Friday, November 17, 2006

World can vote for new seven wonders

World can vote for new seven wonders. That's right. The time has come to name a new set of the seven wonders of the world. This article notes, "A GLOBAL competition to name the new seven wonders of the world has reached the penultimate stage, with a list of 77 candidates whittled down to 21 by a panel of international architects chaired by a former head of UNESCO."

Over 20 million people have voted so far and people are being encouraged to vote on the final list. CNN has a description of all 22 finalists at Vote: 'New 7 Wonders of the World'. My votes went to the Chichen Itza, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Statue of Liberty, the Colosseum, the Acropolis, and the Taj Mahal. (A hat tip to Jennie W. for her post at

However, I am a little disappointed with this list. How in the world did the Mackinac Bridge not make the cut? This suspension bridge spans the Straits of Mackinac to connect the non-contiguous upper and lower peninsulas of the U.S. state of Michigan. I have gone across it several times and I am always impressed. Had this bridge been in existence in ancient times (and located in Europe, Asia, or Africa) it would have been on the original seven wonder list. Why not consider it now? Sigh.

You can vote for wonders at

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Concept of Citizenship in Education for Democracy

The Concept of Citizenship in Education for Democracy. This is an interesting ERIC Digest from 2000 by John J. Patrick. I think it would be of interest to history and social studies teachers. It has some good ideas for teaching the concept of citizenship and applying it to education on democracy.

The abstract notes, "The concept of citizenship is at the core of education for democracy. This Digest discusses (1) what citizenship is; (2) why citizenship is an essential element of democracy; and (3) how to teach about citizenship in a democracy."

From the site:

In a democracy, the source of all authority -- the legitimate basis of all power -- is the collective body of the people, the citizens of the polity. There is popular sovereignty of the citizens and thereby government by consent of the governed. A citizen is a full and equal member of a polity, such as a democratic nation-state (Mouffe 1995, 217).

In some states or countries, citizenship, the condition of being a citizen, is based on the place of a person's birth, which is known as "jus soli" citizenship. In other places, the status of citizen is based on the citizenship of one's parents, which is known as "jus sanguinis" citizenship. Some countries use both bases for ascribing citizenship. Further, most democratic states have established legal procedures by which people without a birthright to citizenship can become naturalized citizens.

Equality before the law is one fundamental right of the citizen; other examples are such political rights as voting and participating in public interest groups. Constitutions may make a distinction between the rights of citizens and of inhabitants of the political community who are not citizens. For example, in the United States of America, only citizens have the right to vote, serve on juries, and be elected to certain offices of the government, such as Congress. All other rights in the United States Constitution are guaranteed to everyone residing in the country, citizens and noncitizens alike.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

History Carnival XLIII

History Carnival XLIII is up at Axis of Evel Knievel . My thanks to David Noon for hosting such a fine carnival. There is plenty of good history reading for me to checking out.

The next carnival is scheduled for December 1, to be hosted by Barista. You can submit nominations by e-mail (Tiley[at]internode[.]on[.]net].) or via the official submission form here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Toledo War of 1835-36

This Saturday undefeated football teams from the University of Michigan and Ohio State University play their annual grudge game. The winner will play for the NCAA National Division I Football title. As can be expected, excitement and tension is running high in both states.

Conflict between Ohio and Michigan is not new. However, back in the 19th century, the two states actually went to war with each other over the status of the modern city of Toledo, Ohio. (Although, at the time, Michigan was a territory.)

I grew up in a suburb of Toledo in Northwest Ohio. I heard about the war many times. My Dad used to say that Ohio lost the war because we got stuck with Toledo. I later heard many others crack this same joke so I know it is not original to my Dad.

Michigan began trying to be admitted as a state in 1833. Ohio blocked every attempt refusing to allow Michigan into the Union unless it gave up control of the disputed Toledo Strip. Michigan refused and after years of frustration sent the Michigan militia in to occupy the city of Toledo. Ohio militia responded by massing in Perrysburg, Ohio with the intent of marching on Toledo.

