This Week in History

Re-Inauguration of Progressivism: March 4, 1933

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (now available in hard cover). 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.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during the campaign of 1932

The election of 1932 was one of the most pivotal in the history of the country. It would determine whether the United States would continue to be dominated by 19th century laissez-faire policies or follow the path of such countries as Great Britain and adopt a more active role for the central government in the economy. The latter course was the path of progressivism — of Wilson, La Follette, and the Bull Moose party. Americans had rejected progressivism in 1920, but now, with the specter of a long depression ahead of them, would they again embrace it?

A number of candidates vied for their party’s presidential nomination at the Democratic Party convention of 1932. Al Smith again sought the nomination, but his poor showing at the polls in 1928 dissuaded Democratic politicos from supporting him. The two main contenders for the nomination were Democratic speaker of the House, “Cactus Jack” Garner of Texas, and the governor of New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt was fortunate to have the support of the wealthy financier, Joseph P. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who raised funds for him. Kennedy did Roosevelt another good turn; he convinced the wealthy newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst, to turn his support to Roosevelt. Hearst controlled the California delegates to the convention, and his support meant their support. With California’s 44 votes in the bag, Roosevelt secured the Democratic nomination for president. (more…)



This Week in History

Rebellion in the California Missions: February 21-22, 1824 

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (now available in hard cover). 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.

A California native, by Louis Choris (1795-1828)

Indian neophytes at the missions could sense the changes brought about by the Mexican Revolution. Since the supply ship from San Blas had stopped coming in 1811, Indian laborers had borne the burden of feeding the soldiers and their families, and they were weary. Moreover, the soldiers, who had less fear of the friars, had grown more careless toward the Indians and at times mistreated them cruelly. The fact that the unconverted Indians, or gentiles, having learned the use of the horse, had grown emboldened in their attitude towards the Spanish population, made the neophytes even more restless and discontent.

The sanctuary of Mission Santa Ines, as it appeared around 1900

This smoldering discontent flamed into violence on February 21, 1824. What exactly happened is unclear, but it seems to have started when one Corporal Cota ordered the flogging of a neophyte at Mission Santa Inés. The Indians rose, the few soldiers at the mission defended themselves and the friar, and several mission buildings were burned. The next morning, when Sergeant Anastasio Carrillo arrived at Santa Inés with a small force, he found that the hostile Indians had fled to the nearby mission, La Purísima Concepción. (more…)



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 (now available in hard cover). 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 Hawaiian 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaiian 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 Hawaii. (more…)



This Week in History

Congress Settles a Contentious Presidential Election: February 9, 1825

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.

John Quincy Adams, in 1818

Unlike the election of 1820, where Monroe ran basically unopposed, in 1824 four candidates, all Republicans, vied for the presidency. The Era of Good Feelings was over; each candidate represented a particular interest or faction competing to dominate the republic. John Quincy Adams represented New England interests and the remnants of the old Federalist Party. William H. Crawford was the candidate favored by Congress. Then there was Henry Clay, who might have stood for the West and South had not Tennessee nominated General Andrew Jackson, war hero and the model of the self-made man. (more…)



This Week in History

Another French Revolution:

February 22-24, 1848

Louis-Philippe de Bourbon.jpg

Louis Philippe, “King of the French”

It all came as a great and bitter surprise to King Louis Philippe. The 75-year-old citizen king no doubt knew why his “fellow citizens” were unhappy. Both in 1846 and 1847, there had been crop failures in France. Many industrial workers had lost their jobs, and the poor were suffering from harsh poverty and hunger. Then there were the intellectuals – the Liberals, socialists, and anarchists – who were openly attacking the government and calling for reforms, including a broadening of the right to vote.

It all came as a surprise to Louis Philippe, but it shouldn’t have. Throughout 1847, “Reform Banquets” had been held throughout France, complete with food, wine, and speakers stirring up the people against the government. A Reform Banquet was planned to take place in Paris itself on February 22, 1848. Louis Philippe and his prime minister, François Guizot, of course saw the banquet as a threat; but how great a threat it was, the citizen king did not fully understand.

A caricature of Louis Philippe, depicting his transformation into a pear. Louis Philippe, who came into power as the “citizen king” following a revolution that overthrew the last Bourbon king of France, Charles X, became increasingly unpopular through the 18 years of his government. By Honoré Daumier, following an original by Charles Philipon, who was imprisoned for drawing it.

Guizot had been a chief target of those reforming folk who attended the Reform Banquets. Though himself a Liberal who had been responsible for expanding public education more widely throughout France, Guizot was intensely hated by more radical Liberals, for he opposed extending the right to vote to more French citizens. It is not surprising, then, that he opposed the Reform Banquets and that he banned the banquet scheduled to take place in Paris on Tuesday, February 22, 1848.

On the morning of that Tuesday, Parisians woke to find notices posted in the city, announcing that the government had prohibited the scheduled Reform Banquet. The news produced an immediate reaction among Paris’s intellectuals and workers. Mobs gathered in the streets, demanding that the king dismiss Guizot. Rioting flared up throughout the city, especially in the poorer sections. A violent mob gathered at Guizot’s residence, broke some of his windows, and would probably have done more damage if the municipal guard and the police had not dispersed them. Louis Philippe beheld the uprising of his people with fear and surprise. Hoping to placate them, he dismissed Guizot.

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