Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pro-Union Southerners

I was surprised to read about the 1st Alabama Cavalry today. This unit was from the deep south and it fought for the Union during the American Civil War. I had no idea that such a unit ever existed! Reading further, I discovered that large portions of Northern Alabama had been opposed to secession and remained loyal to the United States. Further, these areas were never under Confederate control and they raised several units which supported Union forces. The 1st Alabama Calvary even served as escorts for General Sherman on his infamous March to the Sea late in the war.

Curious, I looked for more. I found Lincoln's Loyalists by Richard Current from 1992 in the library today and checked it out. There were quite a few pro-Union southern units in the Civil War. Areas such as Western Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee delivered dozens of units each to the USA to help in crushing the separatist rebellion. However, deep south states like Texas, Alabama, and North Carolina also contributed. Every Union advance into the south brought out local loyal Union supporters who were eager to enlist who had not had the opportunity previously.

I would have expected that the black population of the south supported the Union. However, I was surprised that so many white southerners (some who were slave holders) refused to join the rebellion and openly fought to preserve the United States of America. The loyalist in the south were a major hindrance to the rebellion and they certainly tied up Confederate troops that were needed elsewhere.

Many northerners opposed the war and many were sympathetic to the southern separatists. This was manifested in many ways including anti-draft rioting. Lincoln may well have been the most unpopular President in American history during his term in office. However, there were no Michigan, New Hampshire, or New York units fighting for the rebellion. Those fighting for the Confederate cause represented a divided south against a united north.

I guess this should have not been surprising to me. I do have a good grasp of American history and know about the history of the war. This aspect of it just has not gotten a lot of coverage. However, it is only logical that many of the southerners were pro-union. How would you feel if you found yourself one day being told that you were no longer a citizen of your nation, that you were now a citizen of a new one, and that your services were now required to help defeat the nation you had been loyal to all of your life? Would rebellion against the rebellion enter your mind? The American patriotism of the pro-Union southerners is not that hard to understand.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Google Bans Essay Writing Adverts

Sean Coughlan at the BBC has this report titled Google bans essay writing adverts. Google has finally decided to not allow online essay writing companies to advertise in the Google Adwords program. Coughlan wrote, "Google is to ban adverts for essay writing services - following claims that plagiarism is threatening the integrity of university degrees. There have been complaints from universities about students being sold customised essays on the internet."

Evidently, the adverts in Adwords have worked for some of these companies. Coughlan wrote, "But one of the UK companies fearing that it will be prevented from advertising,, is angry at the threat to its business - with 80% of its customers coming through Google. "

Students who buy or borrow material from many of the plagiarism oriented sites are usually easy to catch. A simple Google phrase search or a run of a paper through Turnitin.Com will find the original source. However, sites which sell original, uniquely written and tailored content which will never be put online are harder to deal with. How am I as an instructor ever going to be able to prove the student did not write the paper?

Good move Google. Now, can you identify and then ban these sites from your search results?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pirates Hold - Pirate History and Beyond

The Pirate's Hole. Yet another fun site I have found recently on my whirlwind tour of newly noticed history related sites...

This site includes a Pirate of the Month profile, timeline of piracy throughout history, pirate roster, ships, maps, books, glossary, and links to festivals. With a new Pirates of the Caribbean coming out on May 25th, I have no doubt that this and other pirate sites are going to see a spike up in their traffic.

From the site:

Who knows what you might find in a pirates hold; sugar, exotic spices, fine silks, gold, prisoners waiting to be ransomed, moldy bread, rats, cockroaches, all nature of treasure and trash. This site will try to contain the treasures of information, images, sources and things relating to pirates. It will concentrate on the historical aspects, but if I find something particularly intriguing I may include it. There are a good number of images and some sound bites, but I will try to keep the biggest of them in the Hold and off the other pages.

Monday, May 21, 2007

History of Kuwait

History of Kuwait. This is a short essay on the history of the small Middle East nation of Kuwait. It is probably best known as the starting place of the (First?) Persian Gulf War in 1991.

The Encyclop√¶dia Britannica notes, "The origin of the city of Kuwait—and of the State of Kuwait—is usually placed at about the beginning of the 18th century, when the Banu (Bani) 'Utub, a group of families of the 'Anizah tribe in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula, migrated to the area that is now Kuwait. The foundation of the autonomous sheikhdom of Kuwait dates from 1756, when the settlers decided to appoint a sheikh from the Sabah family (Al Sabah). During the 19th century, Kuwait developed as a thriving, independent trading community. Toward the end of the century, one ruler, 'Abd Allah II (reigned 1866–92), began to move Kuwait closer to the Ottoman Empire, although he never placed his country under Ottoman rule. This trend was reversed with the accession of Mubarak the Great, who came to power by assassinating his brother 'Abd Allah—an act of uncustomary political violence in Kuwait. Ottoman threats to annex Kuwait prompted Mubarak to cultivate a close relationship with Britain. An 1899 treaty basically granted Britain control of Kuwait's foreign affairs. Following the outbreak of World War I (1914–18), Kuwait became a British protectorate."

From the site:

Archaeological finds on Failaka, the largest of Kuwait’s nine islands, suggests it was a trading post at the time of the ancient Sumerians. Failaka appears to have continued to serve as a market for approximately 2,000 years, and was known to the ancient Greeks. Despite its long history as a market and sanctuary for traders, Failaka appears to have been abandoned as a permanent settlement in the 1st century A.D. Kuwait's modern history began in the 18th century with the founding of the city of Kuwait by the Uteiba, a subsection of the Anaiza tribe, who are believed to have traveled north from Qatar.

Threatened in the 19th century by the Ottoman Turks and various powerful Arabian Peninsula groups, Kuwait sought the same treaty relationship Britain had already signed with the Trucial States (UAE) and Bahrain. In January 1899, the ruler Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah --"the Great"-- signed an agreement with the British Government that pledged himself and his successors neither to cede any territory, nor to receive agents or representatives of any foreign power without the British Government's consent, in exchange for protection and an annual subsidy. When Mubarak died in 1915, the population of Kuwait of about 35,000 was heavily dependent on shipbuilding (using wood imported from India) and pearl diving.

Mubarak was succeeded as ruler by his sons Jabir (1915-17) and Salim (1917-21). Kuwait’s subsequent rulers have descended from these two brothers. Sheikh Ahmed al-Jabir Al Sabah ruled Kuwait from 1921 until his death in 1950, a period in which oil was discovered and in which the government attempted to establish the first internationally recognized boundaries; the 1922 Treaty of Uqair set Kuwait’s border with Saudi Arabia and also established the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone, an area of about 5,180 sq. km. (2,000 sq. mi.) adjoining Kuwait's southern border.