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History lessons 2

So I haven't returned the book mentioned recently yet. Haven't read much more either, but started up again today.

Revolution: Caribbean text notes the Indies assemblies kept siding with the mainland colonists until the latter got violent, then they rushed to affirm their loyalty. Partly greater personal and commercial ties with Britain, partly being slave states dependent on British forces for safety. Mentions French, Spanish, and Dutch siding with the Americans, vs. the "French troops" of US history -- world war! Including fighting and island swapping in the Indies.

A Canadian text emphasizes the civil war aspect of the American Revolution, brother against brother, which a larger proportion of exiles than the French or Russian revolutions or 1955 Cuba.

A French text notes the intellectual side of things, from the philosophes to Montesquieu. To them it's a triumph of French ideas! It also says slavery continued until 1861 which uh.

A British one says the 1776 population of the 13 colonies was 25 million which seems a terrible error.

War of 1812: British books treat this as a very minor footnote to the Napoleonic wars. Canadian ones play it up a lot more, though one text calls out Canadians for mythologizing their role while ignoring British redcoats and Indian warriors. A Caribbean text makes it largely about trade with the Caribbean and South America.

Monroe Doctrine: A British text says Canning had already gotten promises from the French (supposedly with the only other sizable navy) they wouldn't help Spain attack its rebellious colonies, and Latin American knew it owed more to the British than to US pontificating. A Brazilian text emphasizes the US concern for its growing trade with Latin America, as well as British interest in preventing re-colonization and mercantilism; Latin American independence meant easier trade for everyone except Spain. That text also gives primary credit to the British support for criollos, Monroe gets a minor note.

A Carib text again notes US trade interests, and also mentions Canning, who asked for a joint declaration but Monroe said "you Brits stay out too!" A Mexican one says the US grew from 4 million in 1790 to 10 million in 1820; it bluntly talks about the despoiling of Indians in the march west, and the Monroe Doctrine as democratic cover for the USA's own imperialist ambitions. But it also gives context of a pro-absolute monarchy Sacred Alliance of Prussia, Russia and Austria, and then France and French-controlled Spain, with fears the Alliance would try to take back the Spanish colonies.

French books rarely mention it at all; the one quoted says the European powers ignored it as unsupportable bravado.

Manifest Destiny: Pretty much all our neighbors portray it as a threat, including Canada, which didn't want to be made part of a US stretching to the North Pole. Canadian text notes the US got Washington despite having no one living there. US texts don't talk about the Canadian Gold Rush, which wasn't all that big, but the Canadian one talks about "hundreds" of miners coming to Victoria, sparking fears of US annexation. The US bought Alaska and starting making noises about annexing BC, which prompted the latter to seek union with Canada.

Mexican text, haha. Lots of detail there. I note an emphasis on the divine right or revealed by Providence nature of "Manifest Destiny", linked to the fading of the Sacred Alliance. Subtext of 1830s Americans as crazy God nuts: divine right of kings, divine right of American conquerors... Both the Mexican and a Brazilian text talk about capitalist expansion, with the Brazilian noting the economic benefits of access to the Pacific and Gulf (through Florida).

Texas: A Mexican text goes into great detail, naturally, and condemns Santa Anna, the high command, and the clergy for incompetence or complicity, while praising the heroic people who fought back, including in Mexico City, while American troops responded with terror and abuse.

Slavery: US texts talk about it a lot now, but not so much the international side of things. A Nigerian text starts with 1480, and the Portuguese importing labor for the sugar plantations of Sao Tome. Then the 'New World' and "At first Red Indians were used on the plantations." This in a 1999 book. It contrasts transatlantic trade with "domestic slaves", I'm not sure if that means household slaves or "slavery in Africa." It's blunt about Nigerians selling other Nigerians, or interior Africans, into slavery: people from other communities, war captives, or social undesirables. It calls the triangle trade a shipment of slaves from Africa to Lisbon or other ports, and thence on to America.

It also talks about the effect of slave trade on the Nigerian societies, suggesting slave traders could hardly develop much feeling for people outside their community, and saying rulers would ship off the intelligent and independently minded. Also the economy coming to depend largely on the slave trade, and collapsing when it was abolished. Europeans insisted on talking to representatives of communities, so societies became more authoritarian as those middlemen acquired more power. It doesn't mention the effect of constant raiding and warfare.

There's a Zimbabwe text too. It starts with slaves for the French Mauritius and Reunion, and Arab Zanzibar and Pemba, as well as Sao Tome and the Americas. It also describes the trade as taking out "active human beings in exchange for perishable consumer items such as cloth, beads, or guns" thus depriving Africa of much production. Conversely it gives the trade much credit for British industrialization.

A Portuguese text notes slavery being an indigenous African practice, not a Portuguese invention. Which might sound like apologetics, but it talks in unusual detail about the mental effect of capture and slavery on the slaves, including suicide and depression, and the demographics of capturing the young, strong, and women of a society.

A Mexican text calls John Brown a black leader.

The Civil War: A Canadian book says "Many Canadians quietly rooted for the Confederacy, despite its maintenance of slavery". Fears of American invasion led to Canadian independence, partly so the British could avoid the expense of defending Canada.

A British book notes British sympathy with the Confederacy as well, it being in their interest to see a weaker US and more dependent source of cotton. Slavery? Well, Lincoln himself had been downplaying the issue, and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law, and denied for 18 months that the war was about slavery. Palmerston hated slavery but was sympathetic to secession-rights arguments, and recognized the Confederacy as belligerents though not a full country. It also mentions a British built destroyer sold to the Confederacy, the Alabama, which sank a hundred? ships. Britain ended up paying $15 million in reparations.

A 1992 Mexican book calls the KKK a terrorist group.

Spanish-American War: A Philippine book says the Spanish general knew he couldn't win, but arranged to fight a bit for Spain's honor. This was agreeable to the enemy leaders. The troops were not informed for their sacrifice for martial honor. It also notes the victorious Americans closing the gates of Manila behind them, in the face of their Filipino allies.

Both Philippine and Cuban books say the US blew up the Maine; the Cuban one says "almost all white officials escaped due to not being on deck at the time." And again, Cubans were blocked from entering a captured city by the Americans, "to prevent clashes".

A Caribbean book notes the US had high tariffs on cured tobacco and refined sugar: Cuba could grow the raw materials, the US would have the industrial jobs. It also blames the Main explosion on *Cuban* patriots seeking to bring in the US. That's a new one for me.

Philippine-American War: Hardly mentioned in US books. Bit different in the Philippines, who say the Americans killed first. It of course mentions the concentration camps and scorched earth policies of the Americans, burning towns and destroying crops, and the genocide of Balangiga (albeit that general was court-martialed.)

WW1: A French book emphasizes state schools inculcating a sense of nationalism and of a dominant dialect, veritable state religions of national flags and holidays and monuments, and a pre-war cycle of fear and alarm. A German book talks about diplomatic alliances. An Italian book talks about pre-war struggle for influence in the Balkans, including Archduke Ferdinand seeking to raise up Slavs as a third pole of power in the empire, to the dismay of Serb ambitions.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/374388.html#comments


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2013 03:35 am (UTC)
"A 1992 Mexican book calls the KKK a terrorist group."

Well, it was recognized as such in other countries such as Canada.

It isn't on the current terrorist watch list, though - it's now just on the "criminal organization" list. They took the FLQ off as well.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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