Saturday, December 31, 2005

Stetson Kennedy and Superman Beat the KKK

Superman Versus the KKK. Although greatly diminished today, the Ku Klux Klan has had a lot of influence on American history. In the early and mid-20th Century, it was able to control large portions of state governments in the USA.

That power ebbed. And one of the biggest reasons was a man known as Stetson Kennedy. He was (and still is) a white southerner with a family history of Klan membership. Despite this, he did not like the Klan and decided to act against it. Shortly after World War Two, he went undercover to learn Klan secrets. This lead to his book The Klan Unmasked.

However, he did not wait until he published his book to leak Klan knowledge. He gave it to the writers of the Superman radio show. And they used it...

The blogged article notes, "THE MOST noteworthy Superman radio episodes are described in Weyn Craig Wade's indispensable history of the Ku Klux Klan, The Fiery Cross. According to Wade, Stetson Kennedy, a reporter for the short-lived lefty newspaper PM, went undercover into the Klan, learning the secret passwords and countersigns used by the Grand Dragon "Doc" Green's vicious Klavern No. 1 of Atlanta. For sport, Kennedy passed on the info to writers of the Superman radio show about that comic-book character whom Wade calls the ultimate antifacist."

The Superman radio shows did major damage to the Klan. They revealed Klan passwords and put the Klan on the same moral ground as the Nazis and Lex Luthor. Klan members were shocked to hear their children playing with Klan knowledge. And the Klan was not amused.

The article continues, "Green had to change his passwords because of the show. The Klan chief tried to retaliate by pressuring Pep Cereal--sponsors of the Adventures of Superman--off of grocery shelves in Atlanta. Despite Green's actions, the sponsors continued to green-light the anti-Klan shows."

The Superman radio show may be seen as trivial today. But it had a big impact on politics in the southern USA in the 1940s. It can be safely said the Stetson Kennedy (and Superman) helped to bring the KKK down a notch.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Developing Political Tolerance

Developing Political Tolerance. This essay is an ERIC Digest from 2002. It looks at how students can be taught to tolerate and accept political views that differ from their own.

As the article says, "Political tolerance is the willingness to extend basic rights and civil liberties to persons and groups whose viewpoints differ from one's own. It is a central tenet of a liberal democracy."

This article makes strong connections to American history. The text notes, "The protection of individuals' rights, including those of individuals we dislike or with whom we strongly disagree, has often been a struggle in U.S. society. Consider the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the interrogation of suspected American Communists in the 1950s, or the FBI files on Vietnam War protesters. In each case, Americans tended to support the abnegation of rights for unpopular minorities."

Political tolerance is a good thing most of the time. But is it always the best? If you believed slavery was wrong in the 19th Century, would have being an abolitionist been evidence of political intolerance for the views of southerners? Would being opposed to abortion in the 21st Century be seen as political intolerance today?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Two Year Anniversary

I note that December 31st is the two year anniversary of the start of this blog. In the last two years, I have changed my blogging style some (more frequent posts and more commentary on sites) but I have kept my basic premise the same. I just want to highlight history on the Web. And I try to hit different time periods and different regions to keep this blog interesting to as many history people as possible.

I hope to be around for years to come. My thanks to the many people who have linked to this blog or posted comments on my writing. I appreciate it and your support has kept me blogging.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Encyclopaedia Britannica's Guide to Normandy 1944

Encyclopaedia Britannica's Guide to Normandy 1944 - The story of the Normandy Invasion through the spoken recollections of veterans who fought it, the newsreels that recorded the events, and written collections of historians who studied the campaign.

It appears that all of the linked articles are available free online. (I checked a few.) This is in contrast to most of the Encyclopedia Britannica online which only gives a small preview of each article and demands payment for full access.

I guess if there were no quality free online encyclopedias, this would make sense. But, have they ever heard of Wikipedia? Yeah, it has problems (Vandals, Administrators, and Sockpuppets, Oh My! An Ethnographic Study of Wikipedia’s Handling of Problem Behavior) but Nature also just found Wikipedia as accurate as the Britannica (Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica).

Perhaps the Britannica editors should read The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. On page 81, the author gives reason #4 the world is flat and this is Open-Sourcing and Self-Organizing Collaborative Communities. Wikipedia is featured prominently. Sure, the Britannica may be a bit better than Wikipedia but guess which most Web users will pick most of the time, the free one that is right most of the time versus the pay-per-view version which may only be slightly better? The Britannica had better find a new economic model...

Regardless, this is a good page to find information on the D-Day Invasion. I found it very informative and easy to read.

From the site:

On June 6, 1944, a date known ever since as D-Day, a mighty armada crossed a narrow strip of sea from England to Normandy, France, and cracked the Nazi grip on western Europe.

Encyclopædia Britannica tells the story of the Normandy Invasion through the spoken recollections of veterans who fought it, the newsreels that brought the news home, and the written words of historians who have dedicated years to studying the great campaign.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Evolution of Santa

Evolution of Santa. The History Channel provides this history of Santa Claus. It begins, "The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick."

Other good Santa history sites can be found at:

The Claus That Refreshes - Urban legends reference page addresses the influence of Coca-Cola on the modern image of Santa Claus.

Kriss - Provides Santa Claus origins, history and legend.

Santa Claus - Some historical articles on Santa as well as information on the birth of Christ, plus links to some general Christmas sites.

Santa Claus Origin and FAQ - History of St. Nicholas and Santa type figures traditions throughout the world.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas! I will be away for the holidays and it will be a few days before I post again.

Friday, December 23, 2005

History of Seychelles

History of Seychelles. This is a brief overview to the history of the African island nation of the Seychelles.

Wikipedia notes, "The Republic of Seychelles (say-SHELLS or say-SHELL) (Creole: Repiblik Sesel) is a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean, some 1,600 km east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar. Other nearby island countries and territories include Mauritius and Réunion to the south, Comoros and Mayotte to the southwest, and the Maldives to the northeast."

From the site:

The Seychelles islands remained uninhabited for more than 150 years after they became known to Western explorers. The islands appeared on Portuguese charts as early as 1505, although Arabs may have visited them much earlier. In 1742, the French Governor of Mauritius, Mahe de Labourdonais, sent an expedition to the islands. A second expedition in 1756 reasserted formal possession by France and gave the islands their present name in honor of the French finance minister under King Louis XV. The new French colony barely survived its first decade and did not begin to flourish until 1794, when Queau de Quincy became commandant.

The Seychelles islands were captured and freed several times during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, then passed officially to the British under the 1814 Treaty of Paris.

From the date of its founding by the French until 1903, the Seychelles colony was regarded as a dependency of Mauritius, which also passed from the French to British rule in 1814. In 1888, a separate administrator and executive and administrative councils were established for the Seychelles archipelago. Nine years later, the administrator acquired full powers of a British colonial governor, and on August 31, 1903, Seychelles became a separate British Crown Colony.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Drunks of War

Drunks of War. This is an article from the July/August 2003 issue of Modern Drunkard Magazine. In it, the author (Rich English) argues that "Societies possessing a robust and realistic attitude toward intoxication have produced mightier warriors than those which censure consumption. "

This thesis in never proven in the article. However, it does provide an interesting account of the Battle of Thermopylae. In fact, this account is the majority of the article. (This is the battle where 300 Spartans held a million plus Persian army at bay for seven days and killed over 100,000 men. )

English concludes, "Spartan success at Thermopylae hinged on several important elements: Persian arrogance, Xerxes’ dependence upon conscripts, the narrow terrain of the Hot Gates, wildly superior Spartan training and tactics and wine. "

Again, the wine part is not really proven even if the Spartans were known to drink before battles while the Persians were forced to fight sober. But heck, this is Modern Drunkard Magazine. It is an interesting read even if the scholarship is lacking.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

City of the Dead: the Roman Town of Calleva Atrebatum

City of the Dead: the Roman Town of Calleva Atrebatum. The BBC offers this report by Michael Fulford about Roman Britannia. Field work in Hampshire uncovered the remains of Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum.

The big questions is why this site was abandoned. One theory offered is that the population was primarily Irish and that Anglo-Saxon ethnic cleansing in the 6th Century may have lead to the downfall of the town.

From the site:

The Iron Age and Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum can be found deep in the north Hampshire countryside in the parish of Silchester. But where once there was a busy, populous centre, now there are only green fields. All that is now visible above ground, of a settlement that thrived for more than 500 years between the first century BC and the fifth or sixth century AD, are sections of the late Iron Age fortifications of rampart and ditch, the Roman amphitheatre and, most impressive of all, the entire circuit of the late Roman town walls.

Most Roman towns evolved into modern counterparts, either directly over the site of the ancient city, such as at Chichester, Winchester or London, or close by such as at St Albans or Norwich.

