History Week 12. The beginning of the Civil War

Beginning of the American Civil War


In this essay, I discuss the beginning of the bloodiest wars in the history of the United States. The essay is comprised of several paragraphs that discuss the background and buildup to the American Civil War. At the end of the essay there is a conclusion paragraph that sums up the essay content.


When you ask someone, “What started the American Civil War?” You might get a blank face, or the answer “slavery”. Slavery is more accurate than a blank face, but was slavery really the underlying cause of the American Civil War? While modern historians and state textbooks will tell you the war was all about slavery, there were some other important causes. 

By the mid 19th century, the United States of America had grown significantly. From the thirteen original colonies which had seceded from Britain, there had grown a large and soon-to-be world power. In the seventy years following the birth of America, twenty-four new states had been added to the growing nation. But there was something else that had grown increasingly popular alongside the United States. Slavery. This practice had existed in the world for a long time, but had increased worldwide in the late 18th century. 

The slave triangle, where slaves were taken from Africa by European merchants and then sold to the colonies in America, was a practice that had begun as early as the 16th century. America, Britain and many other European countries prospered from the terrible slave trade. America was also the home of many plantations were slaves were forced to work. 

But by the mid 19th century, slavery had begun to diminish. Britain had abolished the Slave Trade in 1807, abolishing slavery itself in the British Empire around 1833. Many other slave-trading nations followed by making the trading of slaves illegal. America abolished the slave trade in 1807, but slavery was still allowed within southern America. The continuation of slavery in America, most notably the southern states (the northern ones had abolished slavery in 1804) was vital to their economy. Soon though, whenever a new state was formed, the question had to be asked: “Would this be a slave or non-slave state?” If there were a majority of non-slave state representatives in congress, the slave states would be outnumbered and subject to any new laws that the non slave states wanted to be ratified. This was also the case the other way round.

This “choosing” had led to resentment, especially in the south, as southerners realised that the abolition of slavery would result in a crash of the southern economy. Many abolitionists in the north however, argued that slavery was wicked and had to be abolished in the south. When Abraham Lincoln became president in 1860, he supported the end of slavery. Many of the southern states, who had already felt threatened by the north, now declared that forcing themselves to abolish slavery shook the southerners constitutional rights. Even before Lincoln had been inaugurated, seven southern states seceded from the United States in 1860. 

These seven states (Texas, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Luisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina) now formed their own government, the Confederate States of America in 1861. Abraham Lincoln however, refused to recognise the Confederacy to be a separate nation. Hostilities started when, in April 1861, South Carolina militia opened fire on federal-held Fort Sumter. Although there had been no official declaration of war, this attack showed where the Confederates were going and so it is safe to say that the Battle of Fort Sumter was the beginning of the American Civil War. 

The attack at fort Sumter resulted in the immediate Confederate occupation of that post and the start of the war. The southern states barely had time to raise an army to meet federal forces and the two sides started fighting in April 1861. During the war, six other states seceded to the Confederacy. The war would last from 1861, all the way to 1865, when Confederate forces were finally defeated and the Union was preserved. Thousands of lives were sacrificed to end slavery. Or were they?

While the south definitely fought to preserve slavery, a cause that is sinful to the root, what did the north fight for? The common belief of today, is a simple one. The south fought for slavery and the north fought against slavery. The truth is, it is not as simple as that. In fact, no conflict that has ever happened can be classified as “simple.” There are always hidden causes and beliefs. This is because everyone has different and unique world views.

The fact is, not everyone in the north was fighting against slavery. Abraham Lincoln himself, was not pouring everything into fighting slavery. In fact, it has been found that Lincoln cared more about putting tariffs on the south, rather than his sole cause being to abolish slavery. This is also related to the southern states feeling threatened by the power of the north. While there were many in the union who believed that this war was against slavery, it was also an opportunity for the federal government to secure and centralise its power. 

The south had unwittingly allowed this to happen. By fighting for a wicked cause, they were immediately viewed as the bad-guys in the war. The federal government used this opportunity to establish themselves as the good people fighting slavery, while actually centralising power for themselves. The Civil War has led to the United States becoming the world’s ‘Police Force.’ And the Irony of all this, is that the government was fighting on the right side. The south were on the wrong side, so while their zeal for freedom from the federal state was not altogether wrong, they were supporting a horrible cause, which put them on the wrong side of history.


To conclude the essay, I discussed the beginning of the American Civil War. First I listed the historical events that led to this horrible war in which eleven southern states of America separated from the union. One of these events was the battle of fort Sumter, which kickstarted the conflicts. After this, I discussed some of the underlying issues of the war. This included slavery and the centralisation of the federal government.


History Week 11. The Trail of Tears

Again, do not read this long essay unless you really feel motivated to do so!

The Trail of Tears


In this essay I discuss the event known as The Trail of Tears. The essay is made up of several paragraphs that review the background of this event, going through to the event itself.

In 1492, when Cristopher Columbus found the new world, he triggered a huge colonising period. Countries such as England, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, started a race to establish colonies in not only what we now know as the US, but around the world. This colonising era saw the rise of countries to becoming world powers. Still, to colonise North America was an especially large objective. Soon small settlements were springing up on the east coast, as European countries sent groups of settlers to colonise the lands in America. But the colonists were soon faced with a problem. There were native people who had been living in America generations before the settlers arrived!  

These came to be known as ‘Indians’ because of Cristopher Columbus’ mistake in thinking that he had found India, when he had actually discovered North America. By the late 1600s, the British, French and Spanish, had already been establishing settlements on the east coast of North America. All these settlements on the east coast meant that the Indians living there were pushed out. This happened through small wars with the settlers and the deaths of hundreds of Indians due to diseases brought by the colonists. 

