Conservapedia:American History Lecture Eight

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Next week: 30-question test, roughly broken down as follows: 10 questions political, 5 questions economic, 5 questions social, 5 questions intellectual and 5 questions foreign policy.

Know your Presidents of the United States, by memorizing the list and counting forward. For example, who was 10th President? (Count forward from Washington until you reach John Tyler.) Who was the president in 1826? (John Quincy Adams) Best tip of all: understand each question before trying to answer it. That is essential.

Why did the Republicans win the presidency every time between Andrew Johnson and World War I, except for Grover Cleveland’s victories? Because the Republicans would “wave the bloody shirt,” which means reminding the voters of how the Democrats sided with the South during the template:Civil War.

Debate: “spoils system,” which gave the victor (the President) the “spoils” (numerous appointments to easy government jobs for his supporters). Civil service reform ended the spoils system for most federal government jobs in 1883. But Jared argued persuasively that the President should be able to fire all the workers who were hired by his predecessor. After all, didn’t the voters want a change in how government ran things?

Reading maps: before Civil War there was no West Virginia. If you see West Virginia on a map, then it was after the Civil War started.

Imperialism. We were getting bigger and more powerful. We had expanded to the Pacific Ocean. Why stop there? We took Hawaii in the 1890s. Americans then started wanting to free Cuba from Spanish control. “Yellow journalism” consisted of newspapers increasing their sales by stirring up a desire to go to war. In 1895, some Cubans wanted to become independent from Spain. Americans seemed to like the idea. It would push Spain back. It sparked idealism. It reminded people of our American Revolution. Big business could profit from the island. Newspapers stirred up sentiment.

Two things triggered a war: the Spanish minister to the U.S., Enrique Dubuy de Lome, wrote a letter criticizing our president, William McKinley. Cuban rebels intercepted it and leaked it to the press. The bigger cause, however, was an explosion on the battleship “Maine” in the Havana, Cuba harbor. The ship sunk, and immediately the press blamed Spain. In fact, the explosion was probably just an accident.

So we declared war on Spain in 1898. We fought them in the Spanish colony of the Philippines and Cuba. The fighting in the Philippines was much fiercer. We beat Spain quickly but natives of the Philippines rebelled against us for 3 years. Finally we just killed all the insurgents. This type of intense resistance was a precursor to the difficult Vietnam War. The Philippines became our territory until 1946, when we granted it independence.

The fighting in Cuba produced a future president: Theodore Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders.” They merely conquered a hill there but the media played it up as much as possible.

After the War, we granted Cuba independence on the condition that it inserted the “Platt Amendment” into its constitution. This Amendment gave us the right to intercede in Cuba whenever we want, and allowed us to keep a naval base (called Guantanamo Bay) on the island. We hold terrorists there now.

We also became more active in Central America, and built the magnificent Panama Canal to link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Was our imperialism driven by business interests, such as sugar in Cuba and Philippines? Many critics said so, calling our foreign policy “dollar diplomacy.”

Progressive Movement

A very interesting political movement began to develop around 1900: the progressive movement. It started with a Republican governor of Wisconsin named Robert LaFollette. It was not so much a political party as a movement that can be summarized in two words: “better government.” Not “less government” that a conservative like President James Monroe wanted, and not “more government” that a liberal like Franklin Delano Roosevelt wanted. But “better government.”

We have progressives today in both parties. Today the former New Jersey Republican candidate for governor (and former mayor of Jersey City) Bret Schundler is like a progressive. His view is let’s run government in a smarter manner. We have had two progressive presidents: Republican Teddy Roosevelt and Democrat Woodrow Wilson. The “progressive era” is considered to be 1900-1920.

Here were goals of the progressive movement:

Political “reform” Suffrage for all – women, Constitutional Am. Direct elections of senators – Constitutional Am. Civil service system More equitable tax laws – income tax Constitutional Am. Breaking up monopolies Food and drug acts Child labor laws Sweatshops - Creation of federal reserve system and federal trade commission Aid to farmers Protection of labor rights (pro-union) Rail commission to regulate railroad rates Safety Referenda Regulation Peace Pro-business Electing smarter people Against spoils system

A specific example of what the progressive movement addressed was the “Triangle Fire” in New York City on March 25, 1911. This was the worst workplace disaster in New York City until the terrorist attack on 9/11 (note the odd similarity in dates!). In the Triangle Fire, 140 people burned to death, many of them young girls, due to a 10-minute fire that swept through a “sweatshop” shirt factory in Manhattan. The doors had been locked to keep workers from taking breaks or stealing goods, and the girls could not quickly escape. Public outrage followed, and the progressive movement passed building code laws to help protect against this happening again.