Home / Tag Archives: Asia

Tag Archives: Asia

Man’s Long Road Up From Savagery

stone age

Perhaps you have asked yourself, “What would I have done?” as you have read an adventure yarn or the true story of some person set down in a wild and remote spot. One of the most famous stories in the English language recounts the adventures of’ Robinson Crusoe, who was shipwrecked and cast ashore on an uninhabited island. Crusoe was completely alone and had only the few materials which he saved from the wreckage. With these and with what he found on the island, Crusoe had to provide his own food and shelter. Days and even weeks were required to fashion the simplest tools and furniture. Just to keep alive was a constant struggle. If you stop to think of it, Robinson Crusoe possessed tremendous advantages over the men who first inhabited this earth in the dim and distant past. He, atleast, had some equipment with which to work. More important, he had thousands of years of man’s experience on which to draw. In contrast, the earliest men had none of these advantages. They did not know how to use fire, how to build the simplest of shelters, or how to fashion the crudest of tools. They had no good means of communicating with one another. They did not even know that by planting seeds they could grow food. How did early peoples get the experience and develop the skills needed for civilized living? The big questions are, 1. What was the earth like before men lived on it? 2. How did men live during the Old Stone Age? 3. What great advances were made by people in the New Stone Age? 4. How did ways of living improve in the Bronze Age? To answer these  questions. 1. What Was the Earth like Before Men Lived on It? Our world …

Read More »

The United Nations and the End of Colonialism 1946 -1965

colonialism

Even before the Korean War, the United Nations had proved that it could take effective action to control serious conflicts. It first took such action in the conflict over Palestine. During World War I, the British had ousted the Turks from Palestine. When the war was over, the League of Nations placed that land under the authority of Britain. The British then issued the famous Balfour Declaration, which promised the Jewish people that Palestine would someday become their homeland, but the Arabs of Palestine and the surrounding countries strongly objected to this and year after year passed without the British making good their promise. During and after World War II, Britain refused to allow Jewish refugees from Europe to enter Palestine. In 1946 Jewish terrorists began to stage raids against the British army and a year later Britain turned the Palestine problem over to the United Nations. The General Assembly set up a special committee to investigate the situation and make recommendations and several months later the committee delivered its report. It recommended that Palestine be divided into two independent states, one Arab and one Jewish. Although the Arabs, who formed a majority of the people in Palestine, said they would never allow the existence of a Jewish state, the General Assembly approved the committee’s report. Britain was expected to carry out and enforce the recommendations. Instead, the British suddenly left Palestine in the spring of 1948 and war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews. The Palestinian Arabs were supported by troops from the surrounding countries of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, but the Jewish army, which included many hardened veterans of World War II, won battle after battle. With every victory, the Jews added to the territory originally granted them by the United Nations special committee. Most …

Read More »

Independence for India 1920 – 1964

gandhi

Even before the end of World War II, it was clear that Asia and Africa would soon be shaken by a great movement for independence. Everywhere the colonial peoples wanted to be free of the rule of other countries. The British, who controlled more colonies than any other nation, knew that they faced the break-up of their empire. Churchill was opposed to giving up any of Britain’s power. In 1942, he said, “I haven’t become the king’s first minister to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.”  A number of Englishmen shared his view, including some members of the Labour party: As late as 1946, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, a leader of the Labour party, said, “I’m not prepared to sacrifice the British Empire, because I know that if it fell a great collection of free nations would go into the limbo of the past and would create disaster.” When, after the end of the war, Ceylon, Malaya and Burma demanded independence Britain agreed. Ceylon and Malaya remained within the British Commonwealth, while Burma cut itself off from Britain completely. The problem of India, the largest and most important of Britain’s possessions, proved more difficult to solve. The Indians were firmly determined to win independence. “Come what may,” one Indian leader said, “we will come out as a free nation or be thrown into the ashes.” Yet the Indians were not a united people; they were divided by religious differences. On one side were the Hindus, organized into the All-India Congress party, led by Jawarharlal Nehru. On the other side were the Moslems. They wanted a separate Moslem state of their own, to be called Pakistan and they had set up the Moslem League, under the leadership of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The Hindus themselves were divided into numerous castes, …

Read More »