Over next hundred years, the mother countries of colonies in America started to fight each other for control of North America. But by the mid 18th century, Britain arose as the dominant force in America. Having wrestled Canada from the French, the British added this chunk of land to their already prominent thirteen colonies on the east coast. For a time, everything was going well. Borders had been established between the Indian lands and the colonies, which made everything seem simple. But problems soon arose.

Britain had accumulated large debts from the French and Indian Wars, which had given the British control over Canada. To pay off these debts, Britain started to impose taxes on the thirteen colonies. Many of these taxes were imposed on everyday needs and were back then considered to be high taxes too. The colonists did not like these high and unreasonable taxes. In fact, the taxes contributed to the American War for Independence, in which the thirteen colonies separated from their mother country Britain. This resulted in the birth of The United States of America. As an independent country, the government of the US could do things that they could not have done when they were under Britain.  

The American-Indian border had always been dangerous. Indian raids were frequent and many times these resulted in homes being destroyed and the inhabitants killed. This caused fear and resentment among the white settlers living close to the frontier. This resentment of Indians was followed by the worldview called “Manifest Destiny” this belief was that America should extend all the way to the west coast. This meant chasing out the Indians and colonising vast tracts of land. This concept was put in place several times, as the expanding nation of America started pushing westward, as early as 1830. This is commonly referred to as the “Indian Removal” and was justified with the “Indian Removal Act” by Congress.

This is were we get to The Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears was a forced removal of the Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee tribes. Theses tribes were forced from their native lands around modern day Mississippi and Oklahoma. The Indians had to walk miles to reservations, often at bayonet point from US soldiers. Many thousands of Indians died from disease and starvation along the way. From 1831-1840 this “removal” took place until almost ten thousand Indians had been removed. 

Sadly, this would not be the last removal of Indians. Over the next few decades, the US would continue to push Indians further and further off their lands. Those who resisted were forced to give up their lands. Many Indian-American wars would take place, up till the point where the last Indians lived in small reservations mostly forgotten or ignored. 

The Trail of Tears has a legacy of being an infamous act of evil from the US government and although the Indians did sometimes attack the American settlers, these removals were definitely not morally justified.

History Week 10.The life of John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams


In this essay, I discuss the life and presidency of John Quincy Adams, the son of one of the founding fathers of America. The essay is basically made up of paragraphs that go through the life of this influential man.

John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1767, to John and Abigail Adams. When young John was only eight years old he witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill from the top of Penn’s hill, which was not far from the farm where he grew up. As he grew older, he accompanied his father as a secretary while John Adams was in Europe. Through the time spent abroad, young John became an excellent writer. At home, young John was privately tutored and this helped him write well too. 

By this time America had become an Independent nation from Britain with John Quincy’s father becoming a founding Father of the new country. The diplomatic missions to Europe with his father had started before independence from Britain had been gained, but now America was truly independent.

After coming back from Europe in 1785, John Quincy attended Harvard University, from which he graduated second in his class in 1787. After graduating, John studied law until 1789. Also in 1789, young Adams’ father, John Adams, became Vice President of the US under the first president, George Washington. In 1794, John Quincy once again was involved in politics, when George Washington appointed him as ambassador to the Netherlands. As ambassador, John Quincy excelled at his work. 

In the winter of 1795-1796, John Quincy was in London where he met Louisa Catherine Johnson and, after a brief courtship, the couple happily married. In 1796, John Adams became the second president, beating Thomas Jefferson in the election. John Adams quickly appointed his son as ambassador, but this time John Quincy became ambassador to Prussia. After his father lost the 1800 election, John Quincy continued serving in different public service roles. In 1802, he was elected to the senate, from which he jumped to becoming minister to Russia six years later in 1808 under President Monroe. In 1817, John Quincy became Secretary of State and is now remembered as one of the greatest Secretaries of State that ever lived. He organised the joint occupation of the Oregon territory from Britain and was involved in the obtaining of Florida from Spain. 

Soon John Quincy found himself in a race with Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and William Crawford to becoming president. While the early trend had been that the Secretary of State would become the next President, this trend was giving way to popular votes. Although Jackson was popular, Adams arose victorious in the election and was inaugurated as President in 1825. President John Quincy quickly elected Henry Clay as his Vice-President and many of Jackson’s supporters claimed that a corrupt bargain between Adams and Clay had taken place in the election. This however, did not stop Adams and he managed to hold his place of President.

During his Presidency, Adams was a supporter of the development of roads and canals to link the US together. He was also an avid supporter for the development of sciences and arts. He urged congress that this could be achieved through the erection of a national university and observatory.

But his term soon passed and as Adams came round for the re-election bid, he soon found that there was no chance of him getting reelected. Jackson and his supporters had been getting ready for the election of 1828 and this proved vital for the latter, as Adams was defeated in the election

But Adams’ political life did not stop after Presidency. In 1830 he was elected to the house of representatives in Plymouth, where he became a powerful leader. For eighteen years Adams fought tirelessly against slavery and the “gag rule” which was a rule concerning slavery.

In 1848, while attending the house of representatives, John Quincy collapsed on the floor from a stroke. Just two days later, this great and notable leader died. John Quincy was buried at the First Parish Church in Quincy.

John Quincy was an influential man in US history. Apart from being one of the few sons of a former president to become president, he was passionate about fighting one of the horrible things that happened in America, notably, slavery. In many polls of today, John Quincy is consistently ranked among the top 25 presidents of America.

