Saturday, October 09, 2004

Teaching about the U.S. Presidency

Teaching about the U.S. Presidency - Provides full-text access to the ERIC Digest of this name which gives advice to teachers about instructing students on the American Presidency.

From the site:

The role of the executive in the United States government has changed as office holders shaped the presidency and interpreted their powers in various ways. All members of the Constitutional Convention considered George Washington to embody the image of the American president. His leadership and commitment to the United States brought legitimacy to the newly formed government. Two of Washington's cabinet members, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, differed in their views of the role of the government, and their clashing political philosophies have characterized leadership styles adopted by subsequent presidents.

Hamilton called for an active government, and strong leadership exhibited by such presidents as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson hearkens back to the Hamiltonian view of government. The charismatic personality of Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) undoubtedly enabled him to lead the United States during the Depression and World War II. FDR demonstrated strong leadership by expanding the role of the federal government through the New Deal. FDR's successor, Harry Truman, also exhibited strong leadership. Truman made tough foreign policy decisions that FDR postponed, and policy makers in the Truman administration outlined strategies of containment that defined and shaped the outcomes of the Cold War.

By contrast, the Jeffersonian style of leadership was associated with a less active government. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan demonstrated Jeffersonian tendencies during their presidencies. Hoover, for example, initially refused to offer federal aid during the Depression because he believed the government should limit its interference in people's lives. Reagan's leadership style has been interpreted as a reaction to an excessively active government, as he sought to curtail federal programs and return power to the states.

Friday, October 08, 2004

History of Chile

History of Chile. Offers a brief and interesting history of this South American nation.

From the site:

About 10,000 years ago, migrating Indians settled in fertile valleys and along the coast of what is now Chile. The Incas briefly extended their empire into what is now northern Chile, but the area's remoteness prevented extensive settlement. The first Europeans to arrive in Chile were Diego de Almagro and his band of Spanish conquistadors in 1541, who came from Peru in 1535 seeking gold. The Spanish encountered hundreds of thousands of Indians from various cultures in the area that modern Chile now occupies. These cultures supported themselves principally through slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. The conquest of Chile was carried out in 1550 by Pedro de Valdivia, one of Francisco Pizarro's lieutenants. Although the Spanish did not find the extensive gold and silver they sought, they recognized the agricultural potential of Chile's central valley, and Chile became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

The drive for independence from Spain was precipitated by usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon's brother Joseph. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand--heir to the deposed king--was formed on September 18, 1810. The junta proclaimed Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy. A movement for total independence soon won a wide following. Spanish attempts to reimpose arbitrary rule during what was called the "Reconquista" led to a prolonged struggle.

Intermittent warfare continued until 1817, when an army led by Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile's most renowned patriot, and José San Martín, hero of Argentine independence, crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists. On February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic under O'Higgins' leadership. The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, which was greatly influenced by family politics and the Roman Catholic Church. The system of presidential absolutism eventually predominated, but wealthy landowners continued to control Chile. Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by ruthlessly suppressing the Mapuche Indians. In 1881, it signed a treaty with Argentina confirming Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879-83), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost one-third and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence. Chile established a parliamentary style democracy in the late 19th century, but degenerated into a system protecting the interests of the ruling oligarchy. By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, whose program was frustrated by a conservative congress. In the 1920s, Marxist groups with strong popular support arose.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Vikings - BBC Online presents aspects of the history of the Vikings in the British Isles. Includes dig reports, 3D model of a Viking age farm at Ribblehead, Yorkshire, and fun approaches for kids.

From the site:

The Vikings have left many traces of their settlement which are still visible today. Archaeology provides physical evidence of their conquests, settlement and daily life. The study of place-names and language shows the lasting effect which the Viking settlements had in the British Isles, and DNA analysis provides some insights into the effect the Vikings had on the genetic stock of the countries where they settled. All of this provides valuable information, but the only reason that we have an idea of the 'Vikings' as a people is their appearance in the written sources.