So two very reasonable questions to ask about Calleva are: why did a major settlement develop in this location; and why is there no successor medieval and modern town? There are no certain answers to either of these questions, but trying to resolve them is one of the eternal fascinations of Calleva.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

FIRST ALLIED VICTORY: The South African campaign in German South-West Africa, 1914-1915

FIRST ALLIED VICTORY: The South African campaign in German South-West Africa, 1914-1915. This article is by Hamish Paterson of the South African National Museum of Military History. It was published in the Military History Journal (Vol 13 No 2). This is the official publication of the South African National Museum Of Military History in association with the South African Military History Society.

From the site:

On 9 July 1915 the German forces in South-West Africa (now Namibia) surrendered to the Union Defence Forces under the command of the prime minister of the Union of the South Africa, General Louis Botha. The Union Defence Forces had barely been in existence for three years when they secured what was seen at the time as the first major allied success of the First World War. This victory was achieved with a minimum of casualties in a war which has become a byword for slaughter. This and the ascendance to power in South Africa in 1924 of the National Party/Labour Party Alliance meant that the campaign would be largely forgotten, the National Party having opposed South Africa’s undertaking the campaign on behalf of the British Empire. Even today, very little has been published on this campaign and copies of the two main works, Collyer’s 1937 staff history and the 1991 popular history by L’Ange, are difficult to obtain.

This begs the question: why should we revisit the German South-West Africa Campaign? There are several reasons. Firstly, it was the only major campaign undertaken by a Dominion with very little Imperial support - mainly in the form of the provision of Royal Navy protection, a unit of Royal Navy armoured cars, aircraft for the South African Aviation Corps, and 20 000 Portuguese Model 1904 Mauser-Vergueiro rifles and twelve million rounds of ammunition. Secondly, owing to the young age of the Union Defence Forces, to fight the Germans, South Africa had to rely on the expertise and skills developed by the Cape colonial forces, Natal militia, Transvaal volunteer force and the commandos of the former Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. There was also the question of mobilising men who had been on opposing sides only twelve years earlier, during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902, many of whom perceived Germany to have been one of their major supporters during that conflict and some of whom saw the First World War as an opportunity for the former Boer republics to regain their independence. Those who were closer to the seat of power saw things differently. Botha and Smuts considered that the terms of the Treaty of Vereeniging were generous and that oaths of allegiance were binding. With the formation of the Union of South Africa, they felt that independence had effectively been achieved. Amongst those of British descent, the cause of the Empire enjoyed wide support.

The ‘urgent Imperial service’ which was requested of the Union of South Africa involved the capture of the ports of Lüderitz Bay and Swakopmund and the silencing of the radio transmitters there and especially of the powerful one in Windhuk which, when conditions permitted, was capable of sending signals to Nauen in Germany. The ports could be used as bases for German raiders, controlled and fed intelligence via the coastal wireless transmitters. These facilities, positioned as they were on the jugular vein of the British Empire, had to be denied to the German Reich. Capturing the ports called for an amphibious operation, which presented its own difficulties. For the Union Defence Forces, this type of operation was entirely new, but a land attack from the south was a logistical nightmare. The South African railheads at Steinkop and Prieska were between 80km and 480km from the border with German South-West Africa. In either case, the campaign would entail crossing a desert barrier before the more hospitable inland highlands could be reached. With military transport beyond the ports and railheads still dependent on animal traction, the pace of the campaign would be determined by the ability of the South African logistical apparatus to bring water to the forward troops and the provision of water would depend on how quickly railway lines could be constructed or repaired.

Monday, December 19, 2005

At Cold War's End: US Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991

At Cold War's End: US Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991 - A CIA document including links to full-text intelligence reports on events during the final years the Soviet Union and the Cold War. It also includes a brief historical overview and extensive references.

From the site:

The last great drama of the Cold War--the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the end of the four-decade-old East-West conflict--unfolded in three acts between 1989 and 1991. Even as the story began, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev already had made the largest opening to the outside world in Russian history. To convince the West, and above all the new administration in Washington, of his sincerity, Gorbachev had made major concessions on arms control, withdrawn Soviet troops from Afghanistan, pledged to reduce Soviet ground forces by half a million, and rejected class warfare in favor of "pan-human values" as the basis of Soviet foreign policy. Initially skeptical because of past disappointments with détente, President George Bush and his foreign policy team gradually convinced themselves that Gorbachev was ready for dialogue and compromise. They set a high price for cooperation, however, and were gratefully surprised to find that the Soviets were willing to pay it.

The second act of the drama began in the fall of 1989 with peaceful revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe (except Romania) and the fall of the Soviet "outer empire." The de facto collapse of the Warsaw Pact (it would formally dissolve itself a year later) plus a new treaty that substantially reduced Soviet superiority in conventional forces in Europe resulted in a stronger Western alliance--so strong that the US could redeploy forces from Europe to the Persian Gulf for use against Iraq. East Germany, the USSR's main prize from World War II, was united with West Germany and integrated into NATO.

The third and final act closed with the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. The centrifugal forces in the "outer empire" stimulated and accelerated those in the "inner empire" as the Soviet republics sought sovereignty and then independence from Moscow. At the same time, Gorbachev's domestic reforms ran into serious trouble, and the economy went into a tailspin. Gorbachev's struggle with the old imperial elite in the communist party, the armed forces, and the military-industrial complex culminated in the August 1991 coup, which, when it failed, finished off the USSR--and Gorbachev himself. On Christmas Day 1991, at 7:35 p.m., the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin was lowered and replaced by the new Russian banner. The USSR officially ceased to exist on 31 December. The Cold War was over.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The American Experience: Lost in the Grand Canyon

The American Experience: Lost in the Grand Canyon - Companion site to the PBS series about Jown Wesley Powell's Colorado River journey. It includes a timeline, maps, and program information.

From the site:

In the summer of 1869 a one-armed Civil War veteran, John Wesley Powell, led an epic journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It was the last important exploration within the continental United States. Powell wrote a literary classic about his trip, explored the region for another ten years, studied Native American cultures, and used his position as director of the U.S. Geological Survey to argue against the over development of the West.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Missing HBO Rome?

Missing HBO Rome? So am I. I can not wait until the next season comes out. I also hope the first season is released on DVD soon.

Want to read about Roman history while we wait? Here are some suggestions:

Roman History - This is a category at the Open Directory Project with 459 sites listed. You can lose one or more days reading here...

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - A hypertext indexed version of Edward Gibbons' classic text covering a broad history of the later Roman Empire.

Who was who in Roman Times - Index to persons, events, peoples and other subjects in Roman times largely based on sources from that time, and links to images.

De Imperatoribus Romanis (DIR) - Online encyclopedia covering the rulers of the Roman Empire from Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) to Constantine XI Palaeologus (1449-1453).

Julius Caesar and the End of the Roman Republic - Gives a brief history of the Roman Republic with an emphasis on how Julius Caesar brought about the transition to the Roman Empire.

Friday, December 16, 2005

History of Nicaragua

History of Nicaragua. This is an essay which deals with the history of the Central American nation of Nicaragua.

Wikipedia notes that, "Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. However, although it is indeed the largest Central American nation, it is also the least densely populated one. It is bordered on the north by Honduras and on south by Costa Rica. Its western coastline is on the Pacific Ocean, while the east side of the country is on the Caribbean Sea. The country's name is a portmanteau of Nicarao, employed by the Spanish colonialists for the Nahuatl-speaking indigenous tribe, and the Spanish word Agua, meaning water, named after one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world Lago Nicaragua and the indigenous leader Nicarao."

From the site:

Nicaragua takes its name from Nicarao, chief of the indigenous tribe then living around present-day Lake Nicaragua. In 1524, Hernandez de Cordoba founded the first Spanish permanent settlements in the region, including two of Nicaragua's two principal towns: Granada on Lake Nicaragua and Leon east of Lake Managua. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821, briefly becoming a part of the Mexican Empire and then a member of a federation of independent Central American provinces. In 1838, Nicaragua became an independent republic.

Much of Nicaragua's politics since independence has been characterized by the rivalry between the Liberal elite of Leon and the Conservative elite of Granada, which often spilled into civil war. Initially invited by the Liberals in 1855 to join their struggle against the Conservatives, an American named William Walker and his "filibusters" seized the presidency in 1856. The Liberals and Conservatives united to drive him out of office in 1857, after which a period of three decades of Conservative rule ensued. Taking advantage of divisions within the Conservative ranks, Jose Santos Zelaya led a Liberal revolt that brought him to power in 1893. Zelaya ended the longstanding dispute with Britain over the Atlantic Coast in 1894, and reincorporated that region into Nicaragua. However, due to differences over an isthmian canal and concessions to Americans in Nicaragua as well as a concern for what was perceived as Nicaragua's destabilizing influence in the region, in 1909 the United States provided political support to Conservative-led forces rebelling against President Zelaya and intervened militarily to protect American lives and property. Zelaya resigned later that year. With the exception of a 9-month period in 1925-26, the United States maintained troops in Nicaragua from 1912 until 1933. From 1927 until 1933, U.S. Marines stationed in Nicaragua engaged in a running battle with rebel forces led by renegade Liberal Gen. Augusto Sandino, who rejected a 1927 negotiated agreement brokered by the United States to end the latest round of fighting between Liberals and Conservatives.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ancient World Battles

Ancient World Battles - This site has short accounts of ancient Greek and Roman battles, starting with Marathon in 490BC.

