Friday, March 03, 2006

Russo-Japanese War Research Society

Russo-Japanese War Research Society. This site has narratives of the campaigns, a selection of maps and images, text of documents, and biographies of the major personalities. This is a well designed site with easy navigation and tons of great content.

The Russo-Japanese War is the first war in modern history where an Asian nation beat a European nation. It was humiliating for Russia and signaled that Japan was a major world power. The loss showed how weak the Czarist government was and lead to the Russian Revolution of 1905. Japan gained a lot of respect internationally and the success in the war may have been one of the reasons Japan joined with the allies in the First World War.

One interesting side note to the war is that American President Teddy Roosevelt helped to negotiate the end of hostilities. For his efforts, Roosevelt became the first US President to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

From the site:

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, which began with the Japanese naval attack on Port Arthur, had its roots in the simultaneous determination of both Japan and Russia to develop 'spheres of influence' in the Far East, mainly at the expense of China. Japan fought a very successful war against the crumbling Chinese Empire in 1894-95 and imposed a severe treaty. Japan demanded from China a heavy war indemnity, the island of Formosa, and Port Arthur and its hinterland. The European powers, while having no objection to the indemnity, did feel that Japan should not gain Port Arthur, for they had their own ambitions in that part of the world. Russia persuaded Germany and France to join her in applying diplomatic pressure on the Japanese, with the result that Japan was obliged to relinquish Port Arthur. Two years later Saint Petersburg forced the Chinese into leasing Port Arthur to Russia, together with the Liaotung Peninsula on which it stood. For Russia this meant the acquisition of an ice-free naval base in the Far East to supplement Vladivostok. For Japan it was a case of adding insult to injury.

The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 caused the European powers and Japan to send troops to China to suppress the rebels. When the fighting was over, Russian troops were occupying Manchuria. Russia promised to withdraw these forces by 1903, but failed to do so, wishing to hold Manchuria as a springboard for further expansion of her interest in the Far East. Meanwhile Japan was heavily engaged in Korea, successfully increasing her influence in that country. Russia also had interest in Korea, and although at first Russians and Japanese managed to peacefully coexist, it was not long before tensions on both sides led to hostilities. Negotiations between the two nations began in 1901 but made little headway. Japan then strengthened her position by forming an alliance with Britain. The terms stated that if Japan went to war in the Far East, and a third power entered the fight against Japan, then Britain would come to the aide of the Japanese.

During her negotiations with Japan, Russia did not expect the Japanese to go to war. After all, Japan was a newly emergent country, whose naval officers might have been trained in Britain and her army officers in Germany, but several of those officers had begun their careers wearing armor and brandishing swords. The Russian army was the world's most powerful, or at least that is what the Russians believed. But the Japanese had other ideas. Japan knew that they could not win a long war fought over a vast expanse, but they could win a short localized war.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

History of Sao Tome and Principe

History of Sao Tome and Principe. This is a short essay on the history of the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe.

Wikipedia notes, "The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is a small island nation in the Gulf of Guinea. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 km apart and about 250 and 225 km, respectively, off of the northwestern coast of Gabon. Both islands are part of an extinct volcanic mountain range. São Tomé, the sizable southern island, is situated almost exactly on the equator. It is named after Saint Thomas because Portuguese explorers discovered the island on St. Thomas's Day."

From the site:

The islands were first discovered by Portuguese navigators between 1469 and 1472. The first successful settlement of Sao Tome was established in 1493 by Alvaro Caminha, who received the land as a grant from the Portuguese crown. Principe was settled in 1500 under a similar arrangement. By the mid-1500s, with the help of slave labor, the Portuguese settlers had turned the islands into Africa's foremost exporter of sugar. Sao Tome and Principe were taken over and administered by the Portuguese crown in 1522 and 1573, respectively.

Sugar cultivation declined over the next 100 years, and by the mid-1600s, Sao Tome was little more than a port of call for bunkering ships. In the early 1800s, two new cash crops, coffee and cocoa, were introduced. The rich volcanic soils proved well suited to the new cash crop industry, and soon extensive plantations (rocas), owned by Portuguese companies or absentee landlords, occupied almost all of the good farmland. By 1908, Sao Tome had become the world's largest producer of cocoa, still the country's most important crop.

The rocas system, which gave the plantation managers a high degree of authority, led to abuses against the African farm workers. Although Portugal officially abolished slavery in 1876, the practice of forced paid labor continued. In the early 1900s, an internationally publicized controversy arose over charges that Angolan contract workers were being subjected to forced labor and unsatisfactory working conditions. Sporadic labor unrest and dissatisfaction continued well into the 20th century, culminating in an outbreak of riots in 1953 in which several hundred African laborers were killed in a clash with their Portuguese rulers. This "Batepa Massacre" remains a major event in the colonial history of the islands, and the government officially observes its anniversary.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

History Carnival #26

Welcome to the newest edition of the History Carnival! I am pleased with the response that this has gotten and I am happy to report I received 26 submission e-mails (many with multiple submissions) which flooded my in-box with nominated posts. I also have selected several posts I have discovered on my own. As the History Carnival guidelines suggest a 20-40 post limit, I have had to winnow the list down a bit. Even if a post you submitted is not included, I appreciate your suggestion and the time you took to make it.

