Monday, November 24, 2014

Is the US On Track for A Revolution?

In class we recently studied an issue that still plagues our country today—race based inequality. In the United States, a variety of races are represented and by law are considered “equals”. This means that a black man should have the same opportunity as a Chinese American girl at making it into college, and a Mexican American boy should be looked at the same as a white girl before making an impression. Sadly, this is not always the case, and neither was it in 18th century Latin America. In class we studied the importance of recognizing human value regardless of race by focusing in on the Latin American Revolutions. We analyzed documents to find that in Latin America, each race was given a name, for example the whites born in Europe were called peninsulares, and that the more European blood you had, the more power you could obtain. The blunder in this social system was that more than half of the population was of native American or African descent, meaning that they could easily gang up to remove the white people in power. By breaking off into groups to study Mexico, Gran Columbia, and Brazil, we learned that the driving force behind most Latin American revolutions was the unequal opportunities given to each race.

In class we constructed this chart to represent the percentages of
each race living in 18th century Latin America.
After each group analyzed the revolutions in either Mexico, Gran Columbia, or Brazil, we all came together to discuss how they were alike and how they differed. It seemed like prior to their revolutions, each country was dealing with racial inequality which resulted in the lower classes, typically Native Americans or Africans, revolting against the whites who had power. Each country also happened to have been colonized by European countries, which is probably why Europeans were given the most rights, but this distribution of power proved to fail. Although all three revolutions were caused by the same underlying issue, the Brazilian revolution seemed to stick out. The evolutions in Gran Columbia and Mexico both involved brutality and violence, whereas that of Brazil was rather peaceful. Perhaps this could be related to the fact that these first two were colonies of Spain, and Brazil a colony of Portugal. Regardless of their differences, all three of these Latin American revolutions were fueled by the unfair powers asserted reading to race.

Here is a timeline that we made in class of the Mexican Revolution

Just like race played a key factor in the power and opportunities of the 18th century people of Latin America, it still plays a role in the opportunities and treatment of American citizens today. Although we have laws declaring all humans to be born equal, racial prejudices often blind Americans into stereotyping and placing false accusations. One well know case of this is that of Michael Brown—a Missouri teen shot dead in August for little more than his being black. Although some argue Brown attacked the police officer who was forced to shoot him, many witnesses say the officer simply shot him for walking down the street. In a country where all people are considered equal, race shouldn’t hinder a person’s social standing, opportunities, or ability to walk down the street without being shot (!!). the unequal treatment of different races is still an important issue to consider today because just like it lead to problems 200 years ago, it leads to even more today.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Freedom; the Driving Force Behind Everything

From grade school, everyone learns the story of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr.—growing up he faced racial discrimination, and as an adult he fought to put an end to it. Similar to MLK, 18th century liberator of slaves, Toussaint Louverture, faced unfair treatment as a child and grew up to fight against it as an adult. Louverture spent his childhood as a slave on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola where he lived under French rule in Saint Domingue. Soon after Louverture’s owner set him free, word got to Saint Domingue about the French Revolution, a movement that liberated thousands of French slaves. Yet regardless of the fact that Saint Domingue belonged to France, its slaves remained bound. Angered by white refusal to end slavery in Saint Domingue, Louverture emerged as a leader in the movement to free its slaves. In his efforts to liberate the slaves of Saint Domingue, Louverture sided with and against French forces, depending on whether or not they followed in suite with this cause. Toussaint Louverture should be remembered primarily as a liberator of slaves who, in this pursuit, also took position as ruler of Saint Domingue and military commander. (Background Essay)


Toussaint Louverture should be remembered chiefly for his role as a freer of slaves. In the Timeline of Abolition in Saint Domingue, it is depicted that Louverture first joins the revolution in 1791, when he leads troops to fight against France for the abolition of slavery in Saint Domingue. In 1794, when the revolutionary government in France abolishes slavery in all of its colonies, it says that Louverture stops his revolt against French colonial troops. This proves that everything Louverture did was in the pursuit of liberating slaves. When France supports this cause, he sides with them. When France refuses to free Saint Domingue slaves, he fights against their colonial troops. After the slaves of Saint Domingue have been freed, Louverture writes a letter to the French Directory to ensure that this freedom prevails. In this 1797 letter he states “We have known how to confront danger to our liberty, and we will know how to confront death to preserve it.” What Louverture is saying, is that he and the people of his island will go to any measure they have to in order to preserve freedom for all. Louverture should be remembered primarily for his role as liberator of slaves because that cause is what motivated him to do everything he did, and freedom for all slaves is the cause he would die for. (Documents A and B)


Although he took this position in an effort to liberate slaves, Toussaint Louverture should also be remembered as ruler of Saint Domingue. As ruler of Saint Domingue, Louverture states in “The Saint Domingue Constitution of 1801” that “Servitude is therein forever abolished.” Louverture used his power as a ruler to ensure that slaves remain liberated. A few months later, Louverture describes the harsh rules for the people of Saint Domingue and the consequences that will be enforced upon breaking them in the “Proclamation, 25 November”. Some of these rules include that children must be employed as soon as they can walk and that anyone who commits seditious libel will be brought before a military court and punished as suitable. In writing that even young children must work, Louverture diminishes the need for extra slave help, and by making seditious libel punishable, he ensures that everyone will do as he says. Toussaint Louverture should be commemorated for his role as ruler of Saint Domingue in that he used it to help protect the freedom of the slaves he had fought to free. (Documents C and D)