This site has not been updated in some time (since 2001) and it is biased towards Greek and Roman battles, but it is still a nice easy read with good summary overviews for some ancient battles.

From the site:

I'm building this site to further knowledge of battles (and events around them) of the ancient western world before 650 AD. Specifically, they are Greek and Roman battles. I have seperate sections for the Greek civilization and for the Roman Empire. The Grecian section starts with the battle of Marathon, fought on September 10, 490 BC. The Roman section starts with the battle of the Allia River, fought on July 18, 386 BC. So far I have 30 major battles listed. The first 5 Greek battles are completed with extensive background info. The Roman section I have just started but I'll list the battles. I'd like a place that explains the battles of antiquity in better detail. Since I could not find one when I needed it, I promised to make it myself one day. That day has now come!

So far I'm developing the lists of battles, the biography of Gaius Julius Caesar is now complete. The Greek battles are into the Peloponnesian War.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - Historical and Holocaust Revisionist

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - Historical and Holocaust Revisionist. I hate to repeat the same topic in one week but...

President Ahamdinejad of Iran is still at it. He continues to deny reality and claim all the evidence about the Holocaust which historians have solidely proven as fact are in reality myth.

"The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets," he said.

As Islam is freely practiced in Israel by Muslims (including many members of the Israeli Parliment), I have to assume that the Iranian President is incorrect in his claims of Islamicphobia. (In contrast, how many Islamic countries are free and open to the Jews?)

If you wish to visit Holocaust denier sites, see the Open Directory Project category at

Historically accurate rebuttals can be found at

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

High-tech search spots time capsule

High-tech search spots time capsule. This is from The Honolulu Advertiser. King Kamehameha V of Hawaii buried this time capsule in 1872.

I hope the finders of the time capsule unveil the contents soon. At the present, resistance is in play...

So let's open it, right?

Not so fast...

The site says, "But Conyers and Connell had a hunch the cornerstone in question would be in a northeast, or mauka/diamondhead portion of the structure — which is where they concentrated their search.Sure enough, after an appropriate amount of equipment tweaking, the radar screen blipped up an electronic version of a hollowed-out stone with the appropriate items inside. Mattice said the stone won't be opened, since they know what's in it."

They claim:

"We know the contents," said Matt Mattice, executive director of the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, which is in the building. "We have a list of everything. We've just never known where it was located."

Mattice said the contents seem to stress the fact that pre-American Hawai'i had become a modern nation — that it had a free press, a constitution and numerous societies.

And is this really relevant to the discussion at hand? His assumptions do not change the right of the public to open the capsule.

Open the capsule! What is inside? A court order should open this up. Time capsules are meant to be opened in the future. As such, we in the modern world have a right to view this capsule.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Minutemen of the Third Reich: History of the Nazi Werewolf Guerrilla Movement

Minutemen of the Third Reich: History of the Nazi Werewolf Guerrilla Movement. The fighting in Germany did not end when World War Two was finished. Nazi partisans, known as Werewolves, continued to harass and kill Allied soldiers for years to come. This article by Perry Biddiscombe from a 2000 issue of the New Republic gives details.

In addition to killing soldiers, the Werewolves also damaged the infrastructure and killed civilians. The article noted, "Although the Werewolves originally limited themselves to guerrilla warfare with the invading armies, they soon began to undertake scorched-earth measures and vigilante actions against German `collaborators' or `defeatists'. They damaged Germany's economic infrastructure, already battered by Allied bombing and ground fighting, and tried to prevent anything of value from falling into enemy hands. Attempts to blow up factories, power plants or waterworks occasionally provoked melees between Werewolves and desperate German workers trying to save the physical basis of their employment, particularly in the Ruhr and Upper Silesia. "

Although the guerilla movement got started during the war, it continued for years afterwards. It helped delay the first democratic election under occupation for four years. World War Two is seen as a successful war that was worth fighting. Even a successful war like this resulted in a guerilla movement, allied deaths, and years of political instability.

The current situation in Iraq has a lot in common with the historical period in Germany after World War Two. Islamic terrorists and local insurgents are acting like the German Werewolves. Is the difference in public perception now and sixty years ago the current media coverage? Would 24 hour news television, skeptical commentators, and constant surveying have undermined the will of the allies to successfully reconstruct Germany and led to a revisionist view that World War Two was an Allied failure? There also was not a huge anti-war movement prior to World War Two in the Allied nations either. That may also be a significant difference between 1946 and 2005.

From the site:

AS WORRIES INCREASE about neo-Nazi and skinhead violence in Germany, it is worth remembering that this type of terrorism is a nasty constant in the history of the German radical-right. A case in point is the Nazi Werewolf guerrilla movement founded by Heinrich Himmler in 1944, which fought the occupying forces of Britain, America and Russia until at least 1947.

The Werewolves were originally organised by the SS and the Hitler Youth as a diversionary operation on the fringes of the Third Reich, which were occupied by the Western Allies and the Soviets in the autumn of 1944. Some 5,000 -- 6,000 recruits were raised by the winter of 1944-45, but numbers rose considerably in the following spring when the Nazi Party and the Propaganda Ministry launched a popular call to arms, beseeching everybody in the occupied areas -- even women and children -- to launch themselves upon the enemy. In typical Nazi fashion, this expansion was not co-ordinated by the relevant bodies, which were instead involved in a bureaucratic war among themselves over control of the project. The result was that the movement functioned on two largely unrelated levels: the first as a real force of specially trained SS, Hitler Youth and Nazi Party guerrillas; the second as an outlet for casual violence by fanatics.

The Werewolves specialised in ambushes and sniping, and took the lives of many Allied and Soviet soldiers and officers -- perhaps even that of the first Soviet commandant of Berlin, General N.E. Berzarin, who was rumoured to have been waylaid in Charlottenburg during an incident in June 1945. Buildings housing Allied and Soviet staffs were favourite targets for Werewolf bombings; an explosion in the Bremen police headquarters, also in June 1945, killed five Americans and thirty-nine Germans. Techniques for harassing the occupiers were given widespread publicity through Werewolf leaflets and radio propaganda, and long after May 1945 the sabotage methods promoted by the Werewolves were still being used against the occupying powers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Civilization IV

Civilization IV. OK, I'll publicly confess it. I am a Civilization addict. I have been playing the game for over a decade now through many incarnations. And with the release of version 4, I just lost another weekend...

If you are unfamiliar with the game, it is a bit hard to explain how complicated it is. In essence, you build a civilization from 4000 BC until the present. In that time, you try to beat other civilizations (and barbarians) by expanding your territory, waging war, entering into trade alliances, discovering new technologies, colonizing another world, etc. There are lots of ways to win or lose. I usually play the Romans but I have enjoyed good games as the Egyptians, Chinese, and Americans.

The official description of the game reads, "Civilization IV is recognized as one of the greatest PC game franchises of all-time. Now the fun and incredibly addictive strategy game reaches new heights by adding new ways to play and win, new tools to manage and expand your civilization. Civilization comes to life like never before in a beautifully detailed, living 3D world -- with all-new easy to use mod capabilities and intense multiplayer modes and options. It's a must-have for gamers around the world! Flexible Tech Tree allows players more strategic choices for developing their civilizations Team play offers a new way of setting locked alliances that result in shared wonder effects, visibility, unit trading and shared territory. Over 70 in-game movies and animated sequences advance the story."

One neat twist of the new version is control over religions. You can be the founding civilization of one of six great religions. You can also send out missionaries and build religion specific wonders. This is how in my first game in I played the Aztecs and had them as a Hindu nation. Not historically accurate but fun anyway...Particularly when Islamic Germany declared a war against me forcing me learn the new battle rules quickly!

If you like history and like PC gaming, give this game a look. Be prepared to say good bye to you family and friends for awhile. It also might be wise to go on vacation for a week or two...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

State Historical Society of North Dakota

State Historical Society of North Dakota Home Page - Preserves and presents history through museums, historic sites, archives library, historic register, publications and programs.

The American state of North Dakota has a rich history. The site includes an index to the periodical North Dakota History, information on museums it operates, and virtual exhibits.

