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Tag Archives: American Civil War

Parceling Out a Continent 1841-1910

africa

Africa, the second largest continent in the world, extends south from the Mediterranean Sea four thousand miles. Along its north coast is a strip of land known to Europeans since ancient times. South of this strip lie mountains and deserts. The Sahara, an empty “sea” of sand and rock, crosses the continent in a belt several hundreds of miles wide; it is hot and dry, vast and rugged. Europeans knew very little about the lands beyond it. Almost all they knew of Africa were the coasts, which they could reach by sea. As late as the time of the American Civil War and the unification of Italy and Germany, Africa was still largely unknown – the “Dark Continent.” The people of North Africa were white — descendants of the early inhabitants and of Arabs who had conquered them for Islam. South of the Sahara lay “Black Africa” a land of Negroes. The Negroes were divided into thousands of tribes, but had no organized states. They spoke hundreds of languages, but had no writing. They lived by hunting, raising cattle and simple farming and worshiped tribal gods. All of Black Africa was Negro except for a few places on the Indian Ocean where Arab traders had settled and the southernmost part of the continent, where some European families had settled. STANLEY AND LIVINGSTON In the sixteenth century, Portuguese and Spanish ships had begun to stop at points on the Atlantic shore of Africa to trade. Later, traders came from other European countries. The names they gave to stretches of shoreland — the Gold Coast, the Ivory Coast, the Slave Coast — show what they came for. The Europeans found that the sultry coastland was ridden with disease. So many of them died there that West Africa came to be known as …

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Nationalism and the Germans 1848-1870

GERMANS

DESPITE THE development of democracy in some parts of the world, several of the most important nations established in the nineteenth century went in a different direction and among them was Germany. In the early part of the century, the Germans lived in a number of small states and two large ones Prussia and Austria. France was at least partly responsible for this, for it had long been her policy to keep the Germans weak and divided. Napoleon, too, had followed this policy when they came under his rule, but he had given some of them practical governments and a good system of laws called the Napoleonic Code. Many Germans had been influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution. At the same time, they were becoming more and more nationalistic; they felt that all Germans belonged together in one large, united nation. This feeling increased when they fell under the rule of the French. Only by uniting into one nation could they be strong enough to rule themselves. After the French Revolution of 1848, the German liberals broke out in open rebellion. They, too, wanted a constitutional monarchy. Joined by the radicals, who wanted a republic, they threw up barricades in the streets of Berlin, acting so swiftly that King Frederick William of Prussia was taken by surprise. When he went out on the balcony of his palace to talk to the people, they refused to listen until he had removed his hat as a sign of respect. Trying to calm them, he promised them a constitution. The revolutions of 1848 gave the liberals control of the smaller German states. As the first step toward unification, these states elected representatives to an assembly at Frankfurt. Some members of the assembly were in favour of a republic similar to that …

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