Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Capture of Guam

The Capture of Guam. This is an account by Patrick McSherry of the bloodless conquest of Guam by the United States from Spain during the Spanish-American War. It is interesting to note that the small Spanish force garrisoned on the island were not even aware that there was a war going on between Spain and the USA for over two months! Even in 1898, the technology existed for Spain to communicate this fact to Guam one would think.

From the site:

On finding the state of the Spanish military on the island consisted only of 54 Spanish soldiers armed with 1896 Mausers, and 54 Chamorros, armed with Remington 45-90's, the two men were paroled, with the requirement that they carry a message to the governor that he should come to the vessel as soon as possible.

The governor, Juan Marina, responded that Spanish law forbade him from coming aboard the vessel, but asked the American captain to come to him instead, guaranteeing the captain's safe return. When the governor's letter arrived, it was getting late in the day. The governor was informed that an officer would be sent ashore the next morning.

At 8:30 a.m., Lt. William Braunersreuther, the CHARLESTON's navigator, went ashore to meet the governor and his party at Piti. Simultaneously, landing forces were formed, placed in landing boats and started for the beach. The lieutenant presented a letter from Captain Glass of the CHARLESTON which demanded the surrender of the island within one half-hour of receiving the note, while verbally reminding the governor that a heavily armed vessel and several transports loaded with troops were awaiting offshore. Twenty-nine minutes later, the governor returned with a reply. The reply was addressed to Lt. Braunersreuther's commanding officer, and the Spanish governor protested as the lieutenant opened it. Braunersreuther responded that he was acting on behalf of his commander.

Friday, September 23, 2005

History of St. Kitts and Nevis

History of St. Kitts and Nevis. This provides a short history to the tiny nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Wikipedia notes that, "The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, located in the Leeward Islands is a unitary island nation in the Caribbean. The capital-city and government for the federated state, is mainly on the larger island of, Saint Kitts (formerly named: Saint Christopher). The smaller state of Nevis (formerly named: Nuestra SeƱora de las Nieves) lies about 3km southeast of Saint Kitts. Historically the British dependency of Anguilla was also a part of this union, which was then known collectively as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla."

Most amusingly, Nevis has an independence movement. St. Kitts and Nevis is small to begin with so why would should it be divided any smaller? Are the people of Nevis really that eager to have their own Olympic team?

From the site:

At the time of European discovery, Carib Indians inhabited the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Christopher Columbus landed on the larger island in 1493 on his second voyage and named it after St. Christopher, his patron saint. Columbus also discovered Nevis on his second voyage, reportedly calling it Nevis because of its resemblance to a snowcapped mountain (in Spanish, "nuestra senora de las nieves" or our lady of the snows). European colonization did not begin until 1623-24, when first English, then French colonists arrived on St. Christopher's Island, whose name the English shortened to St. Kitt's Island. As the first English colony in the Caribbean, St. Kitts served as a base for further colonization in the region.

The English and French held St. Kitts jointly from 1628 to1713. During the 17th century, intermittent warfare between French and English settlers ravaged the island's economy. Meanwhile Nevis, settled by English settlers in 1628, grew prosperous under English rule. St. Kitts was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The French seized both St. Kitts and Nevis in 1782.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sympathy for President John Tyler

Sympathy for President John Tyler. I just read Politics and the Court and in it I learned that President Tyler had five Supreme Court nominations defeated by the Senate! That had to of hurt. Tyler was the first Vice-President to become President as a result of the death of the prior president. As such, he was politically weak and had little support in Congress.

After his term in office, he openly committed treason against the United States by being a member of the Confederate government when the American Civil War began. However, the times were different then so it would be unfair to be overly harsh towards him now.

In sympathy to his five defeated Supreme Court nominations, here are some links to a few of his official speeches. He was President during some interesting times and I think this is reflected in the text.

State of the Union Address 1841
State of the Union Address 1842
State of the Union Address 1843
State of the Union Address 1844

All four of these State of the Union Addresses (known as the President's Annual Message at the time) include mention of the Republic of Texas, Mexico, and American considerations of annexation. War between Mexico and the USA ensued shortly after Tyler left office. A search of the text also reveals that he made no mention of any of his Supreme Court nominations or of any frustrations he was feeling with the Senate blocking his nominees.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Terrorism and the Philosophy of History

Terrorism and the Philosophy of History - Now for a more philosophical look at modern history...

This is Andrew Fiala's article about liberal responses to terrorism in terms of the philosophy of history. It was originally published in the April 2002 issue of Essays in Philosophy.

