In return, the plant life of the Western Hemisphere eventually spread throughout all three continents of the Old World with many New World agricultural products such as potatoes, corn, and beans becoming major staples throughout countries in the Eastern Hemisphere.[1]

Monday, July 10, 2017

What Was Henry VIII’s Real Motivation For Founding The Church Of England?

Henry VIII founded the Church of England not because he was a Protestant, but because he needed an avenue to assert his autonomy from the Roman Catholic Church in order to put away his queen, Catherine of Aragon, and marry his mistress Anne Boleyn, while still maintaining local church support. When the Protestant Reformation broke out in Europe, Henry persecuted Lutherans and other Protestants who tried to disperse their works in England. William Tyndale was in fact forced to translate the New Testament into English in Germany.[1] 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

An Affluent Anomaly: The Cultures and Economies of the Pre-Columbian Northwest

Originally published in the 2015 edition of the North Alabama Historical Review

The Indians that lived in what is today the northwestern United States represent three distinct cultures based on their geography. The arid, mountainous region of present-day Utah, Nevada, and southern Wyoming make up what archeologists refer to as the Great Basin. The tribes to the north in western Montana, Idaho, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington are recognized as the Plateau culture. And those who lived along the Pacific coast from northern California to southeastern Alaska are referred to as the Northwest Coast culture. These regions were marked by drastic contrasts in lifestyle and wealth. Most of these differences were primarily the result of culture, but physical geography played a role in shaping each culture. According to Gallup, Sachs, and Mellinger, location and climate have large effects on income growth, through their effects on transportation costs, disease, and agricultural productivity, among other reasons.[1] It is the purpose of this paper to focus on the Northwest Pacific Coast and the material prosperity the tribes in that region achieved in contrast to other Native Americans and how their cultures facilitated that prosperity.

The Pre-Columbian Southwest

The pre-Columbian history of the southwestern United States has been easier to trace than the history of many other regions for three main reasons. First, the arid nature of the land has made it vulnerable to erosion exposing a wealth of Native American artifacts. Secondly, the Spanish passed through the region in the sixteenth century, leaving detailed accounts of the people they encountered three hundred years before the United States would acquire that portion of the continent. Lastly, most of the pre-Columbian tribes have survived in the same region and have preserved many of the cultural traits of those pre-Columbian societies.[1] This section will cover the four main ethnicities of Indians that inhabited the Southwest in the period leading up to European discovery. They included the Anasazi or Pueblos, the Hohokams, the Yumans, and the Athapascans, which included the Navajo and Apache.

Pre-Columbian Native Americans of the American Southwest

The proper place to begin the story of the United States of America is with the people that created the geo-political entity known as the United States. While many history books begin with prehistoric times in North America to give a thorough background of the land and the people that populated it, such an expanse of time is better left to a category of its ownone covering all the native tribes of the Americas before European settlement and conquest. Since there is a lack of written records of that era it makes it difficult to accurately document the early peoples of the Western Hemisphere, which forces historians to rely on oral history and the archaeological evidence to piece together the missing pieces. This is perhaps the principal reason why the history of North America is generally given as a prequel to U.S. and Canadian histories since despite the massive amount of time that Native Americans have occupied their side of the world, there is relatively little known about their wars, treaties, political arrangements, myths, leaders, and way of life before Europeans began penning the oral history of the natives for future generations. By that time, unfortunately, the tribes had lost much of the facts of their history to the vastness of time, often making it quite difficult to separate folklore from fact.

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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...