Three Years Ago…

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Three years ago on this very day, I decided to launch a blog based off of my knowledge of History. I’ve been very busy recently, but appreciate all of you reading my posts, and all of the helpful comments as well.

I’ve grown a lot these past few years; when I started, I was only twelve, but now I’m fifteen, retaining that fire that I hoped to spark in my viewers, those willing to listen and excited to learn. The future of America rests on people like these, and History is only one of many subjects that are cornerstones to society. Please tell others about what you have learned! The slogan for my blog is “Learning the Past to Brighten the Future”, as the past gives much insight into what to do next (even learning from mistakes, for instance, can act as a guide).

In short, thank you all for encouraging me to continue teaching, for I have been very excited to be able to share these posts with the World! I thank my Lord, my family, my friends, and my viewers for my successes, and I will continue to blog into 2018. Don’t be afraid to send requests for posts, or to comment; I really appreciate enthusiasm! Here’s to a very happy New Year…

~Wyatt~

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2017 In Review

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The drapes have closed on 2017, a year in which much history was made, full of controversy. Here are some of the important events that took America by storm:

January 21: The largest protest worldwide in recent history occurs due to millions of people joining the Woman’s March in opposition to Donald Trump, the recently inaugurated president of the United States. Investigations into the White House colluding with Russia begin.

February-Present: North Korea continues its testing of nuclear weapons, prompting worldwide condemnation.

May 22: The Manchester Arena terrorist bombing kills 22 and injures many more. Salmon Ramadan Abedi was subsequently arrested for the attack. Ariana Grande (the singer at said concert) organized the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the victims as a result.

June 1: The United States announces its decision to eventually withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

July 10-December 9: Coalition forces take Mosul and Raqqa from ISIS, as the Islamic State is slowly crushed to about 2% of its previous territory.

August 21: The Great American Eclipse (which I witnessed) occurs, the first total solar eclipse seen in America since 1979.

August 25-September 20: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit America and the Caribbean.

October 1: Stephen Paddock kills 58 and injures over 500 in the Las Vegas Shooting, which goes down as the deadliest mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history. His motive is still unclear.

October 24-November 1: The Houston Astros defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, making their second appearance in the World Series and winning for the first time.

October 27: Catalonia declares independence from Spain, but its Republic goes unrecognized.

December 6: The United States officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite criticism from the U.N.

December 14: The Walt Disney Company announces its plans to acquire most of 21st Century Fox for $52 Billion.

In a perfect World, there wouldn’t be so many of these headlines. Living in an era with little good news and hope to go on, faith and prayer is very important. Let us all hope for a better 2018, and think of ways to make it so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Injustice

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History is unchangeable, as everyone knows. It is set in stone, stuck in place, and the story is the same every time. However, perspective can change Historical Lessons, for better or for worse. We must be careful not to cause Historical (and those we teach about History) Injustice.

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A Painting regarding the Signing of the Mayflower Compact

 

 

 

For instance, a 2013 movie called Free Birds was somehow approved for release, and though it was not taken very seriously by audiences, it brings up an interesting point about how the World perceives the religious men who left their homeland for America. The Puritans are viewed by some to have been bumbling, cruel members of a colony determined to wipe Native-Americans off the face of the Earth, with Governor William Bradford and Commander Myles Standish at the helm. This idea is subtly being associated with the Puritan’s quest for a free Christian colony, and attempts to point out flaws in the morals of Christianity in general. This may seem far-fetched to some, as an idea like that could never take root in America, right? Wrong, because of a growing population concerned immensely for Native-American rights, and biased against the Puritans for killing them, especially Myles Standish, the commander of Plymouth Colony’s forces. First of all, there was no systematic killing of Native-Americans. I wholeheartedly agree that taking the life of another human is a great sin, though self-defense may give one no choice. Standish and his militia hunted down Native-Americans every time they attacked and murdered colonists. Remember the fact that the colonists knew each other very well, so imagine someone killing off your friends in front of you and then scalping them. Understandably, the Puritans were angered by this disrespect and defended themselves, desperately trying to end the attacks. The second point is that the Puritans DID manage to end hostilities for a time despite all that, around the first Thanksgiving Dinner (a Holiday coming up). They learned from the Native-Americans useful ways to use their resources effectively, and therefore establish a permanent colony that helped in the foundation of the United States.