History Week 9. The War of 1812

Note: This is a long essay, so do not feel inclined to read it

War of 1812

Fought from 1812 to 1814, the War of 1812, though short, had a large impact on the young nation of America. The War of 1812 was fought between America and her old mother country Britain and was the second time the two met in war, since the founding of America. After The War for Independence, relations between the two countries had gone from bad to worse, eventually culminating in a war.

In the next twenty years following the birth of America as an independent nation, Europe was teetering on the brink of war. The war debts accumulated by world powers France, (through the debts incurred by helping the Americans in the War for Independence) and Britain’s loss of the colonies, shifted the tables in already weakened Europe. Also, the continent was still suffering from the seven years war, which had occurred between 1750 and 1763, this having taxed many countries in Europe. 

Then, in 1789, the French people revolted against their monarchy in France. This would later be known as the start of the French Revolution. The revolution succeeded and the monarchy lost all of its power in France, as the revolutionaries started to form a new government, called the Republic of France. Soon after, King Louis XVI of France was executed, signalling the end of the monarchy in France. The revolution quickly drew other countries into alliances to defeat the young Republic and restore the monarchy. Soon Britain and France were fighting yet another war, as they were the two dominant powers at the time.

The British navy, which had the most powerful fleet in the world, soon became short of sailors. In peacetime, there were usually enough volunteer seamen to man the few warships that where deployed during peacetime. But when war broke out with France, all available ships needed to be manned, as sea battles with France were inevitable. The common perspective was, “whoever controlled the sea, controlled the world.”

America, under President Thomas Jefferson, suffered from the wars that were going on in Europe. This was because both Britain and France thought that American trade ships were bringing goods to the other. And since France and Britain were at war, they would not allow American trade ships to cross the Atlantic without being searched. British ships though, would sometimes impress American sailors into the navy.

One such affair was the Leopold-Chesapeake engagement, where the American trading ship Chesapeake was engaged by the British warship Leopold. This was the result of the fact that three British sailors had deserted from the Royal Navy and enlisted as crew for the Chesapeake. The Leopold had been commissioned with a search warrant to board the Chesapeake, look for the deserters and bring them back. But the warrant was refused by the captain of the Chesapeake and so a brief fight broke out between the two ships. The result was that the American captain was forced to give in to the British demands.

This engagement angered the Americans, as they saw these events as proof that Britain still hadn’t accepted American Independence. In 1807, Thomas Jefferson made the Embargo Act of 1807. This restricted American trade with foreign countries, as Jefferson believed that Britain would suffer from no trade with America and would then stop their demeaning behaviour. But the British seemed to get along nicely without imports from America, and the Embargo Act quickly backfired, as American merchants lost a lot of money. In 1809, James Madison was elected to office, beating Thomas Jefferson, who, just before leaving office, had repealed the Embargo Act.

Madison could not have been elected at a worse time, as anger in America against Britain had grown more and more. This led to the want for war with Britain and a party of Americans called “The War Hawks” led by senator Henry Clay, pushed for war with Britain. The War Hawks stated that war would solve Britain’s demeaning behaviour. They also stated that America could capture British-held Canada and so therefore prosper from the war. In 1812, Madison finally asked Congress for a declaration of war, to which Congress agreed. America then declared war on Britain and the War of 1812, officially begun.

The British, who were busy fighting the French, did not really have time to fight the Americans. This meant that the British had few regular troops stationed in Canada and many of their ships could not be spared from fighting with France. When the declaration of war by the US reached Isaac Brock, one of the British commanders in Canada, he quickly warned everyone in Canada of the coming war. British forces in Canada were composed of Indians, Canadian Militia and about 8,000 British troops. The American forces on the other hand, were made up of 12,000 regulars, with thousands of additional militia. 

The war started when general William Hull led American forces against the British Canada in July, 1812. Contrary to the beliefs that seizing Canada would be easy, the well-trained British troops quickly defeated the American forces and captured Detroit. Shortly after, Hull and 2,500 of his troops surrendered to the British. Another attempt into Canada from Lake Erie was defeated by Isaac Brock and his troops at the Battle of Queenston heights. Unfortunately for the British though, Brock died in the battle.

But the British luck did not hold forever. In 1813, the US navy managed to decisively defeat British warships on Lake Erie. This showed the US navy at it’s best and although the British had no large amount of ships available to fight the Americans, these victories were still important.   

In 1814, the war sped up, as the wars with France had just ended and Britain was now free to send more troops to assist in the war in America. This sudden influx of troops and ships was decisive and in April 1814, British troops defeated American forces in the Battle of Bladensburg and subsequently managed to take Washington DC. It was here were the British famously burned many of the government buildings, including the White House. At the battle of Baltimore Harbour however, the Americans managed to hold their own as they were bombarded by a large British fleet. It was from this battle that the famous song “The Star-Spangled Banner” originated.

By now though, both sides started to realise that they could not best the other. The Americans realised that invading Canada was impossible, while the British had been unable to suppress the American trade. So, in August 1814, The Treaty of Ghent was drawn up and signed in late 1814. The treaty stated the end of the war and also declared a state of status quo antebellum, which basically means that every piece of land taken during the war would be given back to the original owner.  But news travelled slowly back then, so the Americans managed to pull off one last victory, when at the Battle of New Orleans, they managed to repel a British attack. But by and by the war eventually came to an end. There was no clear winner, as both sides claimed victory.

The War of 1812 was considered by Americans to be “The Second War for Independence” and restored a lot of national pride, especially after the victory at New Orleans, which made many Americans feel that the war had been an American victory. In Britain, the war was soon forgotten, as it was shadowed by the wars with France, which had been ten times as large. From 1815, relations between Britain and America got better and better and the two countries have been allies in many other wars since. In the end, the war did not have any clear winner and was really just that push needed for better relations between America and Britain.

