1947/48 saw the biggest break-up in the disgraceful dismemberment of the British Empire, whose most important ‘colony’ was India. Lord Mountbatten (q.v.) was sent to supervise the partition of India. At this time Kashmir was mostly populated with Muslims, though ruled by Hindus – lunacy on a grand scale. In October there was a Muslim-orchestrated uprising in the west, naturally supported across the border by Pakistan. Kashmir howled for help from India, and got some; but Indian troops would only act in exchange for Kashmir becoming part of the Indian Union. (more…)
The National Guard in France was founded in July, 1789 to replace the royal soldiers who had been forbidden entry to Paris. Other cities and towns followed suit rapidly, and soon most municipalities had their own troops, under the mandate of the local authority. At first, members tended to be of the richer class, freer and able to be more active than the agricultural or urban working classes, but revolutionary leaders soon realised that the Guard was playing a leading part on the side of the royalists (not the idea at all), so it was suppressed in 1795, only to be reorganised again in 1815, when it became an integral part of the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe (q.v.).
However, the Guard refused to defend the regime in 1848, a signal for the February Revolution to break out. It was broken up again during the Second Empire, but revived and transformed in 1870 in a useless attempt to defeat the Prussians, who were invading France at the time. Then in March, 1871 the Guard rebelled in support of the Paris Commune; many of its members were killed, but it was finally and permanently suppressed after the defeat of the Commune.
In the United States of America the National Guard holds great importance. It signifies the well-armed military reserve of each one of the States, and members are subject to federal or state call-up in an emergency. The Guard was created by Congress in 1915 to serve as an auxiliary to the regular army; its members were volunteers, and there has never been a lack of them, as it is a uniformed and salaried state militia. During any war the Guard is subject to federal (or the President’s) control and can be sent to any war zone, but for wholly political reasons it is rarely sent abroad. In the decades before conscription was suspended, many young people volunteered to enter the Guard’s ranks in order not to be conscripted for the Vietnam War. (more…)
Matthew Galbraith Perry was born into the American ruling class in 1794. He entered the Navy in his teens and was soon a naval officer. It was as a Commodore (a rank with meaning in the American navy, not so in the Royal Navy) that Perry entered Tokyo Bay fifty-nine years later in July 1853, in command of four fighting ships, two under sail and two powered by the new steam engines. Japan had been closed to foreign conact for more than two hundred years because the Tokugawa Shogunate feared foreign trading would allow rebellious warlords to become rich, allowing them to buy foreign arms. Commodore Perry’s brief from his president had clarified that the US wanted to extend and expand her trade in the Far East, especially coal supplies from Japan for US ships trading with China. (more…)
James Monroe was born in Virginia in 1758, and became the 5th President of the United States. He did not shine as a diplomat but he did manage to orchestrate the Louisiana Purchase (q.v.), one of the most important facets of US history. He became Madison’s Secretary of State in 1811, and was active in the Anglo-American War of 1812-14.
In 1817 he became President, worried by the question of slavery, because though he was not officially an abolutionist he knew that this canker on the American soul was evil. When black people were occasionally freed he encouraged sending them to Liberia, and got that country’s capital Monrovia named after him. (more…)
Emiliano Zapata was a Mexican revolutionary, son of a peasant of mixed (meztizo) blood. At around twelve he became an agricultural worker, then entered politics by arousing the local peasants against any form of government. When the Mexican Revolution began in 1910 against President Porfirio Diaz he was already an important leader. In true South American style he attacked first the great haciendas protected only by their owners and their employees, firing the houses and killing (if he could) the inhabitants.
He then announced a reform in agrarian policies, by which the great estates would be divided up among his followers, who would employ local Indians as the work force. Latin America has had to watch many such leaders of the people. (more…)
Though Owen was born in 1771, a son of a successful maker of saddles for horses and mules, he started work in a cotton mill in Manchester at the usual age of twelve, and by only nineteen was appointed manager. Later, moving to Scotland, he was almost solely responsible for founding a ‘new model community’ in Lanark.