Unfortunately, the value of the written evidence is limited. Not a lot of evidence survives, and much of what we have is either uninformative or unreliable. Many popular ideas about Vikings are nineteenth-century inventions. Others are the result of early historians accepting sources which modern scholars now regard as completely unreliable. In Scandinavia the Viking Age is regarded as part of prehistory because there are practically no contemporary written sources. Even in western Europe, the Viking Age is often seen as part of the 'Dark Ages', from which comparatively few historical records have survived.

Detail from the manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Surviving accounts of Viking activity were almost exclusively written by churchmen. These include monastic chronicles, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and similar Frankish and Irish Annals, which outline broadly what happened, at what date. There are also sources of a more directly religious nature, such as the much-quoted letters of Alcuin, and Wulfstan's famous 'Sermon of the Wolf', both of which chose to interpret the Viking raids as God's punishment on the Anglo-Saxons for their sins. Even the chronicles reflect the fact that the Vikings often attacked monasteries for their wealth, which created an obvious bias against them, and the hostile tone of these contemporary accounts has done much to create the popular image of Viking atrocities. However, modern historians have noted that the same sources show Christian rulers behaving equally unpleasantly, but without being condemned on religious grounds.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce. This is a short and informative essay on the life and presidency of Franklin Pierce.

From the site:

Franklin Pierce (November 23 , 1804 - October 8 , 1869) was the 14th (1853 - 1857) President of the United States .

He was a Representative and a Senator from New Hampshire prior to his election as President. He was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire on November 23 , 1804 , and attended the academies of Hancock and Francestown. He prepared for college at Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Bowdoin College , Brunswick, Maine , in 1824 . He studied law, then was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Hillsborough in 1827 . He was a member of the State general court from 1829 to 1833 , and served as Speaker from 1832 to 1833 . He was elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses ( March 4 , 1833 - March 3 , 1837 ). He was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4 , 1837 , to February 28 , 1842 , when he resigned. He was chairman of the Committee on Pensions (Twenty-sixth Congress).

After his service in the Senate, Pierce resumed the practice of law in Concord . He was district attorney for New Hampshire, and declined the appointment as Attorney General of the United States tendered by President James Polk . He served in the Mexican War as a colonel and brigadier general. He was a member of the New Hampshire State constitutional convention in 1850 and served as its president.

Pierce was elected President of the United States on the Democratic ticket and served from March 4 , 1853 , to March 3 , 1857 .

Two months before he took office, he and his wife saw their eleven-year-old son killed when their train was wrecked. Grief-stricken, Pierce entered the Presidency nervously exhausted.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Wikinfo - United States Constitution

Wikinfo - United States Constitution. This is an article on the American Constitution with a lot of emphasis on history from the online encyclopedia Wikinfo.

From the site:

The path to the Constitution was neither straight nor easy. A draft document emerged in 1787, but only after intense debate and six years of experience with an earlier federal union. The 13 British colonies in America declared their independence from their motherland in 1776. A year before, war had broken out between the colonies and Britain, a war for independence that lasted for six bitter years. While still at war, the colonies now calling themselves the United States of America drafted a compact that bound them together as a nation. The compact, designated the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union," was adopted by a congress of the states in 1777 and formally signed in July 1778. The Articles became binding when they were ratified by the 13th state, Maryland, in March 1781.

The Articles of Confederation devised a loose association among the states and set up a federal government with very limited powers. In such critical matters as defense, public finance, and trade, the federal government was at the mercy of the state legislatures. It was not an arrangement conducive to stability or strength. Within a short time the weakness of the confederation was apparent to all. Politically and economically, the new nation was close to chaos. In the words of George Washington, who would become the first president of the United States in 1789, the 13 states were united only "by a rope of sand."

