Contact with the West Brings Changes in Asia (the East)

In July 1858 a small fleet of American warships steamed into Tokyo Bay in Japan. The commander, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, had served during the War of 1812 and the war between the United States and Mexico (1846-1848). Perry’s voyage into Japanese waters did not mean that Japan and the United States were at war. Instead, Perry was bound on a peaceful mission, although it was expected that a show of force would help him to accomplish his purpose. For years American and European ship captains had tried to enter Japanese ports to trade and obtain supplies, but without success, for the Japanese mistrusted Western peoples and Western ways, but the Japanese were impressed by Perry’s steamships (the first they had seen) and by the big guns these vessels carried. The Americans were allowed to land and present their request that Japan begin to trade with the United States. Then Perry sailed away, giving the Japanese time to make up their minds. When he returned some months later in 1854, the Japanese rulers agreed to a treaty whereby American vessels could trade and obtain supplies in two Japanese ports. Within a few years, more generous terms were granted both to Americans and to Europeans. Perry’s voyage showed how keen was the interest of Western nations in trade with Asian countries even in the mid 1800’s. Later, as Western nations became more and more industrialized, the same scramble for trade took place in Asia and the Pacific as in Africa. Countries sought greater trading privileges, or areas which they could control, or outright colonies. There was, however, one major difference between imperialism in Africa and imperialism in much of Asia. In many parts of Africa the colonizing powers could ignore the Africans. Statesmen could sit around the table with explorers’ maps …

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Europe Annexes the African Continent

In 1871 there occurred one of the strangest meetings in history. The place was Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika in the heart of Africa. The men who met were David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary who was also a doctor, and Henry M. Stanley, a newspaperman. Livingstone had come to Africa about thirty years before. Anxious to spread Christianity and civilization among the Africans, in this unknown and mysterious continent, he had undertaken long trips into the interior. For several years, however, Livingstone had not been heard from, so the New York Herald sent Stanley, a roving reporter, to look for him. After what seemed like an endless journey through the dark forests of the African jungle, Stanley finally came upon Livingstone and his small party in a native village. There in the market place stood Livingstone, weak from fever and worn out from years of exploring regions hitherto unknown to white men. As the story goes, Stanley advanced toward him, rushed with the excitement of finally meeting the man he had for months been trying to locate. It would have been natural at such a dramatic moment for Stanley to shout a welcome or to rush forward and clap Livingstone on the back. But Stanley merely tipped his hat and said, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” as if this were an everyday meeting of two men on a city street! Stanley’s meeting with Livingstone occurred at a time when Europeans were taking a new interest in African continent. Within a few years several European countries had become engaged in a scramble for colonies. In fact, by the early years of the twentieth century, all Africa except for two or three areas had been taken over by one European power or another. Nor was interest in colonies confined to Africa. During the same …

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Progress in Ways of Living Continue Down the Centuries

It was the evening of December 17, 1903, when Bishop Wright in his home at Dayton, Ohio received the following telegram: SUCCESS. FOUR FLIGHTS THURSDAY MORNING ALL AGAINST TWENTY ONE MILE WIND. STARTED FROM LEVEL WITH ENGINE POWER ALONE. AVERAGE SPEED THROUGH AIR THIRTY-ONE MILES. LONGEST FLIGHT FIFTY NINE SECONDS. INFORM PRESS. HOME CHRISTMAS. ORVILLE WRIGHT This telegram tells simply and directly the story of the first successful motor-powered flights in an airplane. In these days, when planes make regularly scheduled flights across oceans and jet-powered planes exceed the speed of sound, we take air travel for granted. At the turn of this century, this brief adventure in the air by the two Wright brothers was a breath taking event. Most people scoffed at the famous English writer, H. G. Wells who the year before had daringly written that “before the year 2000 and very probably before 1950, a successful aeroplane will have soared and come home safe and sound.” Important as was the Wright brothers’ successful flight, it was only one of many startling advances made in the first half of our century. We have seen how modern science and invention made great progress during the 1700’s and 1800’s. This progress not only affected ways of living at that time but paved the way for even more startling developments. From 1900 to 1950 man’s ability to travel and communicate, produce goods, promote health and add to his comfort and well-being moved forward with lightning speed. Here we find answers to the following questions: 1. What advances did science make in the first half of the twentieth century? 2. How did science and invention speed up communication, transportation and industry? 3. What further changes came about in people’s interests and ways of living? 1. What Advances Did Science Make in the …

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Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution brings New Problems and Solutions

