A Short History of American Political Parties

The modern day Republican party bears no resemblance to the Republican party of the 19th century abolitionists. There was a shift from the 1880s to the 1970s, beginning with the 1876 court case US vs Cruikshanks, which set the precedent that mob violence aimed at intimidating voters was a matter for local law enforcement rather than the federal government. This allowed the KKK to systemically terrorize black voters and Republican whites to the point where the Republican Party ceased to exist in the South, leaving only varying degrees of Jacksonian Democrat. Meanwhile, cities in the North saw an influx of immigrants who tended to ally themselves with the Democrats due to the party’s populist overtones and lack of support for Prohibition, another Republican morality reform. Thus, the northern Democrats began moving left. Republican president Herbert Hoover’s failure to prevent the 1929 economic crash and timid attempts to relieve the suffering of the Great Depression that followed soured many progressives and liberals against the Republican party, and the success of FDR’s New Deal programs firmly cemented the Democrats as the party of labour unions, urban politics, minorities, and the working poor. However it also angered many southern Democrats, who saw themselves as betrayed by their party. This group deserted en masse after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and joined the now-obsolete Republican religious reformers who saw themselves as bastions of American morality. The process was completed in the aftermath of Roe vs Wade, when the anti-abortion evangelicals jumped onboard, drawing off much of the southern vote.

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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Context and Explanation for the Articles of Confederation

(Another one from before my citations epiphany.)

The decade following the Declaration of Independence saw an emerging need for large-scale organization among the thirteen American colonies now rebelling against England. The Articles of Confederation were a first attempt at a national government. The colonial legislatures realized that they needed to present a unified front in order for Parliament to take their grievances seriously. Forming an alliance, signified by a committee comprised of representatives from each colony, seemed like a natural way to proceed. Continue reading

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