Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Would You Make Decisions For A Whole Continent If You Were In The Congress of Vienna?

In class this week, we learned about the Congress of Vienna. After Napoleon was defeated and exiled in 1814, the country of Europe had to clean up the mess Napoleon had made. There were many problems that needed to be addressed, and Europe needed to decide what to do about all that Napoleon had controlled. There were three main problems that needed to be addressed: how should the map of Europe be redrawn, who is going to rule France, and how can future revolutions be prevented? The Congress of Vienna was a meeting of all the major countries in Europe- Russia, Prussia, England, France, and Austria- to try to decide what to do about these problems. They spent 10 months discussing these situations, as well as celebrating the defeat of Napoleon, and they signed the final act of the Congress of Vienna on June 8, 1815. In class, we watched a video with two actors acting as Metternich, a prince in Germany, and Napoleon, while they were debated a peace contract. The powerful personality of each of these people were apparent, and their political ideas clashed. Metternich was a conservative, so he wanted Europe to go back to the way it was before Napoleon's conquests while Napoleon wanted to keep conquering. After we watched and took notes on the video, we looked at how the Congress answered the three main questions from above, and we thought about how we would have answered these questions.

One main problem that the Congress of Vienna faced was how to redraw the map of Europe. After Napoleon's conquests, France had conquered a lot of land, and it had a lot of power. However, Europe’s other main powers, Russia, Prussia, England, and Austria, wanted just as much power and land as France, and they didn’t want one country to ever get too powerful over the others like Napoleonic France had. To fix this problem, they decided to focus on the principle of the balance of power. Russia, Prussia, England, France, and Austria were all given equal amounts of land and power so that no one country could ever gain too much land again. The map was redrawn so that they had equal land. Austria, Russia, and Prussia all gained land as "compensation" for the Napoleonic conquests. France was redrawn to almost the same amount of land as it had had before Napoleon’s conquests. The Congress of Vienna decided that it was Napoleon, not all of France, that was the enemy, so France was not punished much for Napoleon's conquests. They were given their original borders from before the conquests, and only had to give small areas of land as compensation to the other countries. However, when France was redrawn, it was drawn so that it was surrounded on all sides by buffer countries to prevent it from trying to make any more conquests. This whole system was created to try to balance or equalize the power. This reduced the threats to the countries’ power, because it prevented any one main power from becoming too powerful over the others, like Napoleon had. The map below shows the map of Europe before the Congress of Vienna in 1810, and after it in 1817. The French Empire is shown in purple, and it is very apparent how huge and powerful the French Empire was before the Congress of Vienna, and how it returned to its original size and gave back other countries' land after the Congress. This map also shows you what a big impact the Congress of Vienna had on Europe; they could redraw the map of the entire continent. They made hugely important decisions for the whole continent, and had the power to make these decisions for all the people in Europe.
The territorial changes in Europe from 1810- 1817

One suggestion I would make about how the Congress should have reacted is they should have included all the people’s opinions. The Congress of Vienna was a conservative group; they were all conservatives who wanted Europe to go back to the way it was before Napoleon. These conservatives made many very important decisions for the whole of Europe based on only their opinions from their ideology. They never considered the liberals’ and nationalists’ opinions. I think that they should have had equal representatives from all the ideologies; liberals, nationalists, and conservatives. This way, everyone in Europe would have been satisfied with the Congress, and there wouldn't have been so many revolutions after it. Another main problem that the Congress faced was that people were revolting against them and they tried to figure out how to prevent these revolutions. The liberals and nationalists were the people of Europe who were revolting because their opinions weren't being heard; all the decisions were being made by conservatives. If their opinions were considered and they were represented in the Congress, there would be no need for revolt. I think this would have been a better way to react that would have served more people, and it would have stopped the revolutions that worried the Congress.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Did Liberalism, Conservatism, and Nationalism Originally Mean What We Think They Mean Today?

          In class this week, we have been learning about three major political ideologies that are still present today: liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism. Our essential question for this unit was: what were the major political ideologies of the 19th century and how did they influence social and political action? We wanted to figure out how these ideologies were defined in the 19th century, and how that differs from how they are defined today. Firstly, you might be unfamiliar with the term ideology like I was. An ideology is very similar to a theory; it is a system of ideas and ideals especially to help you form the basis of economic or political theory or policy. Once we had defined ideology, we individually defined liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism as we know them today. My definition of liberalism was wanting to please everyone's needs and help everyone, even if that means self-sacrifice. Conservatism today is belief in protecting the rights of each individual and free choice. Lastly, nationalism was pride in one's nation. However, as we came to see, these modern day definitions are different from what these words meant in the 19th century. So, in order to better learn about these ideologies, we were put into groups and were assigned to become experts on one of them. We read articles by Jeffrey Brautigam on the three ideologies back in the 19th century, and we highlighted key ideas. We then had to make a creative presentation that was only one minute long explaining the definition and key points about our ideology. Since there were only 3 ideologies and 6 groups, each ideology was assigned to two groups, and our goal was to try to make a better presentation than the other group that had the same ideology. Our presentation is shown below.