Another instance of dangerous bias is against the religion of the Founding Fathers. Recently, there have been many discussions and points against the Founding Father’s morals and Christian background. One must simply read the Historical Context to learn the truth. It is said that their belief in the separation of Church and State automatically makes then non-religious, or deists, the term used for many of them including Thomas Jefferson. However, throughout their lives they consistently reaffirmed their faith in God, and this Republic was created under the moral standards of the Bible. Once the Founding Fathers’ dedication is taken away by years of untrue history lessons, the purpose of their work becomes moot. On another note, History has been unkind to them in general for owning slaves and supporting slavery. This is not true, as many of the Founding Fathers opposed slavery vehemently. However, such were the times, and just because we know it is wrong now doesn’t mean that they knew it back then. Once again, all about perspective. Now that we are safe from the sin of slavery, we may tear into the values of those men (though we should not) who might have been us at that time, as many know now what is right only because the sin was proven wrong to them. There are many controversies today, with neither side being “proven” right thus far, as it is up to your personal opinion. It is much easier to look back on History than to predict the future, though learning the past definitely aids one’s knowledge about which roads can lead where.

Education is a time when most things are told as if they are indisputable fact, and this can be taken advantage of by those who are biased for one side over the other. My side is biased as well, but my point is that YOU are in charge of your own decisions, don’t let others tell you what is fact and what is fiction! Analyze it, study it, and come to your own educated conclusion. Don’t just listen to what you hear on a biased comment on historical context, listen to what you learn from what actually HAPPENED, and come to your own conclusion on the matter.

Trick-or-Treat

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The Snickers Bar, a common Trick-or-treating gift.

Today is Halloween, the day of creepy celebration! One of the many traditions of Halloween is an iconic activity called Trick-or-treating.

 

Trick-or-treating became a popular North American custom in the late 1920’s, though Europe had this tradition since Medieval times. Children in costumes knock on the doors of their neighbor’s houses, saying “Trick-or-treat!” The “Trick” in Trick-or-treating is supposedly what happens if the children get no candy, whereas the unfortunate owner of the house has unwittingly given the children permission to “Trick”, and bring mischief across the property. The “Treat” is the candy that is received from going Trick-or-treating.

Fun Fact: One of the most common candies given out during Trick-or-treating in North America is the Snickers Bar, made by Mars, Incorporated. Snickers was originally named Marathon before the official name change in 1990. Snickers is a combination of milk chocolate, caramel, and peanuts. Although I am not a fan of peanuts, Snickers has capitalized on the peanut-cravings of others.

The White House

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One of the last places I got to see on my journey to Washington, D.C. earlier this year was the White House itself, the residence of the President of the United States of America!

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Me and my brother across from the White House (No, we did not see Donald Trump there)

 

Construction on the White House began in 1792, and every president has occupied the famous mansion except for George Washington himself. In November of 1800, Washington’s successor, John Adams, became the first president to occupy the White House, though would not be officially named so until Theodore Roosevelt occupied it; it was previously known as the Executive Mansion. In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams wrote a prayer for the house: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings to this house, and all that hereafter shall inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” The White House would be burned by British Soldiers in 1814 as part of the War of 1812, and had to be reconstructed. Decades of poor maintenance meant that the White House was unstable when Harry S Truman was president, hinted at when a piano leg fell through the floor. Thus, the historic house was again reconstructed, with Truman moving to the Blair House across the street for two years.

The White House also holds a Theater, Bowling Alley and Tennis Court, among other recreational activities.

The White House is a symbol of the Executive Branch of government and of the choices that America has made over it’s long history. The men who have occupied it (or will occupy it) forever have a legacy of dedication to the United States, and this will never be forgotten. There are many trials upon us now and these men are flawed, but we must trust them nonetheless to lead us through this struggle regardless of our political party, and to stand up for what we believe in.

The Pastry War

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Another unusual war caused by a relatively minor dispute was the Pastry War from 1838-1839 between the French and Mexican armies.

A French pastry chef named Remontel was the focus of the large-scale conflict. In 1828 during a military coup in Mexico, angry mobs destroyed large parts of Mexico City, and Remontel’s shop was ransacked by looters. After his complaints were rejected by Mexican officials, Remontel asked the French Government for 60,000 pesos (a hefty sum at the time) as compensation for the robbery. For a decade, his petition went unchecked, but when King of France Louis-Philippe saw the petition in 1838, he also saw an excuse to exact revenge on Mexico, and unexpectedly declared war using Remontel’s claim as the basis.

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, former president and Mexico’s most prestigious war hero, came out of retirement to aid Mexico in military operations against the French. In the ensuing conflict, Anna lost his leg, and would later eloquently use the situation of his war wound to catapult himself back into power.