We remember how Rip Van Winkle, the famous character in Irving’s Sketch Book, fell asleep for 20 years. When poor old Rip stumbled back to his village, he was startled by the changes which he found. The people he talked with and the places he visited were strange. His former home was in ruins and his friends and nagging wife were dead. What was more, he discovered that a war had taken place and America was now an independent nation. If some imaginary native of Great Britain had returned to his home after slumbering from 1750 to 1850, he would truly have rubbed his eyes with as much amazement as did Rip Van Winkle. Ways of living in Britain had changed more in this hundred-year period than in the ten preceding centuries. Science had increased man’s control over the forces of nature and was pointing the way to better health. Invention had created new machines from which flowed a steadily growing stream of goods. Men seemed to be standing on the threshold of higher standards of living for all; better food, clothing, shelter, more comforts and greater security. Yet the Industrial Revolution was far from finished. Each advance in science and invention led to further progress. Our imaginary Englishman in 1850 would not have found all people enjoying a more abundant living. Along with its benefits, the Industrial Revolution created grave problems. It brought misery instead of happiness to thousands of workers in the factories and to their families. The Industrial Revolution affected ways of living during the 1800’s and the common people sought a greater share in its benefits. In short, you will find answers to the following questions: 1. How did the Industrial Revolution affect ways of living? 2. What efforts were made to solve workers’ problems? 3. How …

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The Growth of Science and Invention 

“Repair this model, if you please.” These words were spoken to James Watt, an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1764. The model showed how a steam engine worked, but what a steam engine! The original engine of which this miniature working model was a copy, was heavy and clumsy. Worse than that, it was extremely wasteful of the steam that ran it and therefore of the coal that was burned to generate the steam. Such steam engines, built by an English blacksmith named Newcomen, had been used for 40 years, but only in mines to pump out water. Wasteful or not, one steam pump, night and day, did the work of 50 men. Watt had an orderly mind. Moreover, he was a Scotsman, with a Scotsman’s traditional dislike of waste. Any machine that wasted most of the fuel that made it go was something to be improved, not merely repaired. Watt worked on the model and found out what the matter was. The steam was turned back into water (condensed) in the same part of the engine where it pushed against the piston, that is, in the cylinder. Only hot cylinders worked well, yet condensing steam in the cylinder cooled it off. Then why not condense the steam somewhere else? That is what Watt did. He worked for years planning a new model with a separate cooling chamber for the steam. Now, with the same amount of fuel, the engine did two or three times as much work as before and why not let steam, like flowing water, turn Wheels? Watt hitched up the steam engine in such a way that it could turn wheels and run machinery. He also built a governor to keep engines going at the same rate of speed. These inventions, in turn, …

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Italy and Germany Become Unified nations

On May 11, 1860 an almost incredible military campaign began with the landing of Guiseppe Garibaldi on the western tip of Sicily. Garibaldi was a handsome, dashing, reckless warrior patriot. With him were a thousand devoted followers, clad in red shirts. Maybe red shirts were easier to shoot at than green or gray, but for every bullet, they attracted a recruit from the ranks of the enemy. The island of Sicily was one of the two parts of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The other “Sicily” was the southern third of the peninsula of Italy. The capital of the Kingdom was the beautiful but overcrowded city of Naples, where a king of the Bourbon family headed one of the worst governments in Europe. Garibaldi hated the King of the Two Sicilies for two reasons: (1) The King’s misrule was an insult to all true Italians and (2) even a good separate government at Naples would have stood in the way of bringing Italy together into a single, unified free country. Garibaldi felt that war had to be made against the King. No country already in existence would send troops on such a mission, but that didn’t bother Garibaldi. He resolved to wage his own war as a patriotic citizen of a country not yet born. He set out from Genoa, sailed westward for a few miles and then made for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The story of what followed is a story of how freedom overcomes tyranny if it has half a chance to do so. The King’s army had no heart for fighting. It melted away and as it shrank, Garibaldi’s army grew. Within a week after landing in Sicily, Garibaldi had won his first battle against the King. Two months later, Garibaldi controlled all of …

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Nationalism and Democracy Clash with the Forces of Reaction

The Austrian city of Vienna in 1814 would have dazzled even a Hollywood director. Emperors and empresses, kings and queens, dukes and duchesses — members of ruling families who hoped to recover thrones or to increase their lands — were there. So were leading statesmen from practically every country in Europe. For the so-called Congress of Vienna was meeting to make peace, now that Napoleon had finally been defeated. The Congress was going to set the world right again. The old city was overcrowded. Hotel rates soared and homeowners rented their houses at unheard of prices. Laundresses grew wealthy and tailors prospered, silks and gold lace were everywhere. The highborn visitors found little time for sleep because of the never ending round of festivities. There were dinners and parties, receptions and dances, operas, ballets and concerts led by the great composer and orchestra leader Beethoven. So the rulers and aristocrats wined and danced, bowed and flirted. Vienna merry go round might have been a good term for the great international peace conference in 1814. You should not get the idea that there were no serious minded people present at the Congress of Vienna. There were and they knew what they wanted. While most of the visitors were caught up in the social whirl, these statesmen took time to confer on serious matters. Their purpose was to stamp out the ideas of liberty and equality and of self government proclaimed during the French Revolution and spread by Napoleon’s armies. Could the members of the Congress of Vienna smother these ideas? One might as well ask whether they could stop winds from blowing or check the flow of rivers fed by countless small streams. Here we read how old and new ideas clashed and will answer these questions: 1. How did the …