From the site:

The State Historical Society of North Dakota is governed by the State Historical Board and is organized into four divisions. All divisions are headquartered at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck.

Friday, December 09, 2005

History of Romania

History of Romania. This is a short history of the European nation of Romania. The emphasis is on 20th Century political history.

Wikipedia notes, "Romania (formerly also spelled Rumania or Roumania; Romanian: România /ro.mɨ'ni.a/) is a country in Europe. It is bordered by Ukraine and Moldova in the northeast; Hungary in the west; Serbia and Bulgaria to the south along the Danube River. Romania has a stretch of sea coast on the Black Sea and the eastern and southern Carpathian mountains run through its centre. Romania has been a member of NATO since 2004, and is also an acceding country to the European Union. The EU Accession Treaty was signed in early 2005, and Romania is due to join the Union on January 1, 2007."

From the site:

From about 200 B.C., when it was settled by the Dacians, a Thracian tribe, Romania has been in the path of a series of migrations and conquests. Under the emperor Trajan early in the second century A.D., Dacia was incorporated into the Roman Empire, but was abandoned by a declining Rome less than two centuries later. Romania disappeared from recorded history for hundreds of years, to reemerge in the medieval period as the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. Heavily taxed and badly administered under the Ottoman Empire, the two Principalities were unified under a single native prince in 1859, and had their full independence ratified in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin. A German prince, Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, was crowned first King of Romania in 1881.

The new state, squeezed between the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires, looked to the West, particularly France, for its cultural, educational, and administrative models. Romania was an ally of the Entente and the U.S. in World War I, and was granted substantial territories with Romanian populations, notably Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, after the war.

Most of Romania's pre-World War II governments maintained the forms, but not always the substance, of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The quasi-mystical fascist Iron Guard movement, exploiting nationalism, fear of communism, and resentment of alleged foreign and Jewish domination of the economy, was a key destabilizing factor, which led to the creation of a royal dictatorship in 1938 under King Carol II. In 1940, the authoritarian General Antonescu took control. Romania entered World War II on the side of the Axis Powers in June 1941, invading the Soviet Union to recover Bessarabia and Bukovina, which had been annexed in 1940.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Revisionist History as Told by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Revisionist History as Told by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. From the CNN article, "Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed doubt that the Holocaust occurred."

And with this statement, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joins the ranks of other historical revisionists who claim that:

- The Holocaust never happened (see above).

- That the Apollo Moon landings were faked (see

- That Texas ( Hawaii (, and Alaska ( are "illegally occupied" by the Unitd States.

- That the Piltdown Man was real! (See

- That the Cardiff Giant ( is real proof for "giants walking the earth" and that evidence to the contrary means that the arguer must be biased against Christians.

And etc...

Persia is one of the oldest nations of the world with a rich cultural history. It is unfortunate that the current Iranian leader is historically challenged. The people of Iran deserve better educated leaders. But the religious powers that be in Iran refuse to let those folk run in the first place.

The Holocaust happened and denials to the contrary do not change this fact. The evidence for it is overwhelming.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also stated that, "If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe -- like in Germany, Austria or other countries -- to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it."

What an excellent idea! And perhaps maybe Iran should move to Antartica or Mars? There is lots of open space out there! Fair is fair.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Illuminated Middle Ages

The Illuminated Middle Ages - A collection of illuminated miniatures reproduced from medieval manuscripts housed in French municipal libraries. Grouped according to ten themes, the images are accompanied by commentary from ten of today's preeminent medieval scholars.

Thie site is available in French, English, and German with French being the default.

From the site:

The Illuminated Middle Ages database presents several hundred recently digitized illuminated texts from French national library collections. While the full collection, in even higher resolution, is available for purchase on DVD-ROM, this web site gives access to the entire database. Only a portion of the full collection has been translated into English for the web site, but visitors may also view the French-language galleries in the site, where a dozen texts from each of the ten themes are presented daily. To see every text in high resolution, you will have have to either visit the site daily or order the DVD. In the meantime, the search interface allows you to perform full-text searches across the complete database. You are sure to enjoy this collection of breathtaking texts dating from the year 500 through the 1400s.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Judaic Messianism

Judaic Messianism - Resources from a university course on the subject includes information on failed messiahs, the messianic idea, what the Jewish concept of a messiah is and why the site author believes that Jesus does not fulfill Judaism's criteria for messianism.

Most of the sections are short but they do offer some good content on the concept of the Jewish messiah and failed messiahs (although Christians may get annoyed by the constant references to Jesus as a failure.)

The site was created in support of a Religious Studies course at Connecticut College.

From the site:

Although not drastically, the conception of the Messiah has changed throughout history. It finds its roots in its original meaning of "anointed one." At first, it was used to mean anyone who was anointed with oil. The term came to its present use as it was used for people of importance meaning chosen. King David himself was "chosen" and anointed with oil as is shown above in a wall painting from the ancient Jewish community at Dura-Europos. Because of the associations with David and the chosen descendant of him at the end of time, the term achieved its present meaning as the savior or redeemer.

During the period of the Second Temple, there came to be more messianic figures. For example, Zechariah makes mention of a high priest and a messianic king and the Dead Sea Scrolls add a third figure-a prophet of the Last Days. This prophet is presumably Elijah, who announces the coming of the Messiah by blowing his shofar, or ram's horn from the top of Mount Carmel. These three figures, the king, priest and prophet go along with the anticipated characteristics of the kingdom to come at the end of days-kingdom, priesthood and prophecy. Elijah, who is sometimes also referred to a high priest, is an important figure in regard to the Messiah because of his duties before the actual coming. It is his job to end all the disputes of mankind and bring closure to all of the questions and religious doubts that exist. Perhaps his most important job, though, is to restore three things to Israel: a flask of manna, which will provide the food for Israel, a flask of water for purification, and a flask of oil, which with Elijah will anoint the Messiah when he comes.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome - A collection of photographs of the city of Rome which includes most major monuments, and a virtual tour of the Roman Forum by Sion McElveen.

Nothing too exiciting here but this site is worth a visit. Many of the pictures have some text to introduce them. For example, the Arch of Actium page has this note, "Augustus built a triumphal arch to celebrate his victory over Sextus Pompeius in 36BC. In 29 BC he replaced it with the Arch of Actium. The reason for this was political. After the death of Caesar in 44BC his heir Octavian (later to be renamed Augustus) had sided with Mark Anthony in the civil war against the republicans Brutus and Cassius. Following their victory Octavian, Mark Anthony, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus used the opportunity to create the second triumverate and consolidated their power by ridding themselves of their enemies. Lepidus' political and military power base was weak and the alliance between Mark Anthony and Octavian collapsed when Anthony sided with Cleopatra and discarded his wife Octavia (Octavian's sister) to set up his own eastern empire. Octavian finally defeated Anthony at the battle of Actium in 31BC. Thanks to Cleopatra's involvement he was able to portray this batlle as a victory over a foreign power, rather than being the last act in a series of civil wars. It was to this end that he built the Arch of Actium. The interior of the arch contained the consular and triumphal lists known as the fasti which are now on display in the Palazzo Dei Conservatori in the Capitoline museums."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

History of Singapore

History of Singapore. This is a brief history of the Asian nation of Singapore. Whatever you do, don't chew gum in public here! They will take you out and flog you.

Wikpedia notes, "The Republic of Singapore (Simplified Chinese: 新加坡共和国; Pinyin: Xīnjiāpō Gònghéguó, Malay: Republik Singapura; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் குடியரசு), is an island city-state in Southeast Asia, situated on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of the Indonesian Riau Islands. Its coordinates are 1°17.583′N 103°51.333′E, just 137 km north of the Equator."

Other good sites on this topic:

1942: Battlefield Singapore - Virtual interactive site that recreates events during the Japanese Occupation.

The creation of Singapore - Single page essay on the history leading up to the creation of independent Singapore.

Singapore Flag - History behind the Singapore Flag and its symbols.

Syonan-To: From Children's Eyes - Accounts of experience of children during the World War II Japanese rule in Singapore.

From the site:

Although Singapore's history dates from the 11th century, the island was little known to the West until the 19th century, when in 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived as an agent of the British East India Company. In 1824, the British purchased Singapore Island, and by 1825, the city of Singapore had become a major port, with trade exceeding that of Malaya's Malacca and Penang combined. In 1826, Singapore, Penang, and Malacca were combined as the Straits Settlements to form an outlying residency of the British East India Company; in 1867, the Straits Settlements were made a British Crown Colony, an arrangement that continued until 1946.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the advent of steamships launched an era of prosperity for Singapore as transit trade expanded throughout Southeast Asia. In the 20th century, the automobile industry's demand for rubber from Southeast Asia and the packaging industry's need for tin helped make Singapore one of the world's major ports.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

First Lady Julia Tyler

Julia Tyler - Biography about Julia Gardiner Tyler (1820-1889) from the National First Ladies' Library.

