Wednesday, November 14, 2018

LaSalle and the Discovery of the Great West

LaSalle explored the Mississippi Valley and brought the plains west of the river to Europe’s attention.  From Texas to Illinois he pioneered settlement.  Francis Parkman considered him to be so important that he devoted an entire volume of his epic series of books The French in North America to him.

"The discovery of the "Great West," or the valleys of the Mississippi and the Lakes, is a portion of our history hitherto very obscure. Those magnificent regions were revealed to the world through a series of daring enterprises, of which the motives and even the incidents have been but partially and superficially known. The chief actor in them wrote much, but printed nothing; and the published writings of his associates stand woefully in need of interpretation from the unpublished documents which exist, but which have not heretofore been used as material for history.

This volume attempts to supply the defect."

From LaSalle and the Discovery of the Great West

Francis Parkman’s series of books on the French in North America

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Teaching Seven Decades 1806-1875

Working on my 7 Decades 1806-1875 course for Winter Quarter starting January.  One lifetime begins with Napoleon and ends with Disraeli.  Europe and Western Civilization rises to world dominance.  USA emerges from Civil War to the Second Industrial Revolution and the settlement of the old west. 

Together with my Autumn Course 1876-1945 this will cover 140 years of the change.  My Spring course 1946-2015 will see the Western Civilization challenged by the rest of the world as old powers reassert themselves and new ones arise.

The courses cover culture, science, and economics, as well as politics.  The Autumn Course is done but the other courses are in development.  Here is my gateway page for the course topics.

I teach at the ELM school in Marietta, Georgia.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Death of Lord Byron

When the Greeks began their great and final war for independence it truly seemed like the battle between David and Goliath. The Ottoman Empire had been the feared and great power for centuries. Lord Byron, the great poet of the Romantic School joined the Greeks and later died in that war.

“I cannot calculate,” he said to Gamba, during one of their latest rides together, “to what a height Greece may rise. Hitherto it has been a subject for the hymns and elegies of fanatics and enthusiasts; but now it will draw the attention of the politician. At present there is little difference, in many respects, between Greeks and Turks, nor could there be; but the latter must, in the common course of events, decline in power; and the former must as inevitably become better. The English Government deceived itself at first in thinking it possible to maintain the Turkish empire in its integrity; but it cannot be done — that unwieldy mass is al ready putrefied and must dissolve. If anything like an equilibrium is to be upheld, Greece must be supported.”

From Lord Byron and the Greek War of Independence,

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Trump Celebrates Armistice

One hundred years ago, the Germans agreed to an armistice, that is an end to the fighting in WWI pending a final peace treaty. The armistice agreement effectively prevented the German army from re-starting the war. Some quarter century later, the Germans under Adolph Hitler negotiated an new armistice but with only the French Army. World War II continued.

Today Donald Trump said, "We want to help Europe but it has to be fair."

Back in America this is holiday is known as Veterans Day.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tatars Invade China Podcast

200 BC: At the beginning of the Han Dynasty of China the Tatar tribes invaded.  The new emperor was still trying to organize his empire and establish himself.  As for the tribes beyond he border, they were united under a strong leader, Meha.  Here's my podcast on this.

More Oriental History at

Friday, November 9, 2018

Charles I Executed

He behaved like a king to the last.  But there was a reason that he had lost the English Civil War.  Could he be trusted to keep his word?  There was a huge credibility gap.  Times were changing and he had not adapted.  As he went to his doom two things were in the air:  his son was safe in France and would his enemies over-reach once they held absolute power?

"His purposed address to the people was delivered only to the hearing of those upon the scaffold, but its purport was that the people “mistook the nature of government; for people are free under a government, not by being sharers in it, but by due administration of the laws of it.” His theory of government was a consistent one. He had the misfortune not to understand that the time had been fast passing away for its assertion."

From The English Civil War
More British History at

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hildebrand Proclaimed Pope Gregory VII

Are the churches to be creations of government?  Was the clergy selected by kings or by popes?  The Investiture Controversy was about these very questions.  Pope Gregory forced the issue.  Hence, his career was a significant milestone towards the separation of church and state. 