The so-called Pastry War ended in 1839, with Mexico agreeing to give France the 600,000 pesos now demanded by the French as compensation for Remontel and many other Frenchmen who were robbed. Mexico’s subsequent failure to pay the 600,000 pesos was one of the causes of the second French intervention into Mexico in 1861.

The Battle of Perryville

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One of the most important battles in the American Civil War occurred in Kentucky, a key border state for both the Union and the Confederacy at the time.

The Confederacy wanted Kentucky because of its many rivers and its key central position. It could also be used as a base to invade the Union and end the Civil War. Confederate general Braxton Bragg mustered 21,000 men to seize Kentucky by force. However, Union general Don Carolos Buell was waiting for the Confederates, and battle commenced on October 8, 1862.

Bragg’s army engaged a smaller contingent of the Union army first, as Buell did not send reinforcements until later in the day. However, Confederate successes were doused by the arrival of the rest of the Union army. Bragg and the Confederates won a tactical victory, forcing the Union position back a mile, but it was a strategic Union victory, as the Confederate position was deemed unfeasible and Bragg was ordered to retreat to Tennessee. Buell gave a half-hearted pursuit, resulting in his replacement by William S. Rosecrans.

History will forever remember the sacrifices made and the outcome of this famous battle. Kentucky would never be conquered by the Confederacy, and this battle would help change the course of the American Civil War.

The Capitol Building

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On my vacation to Washington, D.C. I visited the United States Capitol Building, the home of the legislative branch of the United States government.

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was charged with creating the basic plan for Washington D.C. and the Capitol Building. George Washington laid the cornerstone in of the Capitol Building 1793, though the House of Representatives wing was not completed until 1811. In the early days, the Capitol was also used as a Church, attended by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Capitol was burned by the British in 1814, and reconstruction proved a long and difficult process. The dome was finally reconstructed during the Civil War.

The Capitol Building features many historical paintings that most people have only seen in books, and I recommend visiting it sometime! The Capitol gives tours, and you may even see Congress in Session  (I saw the House of Representatives in Session, and saw Paul Ryan there).

Though the building may be magnificent all by itself, it is just a piece of an ever-growing nation now 241 years old.

Washington, D.C.

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After visiting Jamestown and Yorktown, I next saw Washington, D.C, the nation’s capital.

Washington, D.C. was approved  for construction in 1790 between Maryland and Virginia, and Congress and the President first presided there in 1800. Although George Washington was heavily involved in the construction of the nation’s capital, he remains the only president to have never entered the White House. In 1814 during the War of 1812, British soldiers burned important buildings (such as the White House and the Capital) in Washington, D.C. that were not rebuilt for years.

The Twenty-Third amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowed D.C. to vote in U.S. Presidential elections, giving the District three electoral votes, first exercised in 1964. D.C. is home to many historically important buildings, such as the Capital Building, White House, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial, plus a few sports teams, like the Washington Nationals (baseball) and Washington Redskins (football).

The District of Columbia is one of the greatest cities in the world, created to show America’s commitment and perseverance through its many ages. It is the capital of an ever growing nation.

Siege of Yorktown

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Me at one of the redoubts in Yorktown

While in Virginia, I visited Yorktown and the site of its very famous siege, the one that ended the American Revolutionary War.

 

After mixed fortunes in the Southern colonies, the British decided to protect Yorktown and face the Continental Army. Lord Charles Cornwallis was the commander of about 7,500 experienced British soldiers, while American General George Washington led an army of over 18,000 Frenchmen and Continentals. On September 29, 1781, the siege began, and Cornwallis pulled back his troops from the outer defenses of Yorktown. Cornwallis was expecting British reinforcements from the sea, but the British were held back by the French fleet aiding the Americans. The Continentals built a trench and assaulted redoubts 9 and 10, along with their French allies (A redoubt is basically a ditch with a wall in front of it, built from the dirt from the ditch. They were helpful outposts used for increased protection). Interestingly, future Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was the commander of the assault on redoubt 10. Through heavy fighting, both redoubts fell, and the British feared a general attack. Though it did not come, Cornwallis agreed to surrender.

The treaty of surrender was signed on October 19, 1781. The British were not given the traditional honors of war due to having deprived the Americans the same honor after the siege of Charleston. The Siege of Yorktown was destined to be the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War, and a peace treaty two years later would confirm American Independence. An upstart British colony had taken on the world’s largest and most feared empire, and had won.