The Toledo War from the State of Michigan describes what happened, "The War involved more saber-rattling and one-upmanship than it did shooting and blood-letting. For instance, after the Ohio legislature voted to approve a $300,000 military budget, Michigan upped the ante by approving one with $315,000. Michigan's militia did end up arresting some Ohio officials, capturing nine surveyors, and firing a few shots over the heads of others as they ran out of the area. But only Ohio inflicted any casualties, when a buckeye named Two Stickney stabbed a Michigan Sheriff during a tavern brawl."

President Andrew Jackson was not amused. He removed the Michigan territorial governor from office and disbanded the Michigan militia camping in Toledo. Ohio won the war and Toledo remains a part of Ohio to this day. Michigan was awarded the Upper Peninsula in compensation which actually was a pretty good deal for Michigan.

So, emotions may run high this Saturday as Ohio State and the University of Michigan play football. There may even be violence between some fans. But at least this time we can be assured that the Ohio and Michigan militias will not be facing off against each other across the Maumee River.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Did Julius Caesar Decimate a Legion?

I have been watching the The Battle for Rome miniseries on the Discovery Channel. While uneven in quality, I have enjoyed the six episodes I have watched. However, I think I have found a huge error in the episode on Julius Caesar.

The Caesar episode recounts the story of the 9th Legions mutiny during the Great Roman Civil War. Some of the men wanted to be discharged but most wanted more pay. The episode shows a stern Caesar order the 9th to be decimated. Decimation was a rarely used form of punishment. Jona Lendering at Livius described this, "After a very serious offense (e.g., mutiny or having panicked), the commander of the commander of a legion would take the decision, and an officer would go to the subunit that was to be punished. By lot, he chose one in ten men for capital punishment. The surviving nine men were ordered to club the man to death. "

The Battle for Rome episode shows the 9th being decimated while a grim faced Caesar looks on. The scene is very powerful as we see a man being beaten to death while another looks on knowing he is next. However, the story is not true. This television show is wrong.

Caesar never ordered that the 9th be decimated. They did indeed mutiny demanding more pay. Caesar went to the soldiers.

Adrian Goldsworthy in Caesar: Life of a Colossus describes what happened, "He (Caesar) then announced that he intended to decimate the Ninth, an ancient punishment that involved selecting by lot one out of every ten men to be beaten to death by his comrades. The remainder of the legion would be dishonourably discharged from the army. The veteran soldiers were dismayed and their officers began to beg their stern commander for mercy. Caesar knew how to work a crowd and gradually gave ground, finally saying that 12o ringleaders would need to draw lots to choose twelve men to be executed. The selection is supposed to have been rigged to ensure the names of the main troublemakers were drawn" (p. 407).

Caesar did not kill hundreds of his soldiers in a decimation punishment. He cleverly put the fear of the gods into the legion by threatening such a punishment before then having the actual guilty individuals put to death. As putting soldiers engaged in mutiny to death is normal even through the 20th century, this is a measured and perhaps appropriate response on Caesar's part.

Compare this with how the French put down mutinies during World War 1. According to The French Army Mutinies of World War I (, "With the support of Petain, officers punished mutinous troops by court-martialing the leaders. When they often couldn't determine the leaders, they sometimes chose known troublemakers, men with civilian criminal records or those who complained a lot. Or they followed Taufflieb's example and selected every 10th or 20th man standing in the ranks." And the French executed many of those found guilty even some that were randomly selected from a mutinious unit.

Why did the Battle of Rome episode get this wrong? Was it poor research on the part of the show writers? Or was it just an attempt to show that Caesar was a stern and brutal commander? Or perhaps this was an attempt to show Caesar in a bad light? Regardless, it is bad history and many viewers are going have an incorrect version of history and Caesar after having watched this show.