How it began in 1073:

“From the funeral procession Hildebrand flew to the pulpit, and with impassioned gestures seemed to be imploring silence. The storm, however, did not cease till one of the cardinals, in the name of the sacred college, declared that they had unanimously elected him whom the people had chosen. Arrayed in scarlet robes, crowned with the papal tiara, Gregory VII ascended the chair of St. Peter.

From Hildebrand’s Papal Triumph  :


Download The Basic History Library (free). ------------->

Monday, September 11, 2017

Neptune Discovered

In the history of science, this discovery is important because the knowledge of a new planet preceded its actual sighting.  From the series which tells how this happened.

The explanation by Newton of the observed facts of the motion of the moon, the way he accounted for precession and nutation and for the tides; the way in which Laplace explained every detail of the planetary motions — these achievements may seem to the professional astronomer equally, if not more, striking and wonderful; but of the facts to be explained in these cases the general public is necessarily more or less ignorant, and so no beauty or thoroughness of treatment appeals to it or excites its imagination. But to predict in the solitude of the study, with no weapons other than pen, ink, and paper, an unknown and enormously distant world, to calculate its orbit when as yet it had never been seen, and to be able to say to a practical astronomer, “Point your telescope in such a direction at such a time, and you will see a new planet hitherto unknown to man” — this must always appeal to the imagination with dramatic intensity, and must awaken some interest in the dullest.

Read more:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Civil Forfeiture Came from a Strange Place

This article from Bloomberg View gives the history of the practice of Civil Asset Forfeiture.  This issue was recently in the news when the Attorney General rolled back Obama restrictions on the practice. 

This practice goes way back in history – even to the Middle Ages.  Read it here.

Note that there is a distinction between civil forfeiture and criminal forfeiture.  Also, civil forfeiture cuts out the owner of the asset (usually money) and makes the property itself guilty.  Property, unlike individuals, have no rights, so the government gets around all of that Bill of Rights stuff.

I give my own opinions of this issue in my history website.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Napoleon Crowned Emperor of France

French Revolution ends Kingdom; creates Empire.  In between there’s democracy, reign of terror, and dictatorship.  Pope presides at coronation ceremony. 

A smaller crown was immediately put upon the head of the Empress, who, being surrounded by her ladies, everything was done so quickly that nobody was aware of the substitution that had taken place. 

Read more:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Gunpowder Plotters Executed

Yesterday ended our series on the Gunpowder Plot.  Had they succeeded the entire British establishment would have been blown up, including the King and his family, the Parliament, and the Lords. 

Read more:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

American History Landing Page

This has highlights of the history of the United States of America. Passages from the works of some of the greatest historians about the most important events are presented.

Some of the writers selected are Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, are Theodore Roosevelt.

Some of the events selected are Pilgrims Settle Plymouth, Declaration of Independence Signed, and Early Days of Baseball.

Find it here:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Right-Wing Versus Left-Wing History Problems

Its that during different periods in the past the two sides have had different positions on the issues.  For example, in 1960 left wing politicians such as Rockefeller (R) and JFK (D) favored greater defense spending while more right-wing pols such as Nixon (R) did not.  One can cite many more examples.

Here’s the core of the problem.

As American civilization has grown, American government has not grown at the same pace.  The gaps between the size of government and the need for government has caused the problem.  During the 19th. Century government was smaller than was needed while in recent decades the government has been larger than needed. 

When did the government tax too much, regulate too much, and spend too much?  - And when did it do those things too little?  Different times, different answers.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Intellectual Origins of the Republican Party

The Republican Party was never a minor (third) party. In 1854 it simply replaced the Whig Party as the major party opposing the Democrats. The immediate cause of this was the Democrats’ Kansas-Nebraska Bill of that year which largely negated the Compromise of 1850. But this event alone could not have explained a sudden transformation of American politics of this magnitude.

So, what did cause all of this? The best contemporary explanation can be found in Abraham Lincoln’s first speech in his famous debate with the Kansas-Nebraska Acts chief author, Stephen Douglas.

“Under the Dred Scott decision “squatter sovereignty” squatted out of existence, tumbled down like temporary scaffolding.

Read more: