Mr. Madison’s War

The War of 1812 was, in many respects, something of a disaster. Throughout the United States there was a general resentment and frustration over issues of trade that had been improperly settled after the Revolution, and many areas were openly looking for an excuse to go to war with the British again. There was a distinct geographical split seen both in Congress and public opinion. The southern and western sections were largely in favour, seeing it as an excuse to expand westward and gain international respect. Continue reading

On the Necessity of Winter Holidays

Winter is terrible. It is cold, it is dark, green things die, the weather can be dangerous. Sicknesses worsen, and a poor harvest can mean malnutrition and starvation for humans and animals alike. There is not much to be done apart from waiting until the sun returns, warming the earth and bringing it back to life. Even now, with widespread knowledge of the earth’s rotation, it sometimes feels like a long wait. But before? It may well have seemed like the sun might never return at all.

So we have holidays. Continue reading

Our Business: The Buildup to American Involvement in WWI

WWI was the outgrowth and ultimate expression of European nationalism and imperialism1. Once the spark had been lit, competing empires in a patchwork of alliances made sure that the majority of the globe would be on the battlelines, as colonial forces worldwide sought to interrupt their opponents’ colonial activities. It was not the first war to exist in multiple theatres– England and Spain had clashed over control of colonial possessions in the 16th century, and one of the factors leading to the American Revolution was resentment at having been forced to host the North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War2. It was not even the first war to ignore the “rules of warfare” that had been established in the 15th century as a veneer of civility to compensate for the terrifying carnage caused by gunpowder– the Continental Army during the Revolution flouted convention at every turn, frequently the reason they were able to prevail at all against the much larger and better equipped British and Loyalist forces.3 The First World War was called the Great War because it combined multiple theatres on a scope never before seen, and used weapons and tactics that seemingly had no precedent, shocking the human conscience and signalling the end of the European imperialism that had led to it.
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The Spanish-American War– American Imperialism and the Unrepeatable Foreign Policy Exercise

In the 1880s, the United States decided– as the oldest and largest nation in the Western Hemisphere– to claim the role of peacekeeper for the region. The seeds for this assumption of responsibility lay in the Monroe Doctrine, which held that affairs in the Western Hemisphere were to be managed by the Western Hemisphere, without interference from Europe1. Continue reading

The San Patricio Project: or How to Do More Work Than Necessary In Order To Avoid Writing Yet Another Paper

Background:
The most controversial aspect of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) was likely the San Patricio Battalion. While they continue to be lauded as national heroes in Mexico, the US government refused to admit their existence until roughly 1915 and the Irish-American community has considered them an awkward and potentially threatening association. It is little wonder– the core of San Patricio Battalion was formed in 1846, consisting almost entirely of deserters from the US Army.
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The English Move West, Why, and What They Did There

(Note: This was written before I had a good grasp of how to document my sources, and thus is not up to proper academic standards. It does, however, give a good grasp of the settlement patterns and demographic issues of the early colonial period in what would become the United States.)

The European motives for colonization in the New World had a great deal to do with Europe, and little to do with the New World. Settlers sought economic opportunity and religious freedom, which were in short supply in Europe. Their inevitable collision with the people already living in the New World would set the stage for the next five centuries of human history. Continue reading