Thursday, June 13, 2013

Midterm Exam, History 412: Modern North America, 1847-Present Part 2 by Kyle Owenby

Entry for the DBWI Writing Contest. Go to Part 1.

Date: Friday, March 1st
Instructor: Thomas Jackson IV, American and Military History
Department: History and Moral Philosophy, VMI
Departmental Secretary’s Signature: Velma May Ford

Dear Instructor Jackson,

My apologies for turning in the assignment at the last possible moment, my history of monarchism in America class toured the palace and government grounds in Quebec City the week of the midterm, limiting the time I had to work on your assignment.

With Regards,

Alexander Stephens Maddox

Select five of the following ten terms to define, making note of their significance for North American history.

1. Comancheria

Comancheria was the largest and most powerful of the "Indian republics" that dominated the interior of North America from the Rio Grande to the Arctic Circle. Not an actual republic, their government resembled the militarized Indian socialism of other Indian states that emphasized the public good, strict control over mankind's impact on nature and the licensed exploitation of natural resources. Comancheria exported cattle, silver and mercenaries to the rest of North America, operated a small but strong industry from the Rockies and vigorously defended their borders against outsiders, maintaining their independence into the twentieth century.

2. Port of Havana
3. Agrarian Federalism

Modeled on the Jeffersonian ideal of the yeoman-farmer, agrarian federalism advocated that the integral component of commerce and society were family held farmsteads and businesses, as opposed to plantations, banks or the large, capital financed corporations. To this end, they believed laws and public institutions should be structured to support the small farmers and businesses through tax and public works incentives. The ideology is and was prominent in the Midwest of the USA, California and the Unorganized Territory, but manifests itself differently in the various republics. In the USA it is an actual political party, whereas in the Republic of the South followers of agrarian federalism are held together by a loose network of sympathetic politicians from coastal and urban interests opposed to the dominance of the planter aristocracy.

4. Haitian Insurrection
5. Mexican Dissolution

Los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos was the rising power of the early nineteenth century, successful in its war against the revolutionaries in Tejas-Coahuila, the largest empire by territory in the Americas and resistant to the Bolivarian ideology being spread from further south. However, the Mexican state spread its resources to far, and collapsed after warring with its neighbors, the USA, California and the Republic of Central America. These wars resulted in the loss of political unity and territory, culminating in the period of the North American Wars (1844-1850). After numerous military defeats and the Second Texan Uprising, the other constituent states of Mexico began breaking away, starting with the Yucatan, to form their own republics. The last military act of los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos was the catastrophic intervention into the American War for Succession in the late 1840s to take territory along the Gulf. This resulted in the complete obliteration of the last Mexican Grand Army, ironically against one of its former commanders and presidents, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

6. Deseret
7. Technocratic Efficiency

The technocratic efficiency movement emerged in the late 1800s out of the industrial centers of the USA. Business leaders, managers and labor organizers recognized the inherent inefficiency of relying on people to make decisions without sufficient information. Critical industries were brought under the guidance of state-industry planners who used tabulated information, extremely early computational engines that factored in all available recorded sources: train schedules, the prices of goods, power rates and the usage of resources. This was done to determine how much of a good to produce and when, ostensibly allowing every industry and worker to maximize production.

8. Popular Socialism
9. Hanoverian Exiles

After a peasants revolution instigated by French anti-monarchists in 1808 from the French Republic, the House of Hanover fled their holdings in the British Isles to become exiles in their North American territories in Oregon Country. Their homelands thereafter referred to as the Directory Republic of England and Wales, the Restored Stuart Kingdom in Scotland and Eire. The Kingdom of British Columbia expanded quickly into the North American interior before negotiating an alliance with the tribes of the Unorganized Territory. They exchanged wheat and cattle for autonomy and trade privileges. The Kingdom is bordered by Yukonia to the north and Oregon to the south which buffers the Hanoverians against their more bitter rivals, Romanov Alaska and the California Republic.

10. Presidency of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

Select the best answer(s) for the following ten questions.

1. The Treaty of Havana (1887) ended which war?

A. The Mexican-American War
B. The War of Texas Secession
C. The Comancheria War
D. The War of Southern Independence

2. The goal(s) of the Technocratic Efficiency movement were?

A. State planning of the production for critical industries
B. Organizing the population to prevent wasted life and energy
C. Establishing standards for citizenship and reproduction
D. Fulfilling the mathematical precepts for human life

3. The first railroad that successfully connected a landlocked interior republic with the Pacific coast was?

A. The Canadian Transcontinental
B. The Yucatan to Los Angeles
C. The Deseret Exclusive 
D. The New Orleans to San Francisco

4. The last state to abolish slavery in North America was?

A. The Republic of Sonora
B. The Republic of the South
C. The Deseret Republic
D. The Empire of Haiti

5. The Caracas Dispute (1925) repudiated which international agreement?

A. The Geneva Conventions
B. The Treaty of Paris (1820)
C. The Monroe Doctrine
D. The Hanoverian Resolutions

6. Which states first successfully completed an Atlantic to Pacific canal?

A. The Republic of the South and France in Nicaragua
B. Los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos and Austria through central Mexico
C. The United States of America and Great Britain in Nicaragua
D. The Republic of the South and Los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos through central Mexico

7. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna served as President of which two nations?