Julia Tyler was the youngest First Lady of the United States. She was only 24 when she married President Tyler during his presidency. She started the tradition of having "Hail to the Chief" played at state occasions. Julia married the President after her parents were tragically killed in an accident. President Tyler married Julia after his wife (and first First Lady) died and made him a widower in the White House.

Mrs. Tyler would go on to bear the President 7 children. (He already had 8 from his first marriage!) John Tyler has the record for the fertility of an American President.

During the American Civil War, she was put in an awkward position. She was a New Yorker but her husband was from Virginia. He swore allegiance to the Confederacy when Virginia illegally seceded from the Union. When President Tyler died in 1862, she was left in a tough spot. She had trouble living in both New York and Virginia and frequently moved between them during the conflict.

All in all, I have to say that Julia Tyler is one of the more interesting First Ladies in American history.

From the site:

By 1841, Senator Gardiner’s two daughters had taken Washington by storm, so much so that, by 1843, he had to take a few extra rooms in their boarding house to entertain the gentlemen callers. Sometimes Julia entertained her guests by playing the guitar and singing. In 1842, she met her future husband at a White House reception. Between 1841 and 1844, Julia received proposals from no less than 2 Congressmen, one Supreme Court Justice and one from President Tyler, now a widower. Christmas Eve 1843 the Gardiner’s were invited to the White House. By February 1844, the gossips were making much of the friendship between President Tyler and Julia. Tragedy interrupted the talk. Dolley Madison had arranged a trip up the Potomac on the gunboat, The Princeton, on February 28, 1844. Among the guests were President Tyler, most of his cabinet, and the Gardiners. One of the guns that was fired while passing Mount Vernon exploded, killing the Secretary of State and Senator Daniel Gardiner, among others. Julia, hearing the explosion, fainted into the arms of the President. She said later that, after her father’s death, the President seemed to fill the void that no younger man ever could. Amidst great secrecy, John Tyler married Julia Gardiner on Gardiner’s Island on June 26, 1844. Dolley Madison prided herself on the role she played in helping the romance along.

Friday, December 02, 2005

History Carnival XXI

History Carnival XXI. The 21st edition of the History Carnival is up. I am happy to say this blog got a mention. If you are looking for a variety of good posts made at history blogs recently, this is a good place to start.

The concept of the History Carnival is described on its homepage at It notes, "The goal of these carnivals is to provide a regular showcase of the best blogs - well-known and not so well-known - in their fields. If you follow the links above you can get a feel of how they work, but essentially a carnival consists of a list, with editorial comments, of a range of recently-published blog posts (numbering anywhere from 12 to 40+ entries), and most carnivals rotate around a number of hosts, bringing diversity of presentation and different perspectives within the subject theme. Frequencies vary depending on the topic; the History Carnival is published on the 1st and 15th (approximately) of each month."

The host for this edition of the History Carnival is CLEWS The Historic True Crime Blog. It looks like a fine blog. It is described as, "WELCOME to my study of historic true crime. Take a seat, please. They're high-backed and cushioned, as cozy as a first-class Pullman. My chair rests at the intersection of history, journalism, law, and murder, and true crime connoisseur that you are, you'll recognize familiar tales. But I want to tell you some stories you haven't heard before... "

Maybe I should volunteer to be a future host? I'll give this some thought.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

History of Sierra Leone

History of Sierra Leone. This is a brief history to the very troubled African nation of Sierra Leone.

Wikipedia notes, "The Republic of Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea on the north and Liberia on the southeast, with the Atlantic Ocean on the southwest. The name Sierra Leone was adapted from the Spanish version: Sierra León, and in turn, from the Portuguese Serra-Leão [or Serra Leoa] which stands for 'lioness mountains.' It was an important centre of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Much like neighbouring Liberia, it was founded by freed slaves, who in 1791 founded the capital, Freetown. In 1806, Freetown became a British Protectorate (as did the remainder of the country in 1896), reaching independence in 1961. From 1991 to 2002, the country suffered greatly under a devastating series of civil and political violence."

Some other good history related Sierra Leone links include:

Civil War in Sierra Leone - Focus on Human Rights - News, campaign and advocacy documents on Civil War in Sierra Leone with a special focus on Human Rights concerns during conflict situation.

Diamond In the Rough: Ahmad Tejan Kabbah - Short profile and interview with Sierra Leone's President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah by Time Magazine in 2002.

History of Sierra Leone before 1990 - Offers a timeline of history.

From the site:

European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. In 1652, the first slaves in North America were brought from Sierra Leone to the Sea Islands off the coast of the southern United States. During the 1700s there was a thriving trade bringing slaves from Sierra Leone to the plantations of South Carolina and Georgia where their rice-farming skills made them particularly valuable.

In 1787 the British helped 400 freed slaves from the United States, Nova Scotia, and Great Britain return to Sierra Leone to settle in what they called the "Province of Freedom." Disease and hostility from the indigenous people nearly eliminated the first group of returnees. This settlement was joined by other groups of freed slaves and soon became known as Freetown. In 1792, Freetown became one of Britain's first colonies in West Africa.

Thousands of slaves were returned to or liberated in Freetown. Most chose to remain in Sierra Leone. These returned Africans--or Krio as they came to be called--were from all areas of Africa. Cut off from their homes and traditions by the experience of slavery, they assimilated some aspects of British styles of life and built a flourishing trade on the West African coast.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

European Association of Mayanists (Wayeb)

European Association of Mayanists (Wayeb) - Interdisciplinary organization of European scholars, students, and amateurs developing and promoting research on the ancient civilization of the Maya. Site includes conference and event announcements; links, bibliography, and other research resources as well as a staff directory.

From the site:

The European Association of Mayanists, Wayeb, is an academically oriented non-profit association that promotes Maya Studies in Europe. It was created in 1996 by a group of young scholars seeking to build academic contacts.

Maya Studies in Europe

Maya Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that relies on research results from various academic disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics or art history. Important sub-fields of research are epigraphy, iconography, ethnography and ethnohistory. There are very few academic institutions in the world that investigate ancient and modern Maya Culture by interconnecting these disciplines and research fields. Mayanists, therefore, depend on the opportunity to attend international research symposia, organise themselves within academic associations and form research networks.Although the study of Ancient Maya Culture has a long European tradition, such networks have for the most part remained within the national borders.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Corinth Computer Project

The Corinth Computer Project - A computerized architectural and topographical survey of the Roman era colony of Corinth, by the University of Pennsylvania.

It includes a city plan (circa 150 AD), a historical background, and a glossary. There is also a short movie clip available for downloading which describes the project.

From the site:

Since 1988 a research team from the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania has been involved in making a computerized archit ectural and topographical survey of the Roman colony of Corinth. Known as the Corinth Computer Project, the field work has been carried out under the auspices of the Corinth Excavations of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Dr. Charles K. Williams II, Director. Although the excavations at Corinth by the American School have been underway for more than a century, aspects of the study of the layout of the Roman colony have remained incomplete due to the size and complexity of the site as well as its complicated history. A great deal of information about the Roman city, as well as many accurate plans, existed before the wor k of the Corinth Computer Project began. The original objectives were to study the nature of the city planning process during the Roman period at Corinth; to gain a more precise idea of the order of accuracy of the Roman surveyor; and to create a highly accurate computer generated map of the ancient city whereby one could discriminate between and study the successive chronological phases of the city's development.

It is important to acknowledge that during the course of the fifteen years of the project to date, the nature of the research has evolved from a fairly straightforward consideration of the location and orientation of the excavated roadways of the Roman colony, to a more complex topographical and architectural consideration of various elements of the colony, including the rural as well as the urban aspects of planning and settlement. The project now utilizes a number of methodologies, simultaneously, in the overall study of the ancient city. One aspect of the project is a regional landscape study of a portion of the Corinthia, with the city of Roman Corinth as the focus. Another aspect of the project is the effort to include information from the city of Corinth from chronological periods other than Roman, specifically Archaic and Classical Greek, Hellenistic, Late Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, seventeenth through twentieth centuries. By means of low level and high altitude air photography, as well as satellite images and some balloon photographs, the limits of the project have been greatly expanded into areas that had not been considered in the original research design. A brief history of the Corinth Computer Project is included to further illustrate the evolution of research and laboratory techniques. In the fall of 1998 a graduate level seminar, City and Landscape of Roman Corinth, was taught at the University of Pennsylvania. Students were assigned individual buildings and structures of the forum as their research projects.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

350th Anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia

350th Anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia - Prepared in connection with the 1998 celebrations of the anniversary at Munster, this site contains a year-by-year time-line and short essays on the war and the peace. It is hard to believe that Sweden and Germany were once at war. This site is in reference to the Thirty Years War.

