Late 1800s -- Events that Set the Stage for the 20th Century
MARXISM AND THE RISE OF SOCIALISM, 1848-1883
Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto expressed the belief that only a workers' revolution could overthrow a corrupt capitalist system. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the issues raised by Marx remain valid today. The Manifesto is easily understood and affords students the opportunity to critique capitalism. It also is full of holes and lends itself to a criticism of Marx's own ideas. Several excellent documentary films also explore Marx's ideas. The process of moving Marx's ideas from the realm of speculation to reality raised important questions that subsequently split his disciples. It is easy to trace the arious strands of socialism, noting which ones survived and why and which ones failed and the reasons for their failure. Although Marx is dead, the debate over his ideas is not. Contemporary magazines such as the Economist, National Review, New Republic, and Nation frequently run articles that add to the voluminous literature about Marx and his ideas.
Manifesto of the Communist Party
1. Why would Marxism be such a popular movement in 1800's Europe?
2. Why didn't the masses there follow the democratic example of the U.S.?
Although colonialism has pretty much disappeared, imperialism in different forms seems to have survived. One can examine the current relationship of the United States to Caribbean and Central American countries, or France's relationship to any number of its former African colonies. Late nineteenth-century imperialism spawned a rich literature which continues to grow. Ranging from Rudyard Kipling through Graham Greene to V. S. Naipaul, authors have explored imperialism from a variety of perspectives. Nor has resentment toward imperialism and the imperialists subsided. Angry condemnations continue to appear with regularity in the world's press, although some observers now see this as a smoke screen designed to obscure the shortcomings of the former colonies and their current leaders. Controversial as it may be, debates over the pros and cons of imperialism are often revealing.
The Age of Imperialism
COLOURING IN THE MAP: A Chronicle of 19th-century Imperialism
AMERICAN IMPERIALISM: Taking the Philippines
Open Door Policy
1. What is imperialism, why did it exist, and why was it dominated by European nations in the 1800's?
2. In what areas has the U.S. been accused of similar practices today?
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR, 1898
1898, conflict between Spain and the U.S. Demands by Cuban patriots for independence from Spain were supported by large numbers of Americans. Pro-rebel sentiment was inflamed by the biased reporting of the U.S. yellow press, heavy losses of American investment caused by guerrilla warfare, and an appreciation of Cuba's strategic importance to a projected President McKinley, and the sinking (Feb. 15) of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana harbor, intensified U.S. feeling against Spain. The U.S. demanded Spanish withdrawal from Cuba. On Apr. 24 Spain declared war on the U.S. On May 1 a U.S. naval squadron under George Dewey thoroughly defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila harbor, in the Philippines. On May 28 the U.S. established a blockade of Santiago de Cuba; when the Spanish fleet attempted to escape (June 1), it was destroyed. Meanwhile, U.S. troops, including the famed "Rough Riders", engaged in some heavy fighting (July 1) at El Canay and San Juan Hill. On July 17 Santiago was captured, effectively ending the war. An armistice was signed Aug. 12, and peace was arranged by the Treaty of Paris (Dec. 10). The Spanish empire was practically dissolved; Cuba was freed, but under U.S. tutelage; Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the U.S.; and the Philippines were surrendered to the U.S. for $20 million. The U.S. emerged from the war with new international power.
Spanish American War (Library of Congress)
Treaty of Paris
1. What was the connection between the dominance of European nations and their naval forces in the 1800's?
2. Why was Cuba at the center of the bad relations between the U.S. and Spain?
3. What was the Treaty of Paris and why was it so importnat?
EVENTS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Edited by Frank W. Thackeray and John E. Findling