Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Last week I learned about Latin American Revolutions in history class. More specifically my class learned about the revolutions in Mexico, Brazil, and Gran Colombia. The goal of this lesson was to learn about why it is essential to acknowledge human value regardless of race, and how the events in these Latin American Revolutions provide evidence to support this. This question is important to think about because there are many racial problems that still need to be mended in society. In order to answer these questions we first learned about racial prevalence in Latin America, and how people were categorized by the race of their parents. We also learned that each of these groups in the Latin American social structure had a different rank. For example Peninsulares were at the top of the social structure because they were born in Europe and then sailed over to Latin America, while slaves occupied the lowest social rank. We also viewed the Casta Artwork, which helped classify people into classes. We then broke into three groups and studied each revolution in more depth using summaries of the events that occurred.


As my group studied the Brazilian Revolution we created a timeline to help us understand all of the events that took place. Here is our timeline.

We then scrambled the groups so that there were two experts on each revolution in each group. After each pair presented their timeline we looked for similarities and differences between these revolutions. We found that the revolutions all happened in the late 1700s to the early 1800s. We also noticed that Napoleon’s rule sparked fights and revolts in Mexico and Brazil, who both wanted a new constitutional monarchy. These revolutions were also different. Brazil became a constitutional monarchy, but Gran Colombia became a republic. The revolutions in Mexico and Gran Colombia were led by creoles, while the revolution in Brazil was led by a Peninsular. Although these revolutions were all different they all address the issue of race. In the Brazilian revolution Pedro attempted to reinstate the same class system as before with Peninsulares receiving the most power, which caused a revolution. In Mexico the end to Spanish rule resulted in racial equality and redistribution of land. Finally, In Gran Colombia Simon Bolivar wanted to end Spanish rule, and discrimination based on place of birth and race.

Racism continues to linger in society today, even in the United States, where equality is supposed to extend to all. One of example of this is the distress and outrage people felt over the Ferguson Grand Jury decision. This past summer a black unarmed teen was shot by a white police officer. This leads many to consider racism as the cause of this tragedy and the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict the officer caused anger and rioting similar to a smaller-scale revolution. Another example of problems with race in society today is how many politicians seem to hate President Obama, which brings into question the possibility of racism. It is sometimes hard to tell what is racism and what isn’t, but it is definitely a big problem even in America today. It is definitely something we should all consider on a daily basis.


Friday, November 21, 2014

How Should We Remember Toussaint Louverture?

President Obama is a really great man. Obama does such a good job as the president because of his leadership qualities. He possesses extreme skill in politics and moral leadership, the two most important qualities of a leader. He also possesses toughness, honesty, eloquence, compassion, and humor, which are less important yet still useful. Another person who had skill with these traits was a man named Toussaint Louverture. Toussaint was the leader of the San Dominigue Revolution of 1789. He was born in the 1740s and served as a slave, herder, coachman, and finally an overseer for other slaves. Toussaint at one point controlled an army of 4,000 men. This DBQ asks about how we should remember Toussaint Louverture. San Dominigue, the place that Toussaint lived, is the French portion of the island of Hispanolia. Hispanolia changed its name to Haiti after it gained independence from France. For simplicity’s sake the current island of Haiti will always be referred to in this paper as San Dominigue, as that is what Toussant’s portion of the island was called while he was still living. The most important part of Toussant’s legacy is his role as the liberator of slaves, as the ruler of San Dominigue, and as a military commander. Although Toussaint Louverture made many contributions to San Dominigue as a military commander, he should be remembered even more for his role as a liberator of slaves and ruler of San Dominigue.
            Toussaint Louverture should be remembered most for his role as the liberator of slaves in San Dominigue. Toussaint believed in freedom from slavery more than any other political value. When Robespierre, the leader of the French revolutionary government, abolished all slavery in France and its colonies, Toussaint immediately stopped his revolution and suddenly supported the French. In 1797 there were fears that the new French Directory planned to reinstate slavery. Toussaint reacted to this turn of events by sending a letter to France. He said “… if they had a thousand lives, they would sacrifice them all rather than be subjected again to slavery.” (Doc. B) Toussaint knows what it is like to be a slave and he feels extremely strong in his hate for slavery. Toussaint concluded that same letter by saying that “We have known how to confront danger to our liberty, and we will know how to confront death to preserve it.” (Doc. B) Toussaint believed so strongly in his stance against slavery that he was willing to threaten France. Toussaint cared more about freedom for all people than he did about fighting France’s military. After San Dominigue gained its independence from France its leaders wrote The Saint Domingue Constitution of 1801. The third article of this constitution states that “There cannot exist slaves in this territory, servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French.” (Doc. C) This article was obviously included in the Constitution of 1801 because of its importance to Toussaint Louverture. This rule about slavery is so important to Toussaint that it is listed as Article 3 instead of the less important rules in the later articles. Toussaint Louverture should be remembered most as a liberator of slaves because it was his most important belief.
            Toussaint should also be remembered as a ruler of San Domingue. Toussaint was in charge of the commission that created the Saint Domingue Constitution of 1801. He was given the title of General in Chief and was mentioned in Article 28, which states that “The Constitution nominate citizen Toussaint-Louverture, Chief General of the army of Saint-Domingue and…he is entrusted the direction thereof for the remainder of his glorious life.” (Doc. C) Toussaint was given lots of power and influence in the rule of San Domingue. He was a strict ruler who realized the importance of sustaining income and order on the island. Toussaint issued a proclamation on November 25, 1801 that stated that “As soon as a child can walk, he should be employed on the plantation according to his strength… Any manager or driver of a plantation upon which a foreign cultivator shall have taken refuge shall denounce him to the captain or commander of the section whithin 24 hours under penalty of one week in prison.” (Doc. D) This proclamation was an attempt to end the revolts that had been happening ever since the signing of the new constitution. Toussaint realized that he needed strict rules to ensure that the island kept producing and exporting goods. Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as a powerful and strict ruler of San Domingue.
            Finally, Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as a military commander. Toussaint gained his reputation by keeping an orderly camp, which taught both European and guerilla styles of fighting. Toussaint was courageous and generous, which gave him an mostly positive reputation and success. When the Polish, Dutch, and French all invaded San Domingue Toussaint was very heroic. He said “Here come the enslavers of our race. All France is coming to St. Domingo, to try again to put the fetters upon our limbs; but not France, with all her troops… can extinguish the soul of Africa.” (Doc. F) When the invaders landed they discovered that all the cities had been burnt to the ground and Toussaint and his men had retreated into the mountains where they could fight more effectively using their guerilla tactics. This was a very smart move, and it showed the invaders Toussaint’s skill when it came to military strategy. On October 29, 1801 a revolt broke out in San Domingue. Toussaint got very upset and showed the rebels how powerful he was by lining them up and then making certain men to commit suicide using their guns. Toussaint Louverture should remembered as a skilled and disciplined military commander.
            Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as a liberator of slaves, ruler of San Domingue, and a military commander. Although Toussaint did have a harsh and controlling attitude at times he still did his best to improve the current day island of Haiti. Toussaint used all his leadership qualities when they mattered the most and left his mark on history.