Unfortunately, the site is in frames which may make it difficult for some Web browsers to access. What is wrong with straight html code with the actual url visible?

Most of the articles are available in Dutch, Swedish, Spanish and French. Some material is in German only.

From the site:

The signing of the final treaties of the Peace of Westphalia on 24 October 1648 in Münster and Osnabrück marked the first time in the history of Europe that peace had been reached by negotiation. Life in the two cities had been dictated for five years by the negotiations conducted in the envoys' quarters. The population of Münster, totalling 12,000 at the time, was boosted by an additional 10,000 due to the 34 diplomats with a retinue of up to 200 persons and the baggage-train which ministered to their needs. The police are anticipating an even larger number of onlookers wishing to be part of the events when 20 European heads of state visit Münster on 24 October 1998.

The pointers to the peace negotiations of 350 years ago in the current cityscape of Münster create a strong impression. Direct testimony is provided by the buildings reconstructed post-1945 with the help of historical models: the fully preserved Friedenssaal (Peace Hall) of the Rathaus, in which the Peace of Münster was sworn on 15 May 1648, and the Krameramtshaus, which was home to the Netherlands envoys from 1644 to 1648.

Further evidence of the anniversary of the Peace are visibly preserved for posterity in the city. In the cobbles of the inner courtyard of the Rathaus, the observant passer-by will see a scroll under a glass panel. The document is a message of peace composed by young people from Germany and Holland, which was presented to the Mayoress Marion Tüns when Crown Prince Willem Alexander of Holland visited Münster on 15 May 1998. The chestnut tree planted by the Dalai Lama on land formerly used by the military during his visit to the city on 6 June 1998 will also grow into a symbol of peace.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

History of Panama

History of Panama. This is a brief history of the Central American nation of Panama.

How Wall Street Created a Nation noted, "In 1900, a group of investors led by William Nelson Cromwell, the founder of the prestigious New York law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, and the banker J.P. Morgan, created a secret syndicate of Wall Street financiers and politicians to buy the shares of the bankrupt French Panama Canal Company, which owned the right to build the Panama Canal, from thousands of small shareholders throughout Europe. They invested about $3.5 million and gained control of the company. The covert investors then spent the next three years getting the United States government to buy the holdings for $40 million, the payment of which would flow back to them. In order to do this, they first had to defeat an entrenched Nicaragua lobby. Nicaragua was the preferred route for the canal because of its two big lakes, and also because the French had already tried to build a canal in Panama but had failed miserably. And the U.S. was already on its way to building the canal in Nicaragua. The House of Representatives unanimously passed a Nicaragua canal bill, a treaty was signed with Nicaragua, President McKinley had already signed the bill, and the excavation had already began in Nicaragua. It was a done deal—until Cromwell arrived on Capitol Hill and began throwing money around. Senator Mark Dollar Hanna, who was at that time the chair of the Republican Party and probably the most powerful man in America, received $60,000, at the time the largest donation to any politician. In return, Hanna began a campaign to build the canal in Panama instead. U.S. policy was reversed, and in 1902, Congress decided that the Canal was to go through Panama. Only one problem—Panama was at the time a province of Colombia, and the United States needed Colombia's approval to move ahead. Teddy Roosevelt sent Cromwell, who stood to benefit financially from the deal, to negotiate with Colombia. Colombia balked, demanding more money. Cromwell decided to circumvent Colombia, and to instead get Panama to secede and create it's own country—which it did. What is shocking about this part of the story is that Wall Street planned, financed and executed the entire independence of Panama, Diaz says. In effect, Cromwell and J.P. Morgan hired Panama's Jefferson and Washington, a tale of intrigue that Diaz documents. Panama was declared a nation, Cromwell negotiated a canal treaty with his cronies, and made off with millions. (Or as Senator Samuel Hayakawa put it years later, we stole it, fair and square.)"

To this day, many Colombians claim Panama is an illegal nation due to the actions of the USA. They insist that as the action was illegal that Panama is still Colombian and that the USA owes Colombia billions for the use of the Canal Zone. They claim that Panama exists de facto but under international law it does not exist de juris. Of course, that is not how international law works. The international community fully recognizes Panama and that is the end of this debate.

From the site:

Panama's history has been shaped by the evolution of the world economy and the ambitions of great powers. Rodrigo de Bastidas, sailing westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, was the first European to explore the Isthmus of Panama. A year later, Christopher Columbus visited the isthmus and established a short-lived settlement in the Darien. Vasco Nunez de Balboa's tortuous trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1513 demonstrated that the isthmus was, indeed, the path between the seas, and Panama quickly became the crossroads and marketplace of Spain's empire in the New World. Gold and silver were brought by ship from South America, hauled across the isthmus, and loaded aboard ships for Spain. The route became known as the Camino Real, or Royal Road, although was more commonly known as Camino de Cruces (Road of the Crosses) because of the frequency of gravesites along the way.

Panama was part of the Spanish empire for 300 years (1538-1821). From the outset, Panamanian identity was based on a sense of "geographic destiny," and Panamanian fortunes fluctuated with the geopolitical importance of the isthmus. The colonial experience also spawned Panamanian nationalism as well as a racially complex and highly stratified society, the source of internal conflicts that ran counter to the unifying force of nationalism.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Mackenzie King Diary

The Mackenzie King Diary - This is an online exhibit from the National Archives of Canada. William Lyon Mackenzie King was Canada's Prime Minister from 1921-1926, 1926-1930 and 1935-1948.

His last term as Prime Minister of Canada put him in charge during World War II. Often overshadowed by the big three (FDR, Churchill, and Stalin), Mackenzie was also an important allied leader. He got Canada into the war early and Canadian troops participated in the liberation of Europe.

From the site:

Increasingly, William Lyon Mackenzie King is viewed as one of Canada's greatest Prime Ministers. However, King's accomplishments are not restricted to the realm of politics. Throughout his entire adult life, King was a dedicated - one might even say driven - writer. Although King was an exceedingly prolific correspondent and the author of numerous books and articles, by far his most important literary project was the ongoing, daily writing of his diary, which began in 1893, while he was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, and ended in 1950, a few days before his death at his beloved Kingsmere Estate. Taken together, the diary texts comprise nearly 30,000 pages (more than 7,500,000 words) and arguably represent one of Canada's greatest literary achievements. According to the noted critic Robert Fulford, King's diary "might turn out to be the only Canadian work of our century that someone will look at in 500 years."

A Real Companion and Friend: The Diary of William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1893-1950 Web site serves to introduce King's extensive diary to contemporary readers. This background section of the Web site is intended to serve as an introduction, exploring these remarkable texts, both as revealing personal narratives and as an invaluable record of Canada's political and social history during six formative and crucial decades. Furthermore, it examines the little-known history of the diary as an archival document, including the decision to save the texts for posterity (contrary to King's stated wishes).

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Wildwinds - Archive with search function that lists Roman coins by Emperor or by Sear number, Greek coins by Sears number or city and Byzantine coins by Sears number and Ruler.

I have never been a coin collector. It does not really appeal to me. Also, many of the coin collecting sites are more interested is selling coins than actually giving out details about coins. This site is decent with some details on each coin (from minimal to rather generous) as well as a picture. Coins can be an interesting way to look at history. A little caution is required though as the coins usually also served (and still do serve) a propaganda value.

From the site:

The WildWinds website has been created as a reference, attribution and valuation resource in the field of ancient numismatics. The data presented here were, for the most part, gleaned from closed online auctions, so you can see for each coin the original auction description, the auction's closing date and time, and the closing price.

Since these sources for our information vary from the very experienced dealer to the beginner selling something for the first time, there is no guarantee that any given attribution or description presented here is entirely accurate. Furthermore, the closing prices for all auctions vary greatly, so any valuation you determine here should not be taken as a definitive answer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

History of Russia

History of Russia. This is a history of the European and Asian nation of Russia. It has been a world power several times in the past and it may well be so again in the future. It also has long had the distinction (as Russia or the Soviet Union) of being the largest nation in the world.

Like other large countries (including the USA and China), there are a variety of regions of Russia claiming that they are independent nations undergoing occupation. The so called Republic of Chechnya is the most visible of these. The international community has responded overwhelmingly in support by refusing to recognize these separatists entities resulting in both de facto and de juris legal recognition of Russian sovereignty in all of Russian territory.

Wikipedia notes, "The Russian Federation , or Russia is a country that stretches over a vast expanse of Europe and Asia. With an area of 17,075,200 km² (6,595,600 mi²), it is the largest country in the world, covering almost twice the territory of the next-largest country, Canada. It ranks eighth in the world in population. It shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from NW to SE): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland (only through Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It is also close to the United States and Japan across stretches of water: the Diomede Islands (one controlled by Russia, the other by the United States) are just 3 km apart, and Kunashir Island (controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan) is about 20 kilometers from Hokkaido."

