Sunday, November 24, 2013

This Day in History

November 24, 1848:
Pope Pius IX Flees Rome

Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX's refusal to declare war on Austria had turned the Liberals of Rome utterly against him. They now sought his downfall. Secret societies in the city stirred up the common people to demand nothing less than a secular, constitutional government for the Papal States. And the more the pope tried to appease the Liberals, the more they demanded of him. Even the pope's chief ministers, led by a layman, Count Mamiani, demanded that the pope not only declare war on Austria but also abandon his temporal power altogether.
As the months passed, street violence, stirred up by secret societies, increased in Rome. The civil guard was in the hands of the Liberals, while Count Mamiani only wasted government money and did nothing about the violence. When Mamiani at last resigned, the pope appointed Count Pellegrino Rossi as chief minister. Rossi took over the leadership of the mostly lay ministry on September 16, 1848.
The 61-year-old Count Rossi was a famous man. A Liberal who favored constitutional monarchy, he had published well-known works on politics, had written up a constitution for Switzerland, and served as professor of constitutional law at the University of Paris. King Louis Philippe's chief minister, Guizot, had made Rossi French ambassador to Rome. After the fall of Louis Philippe, Rossi entered private life.
Rossi believed that the world of his day was moving toward representative government and political liberty, but he thought this had to happen gradually. As prime minister, Rossi was intent on protecting the pope's political authority; and the pope, who had confidence in Rossi, entrusted to him the task of writing up a plan for a new constitution for the Papal States.
Liberal republicans, however, hated Count Rossi because he defended constitutional monarchy and was able to prevent riots in Rome. At last, the secret societies in Rome, Turin, and Florence condemned him to death.
Assassination of Count Rossi

On November 15, 1848, Rossi was to attend a meeting of Rome's legislative assembly to present his plan for a new constitutional order. After being warned that if he attended the meeting, an attempt would be made on his life, he replied, "I defend the cause of the pope, and the cause of the pope is the cause of God. I must and will go." That day, November 15, as he entered the assembly hall, someonestruck him with a cane. Turning toward his attacker, Rossi was set upon by another assailant, who drove a dagger into his neck. Though members of the Civic Guard were in the courtyard, no one attempted to arrest the count's killer. 
"Count Rossi died a martyr to duty," said Pope Pius when he heard the news of his minister's death.
The blow struck at Rossi was a signal to the secret societies to rise against the papal government. The day following Rossi's murder, Pius found himself besieged within the Quirinal by an unruly mob joined by members of the civic guard and the army. The pope's Swiss Guard was able to hold back the mob for a time; but just when the crowds began to disperse, about a thousand members of the Civic Guard, the police, and other soldiers marched onto the palace's piazza. To the music of pipes and drums, the soldiers drew up in formation and, on command, opened fire on the palace. Soon cannon were brought to bear on the Quirinal; and the pope, knowing resistance was useless, agreed to negotiate with revolutionaries.
Pius was forced to appoint a Liberal ministry, but he refused to abdicate. He had no authority to do so, he said, for his temporal power came from God. But Pius refused to put up any resistance to the Liberals. "My course at this moment, when I am deprived of all support and all material power, can have but one object," he said-"to avoid the useless shedding of a single drop of fraternal blood in my behalf." As a prisoner, he took no further part in the new government, saying he remained "absolutely a stranger to its acts." He forbade the government to pass any laws in his name.
Pope Pius knew that if he remained in Rome he would simply become a pawn of the revolutionaries who controlled the city. On the evening of November 24, 1848, a well-laid plan was put into effect. With the aid of the French minister, the Bavarian ambassador, and his own personal attendant, Pius escaped from the Quirinal, disguised as a common priest. At last he passed through the gates of Rome and entered a carriage that was to take him to Gaeta, where the king of the Two Sicilies had promised him a refuge.
Jolting in the carriage along the rough roads of his domains, still threatened with danger, the pope drew a small metal object from his breast. It was a pyx containing the Body of Christ-the very same pyx Pius VII had carried when he went into exile from Rome. After pressing the pyx to his lips, the pope turned to those who accompanied him in his flight. "Be calm," he said, "God is with us. I carry the Blessed Sacrament on my person."
The foregoing is taken from our textbook, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Day in History

November 18, 1903: "Big Stick" Diplomacy and The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty
On November 3, 1903, the secretary of state in Washington, D.C. cabled the U.S. consul in Panama: "Uprising on Isthmus reported. Keep Department promptly and fully informed."
The consul cabled back: "No uprising yet. Reported will be in the night." 
That evening, again the consul cabled the secretary of state: "Uprising occurred tonight 6; no blood-shed. Government will be organized tonight."
So it began and ended - the U.S.-backed revolution that won Panama her independence and secured for the United States the stretch of land across which the Panama Canal would cut. On November 18, 1903, the new government of Panama ceded the canal zone to the U.S. in the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, subsequently accepted by the U.S. Senate on February 23, 1904 and ratified by President Theodore Roosevelt two days later.
The account below of the interesting events culminating in the treaty comes from our high school textLands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America.