Here he supervised better living conditions for the workers, better housing, better food, even building an Institute for the formation of the children’s general education and character, in true socialist style. Naturally there was opposition as he and his community grew to be famous, conservative mill owners tending to prefer 18-hour working days for their employees, and not caring too much if they were not properly fed. The Institute contained the world’s first day-nursery and a playground, and evening classes for the parents were available.
Remembering that this was still the end of the eighteenth century, it is barely credible that Owen also introduced a comprehensively stocked village shop. In 1813, at only forty-two, Owen went into partnership with another great reformer – Jeremy Bentham and a few more. They designed and formed New Lanark, which might be seen as the world’s first cooperative and socialist commune. Robert Owen wrote a book called A New View of Society in that year, in which he stated that character in the human race is formed by one’s social environment, daily work, paid holidays, shorter hours and above all education for youth.
And then it was off to America, the land of the free, where he established several cooperative Owenite communities, including one called New Harmony in Indiana. Sadly, they all failed, and Robert Owen died, exhausted, in 1858, though, as they say, his ideas lived on despite growing opposition. The now world-wide Socialist movement owes a great deal to people like Owen and Bentham.
The seventeenth President of the USA has things in common with two others who held the office – Lincoln and Lyndon Baynes Johnson: like Lincoln, Andrew J. was born in a log cabin, but unlike him he never went to school, and was taught to read by his wife. He also shares two coincidences with L.B. – his surname and the fact that both became President because they had been Vice-President when the Number One was asassinated. (more…)
Son of an Ulsterman, Jackson was born in South Carolina 1767, a true-grit Southerner. Fame was first achieved by his leadership and reputation for courage in fighting the Creek Indians.Though he was young, his men called him Old Hickory. He broke up the Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, and, inevitably took half their territory. To make a point, plenty of other white soldiers would have taken all of it.
Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi were therefore opening up with more safety for white settlers. In the Anglo-American War, now with the rank of General, he beat up the British redcoats at New Orleans in January, 1815, after which he became an American hero, and rich as well, as he bought cheaply some of the lands he had fought for successfully, and exploited them. Among other things, he dealt stupendously in slaves. (more…)
Immigrants – those who arrive in a new country having left their own:
Emigrants – those who leave their own country to go to another:
Emigration – the act of leaving one’s country to start a new life in another:
Immigration – the noun that describes the action of immigrants:
This brief lesson in English vocabulary is essential before starting an article about immigration or emigration. Television news programmesand the rest of the media continuously mix up the words which makes for confusion. (more…)
Haymarket Square is in Chicago. In 1886 a diminutive anarchist movement, led by German agitators, gathered there to cause trouble. They called on the crowds to achieve reforms by violent action, after police and strikers had clashed at the McCormic Harvester factory on 3 May; three strikers had been killed in the fight, and several more badly hurt. The next day, the 4th, anarchists and strikers gathered in the Haymarket Square to protest at ‘police brutality’.
The rally was interrupted quite soon by someone throwing a bomb; it killed one policeman outright and another seven bystanders, and injured more than sixty more. This atrocity caused the police to open fire in all directions, killing four more onlookers. Eight anarchists were arrested, and it was found that all but one were foreign-born. In itself this is an interesting part of the report, because all Americans except Native Americans are or were foreign-born. In the tribunal which followed, though no evidence was shown that they had anything to do with the bomb-throwing, seven of the eight were condemned to death.
Later, two of these had the sentence reduced to life imprisonment, one killed himself, and four were hanged. In 1893 the liberal governor of the State of Illinois pardoned the three anarchists still in prison. He said in a summing-up that there had been a miscarriage of justice. Even if this was true, the statement caused tremendous public unrest, and naturally increased hostility towards the labour movement in general.