From the site:

Human experience on the territory of present-day Russia dates back to Paleolithic times. Greek traders conducted extensive commerce with Scythian tribes around the shores of the Black Sea and the Crimean region. In the third century B.C., Scythians were displaced by Sarmatians, who in turn were overrun by waves of Germanic Goths. In the third century A.D., Asiatic Huns replaced the Goths and were in turn conquered by Turkic Avars in the sixth century. By the ninth century, Eastern Slavs began to settle in what are now the Ukraine, Belarus, and the Novgorod and Smolensk regions.

In 862, the political entity known as Kievan Rus was established in what is now Ukraine and lasted until the 12th century. In the 10th century, Christianity became the state religion under Vladimir, who adopted Greek Orthodox rites. Consequently, Byzantine culture predominated, as is evident in much of Russia's architectural, musical, and artistic heritage. Over the next centuries, various invaders assaulted the Kievan state and, finally, Mongols under Batu Khan destroyed the main population centers except for Novgorod and Pskov and prevailed over the region until 1480.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Soldier of 1914 Christmas truce dies at 109

Soldier of 1914 Christmas truce dies at 109. The oldest man in Scotland died yesterday. Alfred Anderson is believed to have been the last survivor who witnessed the famous Christmas Truce of 1914 during World War One.

The truce had been unplanned. Soldiers on both sides decided not to attack each other on Christmas. Before long, soldiers were fratanizing with each other between the two lines. They sang Christmas carols, traded cigars, and even played soccer. When the truce ended, they went back to killing each other.

The truce was not repeated later in the war. And I don't believe there was ever a Christmas truce during the Second World War. (If there was, there was not this level of friendly interaction between the sides).

Alfred Anderson achieved other things in life beyond surviving a brutal war. However, his memories of the conflict stayed with him his entire life including a sense of guilt for living when so many others died. May he rest in peace.

From the site:

Alfred Anderson, the last surviving soldier to have heard the guns fall silent along the Western Front during the spontaneous Christmas truce of the First World War, died yesterday at age 109.

More than 80 years after the war, Anderson recalled the "eerie sound of silence" as shooting stopped and soldiers clambered from trenches to greet one another on Dec. 25, 1914.

His parish priest, Rev. Neil Gardner, said Anderson died in his sleep early yesterday at a nursing home in Newtyle, Scotland. His death leaves fewer than 10 First World War veterans alive in Britain.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Julius Caesar - The Assassination

Julius Caesar - The Assassination. Wow! HBO Rome ended last night. As expected, Caesar meet his end at the hands of assassins. I did not figure that the writers would change history and let Caesar live but strange things happen on TV sometimes.

As Brutus approached Caesar and placed the final blow, Caesar did not say, "Et tu, Brutus?" I guess this is just from Shakespeare and not a real historical quote as HBO left it out.

I think the second season of HBO Rome will focus on Marc Anthony seizing power and bringing all the assassins to justice. At the same time, we will see the maturation of Octavian and the start of his conflict with Anthony. Perhaps the third season will show the war between Anthony and Octavian and Octavian's triumph as the Emperor Augustus? Roman history is rich and there is a lot that this series can do with it.

I have blogged a brief article on the assassination of Julius Caesar. There is a lot out there on this (including some more detailed articles) but this is a good overview.

From the site:

In 44 BCE Caesar started planning a campaign against the Parthian empire. Why is not known, but it could be that he didn't feel safe or at ease in Rome, that he preferred the life with his soldiers in the military camp, or that he still wanted more conquest with the personal honour and glory it brought with it. In either case, the Parthian campaign was not to be.

On the 15th of March (the famous Ides of March) he was called to a meeting in the senate, a meeting held in the Theatre of Pompey to discuss the preparations for the war against Parthia.

On his arrival he was surrounded by a group of senators who pulled out knives from under their togas and stabbed him to death. Caesar was left dead on the floor at the feet of a statue of his friend and enemy Pompey.

The conspirators, who were led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, both followers of Pompey pardoned by Caesar after Pharsalus, rushed to the Forum Romanum, still covered in Caesar's blood, to be hailed as tyrannicides and saviours of the Republic. Caesar's co-consul Marcus Antonius and M. Aemilius Lepidus, both close allies of Caesar, and the senators not involved in the assassination, went into hiding not knowing what to expect, but the conspirators had no plans for what to do after the assassination.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Winning the West: The Army in the Indian Wars, 1865-1890

Winning the West: The Army in the Indian Wars, 1865-1890 - Chapter about tactics and strategy in differing parts of the American West, extracted from the U.S. Army's official series on American military history.

The Indian wars were brutal. Under current international law, many of the events of the wars (by the US and various tribes) would be classified as war crimes. However, that would be an ex post facto application of international law to prior events and would be unfair. There were heroes on both sides of the conflicts who were just defending their families and their way of life and I believe these individuals outnumbered the scoundrels.

From the site:

Perhaps because of a tendency to view the record of a military establishment in terms of conflict, the U.S. Army's operational experience in the quarter century following the Civil War has come to be known as the Indian wars. Previous struggles with the Indian, dating back to colonial times, had been limited as to scope and opponent and took place in a period when the Indian could withdraw or be pushed into vast reaches of uninhabited and as yet unwanted territory to westward. By 1865 this safety valve was fast disappearing; routes of travel and pockets of settlement had multiplied across the western two-thirds of the nation, and as the Civil War closed, white Americans in greater numbers and with greater energy than before resumed the quest for land, gold, commerce, and adventure that had been largely interrupted by the war. The showdown between the older Americans and the new—between two ways of life that were basically incompatible—was at hand. The besieged red man, with white civilization pressing in and a main source of livelihood—the buffalo—threatened with extinction, was faced with a fundamental choice: surrender or fight. Many chose to fight, and over the course of some twenty-five years the struggle ranged over the plains, mountains, and deserts of the American West, a guerrilla war characterized by skirmishes, pursuits, massacres, raids, expeditions, battles, and campaigns, of varying size and intensity. Given its central role in dealing with the Indian, the Army made a major contribution to continental consolidation.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

History of South Korea

History of South Korea. This short essay highlights the key events in the history of the Asian nation of South Korea.

Of course, South Korea is a divided part of a single Korean nation. Since the taint of communism infected the northern part of the country, the Koreans have been divided against each other. The rule of mad men in the north has made the hope of reunification slim.

But I have hope. Germany was reunified against seemingly impossible odds. It can happen in Korea too. And I am optimistic it will happen in my lifetime.

From the site:

The myth of Korea's foundation by the god-king Tangun in BC 2333 embodies the homogeneity and self-sufficiency valued by the Korean people. Korea experienced many invasions by its larger neighbors in its 2,000 years of recorded history. The country repelled numerous foreign invasions despite domestic strife, in part due to its protected status in the Sino-centric regional political model during Korea's Chosun dynasty (1392-1910). Historical antipathies to foreign influence earned Korea the title of "Hermit Kingdom" in the 19th century.

With declining Chinese power and a weakened domestic posture at the end of the 19th century, Korea was open to Western and Japanese encroachment. In 1910, Japan began a 35-year period of imperial rule over Korea. Memories of Japanese annexation still recall fierce animosity and resentment by older Koreans, as a result of Japan’s efforts to supplant the Korean language and culture. Nevertheless, restrictions on Japanese movies, popular music, fashion, etc. have been lifted, and younger Koreans eagerly follow Japanese pop culture.

Japan's surrender to the Allied Powers in 1945, signaling the end of World War II, only further embroiled Korea in foreign rivalries. Division at the 38th Parallel marked the beginning of Soviet and U.S. trusteeship over the North and South, respectively. On August 15, 1948 the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) was established, with Syngman Rhee as the first President; on September 9, 1948, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) was established under Kim Il Sung.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Piltdown Man

Piltdown Man - Piltdown man was one of the most famous hoaxes in science. This site covers the history of the hoax, its reception by the paleontological community, how the hoax was executed, its exposure, myths and misconceptions, and theories about the perpetrator.

Who created this hoax? It is still unknown. Wikipedia noted, "Assigning responsibility for the hoax has been a minor academic industry for a number of years. Charles Dawson was naturally the prime suspect, but a number of prominent persons had been to the site at various times, including Arthur Conan Doyle and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and various theories were proposed naming them. The general idea was that a practical joke had been played on Dawson, or on paleontologists generally, but the locking away of the specimen had prevented immediate discovery, and the huge publicity for the discovery had caused the hoaxer to keep silent."