History Week 8. The French Revolution

Note: Unless you have a LOT of time, I would not recommend reading this long essay.

The French Revolution

This essay gives a brief history of the French Revolution which occurred between the years 1789-1799. I also include the revolution’s causes and effects.

By the 1780s, France had faced a lot of problems, which had subsequently exhausted the nation. Some of the problems are as follows. Only twenty six years before 1789, France had fought in the Seven Years War and had lost almost all of her provinces in North America to their arch enemy, Britain. In 1775, the American Revolutionary War started, when the people in the thirteen colonies rebelled against Britain, their mother country. King Louis XVI of France saw the American rebellion as an opportunity to hit back at the British, so he started to support the rebel colonists. In 1783, the American revolution ended in the colonies’ Independence and an overall victory for the American-French coalition. But France’s support for the colonists had landed the country in debt, as the war effort had cost millions of francs. 

But it was not just debt that France had to face. During the 1780s continuous bad harvests struck the country so hard that people began to starve. Also, the way that society was organised in Europe at the time, especially in France, contributed greatly to the start of the French Revolution. Up till the revolution, France still had remnants of the feudal system in her social order. This meant that the distance between the upper and lower classes was huge, creating resentment. France had  three social classes, called estates. The first estate was the clergy of the Catholic Church, the second estate was comprised of the nobility and the third estate was made up of the rest of the people (97% of France’s population), who were considered commoners. This social structure was quite rigid and if someone were born into a third estate family, there was almost no way for them to attain a higher place in society.

Following the advice of his advisors about the desperate financial state of the country, King Louis convened an assembly known as the Estates-General at his home in the palace of Versailles, about 50 miles away from Paris, in 1789. The Estates-General was a meeting that the King of France could call in an emergency and had alrady been used a few times before by France’s monarchs. In this meeting, representatives from the three estates would come together and discuss pressing issues. The Estates-General of 1789 was called to settle France’s financial issues. But there was a problem. The representatives of the third estate outnumbered those of the clergy and nobles put together. This meant that the third estate could push for less tax, as they had the majority. To answer this problem, Louis locked the third estate representatives out of the meeting room, with only the two upper estate representatives inside. Outraged at this injustice, the third estate representatives held their own meeting called the National Assembly, in an indoor tennis court. The gathered representatives swore an oath, saying that they would not leave the court until a new constitution had been agreed on. 

From the National assembly, everything started to spiral out of control. The king, fearing that the Assembly would enforce their constitution, sent the first and second estate representatives into the Assembly. Meanwhile, the public in Paris heard about the Assembly and soon people were talking about the country’s troubles and the problems of the current government. The gossip quickly turned to rioting, and the commoners, (also known as the partisans) famously stormed the Bastille, a government prison, on July 14th, 1789. This is officially recognised as the start of the French Revolution.

Violence quickly spread beyond Paris and throughout the country. Many peasants rebelled against their masters, turning on them. Many of the nobility were killed, with the peasantry taking their possessions and homes. During this time, the third estate kept calling for equality, so that they could be considered equals to the two upper estates. At first the two upper estates refused to submit to these changes, but with the violence increasing, they had no choice but to give in. On August 4, 1789, the National Assembly passed a number of reforms that abolished certain feudal rules and they also started to tax the upper estates.

The National Assembly then created a bill of rights, to satisfy the growing demands of the people. This was called the Declaration of the rights of man bill. This bill gave freedom of speech, press and religion and also declared that citizens could not be falsely arrested. The declaration still forms part of the current French constitution. The Declaration was passed and approved by the National Assembly on August 26 1789. King Louis XVI signed the document, but he was under pressure to do so.

Seeing their King’s uncertainty and lack of strong will, the already starving Parisians demanded that the king move to Paris, so that he could be closer to the people, but also so that they could watch his moves. In October 1789, the Royal family was forced to move, when an angry crowd of women and soldiers surrounded the palace of Versailles. This would later become known as the famous ‘March of the Market women’

Following the relocation of the King, the National Assembly decided to go ahead and form a republic, overturning the old monarchial system. The new constitution that was written up, limited the power of the king, establishing a legislature, which would be elected by the people. It also declared that everyone had the right to vote. To pay off the country’s debt, the new government confiscated the Catholic Church’s lands, effectively reducing the power of the first estate. Henceforth, in 1791, the writing and forming of this new government began. 

Meanwhile, King Louis XVI, was not happy with the sudden turn of events surrounding the new government. In June 1791, Louis decided that it was time he and his family flee France, and go to Austria, where the Queen’s brother was emperor. However, as they tried to escape, they were caught and immediately sent back to Paris. The instability in France soon leaked out to other countries, where other monarchs started to fear that the French Revolution would spread to their countries. This immediately caused them to start making war plans against the French republic. 

Knowing what the other countries where up to, the still developing republic, decided to make the first move and declare war. In 1792, France attacked Austria, fearing that the Austrians would reinstate the complete monarchy. Austria was soon joined by other countries who together converged to destroy the new republic. Meanwhile, France itself was still in turmoil, as both the war and the newly-formed republic greatly excited the citizens. The republic also decided to completely do away with the monarchy, subsequently strengthening the power of the republic.