As this is the World History Blog, the posts will be organized by continent or region to represent the area being discussed in the post. This is not always an exact match for posts that deal with more than one area of course so I just used my best judgment!

Unfortunately, no submissions were received for history posts relating to Antarctica or the Arctic. Where are the polar history bloggers? OK, just kidding…


Abdusalaam Al-Hindi writes about Ibn Khaldun a 14th-century Islamic evolutionary theorist.

Congo Free State reproduces the text of an account of the death of Emin Pasha. Another reprint is at Battles of Atbara & Omdurman, 1898 which reproduces an article by Colonel Charles Chaille Long on England in Egypt and the Sudan.


Laura James writes about unanswered questions from the Lizzie Borden case. Unlike Lizzie Borden, there is no question that William Teach (Blackbeard the Pirate) did kill people and Pratie comments on setting Blackbeard to music, with the help of Ben Franklin.

The President’s Day holiday in the USA saw many posts on American Presidents. Michael Tinkler reports on how George Washington's Birthday was celebrated in the mid-19th century in an Upstate NY college town. Dymphna highlights several readings she recommends for learning about George Washington. Michael Lorenzen asks if Grant really was a drunk during the American Civil War. (Modern Drunkard Magazine is not a good history source…) Kevin W. lists some of the greatest blunders of the American Presidents.

Miland Brown (me) reviews a resource which is about Canada and the American Revolution. The Head Heeb asks why Newfounland’s economy has failed while Iceland’s has been successful in another Canadian related post.

Ron Hogan interviews Mark Lytle and Philip Jenkins about their respective books dealing the 60s and 80s in the United States. Miriam reposts a tribute to Albert Forsythe, pioneer black aviator.


Owen Miller talks about current Korean historiography, particularly the political overlays in two parts: and

Konrad Lawson reopens the discussion about outsiders doing national history in China (and other Asian nations). Curzon relates an interview he conducted with an elderly Japanse Catholic woman and her experiences including surviving the World War Two fire bombing of Tokyo.

Ahistorically looks at dangerous old teachings in Christianity and Buddhism and asks if they matter. Nouri Lumendifi (The Moor Next Door) writes about the nadhras (view points) of Michel Aflaq, the founder of the Arab Ba`ath Party.


Ancarett reports on several recent news reports suggesting the Black Death caused the Little Ice Age. (Ancarett’s post was nominated by three different people.) Martin Rundkvist notes a novel way that medieval Swedish law allowed a land owner to shout to determine the border of a property. (If we could get this law passed in my town, my yard would suddenly get bigger…)

Miss Frances Williams Wynn (retroblogger), reports that Queen Caroline is a pumpkin-head. Penny Richards has found some interesting British women's biographies. Jeff is doing a series of blog posts giving extracts from the diary of Sophia Carteret, Lady Shelburne.

Grant Jones found a bit of historical humor as a googlebomb relating to French military victories. (Note: Google appears to have caught and corrected this!) MacLachlan writes about the Conservative reaction to the French Revolution.

CosmoCurio examines the ancient Greek scientist Eratosthenes and systemic and random uncertainties. Historymike reviews the book Marriage Alliance in Late Medieval Florence. Natalie Bennett finds a great early journalistic excuse from the 17th century. (And if there are errors in this History Carnival, I am using a similar disclaimer now!)

Kristine Steenbergh comments on a book of essays dealing with disease, diagnosis and cure on the early modern stage. Brett Holman reports that the book England and the Aeroplane: An Essay on a Militant and Technological Nation is now available online.

Lis Riba posts a side-by-side comparison of passages from Bolt and from a serious biography of Marlowe, asking readers to guess which is which. Nathanael Robinson looks at Germany since Heine.


Mimi writes about the impact of volcanoes on the culture of Hawai’i. Further south, Maia lists her thoughts on who she thinks are the ten worst New Zealanders in history.

Upcoming Carnivals

The next edition of the History Carnival will be hosted by Rob Priest at History: Other, on 15 March. Email: rob[at]

Other upcoming carnival deadlines include March 5th for the Asian History Carnival and March 13th for the Carnival of Bad History

Looking for other interesting carnivals? Check out the


Thank you for stopping by at History Carnival #26. I have enjoyed this experience and I encourage other history related bloggers to give this a try. Sharon Howard told me she needs hosts (particularly new ones) from April onwards. Full details are at

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

They came to bury Kennewick Man, not praise him

They came to bury Kennewick Man, not praise him. This is a "History in the News" column from USA Today. It recounts some of the findings that scientists have discovered about Kennewick Man who died about 9,300 years ago.

This study almost did not happen. Several Native American tribes sued to stop Kennewick Man from being studied under the provisions of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The tribes lost as they could not prove Kennewick Man was their ancestor and scientists were finally cleared to study the remains last year.