Background Essay: How Should We Remember Toussaint Louverture?
Doc. A: Timeline From Various Sources
Doc. B: Toussaint Louverture, “Letter to the French Directory, November 1797.”
Doc. C: The Saint Domingue Constitution of 1801. Signed by Toussaint Louverture in July 1801.
Doc. D: Toussaint Louverture, “Proclamation, 25 November 1801.”
Doc. E: Madison Smartt Bell, Toussaint Louverture: A Biography, 2007.
Doc. F: William Wells Brown, “A Description of Toussaint Louverture,” from The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, 2nd edition 1863. Engraving of Toussaint Louverture, 1802.

Monday, November 10, 2014

LETS ALL TAKE SURVEYS YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last week I learned about European revolutions in 1830 and 1848. My class was tasked with the question of whether or not these revolutions were really failures as most historians have concluded. We began this lesson by analyzing Klemens Von Metternich’s idea that “When France sneezes Europe catches a cold.” We deduced that Metternich was talking about the French Revolution and how it sparked lots other revolutions through Europe. We also created a scale that we could use to determine the success or failure of a revolution.
Our scale used to determine the success of a revolution

            Each group in my class was given a revolution to research. My group was assigned to the French Revolution of 1848. We read a document summarizing the revolution, and were given several primary sources to use to create a project. We learned that in the French Revolution of 1848 the lower class was revolting against the middle and upper classes. The lower class also believed that Louis Phillipe’s government had become corrupt and they wanted to replace his rule with a French Republic. This revolution divided the country. “The [French] troops, fatigued from seeing no enemy, yet feeling hostility on all sides, stood faithful but sad at their different posts.” (Alphonse de Lamartine) Victor Hugo also describes how successful the lower class French people were in shutting down French cities and towns. He says that “The barricade Saint Antoine was monstrous; it was three stories high and seven hundred feet long.” He also states that “Nineteen barricades  stood at intervals along the streets.” After gathering information from the packets we made surveys for our classmates to fill out so that everyone in the class could learn about each of the revolutions.
Here is a link to the survey we created on the information from the packet.
As you can see the class mostly got the answers correct, but they got confused on some questions.


            I agree with the historians who think the revolutions that we studied were failures. For most if not all the revolutions there was little to no improvement that was a result of the revolution. The French Revolution of 1848 was a partial failure because the lower classes got the ability to vote, but at the same time a monarch took control of France. The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was a failure because the Budapest rebels were defeated and exiled, imprisoned, or executed. The Decembrist Revolution also failed because Czar Nicholas ended up killing his own people by accident. It is unfortunate that these revolutions had to end so poorly, but as more and more revolutions occurred little steps are taken to make places around the world better. 


Alphonse de Lamartine: History of the Revolution of 1848 (Boston: Phillips, Sampson & Co., 1849), pp. 28-29, 3C-38, 46-49, 51.