In late 1792, King Louis was put on trial for his actions and treason against his country. He was executed on January 3rd, 1793. This caused for celebration throughout France, as the French believed that now, the revolution could go forward. Meanwhile, debates in the National Assembly where tearing the young government apart. The war effort and general state of the country was shocking, with poverty and starvation everywhere. One of the leading parties in the republic, the Jacobins, saw this moment of instability in the government and so they attempted to exploit it to their use. Their scheme worked, and led by a man called Maximilien Robespierre, took complete control of the government. The Jacobins were a radical group, who sought to crush all remaining royalist sympathisers. Their method for removing resistance came in the form of ‘Madame Guillotine’. This was a humane execution tool with a sharp blade that chopped the victim’s head off. This tool was used in the Reign of Terror. 

The Reign of Terror was a time of blood and violence, when some streets in Paris were covered in blood.  Whole families were sent to the guillotine, as the common people sought revenge on the ‘traitorous’ higher classes. But not just nobles were executed. Anyone who was thought a traitor to the republic could die. This wave of mass execution was a clear sign of the horrible extremes that the Republic was taking. Led by Robespierre, the Terror lasted from 1789 to 1794. 

The Terror finally ended when Robespierre himself was found guilty of treason and was executed in 1794. The death of Robespierre triggered the fall of the Jacobins, as their control crumbled. This also calmed down the fervour of many of the revolutionaries, as France suddenly grew calmer after the Terror. This ‘calming down’ is known as the Thermidorian Reaction.

After the Thermidorian Reaction, there was a brief period known as The Directory. But this lasted only for 5 years, so a young French general called Napoleon Bonaparte, decided to take the matters of the country into his own hands. In 1799, Napoleon led a coup d’état and successfully became ruler of France . He soon named himself Emperor and was readily accepted by the people.

By this time, most of the violence in France had died down and although all was not normal, internal fighting and resistance to the revolution started to cease. When Napoleon came to power, he focused on the wars which France was waging against it’s neighbouring countries. Although the wars would go on for a few more years, the crowning of Napoleon officially ended the ‘Revolution’ in France. 

The French Revolution was a terrible time and shows the abandonment of Christian standards. This is also known among Christians as the ‘restraint’ of the Holy Spirit. In countries where Christians live, the Holy Spirit restrains people from going wild. Sure, bad things still happen in those countries, but the French Revolution was an example of complete removal of this ‘restraint’. Many Biblical historians think that this happened because years before, in 1643, the christians in France were driven out and persecuted.  

To conclude, we have talked on the main causes of the revolution, going through several issues that France had and how that led to one of the most famous revolutions that has ever happened. 

This revolution shaped a lot of culture, and although the monarchy was restored to France in 1814, the effect the revolution has had on France is enormous and has also had its effects on the continent. 

History Week 7. Three Cultural Updates

Three Cultural updates


In this history essay, I discuss three cultural events that took place in the late 18th century. These three events are The Storming of the Bastille (1789), the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1791) and the Treaty of Greenville (1795) which ended the Northwest Indian War. The essay is divided into three sections, each discussing one of the cultural updates. There is also a conclusion at the end of the essay to sum up the content of the essay and to wrap up.

The Storming of the Bastille

By 1789, the country of France had incurred large debts which had mainly come from fighting costly wars with the British. To clear these debts, King Louis XVI of France decided to put higher taxes on the people. But nobody expected what would happen next. The French people were already poor because of the existing taxes, so when they saw that the rich nobility were trying to impose higher taxes on them, they rebelled. This started with the storming of the Bastille, a government prison in Paris. 

On July 14, 1789, crowds of armed French peasantry surrounded the Bastille Prison and a terrible fight with the prison garrison ensued. After hours of fighting, the Bastille fell and the inmates of the prison were released. This signalled the start of The French Revolution, a long and bloody conflict where the republic of France was established and the monarchy of France overthrown.

Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

On the 5th of December, 1791, the famous classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died. Mozart was well known in his time, but his works have become increasingly famous after his death. Mozart was gifted with the ability to learn to play the piano at a very young age, which influenced his skill later in his life. He composed before European royalty when he was only five years old, which definitely shows just how skilled he was. 

In his lifetime Mozart composed more than six hundred works, making a profound influence in western music. Unfortunately, Mozart fell ill in the September of 1791 and died a month later from health complications. Mozart has gone down in history as one of the greatest composers of classical music and his works live on as great masterpieces, down to this day. 

Treaty of Greenville

The treaty of Greenville was a treaty made by the US with the Wyandot and Delaware Indians in 1795, to end the Northwest Indian War. The war started over land disputes with the Native Indians in the northwest territory in modern day Ohio and Indiana. Years before the war, a large chunk of the northwestern territory was owned by the Native Indians. But after the American War for Independence, America encouraged expansion into the Indian territories.  So when American settlers started to encroach on the northwestern territory, a war broke out.

From 1785 to 1795 a bloody war between the Indians and the American military took place. The war ended in 1795 with the Greenville treaty, which established a border line that took away most of the Indian territory and left just a small portion of land for the Indians. This treaty was later broken by the US and is one of many examples of the greed of settlers and the injustice that the US harboured against the native Indians.


To sum up the essay content, we talked on three cultural events that took place in the late 18th century. The first was The Storming of the Bastille in 1789, which marked the start of the French revolution. The second event was the death of the famous composer Mozart in 1791, and the third event was the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which marked the end of the Northwest Indian War. The fact that all these events happened in the same time period, shows just how rich history is and how much we can learn

History Week 6. The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence


In this essay I discuss the Declaration of Independence. The essay covers the background, purpose, content and influence of this document. This is discussed over several paragraphs, ending with a conclusion to wrap up the essay.


The Declaration of Independence was a document compiled by the founding fathers of America to state complete separation from Britain in 1776. This document was written one year into the American Revolutionary War and it was one of the four foundational documents that formed America. The document was passed by the Continental Congress in 1776, officially declaring America a separate nation. The work behind the document had been done years before the release, but the document itself was only written up in two weeks.


