This Week in History

An Explosion that Inspired a War: 

February 15, 1898

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

Chief Justice Melville Fuller swears William McKinley in as president. Former president Grover Cleveland stands at McKinley’s left.

It was not because he opposed foreign intervention on principle that McKinley opposed intervention in Cuba. For instance, McKinley wanted to annex the Hawai’ian Islands, where wealthy owners of pineapple plantations (themselves the descendants of New England missionaries) had overthrown the last queen, Liliuokalani. In 1893, when the revolution that ousted Liliuokalani took place and Hawai’i became a republic under President Sanford Dole, President Harrison had introduced an annexation treaty into the Senate. President Cleveland withdrew the treaty after he discovered that the Hawai’ian revolution was not a popular uprising but the work of a few Americans with the aid of United States troops. Cleveland called the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani an unlawful subversion and declared the United States could never countenance it. Such scruples did not bother McKinley. In 1897, the Republican president submitted to the Senate a second treaty for the annexation of Hawai’i. (more…)



This Week in History

Execution of the Queen of Scots: February 8, 1587

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Mary Queen of Scots, by Francois Clouet

Elizabeth’s one serious rival for the English throne was her cousin, Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland. In 1559, Mary, then only 16 years old, had been married to Francis II, the king of France. When Francis died in 1560, Mary returned to Scotland. Mary was Catholic, but the situation in Scotland when she returned did not favor the Catholic Faith. The year before her return, John Knox, a follower of John Calvin, had convinced the Scottish parliament to abolish the Mass and organize the Scottish Church according to Calvinist beliefs. This, the Presbyterian Church, became the state or established church of Scotland, as the Church of England (also called the Anglican Church) had become the established church of England.

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This Week in History

The German King Becomes Roman Emperor: February 2, 962

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. To peruses sample chapters of our books, go hereFor ordering information on Light to the Nations I and our other texts, please click here.

The “Magdeburg Rider,” thought to depict Otto I

Germany did not suffer from Saracen invasions, for the Alps proved too difficult an obstacle for the Muslim armies to cross. And while the Vikings did sail up German rivers to plunder and destroy, Germany did not suffer greatly at their hands, nor did Norse settlements become established in Germany. Too, since Germany was not as ancient a civilization or as wealthy as Gaul, Spain, and Italy, it did not tempt the Vikings as much as those lands did. Moreover, unlike the farmers of Gaul, who had long since ceased to be warriors and were helpless when the government failed to defend them, German society was still largely tribal. Every man and boy was trained in the use of spears, swords, and battle-axes. The Vikings faced a more formidable reception when they disembarked in Germany than when they raided Gaul or Italy.

But the Germans did suffer from the Magyars, who swept up the Danube Valley and into Germany at the end of the ninth century. For over 50 years, Germans underwent surprise attacks of these wild and swift horsemen.

The German warriors fought these barbarians with little success. The Magyars appeared from nowhere, struck swiftly from horseback, and used their arrows to deadly effect. First, the German kings constructed a line of frontier forts to protect against attack. Then they used heavy, armored cavalry against the lighter horses and less well-armed invaders. (more…)



This Week in History

“Cruel and Barbarous Martyrdom” at Ayubale: January 25, 1704

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (now available in hard cover). To peruse sample chapters of our books, please  go hereFor ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

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Map showing the location of the Francisca missions in what is today Florida and Georgia

In 1680, a band of pagan Indians attacked a Christian Indian village on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia. Fortunately for the village, the Spanish governor’s lieutenant at nearby mission San Buenaventura de Guadalquini was alerted in time. With a small force of Spanish soldiers and Indians, he repelled the invaders.

The attack on St. Simon’s was ominous. The invading Indians were not acting on their own but were encouraged and aided by English settlers at Charles Town, 60 miles up the coast. Englishmen had settled Charles Town, or Charleston, ten years before, under a grant from King Charles II. By 1680, Protestant Huguenots and Scots had settled in the region around Charleston. Pursuing the trade in deerskin, the settlers frequently entered Spanish territory in violation of Spanish law. The Spanish, however, could do little about such intrusions, since there were few Spanish soldiers in Florida. The Charlestonians, moreover, had made an alliance with the powerful Yamassee tribe, which gave them a buffer zone of protection against the Spanish. (more…)



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…)