This Week in History

Triumph of a New Napoleon:

January 14, 1852

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. See sample chapters, here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here. See other posts on the 1848 revolution in France.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1852

The revolutions of 1848–1849 ended in disappointment for Liberals and nationalists. Everywhere—in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Italy—the forces of the old political order had triumphed. Republicans and radicals had been dispersed. The cause of Liberalism, it appeared, had again gone down in defeat.

But the defeat of Liberalism was only an appearance. The ancient regime had triumphed in most places, but its victory could not last. In the coming years, rulers would find it necessary to at least pretend they supported such Liberal reforms as equality, parliaments, constitutions, and even democracy. Some rulers would grant reforms out of fear, but others would eagerly support them; for, rulers came to realize, the surest way to gain and keep power was winning the support of the masses of the people. (more…)

This Week in History

The Conquest of Los Angeles:

January 8, 1847

The following comes from the first book in our NEW series of fourth-grade books — A Journey Across America. These books focus on the history of the various regions of the United States. We have titles available for California (from which this excerpt comes), the Northeast region, and the Great Lakes states. Upcoming titles will tell the stories of the Southwest, the Great Plains states, the Southeast, and the Pacific Northwest and Mountain states.  For sample chapters of our available titles and ordering information, please visit our website.

Commodore Stockton

Commodore Stockton was determined to retake Los Angeles, but he did not go there immediately; instead, he sailed to San Diego. Once in San Diego, Stockton learned that a U.S. Army officer, General Stephen W. Kearny, had come to California. Kearny had set out for California in late June from Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. On the way, he conquered New Mexico without fighting any battles. From Santa Fé in New Mexico, he set out for California with 300 men. Hearing along the way that Stockton had conquered California, Kearny sent many of these men back to Santa Fe. He continued on to California with only about 120 men.

            When Stockton learned that Kearny was not far from San Diego, he sent Gillespie and about 50 men to him. Gillespie informed Kearny that a force of Californios under Andrés Pico (Pío Pico’s brother) was camping in San Pasqual valley, only about six miles away. Though his troops were exhausted, Kearny decided to attack the Californios the very next day.

            In the early morning of December 6, 1846, Kearny’s force climbed over a ridge into San Pasqual valley. Below them they could see fires burning in the Californios’ camp. It was a very cold morning. The Californios had learned that the Americans were near and had saddled their horses to prepare for battle. (more…)