The content of the declaration is as follows.

The Preamble

The preamble of The Declaration of Independence, is the first major part of the document. The Preamble is like the introduction of the document and basically starts off the declaration. The Preamble starts by declaring the forming of the United States of America. The Preamble also outlines some famous “rights” of the people and it sets the scene in a way that represents the whole thirteen colonies united as one country

The Body

The body of the declaration takes a large chunk out of the document and it outlines the grievances that the colonies have with the Crown of England. The list of grievances is quite long and only ends when the document starts to conclude with the second-to-last paragraph. The body of the declaration fits very snugly with the introduction, as the introduction basically stops by saying that the paper goes on to describe the grievances, which is recorded in the body of the document. As I have already said, the body describes the grievances of the colonists against the king, so here I have listed a few simplified versions. These grievances are listed as things that angered the colonists.

-The high taxes imposed on them by the crown

-Trade regulations which Britain had imposed on the colonies

-Forced quartering of British troops into the homes of


-The dissolving of gatherings held to discuss problems with the British government

These are just a few of the many grievances that make up the body of the Declaration of Independence. The body of the document ends when the second-to-last paragraph of the entire declaration is started

The Conclusion

The conclusion of the declaration of independence comes at the end of the document and concludes the entire declaration. The conclusion sums up the content of the declaration and concludes with the signatures of the delegates. It is here where the famous signature of John Hancock was written, it’s size and fancy twirls making it very well known.  


The influence of The Declaration of Independence, has had an influence in American culture. The declaration did put forth some fundamental doctrines of natural rights and the declaration has influenced the expansion of American social democracy. The declaration has had so much influence, that a national day, July 4th was established to remember the day of Independence. The statue of liberty can also be linked to the declaration, as liberty is one of the fundamental truths in the document. 


To conclude the essay, I talked on The Declaration of Independence. The first paragraph was made up of some background information along with the purposes of the document. The second part of the essay was made up of the different sections of the declaration and I listed some of the grievances made by the delegates of the Continental Congress. The last part of the essay was the influence that the declaration has had on modern day America. 

I hope you enjoyed the essay!

History Week 5. The American War for Independence

American War for Independence

It was war. After the intolerable acts had been put on the people of Massachusetts in 1773 for the event named the Boston Tea Party, the American colonists were starting to support the idea of all out war with Britain. This was further headed by the 1774 Continental Congress, in which 12 of the thirteen colonies sent a total of 55 delegates to submit a list of grievances against King George III of England. These petitions were dismissed by the British, and just the next year, in the month of April 1775, the first shots of the American Revolutionary war were fired.

It started on April 19th, 1775, when 700 British troops set out from Boston to confiscate colonial arms which had been stored in the village of Concord. But the Americans were forewarned by Paul Revere, a colonist who, when he heard of the British plans, rode to the two towns of Lexington and Concord to warn the colonists of the British approach. As the British marched through Lexington, which was on the way to Concord, they were met by a contingent of 80 colonist militia. It was then that a shot from unknown source, was fired. This was the first shot of the war.

In the confusion that ensued, both sides started to fire on each other. Eight colonists were killed. The British then started to march on Concord. When the colonists in Concord heard about the fighting, they prepared themselves and hid the stored weapons in the town. When the British column arrived, they dispersed into the town to search for the weapons.   Meanwhile, a band of militia had gathered on a Bridge, to see what would happen next. This contingent was attacked by the British force, yet the colonists managed to drive the British all the way back to Boston, subsequently laying siege to the city.     

Although the British were besieged, Thomas Gage, commander over the British forces, had a plan. This was to take the Breed and Bunker hills which were just outside Boston and from there conduct more effective operations against the hundreds of militia outside Boston. The colonists heard of the plan though and at the battle of Bunker hill, they managed to inflict huge losses on the British, though they did initially lose the hills to the Redcoats.     

Thus the war started and with it, the hope for American independence. The Colonists immediately started to organise themselves, with men like George Washington, Benedict Arnold and Nathanael Greene being appointed as generals over the newly organised colonial army. But the British also saw some leadership changes. In 1775 William Howe was appointed major general over all British forces in America. This proved to be a wise decision on behalf of the British, as Howe quickly smashed Washington’s forces at the battle of Long Island after which the British captured New York and devastated fort Washington. After these British victories, the Americans managed to retain New Jersey with the two famous battles of Trenton and Princeton. But the Americans were still far from winning the war. Then, in 1776, a British army under commander John Burgoyne, was soundly defeated and captured at the battle of Saratoga. 

This battle convinced France, who was Britain’s worst enemy, to recognise America as independent and to enter the war on the side of the Americans. This was probably the turning point in the war, as  the French started supplying America with weapons, ships and troops. But the cold winter of 1777 forced the continental army to seek refuge in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Here the army suffered great loss of men due to disease and starvation.

The Americans were not defeated though, and they emerged from the terrible winter of 1777 a more disciplined army, due to army drills done in Valley Forge. By this time, Spain had joined France in a treaty with the colonies by recognising America as a separate country by the Declaration of independence, which was formed in 1776. Suddenly, Britain was faced by three nations helping each other to expel the British from North America. 

These new alliances meant that Britain’s military resources were stretched, as George III, unwilling to focus his armies entirely on America, stationed troops closer to Europe. This stretching of military resources would prove to be a mistake and was one of the reasons the war would end in American victory.

Meanwhile, the fighting in the northern theatre in America, had begun to abate. With neither side able to make much headway, the war shifted from the north to the south, as the British started focusing more of their troops in the southern sector in 1778, hoping to gain some advantage over the colonists. This shift of troops was almost immediately rewarded with success, as British troops captured Savannah in late 1778 and then managed to capture Charleston in 1779. After these defeats, Congress appointed Horatio Gates, the American commander of American troops at the Battle of Saratoga, to go down south and thwart British attempts to gain control there. Although he had won the battle of Saratoga, Horatio was defeated by the cunning British Commander Cornwallis at the Battle of Camden in 1780. 

But the British soon found themselves fighting on borrowed time. With France and Spain supporting America, and Spain also declaring war on Britain, the latter soon found that her military resources were strained. Any reinforcements that were sent to America, took weeks to arrive in the colonies, while the continental army, already bolstered by French troops, could simply recruit many willing men from the colonies. 

The noose started to tighten as Cornwallis’s army, pursued by a French force, took refuge in Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. Despite advice to make an effort to secure the town and prepare to defend against a combined French and American attack, Cornwallis simply waited, believing that he would soon be relieved by Henry Clinton, another British general.

As the French and American forces started closing in on Yorktown, a more permanent co-operation took place between the French and the Americans, as both sides saw that they needed to cooperate well if they wanted to win at Yorktown. This led to the decision to get the French fleet to cut off Cornwallis. This being completed and with Yorktown under severe bombardment from the besieging forces, Cornwallis gave up the hope for reinforcements and surrendered to the allied forces. This defeat signalled the end of the war, as enthusiasm for the war collapsed in Britain and the British government started organising the withdrawal of British troops.

Thus ended the American Revolution, with Britain losing one of her largest colonies and a new nation being formed. America has risen to becoming the most dominant world power and it all started with separation from Britain. 

History Week 4. My Grievances


My grievances                                                                Date: 10/14/1775

By Samuel Lawton, RPC student and delegate to congress.

The following letter describes the current situation in the 13 colonies and my response to Parliament concerning my grievances against parliament’s acts which they have imposed on the colonists.

A letter to Parliament

In this letter I would like to raise some points against the taxation acts which the house of Parliament in Britain has imposed upon us. While I do not agree that all taxation is bad, the extent to which the house has taxed us is a major issue, one that must be solved immediately.

The current situation, is indeed very disturbing. I understand that Britain has many financial difficulties resulting from the late war that occurred here against the French. I understand that this has drained the treasury and that more money is needed to replenish the financial needs of Britain. The house has therefore made the decision to tax the colonies in a way that has never been done before. Taxes on supplies such as Paper, Tea and on Imports has started to create unrest here in the colonies. Acts such as the Quartering Act and the Molasses Act are actually quite unfair in many respects to the people here.

I strongly believe that many of these Taxes are unrighteous and not needed. I believe there needs to be a change in the way policies are managed here in the colonies and I am also very supportive of the Idea that there should be a delegate from the colonies who could represent us in the house of Parliament. This is also the common thought here in the colonies and “No Taxation without Representation” has become a common phrase. While I detest the Idea of war with Britain (for rumours of such a conflict have been circulating recently) I do solemnly believe that change is needed. These changes are listed in the next few paragraphs and I bid the house to at least consider some of my highlighted points.

Import Tariffs

The first issue I have with Parliament, are the Import tariffs which the government of Britain has imposed upon us. While I understand that the Mercantilistic form of trading has the world in deadlock, I plead Parliament to consider free trade. The colonies would prosper and become wealthier and life here would be much improved. Free trade also provides wealth for Britain though, as the British government would not have to subsidise export, and export itself would probably increase.

What makes a country wealthy, is a productive nation where people have the freedom to buy necessities at the cheapest price possible, therefore saving money and making the people wealthier. Also, limiting imports actually cuts back on exports, which in a free trade might have grown better. 

Taxes on daily needs

The second issue I have with Parliament are the high taxes imposed on daily needs. The Stamp act and the Tea Act are two examples. These taxes are imposing on our daily needs, on necessities that make life enjoyable here. Also, why are these high taxes imposed entirely on us? If the British public aren’t paying these high taxes, why should we? And where are these taxes going? To line the pockets of wealthy London businessmen, or for our benefit? I understand that debts from the late war need to be repaid, but is there no other way? Even just a small increase on our national taxes to repay debts in the long run are better than high taxes on goods that we need.

To conclude, I would like to say once more, that I do not believe all taxation is wrong. Yet I am afraid to say that in this circumstance parliament has gone too far.

Greetings from the delegates of Congress

Yours Sincerely 

Samuel Lawton

The Seven Years War

The seven years war was a string of conflicts that occurred between the years 1754 and 1763. The Seven years war was the first global war and it included all the dominant European powers at the time. The war had effects on many different countries and has influenced history afterwards. But the two main theatres of conflict were North America and Central Europe, both sometimes being given different names, although the same war. 

In Europe, the causes of the war can be traced back to 1740, when Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI of Austria died. When his daughter Maria Theresa succeeded him as Empress, she was met with opposition. Becoming the ruler of the Hapsburg dynasty meant that Maria would control the countries of Hungary, Bohemia, Croatia and Austria. King Frederick II of Prussia questioned Maria’s inheritance, trying to find a reason to dethrone her. In actual fact, Frederick was keen to add more territory to Prussia and was using this crucial moment of succession to try to accomplish his goals.

The arguing quickly led to the War for the Austrian Succession, lasting for 8 years, from 1740 to 1748. Other countries quickly became embroiled in the war, with Britain siding with Austria, while France and sided with Prussia. Although the final result was the successful succession of Maria Theresa over the Hapsburg Monarchy, Silesia, a northern part of Austria, was lost to the Prussians. The loss of Silesia hurt Austria deeply, especially Maria. It was evident that Maria would not rest until Silesia was again part of Austria.

