This Week in History

Sand Creek Massacre:

November 29, 1864

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

“Nothing lives long except the earth and the mountains.”

White Antelope, old gray-head, arms folded, sang his death song: “Nothing lives . . .”

The ancient chief, leader of the people, refusing refuge within the banks of the murmuring creek bed, boldly faced the onslaught of the white-faces, unresisting. The whizzing bullet, whether aimed deliberately or fired recklessly, struck the old man, and he fell, like an ancient, towering pine cut down in the distant forest.

“Nothing lives long . . .”

A depiction of the Sand Creek Massacre, by Howling Wolf, an eye witness


Some would have said that White Antelope’s people, the Arapaho, had lived far too long, scouring the plains in pursuit of the herds of buffalo that fed them and clothed them. It was a new age; the white man was advancing, had been advancing, for over 20 years across the hunting grounds of the Arapaho, the Cheyenne, and the Sioux. Not many years had passed since gold had been found in the mountains of Colorado, and the white man’s city, Denver, had swelled with thousands of fortune seekers. The shiftless Indian (as the whites thought him), intent only on hunting and war, just wasted this land, just wasted it. He must submit to the white man (whose destiny it was to take the land) or die. (more…)

This Week in History

Victory for the Papal Zouaves: November 3, 1867

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. It continues our account  of Garibaldi’s invasion of the Papal States. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here.

Pope Pius IX’s general, Hermann Kanzler

… But Garibaldi received his first check when six thousand of his Redshirts attacked several hundred members of the Legion of Antibes at the fortified town of Monte Rotondo, about 17 miles northeast of Rome. Greatly outnumbered, the hard-fighting French legionaries held off the Redshirts for 27 hours but at last were forced to retreat. The Redshirts moved in and ransacked the town, plundered and defiled the church, and terrorized the people. So great was the destruction in Monte Rotondo that Garibaldi himself rebuked his men with the sternest words. But it was no use; the “Liberator of Italy” could not control the many desperate men (bandits and other criminals) who served in his army.

Though a victory for Garibaldi, the Battle of Monte Rotondo benefited the papal army. The legionaries had so badly bruised the Redshirts that Garibaldi hesitated several days before making his final push against Rome.


This Week in History

Death of a Truly Great Woman: November 29, 1780

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.

Archduchess Maria Theresia (far right) with the Emperor Franz I and their children

Maria Theresia of Austria has never been called “the Great,” but she was truly one of the great women, and rulers, of her time. Though devoted to the Emperor Franz and the 16 children she bore him, she did not neglect her queenly duties. Indeed, she saw it as her religious duty to improve the lives of her subjects. For 20 years (1745–1765), she ruled the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg realms with her husband and, when he died, with her eldest son, Emperor Josef II. The world may never have called her “the Great,” but Maria Theresia received a better title from her subjects. They called her “a true mother of her people.”

Like the other European monarchs, Maria Theresia strove to be an absolute ruler. Yet, though she abolished local diets in most of her dominions, she allowed Hungary, Lombardy, and the Spanish Netherlands to keep their traditions and forms of self-government. She improved the discipline of the army and increased its numbers to 108,000 men; to pay for this, she made the nobility and clergy as well as peasants and commoners pay taxes. Like Friedrich, she did not think it wise to abolish serfdom; but, as an example to the nobility, she freed the serfs on her own estates. To ease the lot of the poor in Hungary (where serfdom was very hard), she decreed that peasants should be able to marry whomever they wished, raise their children as they saw fit, and change their dwelling place without the permission of their lords. Believing that monarchs should surround themselves with grandeur, Maria Theresia richly decorated her palace of Schönbrunn in Vienna. Still, she was quite frugal; instead of wasting large sums of her own wealth on luxuries, she spent it on a multitude of charities. (more…)

This Week in History

The Pope Driven from Rome:

November 24, 1848

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.

Pope Pius IX, in 1847

Pope Pius IX’s refusal to declare war on Austria had turned the Liberals of Rome utterly against him. They now sought his downfall. Secret societies in the city stirred up the common people to demand nothing less than a secular, constitutional government for the Papal States. And the more the pope tried to appease the Liberals, the more they demanded of him. Even the pope’s chief ministers, led by a layman, Count Mamiani, demanded that the pope not only declare war on Austria but also abandon his temporal power altogether.

As the months passed, street violence, stirred up by secret societies, increased in Rome. The civil guard was in the hands of the Liberals, while Count Mamiani only wasted government money and did nothing about the violence. When Mamiani at last resigned, the pope appointed Count Pellegrino Rossi as chief minister. Rossi took over the leadership of the mostly lay ministry on September 16, 1848. (more…)

This Week in History

The Big Stick Strikes Panama: November 18, 1903

This text comes from our high school text, 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.

Theodore Roosevelt

In his second inaugural address, Roosevelt developed his ideas about the place of the United States in the world. “Much has been given us,” he said, “and much will rightfully be expected from us . . . We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities. Towards all other nations, large and small, our attitude must be one of cordial and sincere friendship. We must show not only in our words, but in our deeds, that we are earnestly desirous of securing their good will by acting toward them in a spirit of just and generous recognition of all their rights.”

However, the president continued, justice and generosity required strength. “While ever careful to refrain from wrongdoing others,” he said, “we must be no less insistent that we are not wronged ourselves. We wish peace, but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of righteousness. We wish it because we think it is right and not because we are afraid. No weak nation that acts manfully and justly should ever have cause to fear us, and no strong power should ever be able to single us out as a subject for insolent aggression.” (more…)