Home / Tag Archives: China

Tag Archives: China

The Growth of Civilization in Early India

early india

Two hundred years before Columbus discovered America, a certain Marco Polo told strange, exciting stories to his friends and neighbours in Venice, a city in northern Italy. He had travelled, he said, to distant lands in Asia and had become rich. Europeans at that time had some general knowledge of eastern Asia and of its products, but Polo furnished detailed and colourful descriptions of magnificent cities, of strange customs and of powerful rulers who owned many palaces and lived in unheard of luxury. Marco Polo had visited the court of the khan, or ruler, of an empire that included most of east Asia as well as great islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Polo had been made a public official. He had been sent on errands to the cold wastes of present day Siberia and the green Spice Islands where it was always warm. He had seen civilizations of many kinds — some primitive, some more magnificent than those in Europe. Marco Polo’s stories were so amazing that not until long after his death did most people believe them. “How,” thought Europeans, “could Asians have travelled so far on the long road from savagery without our help?” Today we know that Marco Polo’s stories were true, atleast in all important respects. We know that while Egyptians were building their pyramids and the Sumerians their temple towers in Mesopotamia, civilization was growing in India. We know also that while the Greeks and Romans were creating “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome,” the Chinese were developing their own civilization and way of life. You will not find the empire of Alexander or the Roman Empire on a modern map of the world, as you know, but India and China still exist. Many changes have taken place …

Read More »

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 »

War in Korea 1945-1953

korea

Although the cold war was the most important fact in the politics of the post-war world, few persons could have foreseen that it would lead to fighting in the small, remote country of Korea. Yet, as small and remote as it was, Korea had a strategic location. It was near three large powers — Russia, China and Japan — and the Japanese said it “points like a dagger at the heart of our country.” The Japanese won control of Korea in the Russo-Japanese War and by 1905 they ruled it as part of their empire. During World War II, the Allies promised that “in due course Korea shall become free and independent.” When Japan surrendered, they agreed that Russian troops would occupy Korea north of the thirty-eighth parallel and American troops would occupy Korea south of the thirty-eighth parallel. A provisional government would then be set up and after a period of no longer than five years, Korea would govern itself as an independent nation. The occupation of Korea was carried out as it had been planned, but the United States and the Soviet Union could not agree on a provisional government. Each set up a provisional government friendly to itself and in 1947 the United States brought the dispute before the United Nations General Assembly. The Assembly decided to hold elections in Korea, but the Soviet Union refused to allow United Nations representatives to enter its occupation zone. Elections were held outside the Russian zone and in 1948 the Korean Republic was established in South Korea. The city of Seoul was made the capital and Syngman Rhee was elected president. Thirty-two nations, including the United States, recognized the new government; the Russians and “their supporters did not. Instead, the Soviet Union helped to set up a new and separate …

Read More »

The United Nations and the Nations Disunited 1943 -1949

united nations

So at last, in the Pacific as in Europe, the guns were silent; the nations that had brought so much death and destruction to the world had been defeated, but victory alone was not enough. Governments had to be set up for the defeated nations, the destruction of war had to be repaired, hungry people had to be fed, industry and commerce had to be set in motion. Even more important, a way had to be found to keep war out of the world, to settle disputes between nations by peaceful means rather than by violence. The League of Nations, which had been set up for such a purpose after World War I, had failed, but the attempt had to be made again, for a third world war might well destroy all of civilization. Even before World War II ended, President Roosevelt had been looking ahead to the future and the United States proposed the establishment of a new international organization. Her wartime allies were quick to agree. Meeting in Moscow in October of 1943, the foreign ministers of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China declared: “The four powers recognize the necessity of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Representatives of the same four nations met at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington from August 21 to October 7, 1944, to discuss plans for the new organization. When Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met at Yalta in February of 1945, they agreed that the United Nations Conference on International Organization be held at San Francisco in April. The conference was held as scheduled and it was attended by representatives of fifty nations at …

Read More »

Victory in the Pacific 1941 – 1945

pearl harbour

On June 25, 1940, the Japanese war minister said, “The present international situation is developing in a manner advantageous to Japan’s national policy. We should not miss the present opportunity. . . Japan’s national policy was scarcely a secret. It had already linked itself by treaty to the aggressor nations of Germany and Italy – for several years it had been fighting an undeclared war against China. Although Chinese guerrilla forces were fighting back the Japanese controlled most of the Chinese railroads and held such cities as Peiping, Shanghai and Canton. They planned to establish something they called the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” –actually a vast empire that would take in the South Seas as well as East Asia, an empire ruled by the Japanese. In July of 1941, as another step in carrying out their plan, they occupied Indochina. In trying to build up its new empire, however, Japan ran into certain difficulties. The Chinese, led by Chiang K’ai-shek were getting more and more aid from the United States and Britain. Even more important, Japan depended on trade with the United States and Britain for its war materials, especially scrap metal and oil. It was a serious blow when, in 1941, the United States and Britain “froze” all Japanese assets in the two countries, bringing trade to a stop. The Netherlands East Indies, which had been supplying oil to Japan, soon took the same action. In October, General Hideki Tojo became premier of Japan and the militarists were in full control of the government. Tojo sent a special envoy to Washington to negotiate with the United States. Japan demanded, among other things, that the United States stop all aid to China and again trade freely with Japan. The United States insisted that Japan withdraw its forces from China …

Read More »