I am sympathetic to the claims of the Native Americans in this case. I do not believe that American Indian burial sites should be disturbed for study without tribal consent. However, I think there needs to be a time limit imposed on the invocation of this law. It is going to be nearly impossible to ever learn anything about the migration of humans into pre-historic America if all remains from these times are seized and reburied without study. (And no, I do not know how far back a time limit should be imposed. But I think it is a reasonable suggestion.)

The Clovis Migration Theory has been shown to have some flaws. There is evidence that humans have been in the new world much longer than previously believed. Further, there may have been waves of immigrants not only from Asia but from Polynesia, Africa, and Europe too. Some of these groups may have been wiped out or assimilated into other communities. This is an exciting field of study and I hope more evidence (human remains or other) can be found to help build knowledge in this area.

From the site:

It's not quite CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, but the oldest forensic science case in the country is back in the spotlight. Scientists have presented their evaluation of the remains of a man who died 9,300 years ago, the fruit of a nine-year legal battle for the right to examine the skeleton now known as "Kennewick Man." The bones were found by two boating enthusiasts along the Columbia River in Kennewick, Wash. in 1996.

At last week's American Academy of Forensic Sciences conference in Seattle, Smithsonian Institution scientist Doug Owsley presented results of a "taphonomy" of the bones. Taphonomy is the "study of the transformation of materials into the archaeological record," according to The Penguin Archaeology Guide (I keep a copy on the nightstand), one of those fun science words that basically means, "how this thing got buried."

And Kennewick Man was deliberately buried. A 20-member science team working last year has determined the man's body was likely interred along the river, arms at his side and hands down with head slightly inclined upward, Owsley said. His feet were pointed downstream. The bones had been washed out of their burial place by heavy rains about six weeks before their discovery.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Western Civilization Core Course

Western Civilization Core Course. This site is available as both a timeline and index. It includes a survey of history, culture, and ideas with readings, period introductions, and articles. It was created by the History Department at Whitworth College.

Even if you are not taking this class, this is a useful site. There are a lot of full-text readings available from public domain sources as well as biographies of significant individuals.

From the site:

This course is an interdisciplinary study of those aspects of our Western civilization which are related to the development of rationalism. It emphasizes the important and continuing impact the rationalist tradition has had in the shaping of our Western civilization and of our contemporary world. The foundations of this tradition were laid by the brilliant thinkers and artists of ancient Greece; it was modified, or at least interpreted for the rising Western world, by the Romans; some of it was absorbed, some of it was rejected in the growing ascendancy of the Christian Church; and a renewed knowledge of it achieved by thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, encouraged by a "Twelfth-Century Renaissance" in the Christian West.

The rationalist tradition was fully revived in Western Europe during the Renaissance, which sought at first to balance its claims with those of the medieval Christian Church. But by the Eighteenth Century--often called the Age of Reason--the tradition had been elevated to a position of dominance. During this period other intellectual movements developed which tended to accept the great artistic accomplishments of the ancient Greeks and Romans as normative: humanism--which drew its meaning from the study of classical writing and art, and from these sources developed renewed appreciation of human beings and their accomplishments and capabilities; and empiricism--which emphasized experience and observable data, and prepared for the later burgeoning of modern science.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mr. Dowling's African History Page

Mr. Dowling's African History Page. This is a nice history site designed for children and teenagers. Of course, some adults may find it useful too!

It gives brief background information on the ancient civilizations and cities of ancient Africa including Nok, Ghana, Kush, and Timbuktu. There is also information on more recent African history including Liberia, the Boers, and Nelson Mandela.

I certainly have a decent grasp of African history. However, I will admit it is not as strong as my knowledge of European, Asian, or American history. As such, I try to blog African history sites at least several times a month for my own education and to help keep this blog's "world history" balanced.

I was pleased that I was able to help my brother recently. He called me up as he was playing Civilization IV. (This is a computer game which simulates world history by allowing players to develop a culture through time.) He asked, "Berlin just got sacked by Mansa Musa. Who the heck is this guy?" And I was able to tell him.

From the site:

The European colonial powers called Africa “the Dark Continent” when they began their explorations. They saw it as a vast and dangerous place filled with savage people, but Africa has been home to many advanced, exotic civilizations. Many have been buried beneath the sands of time, but we know of others, and archaeologists continue to uncover more clues about ancient African civilizations.

West Africa has a great oral tradition. A griot is a learned storyteller, entertainer, and historian. Often a griot will memorize the genealogy, or family history, of everyone in a village going back centuries. American writer Alex Haley met a griot in 1966 that had memorized the entire story of the village of Juffure to a date two centuries in the past when his ancestor was enslaved.

A great deal of what we know about West Africa comes from the griots, but archaeologists are often surprised by new finds. In the last twenty-five years, scholars have concluded that civilization developed in West Africa as much as one thousand years earlier than expected. We now know that Africa had an Iron Age culture with cities and trade routes about 250 years Before the Common Era.