From the site:

This is the home page for Piltdown man, a paleontological "man who never was". In April of 1996 there was an extended discussion in the news group about the Piltdown man hoax. During the discussion I checked the web and discovered that Piltdown man did not have a home page. I resolved to eliminate this deficiency in the scholarly resources of the world wide web; here, for your delectation, is Piltdown man's home page. Corrections and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

This page has been laid out so that it can be read sequentially or so that you can skip around in it using links. It is broken up into sections and subsections. Each section is headed by a list of links to the other sections. Each subsection has links back to the list of sub sections. There are brief biographies and a bibliography with internal links to them through out the text. This page is a self contained, text only, document. However there are links to supporting documents and pictures.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bureaucrats and Barbarians

Bureaucrats and Barbarians. Richard Hooker summarizes the civilization of Crete and southern Greece up until the time of Homer and provides an atlas and a gallery as well.

The site covers the period of the Greek Dark Ages. I had not heard this time referred to as a dark age before although it makes sense to call it that. I love the title too! Bureaucrats and Barbarians sounds like a role playing game in the line of Dungeons and Dragons. (I am sure a game could be designed to fit this time period in Greece.)

From the site:

In an overall reading of the module, students should be able to identify the central events, peoples and historical trajectories of Minoan and early Greek history and the surrounding areas and be able to articulate their relation to one another. They should be able to identify and use concepts and practices unique to ancient Minoan and early Greek cultures and the derivation of these concepts from other cultures and their relationship to concepts and ideas from other cultures. Students should be able to approach primary texts and other artifacts, including music and art, from this period using both the experience of the major historical events and the an understanding of the unique cultural concepts and practices underlying the texts. Finally, students should internalize the complexity and difficulty of the historical, cultural, and especially linguistic aspects of the Aegean and Greek civilizations and confront the text written here critically. The text is written from as neutral a perspective as possible and the student should master all sides of a controversy and the ideas that animate those controversies.

The resources in this module include an historical text, a discussion of culture and religion, an historical atlas, a glossary of terms, a text of primary readings, a gallery, a hypertexted bibliography of internet resources, and administrative texts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

History of Somalia

History of Somalia. This is a short history to the troubled African nation of Somalia. In the last decade, the country has struggled to maintain national cohesion as warlords have repeatedly marganilized the national government.

Somalia was also the site of a failed American relief effort in the early 90s. The hope was to offer assistance against the backdrop of famine and anarchy. There was resistance from local warlords and the US withdrew in 1994.

From the site:

Early history traces the development of the Somali people to an Arab sultanate, which was founded in the seventh century A.D. by Koreishite immigrants from Yemen. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese traders landed in present Somali territory and ruled several coastal towns. The sultan of Oman and Zanzibar subsequently took control of these towns and their surrounding territory.

Somalia's modern history began in the late l9th century, when various European powers began to trade and establish themselves in the area. The British East India Company's desire for unrestricted harbor facilities led to the conclusion of treaties with the sultan of Tajura as early as 1840. It was not until 1886, however, that the British gained control over northern Somalia through treaties with various Somali chiefs who were guaranteed British protection. British objectives centered on safeguarding trade links to the east and securing local sources of food and provisions for its coaling station in Aden. The boundary between Ethiopia and British Somaliland was established in 1897 through treaty negotiations between British negotiators and King Menelik.

During the first two decades of this century, British rule was challenged through persistent attacks led by Mohamed Abdullah. A long series of intermittent engagements and truces ended in 1920 when British warplanes bombed Abdullah's stronghold at Taleex. Although Abdullah was defeated as much by rival Somali factions as by British forces, he was lauded as a popular hero and stands as a major figure of national identity to some Somalis.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Jerusalem Mosaic

The Jerusalem Mosaic - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem offers a readable history of the city by period, with a map for each and photographs and information on surviving historic buildings. There are English and Hebrew versions available.

There is good content here but I will confess I found navigating the site difficult. I looped around a few times before finding some items.

From the site:

Jerusalem, with a recorded history of some 4000 years, has been familiar to many people for a longer period than any other place on earth.This is the site of the mystic hill-city which was founded in the third millennium BCE, and the "Urusalim" which appears in pottery inscriptions at the beginning of the second millennium BCE. This is the city of David, who unified the Land of Israel and proclaimed Jerusalem the capital in the tenth century BCE. It is the city of Solomon's Temple, and the city where the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah uttered thoughts which influenced the moral and religious attitudes of half the human race. This was the scene of Jesus' last ministry, and where he was crucified.This is a city held holy by the Muslim, who believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven in Jerusalem.In its antiquity, its tumultuous past, its holiness, its monuments associated with the giant biblical figures of distant ages, in the sheer enchantment of its location and the colourful pattern of its daily life, Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, is perhaps the most dramatic city in the world.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And Then Came Clothing and Speech

And Then Came Clothing and Speech - Mark Roberts discusses why Europe was colonized by hominids half a million years ago. This was originally published in the Journal of British Archaeology in 1996.

Roberts argues that colonists were more advanced than what researchers had previously thought. He also notes that these hominids were displaying many behaviors consistent with modern humans.

From the site:

Why was Europe colonised by hominids half a million years ago? And what sort of people were these first colonisers?

There may be evidence, as some claim, for a sporadic occupation of Spain around a million years ago at sites such as Atapuerca and Orce (see BA, September 1995). However, without doubt the main colonising event began in the interglacial, or warm period, of 524-478,000 years ago. During this period incontestable sites are found throughout the western part of the continent. The originators of this colonis-ing thrust are thought to have come from Africa and the Levant, and their principal tool was the stone handaxe. They are referred to generally as archaic modern humans or specifically as Homo cf heidelbergensis, although some researchers still see them as Homo erectus rather than an evolved form of this lineage.

As for why these hominids moved into Europe, hypotheses have been postulated such as a change in the composition of the carnivore populations of Europe, thus reducing competition for food resources; or climatic and hence environmental change in Africa, forcing a general population movement. It is feasible that these populations met up with other colonisers coming from the east via Asia and the Caucasus.

But what forces were driving the colonisers steadily northwards and east? The archaeological record suggests it was unlikely to be because of competition with a remnant population, or population pressure amongst the colonisers. One explanation may be recolonisation of the continent by flora and fauna, as the inter-glacial climate began to take effect - hominids may well have moved in conjunction with expanding ecological zones that satisfied their subsistence requirements. There exists too, the possibility that the migration route may have been around the European coastline, which would have avoided many of the natural obstacles of a direct route, although access to large grazing herds would have been restricted.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Great Tangshan Earthquake

Great Tangshan Earthquake - An account of the anticipation of the great earthquake of 1976, and the steps that a few authorities took in the preceding days. It is from the UN Global Programme site.

Over a quarter of a million people in China died during and after this quake. However, Qinglong County prepared for the disaster and had only one death! The county was surrounded by areas with high deaths but except for the loss of buildings, the county emerged OK. Credit must be given to Wang Chunqing, a 21 year old administrator who believed scientists who warned about the strong possibility of a quake.

From the site:

Administrator Wang Chunqing attended a conference organized by the State Seismological Bureau (SSB) for the North China-Bohai region. During this conference, on the evening of July 16, 1976, scientist Wang Chengmin of the SSB's Analysis and Prediction Department spoke at an informal meeting attended by sixty conference participants. Young administrator Wang Chunqing was among the audience.

On July 21, 1976, administrator Wang Chunqing returned to Qinglong County. He reported on the Tangshan conference, highlighted the talk given by scientist Wang Chengmin, and included updated information from the county's 16 lay monitoring stations. Public officials of Qinglong County took the report very seriously and acted upon the information immediately.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

History of Puerto Rico

History of Puerto Rico. This is a short and strange history of the American commonwealth of Puerto Rico. There appears to be several hundred years of history missing.

Wikipedia notes, "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico) is a self-governing unincorporated organized territory of the United States located east of the Dominican Republic in the northeastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands and keys, including Mona, Vieques, and Culebra."

From the site:

On 16 Nov., 1493, on his second voyage, the mountain El Yunque, on the north-east coast of the island then known as Boriquen, was seen by Columbus, whose fleet anchored in the port near Aguadilla. A monument erected in the fourth century of the discovery marks the site between Aguada and Aguadilla, where presumably the admiral took possession of the newly discovered territory in the name of his sovereign. The island was named San Juan in honour of St. John the Baptist.

Among those who accompanied Columbus was Vincent Yañez, the younger of the brothers Pinzon, who had commanded the ill-fated "Niña" on the voyage of the year previous. In 1499 a royal permit was granted him to fit out a fleet to explore the region south of the lands discovered by Columbus. After coasting along the shores of Brazil and advancing up the River Amazon, then called Marañon, he returned by way of Hispaniola, to be driven for refuge from storm into the port of Aguada.