In his second inaugural address, Roosevelt developed his ideas about the place of the United States in the world. "Much has been given us," he said, "and much will rightfully be expected from us ... We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities. Towards all other nations, large and small, our attitude must be one of cordial and sincere friendship. We must show not only in our words, but in our deeds, that we are earnestly desirous of securing their good will by acting toward them in a spirit of just and generous recognition of all their rights."
However, the president continued, justice and generosity required strength. "While ever careful to refrain from wrong-doing others," he said, "we must be no less insistent that we are not wronged our-selves. We wish peace, but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of righteousness. We wish it because we think it is right and not because we are afraid. No weak nation that acts manfully and justly should ever have cause to fear us, and no strong power should ever be able to single us out as a subject for insolent aggression."
Roosevelt had said about the same thing many times before but in fewer words: "There is a homely adage which runs: 'Speak softly, and carry a big stick; you will go far'" .... 

READ MORE about the events that gave Roosevelt the Panama Canal Zone.

Monday, November 11, 2013

This Day in History

November 11, 1887:
Hanging of the Haymarket Anarchists, Chicago 

. . . At 8 p.m. on May 4, August Spies addressed a few hundred workers gathered at Haymarket Square. As he warmed to his subject, he began denouncing McCormick and challenged the workers. "The families of twenty-five or thirty thousand men are starving because their husbands and fathers are not men enough to withstand and resist the dictation of the thieves on a grand scale," he cried. Albert Parsons next addressed the slowly growing crowd. "I am not here for the purpose of inciting anybody," he declared. "It behooves you, as you love your wife and children, if you don't want to see them perish with hunger, killed or cut down like dogs in the street, Americans, in the interest of your liberty and your independence, to arm, to arm yourselves." The people applauded and cried, "We will do it, we are ready now!" 
A rainstorm drove away many of those gathered, and at 10 p.m., when about 180 police arrived, only 300 to 400 remained. The rally had been peaceful, but the police captain ordered it to disperse. No sooner had he spoken than someone threw a bomb into the ranks of police, killing one officer and injuring sixty others. The police fired into the crowd. In the aftermath, one striker lay dead, 12 others were wounded.
Newspaper accounts of the Haymarket episode made it appear that the bomb throwing had been part of a well orchestrated anarchist plot. In the weeks that followed, police arrested socialists and anarchists in Chicago and suppressed their newspapers. Among those arrested were August Spies and another anarchist leader, Samuel Fielden. Albert Parsons, who had gone into hiding, decided to give himself up. "I could not bear to be at liberty knowing my comrades were here and were to suffer for something of which they were as innocent as I," he said . . .

READ MORE about the trial of the Haymarket anarchists and their execution.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

This Day in History

November 6-7, 1917:
Russia Falls to the Bolsheviks

In July 1917 (only some four months since the Russian Revolution had toppled the tsar), Aleksandr Kerensky had organized a new government for Russia, but it was a government with little or no power. Russia was in chaos. The Russian army was disintegrating. The German army was moving closer to Petrograd. Peasants were seizing land in the countryside, while food riots rocked the cities. Toward the end of August, the provisional government's military commander in chief, General Lavr Kornilov, ordered his troops to march on Petrograd and called on Kerensky to dissolve the government. Railroad workers, however, stopped Kornilov by tearing up the tracks leading into the capital. On September 1, Kornilov surrendered to Kerensky and was imprisoned.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
The Kornilov revolt gave the Bolsheviks an opportunity to seize control of the revolution. Kornilov and Kerensky had plotted to overthrow the revolution, the Bolsheviks cried! They claimed Kerensky was not interested in democratic government -- his postponing of elections from September 30 to November 25 proved it. "Down with the Kornilovists!" cried the Bolsheviks. "Peace to the army! Land to the peasants! Control of factories to the workers!"

The Bolsheviks were capturing the people's imagination. More workers joined the Bolshevik party. The Bolsheviks gained control of the Petrograd Soviet. In mid September, Lev Trotsky was released from prison and in early October became chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. In late October, Vladimir Lenin, disguised as a railroad worker, arrived in Petrograd. Three days later, Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders held a secret meeting to discuss their next move.
Lenin was convinced that the time was ripe to overthrow the provisional government, but not all the Bolshevik leaders agreed. Lenin, however, was persuasive, and Trotsky joined him in urging an armed uprising. In the end, only two of the Bolsheviks opposed Lenin. The next question was, when to stage an uprising? Lenin wanted no delay, but Trotsky argued that it should wait for the meeting of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd on November 7. The Bolsheviks approved Trotsky's plan.
Despite their secrecy, the Bolsheviks' plan to overthrow the provisional government became known days before it was scheduled to occur. Still, no one attempted to stop the activities of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, or other Bolshevik leaders. On November 6, the day before the meeting of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the Bolsheviks published a proclamation
Lev Davidovich Trotsky
that Kerensky's government was planning "to annihilate" the congress and the future constituent assembly. But the government did not respond. That night, while the wealthy of Petrograd threw parties or went to the theater and the opera, Trotsky, with the Bolshevik Red Guards and armed workers, captured the bridges spanning the Neva River. Other Bolshevik troops seized railroad stations, telegraph and telephone offices, power plants, and the Bank of Russia. The next morning, the Bolsheviks distributed pamphlets proclaiming, "Long live the revolution of the workers, soldiers, and peasants!"
The Bolshevik uprising, such as it was, was the work of only a few men. There was no mass uprising of workers and peasants, as had happened in February. The Bolsheviks did not even form a majority of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, most of whose delegates were Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries. Still, throughout the following day, the Bolsheviks captured the Winter Palace, arrested the members of the provisional government (though Kerensky escaped), and proclaimed a new government, called the Soviet of the People's Commissars, with Lenin as its "chairman" and Trotsky its "commissar for foreign affairs."
The foregoing is taken from CTP textbook, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World.

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