Rivalries in the Middle East 1856 – 1912

ottoman

THE MIDDLE EAST where Europe, Asia and Africa meet had long been known as one of the great crossroads of the world. Most of its people were Moslems, but among them were many Christians and Jews. They spoke languages as different as Arabic and Latin, Slavic and Turkish. They had little in common except that they were all subjects of the Ottoman sultan in Constantinople. The Ottoman Empire — so called after its early founder, Othman — was the last of several empires to rule over a large part of Islam. Unlike the earlier empires, it was dominated not by Arabs, but by Turks. Centuries before, the Turks had fought their way west from Central Asia and founded a new homeland in the West Asian peninsula of Turkey. From there, they had pushed outward, conquering lands and peoples. In 1699, however, they had lost Hungary to the Austrians. After that, while the nations of western Europe grew stronger, the Ottoman Empire became weaker. Throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Ottoman sultans had to combat enemies both within and without their empire. Their foreign enemies were the European powers, which snatched up their outlying lands. Their enemies at home were the subject peoples, especially in the Balkan Peninsula of southeast Europe, who demanded their freedom. Unrest was chronic and the Ottoman Empire, which was usually called simply Turkey, came to be known as “the sick man of Europe.” By the 1850’s, Turkey had lost lands north of the Black Sea to Russia and Algeria‚ in North Africa, to France. Of its former Balkan holdings, Greece was independent and both Serbia and Rumania had some freedom. A native Arab dynasty ruled much of Arabia. In Egypt, a former Turkish governor had set himself up as hereditary khedive, or viceroy, …

Read More »

India and the Indies 1856 – 1914

indies

In 1856, Great Britain was at war with Russia in the Black Sea area and with the Chinese emperor in south China. Many British troops had been withdrawn from India to fight on these battlefronts. As a result, nine-tenths of the 200,000-man army guarding Great Britain’s largest and richest possession, the subcontinent of India in south-central Asia, consisted of native soldiers called sepoys. At the time, the British were putting a new type of rifle into service in the Indian Army. To load it, a rifleman had to insert each cartridge separately and the cartridges were covered with grease. In January of 1857, rumours began to circulate among the sepoys in the Ganges Valley. The cartridge grease, it was whispered, came from animals. Moslems believed that it came from pigs, which their religion taught them to shun in any form, while Hindus believed it came from cows, which they held sacred. So sepoys of both religions refused to handle the new rifles. THE SEPOY REVOLT This refusal to bear arms was an act of mutiny which the British felt they could not leave unpunished, but punishment only made the sepoys desperate. On May 10, troops at the key post of Meerut massacred the British officers and their families. Other garrisons rebelled and hordes of peasants, villagers, Moslem and Hindu, joined them. The uprising was supported by native princes, who were either fretting under British rule or feared that the British would soon take over their lands. By June, most of northeast India was in rebellion. The Sepoy Revolt, as the rebellion was called, was the bloodiest event of Great Britain’s long history in India. Hundreds of Englishmen were slain, some with their families and countless thousands of Indians slaughtered in revenge by British troops and loyal sepoys. Cities were burned, …

Read More »

The Race for Empire 1870-1914

imperialism

While the peoples of the West were concerned with the problems that grew out of industrialization, their governments were taking part in one of the greatest land grabs in history. By the end of the nineteenth century they had brought within their grasp most of the earth’s land surface and half its inhabitants. This development created new empires and enlarged old ones, it was called imperialism. Imperialism came about in many ways, from armed invasions to polite talks that led native rulers to place their countries under the protection of an imperialist power. It took many forms, from colonies which one power ruled outright, to “spheres of influence,” in which one power enjoyed rights, particularly trading rights, denied to other powers. So, it arose from many causes — economic, political and cultural. Empire-building was not new; it was as old as civilization. In ancient times, the Romans had built a vast empire that ruled peoples in Europe, Asia and Africa. In the fifteenth century, European nations had colonized the Americas and conquered the Indians. Elsewhere they had not challenged native rulers, being content to set up trading posts, where they bought native wares for resale at home. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, most of British North America became independent, as did the United States. In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, almost all of Latin America won its freedom from Spain and Portugal. During the next half-century, while industry went through its first slow stage of growth, goods circulated freely throughout the world and governments cared little about building up their empires. The French, to be sure, occupied Algeria, the British strengthened their hold on India, the Dutch developed the East Indies and the western powers, including the United States, opened Japan to trade and started …

Read More »

Problems of a Changing World 1870-1914

trade unions

WHILE INDUSTRY was transforming the United States, the same thing was happening in Western Europe. The change was most noticeable in Germany, because Germany was not unified until 1870, it started to become industrial much later than Great Britain and France, but it soon began to catch up with its neighbours. Within a few decades it was producing more than they were of several key commodities, including the most important one of all, steel. Like the American government, the German government imposed tariffs on foreign manufactures and encouraged its national industry in other ways. The results were much the same as in the United States. Railways spread across the country in an ever denser network of tracks, connecting farmlands with cities, mines with factories and factories with seaports. New industrial cities came into being, especially in the coal-rich Ruhr Valley, next to the iron-rich province of Lorraine which Germany had seized from France in the Franco-Prussian War. Old cities doubled and tripled in size as country people flocked into them to man factory machines, shop counters and office desks. On both sides of the Atlantic, smoke billowed from factory chimneys, rows of new houses went up in the cities and freight trains carried industrial products off to market and to seaports, for shipments overseas. Such signs of industry’s growth could be seen throughout the industrial West. Elsewhere, in the less developed parts of the world, they were not so evident — but their effects were felt just the same. For, as industry expanded in Western Europe and the United States, it reached further and further afield in quest of supplies for its factories and customers for its products. In Asia, Africa, Latin America and other non-industrial regions, armies of native workers came to depend for their livelihood on the money …