The United States and Destiny 1848-1914

united states

THE UNITED STATES entered the race for colonies last of all the powers, at the end of the nineteenth century. Long before then, however, Americans were accustomed to taking over territory; they had, in fact, built their country westward from the Atlantic by settling lands they had bought or seized. In the Mexican War of 1845-48 they had taken a huge tract of land from Mexico by force. Many Americans, including Abraham Lincoln believed that the Mexican War was simply an invasion of a weak country by its powerful, land hungry neighbour. Others maintained that the move was justified by the country’s needs. They pointed out that the United States was the largest, richest and most advanced nation in North America, with the fastest-growing population. For these reasons, they said, it was entitled to take the land it needed. This was the doctrine of “manifest destiny.” Its supporters believed that before long the United States was bound to dominate the continent, if not the entire hemisphere. With the land it had gained in the Mexican War, the United States spanned North America from ocean to ocean. Talk of manifest destiny died down, for most Americans felt that the country had reached its limits. When Secretary of State, William Seward, bought Alaska from Russia in 1867, he was widely criticized. People said Alaska was nothing but a frozen wasteland and called it “Seward’s Icebox.” For a time they were too busy building up their own country to bother much about other lands. By the 1890’s, however, the United States was a great industrial power and had trade links with several other parts of the world besides its old trading partners in Europe. Millions of American dollars were invested in neighbouring Latin American republics and American trade with the Far East, especially …

Read More »

The Powers Carve Up China 1841 – 1914

opium

China, that immense portion of East Asia bounded by the chilly Amur River and the hot jungles of Indo-China, by the Pacific Ocean and the Himalaya Mountains, was the most populous country on earth. For thousands of years, China had had a highly developed civilization. Its people thought of their land as the world itself; to them, it was the Middle Kingdom between the upper region, heaven and the lower region, hell, which was made up of all other lands. They considered foreigners nothing but barbarians. Only a few Europeans had entered China since the Middle Ages and the Chinese had scornfully refused to trade with them. The Europeans remembered China, from accounts like those of the Venetian traveler Marco Polo, as a land of fabulous wealth. They longed to lay hands on this wealth and during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the imperialist powers managed to get some of it. Despite its size, China was very weak. In the family of nations it was like a fat old grandfather whose head was so full of old-fashioned actions that he could not understand the boisterous young people around him. The old man was sick, too — with “internal disorders.” For the Chinese were more and more discontented with their Manchu emperors. The Manchus were the latest imperial dynasty in a line stretching back over two thousand years. Their ancestors from Manchuria had conquered China in the seventeenth century and many of their subjects still thought of them as foreign barbarians. From time to time, the Chinese rebelled against them and tried to drive them out. China had troubles of its own even before the foreign imperialist came. The greatest uprising against the Manchus was the Tai-Ping Rebellion of 1850. Twenty million people died — as many as lived in …

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 »

Men against Machines 1733 – 1812

yorkshire

FEAR HUNG over the Yorkshire countryside in northern England. It was the spring of 1812, a spring the people would long remember. Hardly a night passed without some frightened countryman hearing the tramp of marching feet or the sound of gunfire. Sometimes shouts rang out and flames lit up the sky as some building was mysteriously set on fire. The most frightening sound of all was a gentle tapping on a cottage door in the dead of night. The man who heard it knew what it meant — a visit from members of a secret society of mill workers. Why had they come? Possibly to demand his firearms, or to threaten him with a lashing or even death unless he kept certain information to himself . If he himself happened to be a member of the society, he could expect his visitors to insist that he join them in raiding a nearby cotton or woolen mill. Such mills, or cloth factories, dotted the Yorkshire countryside and were the main targets of the secret society. Most of the mill owners had been warned. The society had sent them unsigned letters, threatening to raid their mills unless they stopped using labour-saving machinery such as weaving frames. The owners of small mills usually became so terrified they stopped using the machines. Those who continued to use them ran the risk of having their mills destroyed by fire. Usually the raiders simply broke in to smash the weaving frames and other machinery that did the work of men. William Cartwright, the owner of one of the largest textile mills in the area, was not easily frightened. He believed in progress and to him progress meant using machines, for they could do the work faster and cheaper than men. Whenever he installed new machinery in …

Read More »

A New World and a New Sea 1492-1522

Columbus

ALONG THE DUSTY SPANISH road leading north from Granada plodded a mule. On its back, bouncing and cursing his luck, sat a glum Italian sea captain. Four years before, Captain Cristobal Colon — the English would call him Christopher Columbus — had come to Spain on horseback, like a gentleman. He had been received at court, granted audiences with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and invited to describe his daring plan to sail west across the Ocean Sea to India. Royal advisers had asked to study his maps and the charts on which he had plotted a course and he had waited, full of hope. The king was busy chasing Moslems out of Granada and the pious queen was more interested in church matters than exploration. Although everyone was polite and encouraging, no one offered the gold Columbus needed for his expedition. At last, gathering up his maps, he set out for the court of France. This time, like a peasant, he rode on the back of a mule, the only mount he could afford. Some miles out of Granada, Columbus heard behind him the sound of galloping hoofs. Then a horseman in royal livery reined in beside him and called for him to stop. He must turn back, the horseman said. The queen wished to hear again his plan to sail to the Indies. One royal adviser had not forgotten Columbus’ maps. When he heard that the captain was leaving Spain, he had rushed to Queen Isabella and urged her to hire Columbus to sail under the Spanish flag. Portugal, he reminded her, was profiting richly from such expeditions. He added, if Columbus found a route to the East, there would be a splendid opportunity to convert the heathen Indians and Chinese to Christianity. The queen agreed and asked …

Read More »
Translate »