It was under these inauspicious circumstances that the Constitution of the United States was drawn up. In February 1787 the Continental Congress, the legislative body of the republic, issued a call for the states to send delegates to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to revise the Articles. Delegates began to arrive starting on May 14 and the Constitutional Convention first convened on May 25, 1787, in Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence had been adopted eleven years earlier, on July 4, 1776. Although the delegates had been authorized only to amend the Articles of Confederation, they pushed aside the Articles and proceeded to construct a charter for a wholly new, more centralized form of government. The new document, the Constitution, was completed September 17, 1787, and was officially adopted March 4, 1789.

Monday, October 04, 2004

History of Marshall Islands

History of Marshall Islands. This is a good essay on the history of the Marshall Islands.

From the site:

Little is clearly understood about the prehistory of the Marshall Islands. Researchers agree on little more than that successive waves of migratory peoples from Southeast Asia spread across the Western Pacific about 3,000 years ago and that some of them landed on and remained on these islands. The Spanish explorer de Saavedra landed there in 1529. They were named for English explorer John Marshall, who visited them in 1799. The Marshall Islands were claimed by Spain in 1874.

Germany established a protectorate in 1885 and set up trading stations on the islands of Jaluit and Ebon to carry out the flourishing copra (dried coconut meat) trade. Marshallese Iroij (high chiefs) continued to rule under indirect colonial German administration.

At the beginning of World War I, Japan assumed control of the Marshall Islands. Their headquarters remained at the German center of administration, Jaluit. U.S. Marines and Army troops took control from the Japanese in early 1944, following intense fighting on Kwajalein and Enewetak atolls. In 1947, the United States, as the occupying power, entered into an agreement with the UN Security Council to administer Micronesia, including the Marshall Islands, as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Ethiopian History 500bc - 1996

Ethiopian History 500bc - 1996 - Introductory topics of Ethiopian history including Aksum, Zagwe Dynasty, Solomonic Dynasty, contacts with Europeans, Gondar, Tewodros, Menelik II, Haile Selassie, and modern history.

From the site:

Where to start if you want to write about Ethiopian history ?.

Near Lake Turkana and the Awashriver fossils of bones were found dating back 4 million years. With the many findings slowly but certain a line becomes clear about men's evolution. 'Lucy' the oldest complete skeleton; Ethiopians prefer to call her Dinquinesh (Thou art Wonderfull), can be seen in the National Museum in Addis Ababa.

In Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, near Yeha a temple is located which shows great resembles with comparable buildings in Yemen. They estimate this building being from the 5th century BC.
In the 14th century Ethiopian history became written down for the first time in the 'Kebra Naghast' (The Glory of the Kings). It's about the Solomonic dynasty that starts with the birth of Melenik 1st, child of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Sheba travelled to Palestine to meet Solomon , famous for his wisdom, and out of there short affair the first King of Ethiopia, Menelik 1st was born. According to this legend the last Emperor Haile Selassie was a straight descendant from Menelik 1st.

Or shall we start with the 19th century founding fathers of the modern Ethiopia, the Emperors Tewrodos, Yohannes and Menelik 2th, who strove to unity of the by violent conflicts torn country.

The founding of the Empire of Axum in the 5th century BC is often taken as the starting point of the Ethiopian civilisation. The Kingdom maintained trading relations both with the Greec-Roman world and with India and China during it's most prosperous times. During the Axumite times the old Ge-ez became the official language and it is still used in the Ethiopian church. The origin of this language can be found with the South-Arabic that groups of people spoke, who came from Yemen long before Axumite times. Axum had a rich architecture as appears from the big obelisks, still to be seen, and still a inspiration for modern builders. Axum continued to be the crowning place for the Royals up until Ras Tafari, Emperor Haile Selassie. The church St Mary of Zion is the place where, according to tradition, and later researched by the journalist Graham Hancock in the book 'The Sign and the Seal', the Ark of the Covenant resides. The decline of the Axum started with the rising of Islam in Arabia and the growth of it in Africa and Asia. Axum got shut off from her trading partners and populations in the region revolted against a weakening centre.