Read More »

Stepping-Stones for the West, 1869

suez

ON NOVEMBER 16, 1869, the sun rose over the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea and shone on the blue water. The squat buildings of Port Said, on the shore of Egypt, glowed against the clear sky. A new town, Port Said had begun to rise only ten years before from the barren plain that joins Africa to Asia. In the man-made harbour were crowded eighty ships. Some were warships, others merchantmen, but all were strung with brightly-coloured pennants. On board were distinguished visitors, among them the emperor of Austria-Hungary, the crown prince of Prussia, the prince of Holland and ambassadors, generals, admirals from many lands. As the sun climbed higher, passengers began to appear on the decks and hundreds of other people gathered on the piers and the seawall. At eight o’clock‚ the warships’ big guns boomed out salutes to the European monarchs‚ to the khedive’s of Egypt and to the khedive’s overlord, the sultan of Turkey. When the smoke cleared, a trim, graceful vessel came steaming toward the harbour — the French imperial yacht Aigle. Again the cannon thundered, to welcome Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III. She was the guest of honour and as her yacht glided past, the sailors on the other ships stood at attention, cheering, while music blared from several bands. The black-haired empress, standing on the Aigle’s bridge, smiled to left and right. She looked happy, proud and by the time her yacht had docked, everyone agreed she was as beautiful as she was said to be. In the afternoon, the visitors, in uniforms, frock coats and formal gowns and Egyptians‚ who wore flowing robes, all trooped out onto the desert. There, perhaps for the first time, Christians and Moslems worshiped side by side. The Moslems were led in prayer by the …

Read More »

The Walls Come Tumbling Down 1300-1415

wyclif

IN THE MIDDLE AGES, when knights fought wars in Europe’s fields, robbers roamed the roads and the dark forests seemed filled with unknown dangers, men put their trust in walls. Around each little town rose ramparts of massive stonework, a strong defense against the evils outside. Within the safety of the wall was a crowded little world, complete in itself — a castle‚ a church, a monastery or two, a marketplace and a tangle of cobbled streets lined with the thatch-roofed houses of townsmen. In such a town a man knew his place. He was a nobleman or a knight, a churchman, a craftsman, or a farmer and there were ancient invisible walls that marked off the little world in which each kind of person belonged. For a lord there was the realm of chivalry. He lived according to the code of knights and in time of war, put on his armour and defended the town against its enemies. In peacetime, he amused himself with hunting, banquets, poetry, music, dancing and wooing ladies in the complicated fashion called courtly love. Religion and scholarship were the territory of monks, priests and bishops. They were men who had learned to read the Bible and other books and who understood the Latin of church services. For commoners, there was work on land owned by the nobles and in shops that served the castle. It was an orderly system and it seemed as if it would never change. No peasant dreamed of becoming a knight or questioned the wisdom of the churchmen. The invisible walls, like the walls of stone around the town, were strong and old and within them a man felt safe. THE WORLD OF CHRISTENDOM The world of Europe also had its walls in the Middle Ages. To the east and …

Read More »

The Renaissance in the North and Spain 1400 – 1598

spain

Through the bustling market-towns of the Low Countries passed the traders, goods and gold of all Europe. Here the luxuries of Asia — spices‚ silks, jewels and perfumes — were exchanged for the practical products of the North — woolen cloth and utensils of iron and copper and wood. In shops and inns, wily Italian shippers and bankers bargained with the solemn, solid merchants from Germany and Flanders — and made the profits that built the Renaissance cities of Italy. In tall-spired cathedrals, in palaces, guildhalls and universities, wandering Italian artists discovered works of art and scholarship as great as any they had known at home. The men of the North had needed no outsiders to teach them about money-making or magnificence. Long before the Renaissance spread across Europe from Italy, they had turned to business, formed the guilds, grown rich and invested their gold in displays of splendour. Flanders was the center of a great cloth-making industry. Germany was the home of expert craftsmen—armourers, goldsmiths and engravers. In Haarlem in the Low Countries, a jack-of-all-trades named Laurent Coster had first thought of using movable carved letters to form words and sentences from which pages could be printed. About 1440, Johann Gutenberg and his assistant Peter Schoeffer had put Coster’s idea to use, made the first printed books and brought about a revolution in learning that changed the history of the world. The northern artists also were inventive and their guildsman patrons kept them as busy as the artists of Italy. Of course, their tastes were not Italian and their paintings and statues, like their ideas, were very different from those in Florence, Milan and Rome. When Masaccio was first teaching the Florentines how to paint figures that “stood on their feet,” the wool merchants of Flanders were buying paintings …

Read More »
Translate »