Just as Toussaint Louverture should be remembered for his role as Ruler of Saint Domingue, he should also be recognized as a military leader in the pursuit of maintaining the freedom of slaves. In Madison Smart’s 2007 biography of Louverture she discusses his response to a revolt against his military whom he had had support and enforce the use of plantations. Louverture responds by having the leader of the revolt, his own nephew, executed. Although this is a rather malicious move, it supports the idea that as a military leader he worked to maintain the liberation of slaves. Louverture knew that in order to prevent slavery from becoming necessary again, people would have to work hard on plantations so that enough profits could be made without the necessity of slave workers. By shutting down a revolt against this action and by using his own military to enforce that plantation work be carried out, Louverture worked to keep the people of Saint Domingue free from slavery. Louverture is also portrayed as a military leader trying to maintain the abolition of slavery in William Wells Brown’s “A Description of Toussaint Louverture” from The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (1863). When Louverture realizes that the French are coming to the port city of Samana to enslave his people, he orders his generals to abandon the towns and head for the mountains. This is yet another example of Louverture using his military leadership in an effort to keep his people free from the wraths of slavery. Louverture should be commemorated and remembered for his role as a Military Commander who acted according to his pursuit of freedom for all. (Documents E and F)


Although Louverture was tricked into a negotiation meeting where he was taken prisoner and sent to France where he died in 1803, he was still very influential in leading Saint Domingue to become free of slavery and eventually break away from France to become Haiti in 1804. Toussaint Louverture should be remembered mostly for his role as a liberator of slaves who also ruled Saint Domingue and was a military commander in his efforts to ensure that the abolition of slavery.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

With One Revolution Comes Another

Between 1830 and 1848, Europe exploded with outbursts of revolution all over the continent. With the French Revolution having drawn to a close a mere 30 years before, countries all over Europe were buzzing with the idea of revolt and reform. Years later, historians look back at this inspired frenzy of revolt and deem many of the revolutions as utter failures. In Mrs.Gallaghers honors history 10 class we decided to form our own opinions on how successful each outcome was. After constructing our own scale of failure and success, we split into groups to tackle 5 different 19th century European revolutions and formulate our own opinions on them. In our groups, we read secondary documents and viewed primary sources about our assigned revolution. We then used the knowledge we had acquired to make our own tests on each revolution using the app #SurveyMonkey, and put these tests into action on our peers!

We  #educreations to make this failure/ success chart that would be
tool in measuring the results of each revolution.

Our Survey Monkey--a few
slip-ups here and there, but
most students seemed to
have a grasp on the information
we were quizzing them on!
Our Survey Monkey-- lots of
successful results!
The revolution that my group focused on was that of 1848 in France. French middle class liberals wanted moderate political reforms, and the poor working class wanted social and economic change that would allow them to acquire jobs and provide for themselves. The revolution split into two more or less segments, the first being in February, and the second in June. During this first segment, the government catered to the people’s demands and created more jobs under Louis Felipe. During the so called “June Days”, Louis Felipe abdicated and workshops shut down, leaving the lower class angry and poor. Again people fought hard for the reforms and jobs that they wanted, creating barricades to protect themselves that playwright Victor Hugo describes to be made up of everything from chairs to roofs. Soon Napoleon III takes over and reinstates the political institutions that had “raised France to the height of prosperity and grandeur” 50 years earlier, making it almost as if no revolution had ever occurred. As the end of the day, our group came to the conclusion that the 1848 French revolution was somewhere at the halfway point between success and failure—nothing had gotten worse because of it, but no changes, like increased jobs, ad remained permanent.   
Don't forget to check out and take our survey monkey by clicking here!!

After each group’s source analysis and survey monkey was done, we took turns reading documents on each revolution and then taking each other’s quizzes. In general the results of each revolution seemed to be pretty neutral, taking in mind that the Decembrist revolt of 1825 was an exception as it was a complete and utter failure. For example, the French revolution of 1830 was successful in the sense that townspeople got absolutist king, Charles X, to abdicate. But new ruler, Louis Felipe favored the bourgeoisie and used policies that favored the middle class, leaving the lower class still unable to vote. Another example is Hungary’s 1848 revolution. Hungarian nationalists demanded an independent government from Austria, an end to serfdom, and a constitution giving citizens basic rights. After a short period where all of these requests were met, Austrian troops regained control and took away all reforms that had been made—it was as if no revolution had ever happened. After learning about the European revolutions of 1830 and 1848, I think that for the most part they were neither prosperous nor failures. Most of these revolutions didn’t result in any formal change, but they did get people thinking about change which would spark future revolutions to come.