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french revolution

The French Revolution and Napoleon

The year is 1789; the place, Versailles, France. Several hundred delegates representing the people of France sit sullenly in the palace hall. When an officer of the King orders them to leave the hall and return to their proper meeting place, one delegate rises to his full height and thunders, “Tell your master that we are here by the will of the people, and that only bayonets can drive us forth” A meeting of representatives of the French people? Defiance to the commands of the powerful king of France? In view of what you have read earlier about royal authority in France, all this sounds strange; but it actually happened in one of the opening scenes of the French Revolution. The French Revolution swept the King of France from his throne and abolished the special privileges of the French nobles and clergy. It also spread ideas of liberty and equality over most of Europe and even overseas. Both Americans and Frenchmen sought liberty and both took up arms to win it, but conditions in America and in France were quite different. (1) The English colonists in America were pioneers in a vast new land. They had brought with them the traditions of English liberty and because they were separated by great distances from their home government, they had grown used to handling their own affairs. France, on the other hand, was an old monarchy. It had a population in 1789 of 25 million people who lived in an area that was smaller than the present state of Texas. These people were divided into fixed classes. The great mass of people had few rights and no voice in government. Liberty to them was a new experience. (2) To the east and south of France were powerful nations, in which people suffered …

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The Peoples of America Win Control over their Own Affairs

Even though you are familiar with the story of the American Revolution, perhaps you do not realize that only nine short days at Christmas time in 1776 changed the course of the English colonies’ fight for freedom. Within that short space of time, General Washington’s ragged, dwindling army captured the hired German troops at Trenton, New Jersey and routed a British force at nearby Princeton. To win such surprising victories and to keep the American Revolution from collapsing took the devoted leadership and military skill of General George Washington. It took patriot soldiers whose term of service had run out but who fought on, though they were poorly clothed, halfstarved and ill. In short, the struggle for independence continued because there were men who saw beyond the cold, hunger, danger and weariness of war. Wherever freedom is won, there are able leaders, men of courage and devotion. Turn, for example, to South America in the year 1819, In a mountain hut General Simon Bolivar, one of the great leaders in the struggle of the Spanish-American colonies for independence, huddled with his staff officers over a candlelit map. Ahead of Bolivar rose the towering cloud-covered summits of the Andes. Somewhere in the valleys beyond were the Spanish troops that Bolivar had to defeat. Quickly he decided to make use of a high, windy, fiercely cold mountain pass. No Spaniard would look for a force of 2100 men from that direction! Up, up climbed Bolivar’s forces. Trees grew stunted and bent. Wind buffeted and snow blinded the men and horses. Some dropped from exhaustion; others slipped and vanished into the fog-filled canyons. What was left of Bolivar’s army crept down the other side. Not a single cavalry horse had survived and abandoned cannon, like snow-covered mileposts, marked Bolivar’s route. The exhausted forces were …

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early modern times

Basic Ideas of Freedom take Root in Early Modern Times

Freedom! Liberty! Here are words which most Americans have heard all their lives. Freedom is the subject of the Declaration of Independence and of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. Our patriotic songs refer to America as “sweet land of liberty” and “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Just what do we mean by freedom or liberty? We mean several things, for there is more than one kind of freedom. First, there is personal freedom — the right of the individual to go where he wants, to choose his occupation, to say and write what he thinks, to worship as he pleases. Secondly, there is political freedom — the right to have a share in the government. Political freedom is best achieved through democracy or rule of the people. Finally, there is national freedom or independence — the freedom of an entire people or nation from control by another state. Any people that are truly free possess all three kinds of freedom — personal, political and national. To be sure, there are many things which “free” people are not “free” to do. Just because you and I possess personal liberty does not give us the right to break the laws of our community or nation. To do so would be harmful for all of us. Again, except in a small community where everybody can vote on every proposal, it is impossible for each individual citizen to take a direct part in deciding public questions. So when we speak of democracy today, we usually mean rule through representatives elected by a majority of the people. Nevertheless, liberty is one of the highest goals of mankind. The pages of history are filled with the stirring tales of individuals or whole peoples who have sacrificed their fortunes …

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