Saturday, January 22, 2005


WHY STUDY HISTORY? This is a good question. And Professor Gerhard Rempel of Western New England College has some good answers. This appears to be part of a lecture course that he teaches.

From the site:

"History is one damn thing after another,'' said Henry Ford, implying that there is no rhyme or reason in history, that there is no significant difference between a grocery list and a lengthy parade of empty facts and meaningless dates. Every time I take my Ford to the dealer for repairs I cannot help but suspect that the engineers who designed it and the men who put it together had the same conception of engineering and workmanship that Henry Ford had of history. If Ford has better ideas - as the catchy commercial used to say - than its competitors must be fools.

Fortunately, Henry Ford had better ideas about how to make four-wheeled instruments of locomotion than he did about the nature and meaning of history. He himself would have had to admit that without a knowledge and understanding of the long history of the internal combustion engine and the process of making steel, the Model-T would never have emerged from his innovative Detroit assembly line.

What Henry Ford expressed, however, by his memorable aphorism, probably is a common conception that many people still carry around with them in their packed mental compartments for useless half-truths, dangerous generalizations and downright stupidities. Isolated facts, meaningless dates and dead heroes and villains thrown together in random fashion do not make history--like nuts, bolts, pieces of metal and rubber do not make an automobile. There has to be imagination, purpose, design, testing, experience and precise scientific knowledge to make a car. The engineer provides these things. The historian, whether teacher or student, is also an engineer.

Friday, January 21, 2005

History of Peru

History of Peru. This is brief but well written overview to the history of the South American nation of Peru.

From the site:

When the Spanish landed in 1531, Peru's territory was the nucleus of the highly developed Inca civilization. Centered at Cuzco, the Inca Empire extended over a vast region from northern Ecuador to central Chile. In search of Inca wealth, the Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro, who arrived in the territory after the Incas had fought a debilitating civil war, conquered the weakened people. The Spanish had captured the Incan capital at Cuzco by 1533 and consolidated their control by 1542. Gold and silver from the Andes enriched the conquerors, and Peru became the principal source of Spanish wealth and power in South America.

Pizarro founded Lima in 1535. The viceroyalty established at Lima in 1542 initially had jurisdiction over all of South America except Portuguese Brazil. By the time of the wars of independence (1820-24), Lima had become the most distinguished and aristocratic colonial capital and the chief Spanish stronghold in America.

Peru's independence movement was led by Jose de San Martin of Argentina and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. San Martin proclaimed Peruvian independence from Spain on July 28, 1821. Emancipation was completed in December 1824, when Gen. Antonio Jose de Sucre defeated the Spanish troops at Ayacucho, ending Spanish rule in South America. Spain made futile attempts to regain its former colonies, but in 1879 it finally recognized Peru's independence.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu

Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu - An online exhibition from the Library of Congress presents manuscripts from Timbuktu. The collection covers the 16th to the 18th centuries.

From the site:

Timbuktu, Mali, is the legendary city founded as a commercial center in West Africa nine hundred years ago. Today it is synonymous with the phrase "utterly remote," but this was not always so. For more than six hundred years, Timbuktu was a significant religious, cultural, and commercial center whose residents traveled throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe. Timbuktu was famous for educating important scholars who were well known throughout the Islamic world. Many individuals traveled to the city to acquire knowledge; others came to acquire wealth and political power.

Situated on the edge of the Sahara Desert, Timbuktu was famous among the merchants of the Mediterranean basin as a market for obtaining the goods and products of Africa south of the desert. However, Timbuktu's most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization is the scholarship practiced there. By at least the fourteenth century, important books were written and copied there, establishing the city as the center of a significant written tradition in Africa.

These ancient manuscripts cover every aspect of human endeavor. The manuscripts are indicative of the high level of civilization attained by West Africans during the Middle Ages and provide irrefutable proof of a powerful African literary tradition. Scholars in the fields of Islamic Studies and African Studies believe that analysis of these texts will cause Islamic, West African, and World History to be reevaluated. These manuscripts, surviving from as long ago as the fourteenth century, are remarkable artifacts important to Malian and West African culture. The exhibited manuscripts date from the sixteenth to eighteenth century.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Robespierre: Terror and Virture, 1794

Robespierre: Terror and Virture, 1794 - Excerpts from French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre's speech "Justification of the Use of Terror." I watched a History Channel documentary on the French Revolution several nights ago and I was reminded of the irony of the death and the poetic justice it bestowed on Robespierre.