From the site:

Those who utilize terror techniques in attacks against liberal states are not constrained by liberal ideas about justice in war.1 Indeed, many terrorists are intent on attacking liberalism itself because they view it as a rival "comprehensive doctrine."2 One wonders then, whether liberalism should be constrained by its own principles in responding to such attacks. I will discuss this issue in relation to John Rawls’ ideas of justice in war, as found in his recent The Law of Peoples. I will indicate that, although Rawls’ attempts to articulate an idea of international law that is "political" in his sense (that is not tied to any particular comprehensive doctrine and yet reasonable for adherents of a plurality of such comprehensive doctrines), his idea is tied to a specific philosophy of history that is potentially incompatible with other philosophies of history. This can be seen in his discussion of the "supreme emergency exemption," which is an idea about the historical necessity of violating liberal principles of justice in war in order to defend liberal values from some overwhelming threat. This is problematic for political liberalism because an acknowledgement of supreme emergencies in history is only possible either from within a more substantive form of liberalism or from the perspective of political realism. In either case, invocation of a supreme emergency might then justify those who view liberalism as a rival comprehensive doctrine, which must be destroyed by any means necessary. I will suggest that the very idea of a supreme emergency exemption to rules of justice in war, even in the face of terrorism, runs counter to the spirit of the more substantive form of liberalism found in Kant. Kantian liberalism has no need for a supreme emergency exemption or, rather, it avoids this realist expedient by postulating an optimistic philosophy of history. Rawls’ political liberalism, however, is, as Rawls admits, a hybrid that is both realistic and utopian. The realist component of political liberalism thus might allow a Rawlsian to support strong action against terrorists. However, the realist exemption to the principles of justice can only be invoked from within a philosophical interpretation of progress in history. Such a philosophy of history is thus a metaphysical supplement to the ideals of political liberalism, one that threatens to disrupt the possibility of overlapping consensus. A Kantian, for example, who would accept the basic principles of the Law of Peoples, would reject the supreme emergency exemption. After discussing this problem, I will conclude by arguing that currently terrorism does not constitute a supreme emergency.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

History of Wales

History of Wales. This is a short history of the European nation of Wales which is a part of the United Kingdom.

Wikipedia notes, "Wales is a country and one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom (along with England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). Wales is located in the south-west of Great Britain, and is bordered by England to the east, the Bristol Channel to the south, St George's Channel in the west, and the Irish Sea to the north."

From the site:

After an occupation lasting 360 years, the Romans left a Britain which was thoroughly permeated by the civilization of the Empire. In this Wales largely participated, though it is chiefly in Southeast Wales that the traces of Imperial Rome must be sought. Recent excavation has exposed vast remains of the power and luxury of the conquering race, at Caerwent in Monmouthshire (once a seaport); and at Caerleon, in the same county, classical antiquity competes with Arthurian romance for the visitor's attention. Many Welsh pedigrees assign existing families a Roman ancestor in the person of some official who lived in the period between the departure of the legions and the Saxon conquest. It is, however, chiefly in the domains of language and religion that Rome has left an abiding imprint on Wales.

After the departure of the Romans from Britain, the native inhabitants retained a semblance of Roman institutions. Considerable vestiges of these remained among the Welsh in the time of the Saxon Heptarchy. The clan system and other Celtic customs, however, continued in force long after imperial forms were forgotten. Only for a brief period were the Welsh united under one sovereign, in the successive reigns of Rhydderch Mawr (Roderick the Great) and his son Howel Dda, or the Good, both of whom were strong rulers and wise legislators. The laws of Howel Dda are yet extant. They commence with a declaration that the king had obtained their sanction by the Pope of Rome, and their tenor is one of reverence for the Christian Faith and Church.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nerva (96-98 A.D.)

Nerva (96-98 A.D.). This is a good biography of the elderly man who replaced the hated Domitian as Emperor of the Roman Empire.

Edward Gibbons claimed that Nerva was the first of the Five Good Emperors. He changed the practice of Imperial succession where the Emperor picked his successor based on ability rather than on family inheritance. The system worked for the next 90 years until Marcus Aurelius had the bad sense to allow his son Commodus to inherit the throne.

From the site:

Nerva was born on 8 November, 30 A.D.[[2]] Little is known of his upbringing beyond the fact that he belonged to a senatorial family and pursued neither a military nor a public speaking career. On the other hand, he did hold various priesthoods and was a praetor-designate.[[3]] More importantly, as praetor designate in 65, Nerva was instrumental in revealing the conspiracy of Piso against the emperor Nero.

As a result, he received triumphal ornaments and his statue was placed in the palace.[[4]] Following Nero's fall in 68, Nerva must have realized that support of Vespasian and the Flavian cause was in his best interests.[[5]] In 71 his loyalty was rewarded with a joint consulship with the emperor, the only time that Vespasian ever held the office without his son Titus. It was under the reign of Vespasian's other son, Domitian, that Nerva's political fortunes were ultimately determined, however. He shared the ordinary consulship with Domitian in 90, an honor that was perhaps the result of his alerting the emperor about the revolt of Antonius Saturninus, the governor of Upper Germany, in 89.[[6]] Even so, like so many others of the senatorial class, Nerva came under scrutiny in the final years of Domitian's reign, when the emperor was unwilling to tolerate any criticism.

Whether or not Nerva was forced to withdraw from public life during Domitian's final years remains an open question.[[7]] What is not in dispute is that he was named emperor on the same day that Domitian was assassinated in September, 96. Indeed, in some respects the accession was improbable, since it placed the Empire under the control of a feeble sexagenarian and long-time Flavian supporter with close ties to the unpopular Domitian. On the other hand, Nerva had proven to be a capable senator, one with political connections and an ability to negotiate. Moreover, he had no children, thereby ensuring that the state would not become his hereditary possession.