My group was assigned to make a project for liberalism. We made our project using the app ChatterPix. ChatterPix is an app that allows you to make pictures talk. You import your picture, draw a mouth on the picture, and then record what you want it to say. The app will make it look like the person in the picture was saying it. We used John Locke and Adam Smith, the forefathers of liberalism, in our ChatterPix, along with two 19th century men discussing this ideology. In our project, we described how liberalism is a system of government in which the government would have to listen to the middle class instead of only listening to the aristocracy. The ruler would have to be a constitutional monarch, meaning the ruler's power would be limited by the people's constitution. Liberals promoted the natural rights and liberty of each individual, and how these God-given rights cannot be taken away. The ruler would have to respect the middle class' rights instead of only respecting the aristocracy's rights. This political change also involved social impacts. Liberalism would most likely lead to revolution because the middle class will revolt. The middle class will require that the kings listen to them, but the kings will not give up their power so easily. When the kings deny the middle class power, the people will get together and start a revolution against the king and aristocracy. However, even with this system of government that promoted natural rights, it did not include women or the poor, so their rights were still not respected. This would make them very mad as well, and they would eventually get fed up with not being listened to as well.

From other group’s presentation, I learned how conservatism and nationalism were defined in the 19th century. I learned that conservatives wanted to preserve the aristocracy and monarchy like government was traditionally established. Unlike liberals, conservatives wanted to keep the social classes and monarchy in which the higher social classes rule. They believed that a revolution to try to reform the government was a bad idea because it will only lead to disaster. After the brutal French Revolution, the word revolution had a negative connotation, and conservatives believed that it could only lead to bloodshed and chaos. So, they wanted to keep the traditional system of government because they believed that it was "time-tested", meaning it was trustworthy because of how long it had been used. Monarchy was the only traditional solution to social and political problems, and conservatives wanted government to go back to the way it used to be. Nationalism is a system that strives for the unity of a nation. Often times, like in Germany, the nation was divided into provinces or smaller countries. The goal of nationalism was to try to unite these smaller provinces into one, big country that shared common culture, language, and history. Most often, this unity was especially used to fight and overthrow foreign rulers. This happened with France and Germany when all of Germany's provinces united to overthrow Napoleonic France. Napoleon was ruling over Germany at the time, and Napoleon had a negative social impact in the German provinces; they all disliked being under his control. All the German provinces, sharing the same culture, language, history, and hatred for their foreign ruler, united to form a nation that was strong enough to overthrow France.

Brautigam, Jeffrey. “The Rise of New Ideologies in the Nineteenth Century for AP European History.” March 4, 2011. nineteenth-century/ (Accessed October 21, 2013).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Napoleon Bonaparte: How Can One Person Be So Liked Yet So Hated?

In class this unit, we learned about Napoleon Bonaparte. We first watched a video on a very quick overview of “All You Need to know about Napoleon Bonaparte” as shown below.
The main point of this video was for us to see how much land Napoleon conquered. He conquered many places from all over Europe including Spain and Italy, and places outside of Europe like Egypt  and Moscow. However, we saw that some people thought he was a great leader and some people thought he was a bad leader. We asked the question: how was he someone to be both admired and protected from? To help answer this question, we took a look at two contradictory sources by Madame de Stael and Marshal Michel Ney. These two people had opposite opinions of Napoleon, Madame de Stael disliked him but Marshal Michel Ney supported him. We analyzed these primary sources and it helped us get a better understanding on the two perspectives of Napoleon. We then looked at a list of many of the accomplishments that Napoleon made and we determined which ones show Napoleon’s effect on the world and which show his effect on just France. Then, we decided whether his impacts were positive or negative. Lastly, we looked at a map of the European countries that Napoleon conquered, and what places those countries controlled because those places are indirectly under the rule of Napoleon. Napoleon ended up controlling more than ⅓ of Europe, and those places in Europe controlled huge portions of both America and South America, meaning Napoleon indirectly ruled them as well. The maps are shown below.
Map of how much land Napoleon controlled in France
Map of how land much certain European countries ruled that Napoleon indirectly controlled