In wake of the aftermath of the war for the Austrian succession, several changes took place in alliances. Maria Theresa was frustrated with the British for not being involved enough, so those respective powers distanced themselves. Meanwhile, Louis XIV of France’s alliance with Frederick had been torn, as Louis felt like he had been left out of the treaty that had ended the war, so he sided with Maria. Elizabeth of Russia who was a bitter enemy of Frederick, also sided with the Austrians

The war in Europe started in 1756 when Frederick broke the present tension by speedily attacking the neutral country of Saxony. He realised that somebody needed to act first, as the tension would not have lasted forever. Frederick’s invasion proved successful, as he quickly captured the capital of Saxony and attempted to invade Austrian bohemia. But Austria, France and Russia acted quickly, declaring war on Prussia, with the Austrians speedily checking the Prussian advance. France, interested mainly with fighting the British, attacked Hanover in 1757, a British electorate which had been put under Prussian protection as part of the British-Prussian alliance.

Meanwhile, Frederick was enjoying some stunning victories, despite being outnumbered by the combined Austrian and Russian forces. Two of these victories are The battle of Leuthen in late 1757 and the battle of Rossbach, also in 1757. These victories showed the Prussian military to be Europe’s best at the time. But due to the combined resources of Austria and Russia, they had almost an unlimited amount of troops, while Prussia’s resources could only go so far. Frederick began to feel the heat as his enemies attacked on two fronts, with Austria attacking Saxony and the Russians invading eastern Prussia. To make matters worse, the Silesian people decided to reunite with the Austrians, which started to put a noose over Prussia. 

At Kunersdorf, a mere 81 kilometres outside of the Prussian capital Berlin, The Austro-Russian alliance managed to defeat Frederick’s army in the battle of Kunersdorf in 1759. This loss was Frederick’s only major defeat and it shattered his carefully trained army which had helped him win so many times before. Frederick could not hope for British help, as George II was focusing all of his resources on fighting the French overseas (mainly in America). Meanwhile, the road to Berlin was now clear for the Austro-Russian alliance, giving the perfect opportunity to end the war. But for some reason, the Austro-Russian alliance failed to take advantage of the situation, instead they retreated, most probably to rebuild their forces.

But this mistake gave Frederick the opportunity to rebuild his forces and he was soon ready to fight again. Meanwhile, after French forces failed to make headway in Hanover, Louis decided to concentrate more in the European theatre and try to make up for Austria and Russia’s mistake. But as Louis had split his forces between fighting the British overseas and Europe, he did not have the resources to defeat Frederick and was in turn defeated by the latter. Over the next two years (1760-1762), the war in Europe slowed down, as neither side gained much headway.

In late 1762, in a remarkable turn of events for Frederick, Elizabeth of Russia died. Her successor, Peter III, was actually a fan of Frederick and wasted no time in organising the Treaty of St. Petersburg, which saw Russia withdraw from the war entirely. Frederick’s luck would not stop there though, as France, weakened from fighting in the two theatre’s, was almost crippled and could not effectively oppose the Prussian forces. This left only Austria as a major enemy and they were defeated in several battles, at the end of which they signed a treaty with the Prussians.

The war in Europe ended in 1763, with the Treaty of Paris, with victory for the Prussians and British. The post-war conditions in the treaty stated that all land gained in Europe would be returned, also known as status quo antebellum. The effects of the war took a toll on all the European nations. All the economies of the countries involved had been wrecked and it would take a while before everything went back to normal.

American theatre

In North America, the war was quite different. Aside from being in another continent, the war was mainly fought between the French and English, including their respective Native Indian allies. The 13 British colonies were right next to land claimed by the French, the number 1.  enemy of Britain. This war would later be called the French and Indian war. The conflicts were mainly fought in French Canada.

Conflicts began in 1754 with several skirmishes in north Canada, these being a result of the French invasion of Minorca, a British island in the Mediterranean. This invasion justified a British expedition in North America led by a young colonial officer, George Washington. This expedition was merely to make sure that the French weren’t building forts on English territory, but it quickly escalated into violence when the expedition was met by a French party. This resulted in a skirmish which was later called the Battle of Jumonville Glen. The French party were defeated, but this small skirmish quickly developed beyond just a small battle

Two years later, in 1756, war was officially declared by both England and France, tying in with the war in Europe that had started. But the French and British were not really interested in the war in Europe, being more concentrated on taking over each other’s colonies. Britain was heavily invested in this colonial battle, while the French divided their forces between Europe and their colonies. In the first stages of the French and Indian War, both France and Britain had not declared war on each other. 

Meanwhile, conflicts escalated as another British expedition was soundly defeated at the battle of Monongahela in 1755. The French continued to enjoy victories against the British and their Indian allies throughout 1755 and 1756. In 1756, the two countries finally declared war and The French and Indian War became more serious than ever. In 1757, Britain’s luck began to turn around as they started investing more and more resources in the war. They also took advantage of France’s decision to fight both the war in Europe and America, which split French resources. 

Two French forts quickly fell to the British in 1757, with 1758 and 1759 seeing even more victories. In 1760, the British, under general Wolfe, attacked and captured the French town of Quebec in Canada, marking an important turnaround for Britain. By 1763, France had lost both the war in Europe and in North America, ceding most of their American territories to the British in the treaty of Paris.

The aftermath of the war saw France fade out of the position of a world power, with Britain becoming a dominant world power. The results of the French and Indian war also led to the American Revolutionary War, due to the massive debts incurred by Britain.