From the site:

Maximilien Robespierre (1758­ 1794) was the leader of the twelve­man Committee of Public Safety elected by the National Convention, and which effectively governed France at the height of the radical phase of the revolution. He had once been a fairly straightforward liberal thinker - reputedly he slept with a copy of Rousseau's Social Contract at his side. But his own purity of belief led him to impatience with others.

The committee was among the most creative executive bodies ever seen - and rapidly put into effect policies which stabilized the French economy and began the formation of the very successful French army. It also directed it energies against counter-revolutionary uprisings, especially in the south and west of France. In doing so it unleashed the reign of terror. Here Robespierre, in his speech of February 5,1794, from which excerpts are given here, discussed this issue. The figures behind this speech indicate that in the five months from September, 1793, to February 5, 1794, the revolutionary tribunal in Paris convicted and executed 238 men and 31 women and acquitted 190 persons, and that on February 5 there were 5,434 individuals in the prisons in Paris awaiting trial.

Robespierre was frustrated with the progress of the revolution. After issuing threats to the National Convention, he himself was arrested in July 1794. He tried to shoot himslef but missed, and spent his last few hours with his jaw hanging off. He was guillotined, as a victim of the terror, on July 28, 1794.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bill Clinton Speeches

Bill Clinton Speeches. Here are some links to some of the official speeches that President Bill Clinton delivered when he was President.


First Inaugural Address of William J. Clinton
Second Inaugural Address of William J. Clinton
State of the Union Address 17 February 1993 - Note that this speech is not officially listed as a State of the Union Address. Regardless, it was perceived as being a State of the Union Address by the press and the public at the time it was delivered and is commonly remembered as being a State of the Union Address.
State of the Union Address 25 January 1994
State of the Union Address 24 January 1995
State of the Union Address 23 January 1996
State of the Union Address 4 February 1997
State of the Union Address 27 January 1998
State of the Union Address 19 January 1999
State of the Union Address 27 January 2000

Monday, January 17, 2005

History of Palau

History of Palau. This is a very brief history of the Pacific Island nation of Palau. This nation is hosting the American television series Survivor in 2005.

From the site:

Palau was initially settled more than 4,000 years ago, probably by migrants from what today is Indonesia. British traders became prominent visitors in the 18th century, followed by expanding Spanish influence in the 19th century. Following its defeat in the Spanish-American War, Spain sold Palau and most of the rest of the Caroline Islands to Germany in 1899. Control passed to Japan in 1914 and then to the United States under UN auspices in 1947 as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Four of the Trust Territory districts formed a single federated Micronesian state in 1979, but the districts of Palau and the Marshall Islands declined to participate. Palau instead approved a new constitution and became the Republic of Palau in 1981, signing a Compact of Free Association with the United States in 1982. After eight referenda and an amendment to the Palauan constitution, the Compact went into effect on October 1, 1994, marking Palau's emergence from trusteeship to independence. Palau was the last Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands territories to gain its independence. Under the Compact, the U.S. remains responsible for Palau's defense for 50 years.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Presentation of the Franks in Selected Muslim Sources

The Presentation of the Franks in Selected Muslim Sources - A dissertation traces the development of the attitudes of Muslims towards the Franks during the Crusades of the 12th Century.

From the site:

During the period of the Crusades a large number of Muslim writers wrote accounts of the events that took place at the time, and also kept records of their experiences. As a result of this, a large body of literature concerning the period was created, a reasonable proportion of which has survived up until the present day, in one form or another. The modern reader is able to examine these works in order to determine what the Muslim view was of the Crusades and those who fought in them, and so to understand the motives behind the Muslims’ initial reactions to the Crusaders and their subsequent interaction with the Franks who settled in the Holy Land.

As one examines the sources for the period, it becomes apparent from the way that the Franks are presented that there were certain initial characteristic attitudes that prevailed among the Muslims, which remained throughout the period, although they changed significantly as time progressed, as a consequence of increased contact with the Franks who now settled in the area. In addition, other attitudes developed later on, also as a result of this increase in contact. One can therefore examine the development of Muslim attitudes to the Franks, and see how this affected their interaction with them.

In this dissertation an attempt has been made to determine the development of the attitudes of Muslims towards the Franks during the period covering the Crusades of the 12th Century, by examining five major sources from the period, and seeing how the Franks are presented in each. As will be shown in following chapters, there are certain attitudes that remain throughout all five texts, whilst others develop as the texts progress chronologically.