            After analyzing the differing views of Madame de Stael and Marshal Michel Ney, it is apparent that Madame de Stael thinks that Napoleon was not a good leader and that he had a negative impact. She thinks that he was too greedy, and he was careless in his military actions. She said that his theory that "it is necessary to do something new every three months" was "encroaching daily upon France's liberty and Europe's independence". His want for more power and more land was too big, and his answer for most problems was war which was a negative political impact. Madame de Stael did not agree with his decisions. She also said that he had a "profound contempt for the intellectual riches" like virtue and dignity, so she saw him as a tyrant with no care for moral values which had a bad impact on the social system. However, Marshal Michel Ney supported Napoleon. He believed that Napoleon was the most superior leader in the world. He called Napoleon the "our august emperor" meaning he was the supreme and inspiring ruler. He agrees with Napoleon's military decisions and he encourages people "to join this immortal legion which the Emperor Napoleon conducts". He has so much respect for Napoleon and he admires him. He believes that his positive political decisions have made France one of the most powerful places in the world, and that they have secured the people's freedom. While other governments have tried to suppress the peoples' rights, Napoleon confirms them because "liberty triumphs in the end" which is a good social impact. Marshal Michel Ney believes that Napoleon had an overall positive and valuable impact. Another source that we looked at was called the "The Lost Voices of Napoleonic Historians", and it is a collection of different historians views on Napoleon. It illustrates both the positive and negative qualities of Napoleon and gives views from all perspectives. However, overall, even though some people might not like him because of "his obstinate adherence to a military solution of the difficulties which encompassed his Empire, of his indifference as a soldier to the evils of war, of his forgetfulness as soldier of his duties as a sovereign”, the sources remind you that along with his bad qualities, you must also "be equally frank in acknowledging his great qualities, -- his untiring industry, his devotion to the public service, his enlightened views of government and legislation, his humanity". Napoleon's good cannot be ignored because even though some of his decisions were wrong, he was an amazing military general and leader. Even some of his worst enemies and historians such as Owen Connelly that view him negatively all agree that he was one of “the greatest commanders of all time” (information from Napoleon was very intelligent and masterful, and historian P.C. Headley states that "Napoleon was great -- intellectually towering above the princes and monarchs of many generations....He had no rival in the tactics of war....His imagination was under the guidance of reason, whose intuitions were clear as morning light, and as rapid in their comprehensive action". He was a wise man who improved many aspects of the social, economic, and political systems in France, and his skill and leadership could not be ignored. While many sources show how helpful he was to improving and expanding France, some see him in a negative light, saying “Napoleon was so inconsistent in many of his actions, so untrustworthy in much that he said of himself, and so all-inclusive in his ambitious designs”. He would jump to conclusions of war, and many people saw him as being too quick and careless with his decisions. However, because of Napoleon’s great military skills, his devotion to France, and his intelligence, he will always be “worthy of his page in the records of history”.

In my group during this unit, we decided that Napoleon had mostly positive impacts on both the world and France. His political impacts included overthrowing the Directory and creating a meritocracy. Both of these were beneficial because the Directory was a tyrannical group of government that the French disliked because they were extremely dictating. Also, creating a meritocracy meant that the people of France could select the people in government and have some say in their country. Napoleon’s economic impacts were he restored economic prosperity, he stimulated trade across Europe, and he sold Louisiana. He encouraged industry and tried to help the market by controlling prices and establishing the Bank of France, which led to prosperity. He also encouraged more trade and commerce across Europe which created more access to more goods. Also, selling Louisiana greatly benefited the United States by expanding it which made for the American expansion. All of these impacts are positive, and so are his social impacts. He gave citizens more rights that they had never had before, such as rights to property and education. This increased the people’s opinion of him, and many citizens liked him. Also, the system of meritocracy made it so that people could be elected based on their skills and not on their social class, and Napoleon worked to not have huge differences between social classes. He took part in many public works programs, and all of these things positively impacted France and the world. For all of these positive things that he did, and because of how brilliant of a military general he is, I believe that overall, Napoleon greatly benefited Europe and had a positive impact.

Thomas J. Vance“The Lost Voices of Napoleonic Historians”:  Napoleon in Review. Kalamazoo, Michigan. 1939. (including excerpts from many authors)
Madame de Stael. Ten Years of Exile. Saturday Review Press. 1972.
Joe H. Kirchberger. The French Revolution and Napoleon: An Eyewitness History. 1985.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Karl Marx vs Adam Smith- Who Has The Best Approach?

In class, we did a great, interactive activity to help us learn a few different forms of government. The purpose of the activity was to get us to understand what capitalism, socialism, and communism feel like in a much smaller scale. In this activity, each person in the class got chocolate kisses to represent the private ownership of industry in a society. At first, everybody in the class was given two Hersey's kisses, but me and one other student were given eight. Many of the other students complained and said it was not fair that we started out with more. I felt pretty good because I had an advantage, but I also thought that it was unfair to the rest of the class because I didn't do anything special to get them; it was unfair to them. We then played rock, paper, scissors and if you won, you got a candy from the other person and if you lost, you had to give them one. This represented the freedom of competition in a society. Many people complained about this game too because they said I had an unfair advantage because they ran out of kisses more quickly than I did. Everyone including me also complained about the fact that you had to keep playing because you couldn't save any of your kisses; you had to keep risking them. At the end of the game, there were "unequal economic classes" which were represented by the number of kisses people had left. Some people had none and were ‘poor’ and some people had a lot and were ‘rich’. The ‘poor’ people were mad because they had lost and were out of candy very quickly. However, I had 5 pieces of candy left that I had earned from playing, so I felt happy that I had earned the candy. This all represented capitalism. Then, our teacher collected everybody's candy and redistributed it, this time giving everyone two so that it was fair. The "poor" people were happy with this because they ended up gaining candy, but the "rich" people were unhappy because they ended up loosing their candy. They worked for the candy and didn't think it was fair to take it away. This represents socialism which is a system that aims for a classless society with economic equality. After socialism comes communism. Our teacher told us that we didn't have to play rock, paper, scissors if we didn't want to; we could keep our candy. The majority of the class wouldn't play because the chance of losing their candy was too high. This represents how people would agree to share their industry and not participate in competition because the chances of having a class division were too high. A classless society will be achieved in communism, and the teacher or government will no longer be needed to supervise. I really liked this activity because it was a great way to get us up and moving and thinking interactively about the topic. It got us interested and we will remember doing this activity. We also got to feel some of the emotions that people in a communist society felt on a much smaller scale. We wanted the candy and didn't like when we had to give it away. This was an activity that we will remember because it is unique, and it will help us better understand the concepts because we felt them.

Karl Marx and Adam Smith both had theories about what the government will become and how this will help the poor, however their theories were different. In Karl Marx's theory, he stated that the government would eventually evolve into communism in which it was inevitable that the poor, or the proletarians, would help themselves by overthrowing the rich, or the bourgeoisie. He tried to help his theory along and encourage the poor during his lifetime. He said that freedom of competition will result in unequal economic classes meaning that some people will be successful and become rich (bourgeoisie) and some will not and will become poor (proletarian). This will cause a class struggle meaning the proletarians will get angry about being poor and considered inferior to the bourgeoisie. They will get so angry that eventually they will revolt because they can't take the poverty any longer. Marx theorizes that the government will then evolve into socialism which aims for a classless society where everyone is given equal ownership of industry. The government will control the industry so there is no competition and it will bring economic equality. Lastly it will evolve to communism, where the majority of people in society will not participate in competition because they won't want to risk the class divisions (bourgeoisie and proletarians). The people will agree to share the property and industry, and there will no longer be a need for the government. Click here to watch a video about Karl Marx and his theories. However, Adam Smith had a different theory. He believed that the way to help the poor was to leave the people alone to buy and sell freely among themselves. The traders and the economic market will eventually work itself out because the traders will have to adjust their price based on their competitors, and they will have to sell new things that aren’t already being sold to attract customers. Eventually, all products needed by people will be sold, and they will be sold at a reasonable price. This system is called the Invisible Hand theory because the economy will work itself out as if it were being controlled by an invisible hand, as shown in the picture below. However, this system takes a long time to get started and the wait causes unemployment and it causes the economy to stall. This is why this system has never actually been tested; it takes too long to start it and businesses will fail before it can get a good start. Click here to watch an explanation of the Invisible Hand theory.
Smith's Invisible Hand theory- society will govern itself as if it were controlled by an invisible hand
Picture taken from the video by The Open University:

          I think that the best kind of system is a happy medium between both capitalism and the Invisible Hand. The people should be in control of their money and how they trade, but the government should also be able to step in a little bit if the economy or unemployment gets too bad. The Invisible Hand theory is a good system, it just takes a while to get going. With a little assistance from the government to get started and keep it stable, I think this is a good system. I think that this is close to the economic system that we have now where the people are in control of their money, and if they work hard, they can earn more money. They decide what to do with their money, but the government helps the economy when it is needed. The Invisible Hand system plus some governmental help to get it started and help it when the economy is bad seems like a good system that is in the middle of both Marx’s theories and Smith’s theory.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Difference Between Great Britain and the U.S.: Who Had the Hardest Time During Hard Times?

The living and working conditions in Great Britain were a lot worse than the conditions in the US. In Great Britain, there was a high demand for land with the growing population, but there wasn't enough land to meet these demands. Families were getting kicked off of their farm land and were extremely poor. Families badly needed money to survive. This limited land “created a large population of young children who could be hired at cheap wages” (Background Essay). Since people were so poor, they needed money from the factories badly, so the factories didn’t have to try very hard to convince parents to send their children. The factories could pay cheap wages, and didn't have to spend money on good conditions because the families would send their kids no matter what the factories were like because they needed the money. The factories in Great Britain had extremely bad conditions. The punishments, accidents, food, and deformities were harsh and appalling. The overlookers in the factories were brutal and merciless. There was lots of brutal beatings that occurred in the factories. If the workers didn’t do their work right or if they didn’t do it fast enough, they were beaten. Sometimes, they were even beaten for no reason. Girls were more likely to be beaten than boys, and children were more likely to be beaten than adults. The machines they worked were also very dangerous. Many accidents occurred in the factories because the workers limbs would often get “caught in the machinery; in many instances the muscles, and the skin is stripped down to the bone” (interview with Dr. Ward by Lord Kenyon's House of Lords Committee on 25th March, 1819). Workers could easily get pulled into the machines and have their bodies and limbs mangled. As well as losing limbs from the machines, later in life workers’ bodies could be permanently damaged. Children’s bones are still soft when they are young, and from standing for such long hours in the factories, their bones would form unhealthy shapes. One example is they can become knock-kneed. “By long continued standing, the knees become so weak that they turn inwards, producing that deformity which is called ‘knock-knees’ and I have sometimes seen it so striking, that the individual has actually lost twelve inches of his height by it.” (interview with Sir Samuel Smith by Michael Sadler's House of Commons Committee on 16th July, 1832). Girls pelvises could also become turned inward or “distorted” which caused problems with childbirth, and the marrow in the workers’ bones would sometimes be worn down. Lastly, food was dirty and unhealthy. The most common food was oatcakes, and there was often pieces of cotton and dirt in the food. There was a very small quantity of food given, and the workers had to continue working while they ate their meals. There were no plates or silverware, and the food, along with the living and working conditions in Great Britain, were unsanitary.

Cripples from the factories in London, England
            However, the US was in the opposite situation of Great Britain. The U.S. was “expanding westward which (kept) most parents and children working on farms together. It would take a very attractive system of wages, supervision, and working and living conditions to convince parents from around New England to send their children to new mill towns” (Background Essay). The U.S. was not in as much poverty as Great Britain because people had plenty of farmland to work on and grow food with because of the land expansion. They weren’t getting kicked off of their land or struggling to survive like Great Britain. It would take a lot for parents to send their children to the factories because they didn’t need the money as badly. Factories had to work hard to convince families to send their kids, so their factories had to have much better conditions and better wages so that they could get workers. The US invented a system to try to convince US families to send their daughters to mills to sew. This system was called the Lowell Experiment. The Lowell Experiment was devised to avoid the negative aspects associated with the mills and factories during industrialization that were happening in England. Lowell advertised that “they were a new kind of factory, free of the misery of England’s industrial cities” and they “suggested that young women could work in the mills for a few years and then move on to better lives, thus maintaining their independence” (Lowell- “The Factory in the Garden”). This experiment was a "paternal" system very similar to a family. There was a fatherly figure in the mills who set the rules and supervised the behavior of the girls. There was also a motherly figure who was the boardinghouse director and would regulate the girls' behavior outside of mill hours. There was a very homely and family based dynamic to the mills, and this made parents feel comfortable with sending their girls there. There were good conditions in the US factories; much better working spaces, wages, food, boarding houses, and sanitation than Great Britain. When Charles Dickens visited these factories, he said the girls were “all well dressed… They were healthy in appearance, many of them remarkably so, and had the manners of young women: not of degraded brutes of burden” (Document A). He also said that there was “much fresh air, cleanliness, and comfort. I solemnly declare I cannot recall… one young face that gave me a painful impression” (Document A). The factories were cleaner and nicer than Great Britain, and working wasn’t so brutal and miserable in the US. Although wage cuts eventually became a problem in the US, the workers protested, and the conditions were nowhere near as bad as in Great Britain. The sanitation, safety, and living and working conditions were worse in Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution than they were in the US.

Background Essay: from the DBQ Packet including excerpts from: "Charles Dickens". Curriculum Materials, Tsongas Center for Lowell History.
Document A: Charles Dickens, "General Appearance of Mill Workers," from American Notes, 1842. Excerpted from
All other sources found from class readings