A. Los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos and the United States of America
B. The United States of America and the Republic of the South
C. Los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos and the Republic of California
D. The Republic of the South and los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos

8. The largest naval battle in the Caribbean was between which two forces?

A. The US Navy and the British Navy
B. The Confederate Navy and the Brazilian Navy
C. The Californian Navy and the French Navy
D. The Gran Columbian Navy and the Confederate Navy

9. As of 1925 which North American state(s) practiced Popular Socialism?

A. Oregon and Guatemala
B. The Republic of the South and Cuba
C. Oregon
D. Cuba and Los Estados Unidos de Mexicanos

10. Which quote can be attributed to the Napoleon of the West, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna?

A. "The failure of democracy was my success."
B. "The Founding Fathers' vision for their ideals was short sighted."
C. "Bolivar is welcome to the South, so long as he leaves Mexico and the North for me."
D. "Without fail, one nation cannot rule this continent alone, its people are too stubborn, its spirit too independent, its landscape too harsh to allow that."

Choose one of the following two topics and write a five paragraph essay.

1. Arguably on its way to becoming the most powerful state in North America due to its size and natural resources, and a contentious rival with the USA after putting down the Texas Revolt, why does Mexico's Dissolution into the numerous "little republics" represent the turning point for modern North America? Use three distinct examples when writing your five paragraph essay.

The Mexican Dissolution, the breakup of the larger Mexican Republic into the "little republics" became the model for other states in North America to rescind their political boundaries and focus on tightly organized, regional polities that took on more limited aims and responsibilities. Other North American states with significant internal political divisions faced separatist movements and revolutions that broke up their political union. This convinced European liberals that republicanism could not govern a large, multiethnic empire, only enlightened, constitutional monarchies could do that. In response the nations of North America, those that remained undivided (too few) and the new nations, adopted strong nationalist and propagandist ideologies that helped unify their constituent members.

After the Mexican Dissolution, separatist ideologies spread across the whole of North America, leaving no region or polity unaffected. Some of the separatist states to emerge out of these revolutions include the Republic of the South, Deseret, and Quebec. The Republic of the South alleged federal complicity in the American loss to Mexico, and an industrial, northern ploy to subjugate the slaveholding South. The Americans fought a short civil war from 1848-1851 over the issue, before the northern war effort fell apart in a series of regional rebellions, such as Deseret, and workers strikes in the major cities like New York and Boston. When the other great power of the continent fell apart due to political infighting, it symbolized the collapse of the large, continent spanning empires.

Despite the collapse of the continent spanning governments this did not discredit the institution of the republic, at least not in North America. If anything, the spread of republicanism was hastened by these collapses as local and regional governments asserted themselves. In addition to the Republic of the South, other regional associations, such as the Republic of Sonora and the Republic of the Yucatan threw off the shackles of a federal government and organized their own political and military institutions. Unwilling to let their populations simply dissolve the political unions, numerous wars were fought to keep the "little republics" as a part of the Mexican Republic, the Dominion of Canada and the United States. Across North America these conflicts are referred to as The War for Secession, and lasted from roughly 1850-1857. They were almost wholly unsuccessful at keeping any nation in a union they were committed to leave.

Despite the popularity of republicanism and regional decision making, the widespread expansion of democracy and the democratic franchise was considered untenable for several centuries after the Mexican Dissolution. In each of the newly established "little republics" it was a small minority of local elites who organized the secession efforts and constitutional conventions (each new state, almost to a fault, felt the need to establish their own Constitutions). What this meant was an institutionalized lack of civic involvement for women and blacks as white males controlled the political process. In the Republic of the South this process was led by the middle class coastal merchants and urban industrialists in association with wealthy rural planters. In Deseret the process was directed by LDS elders, again white males, who disenfranchised non-Mormons, women, slave and free blacks, and Indians. The exception to the lack of Indian involvement was the establishment of the so called "Indian republics" across the American Midwest.

In conclusion, the Mexican Dissolution established the political paradigm that North America has followed for the last two centuries of its modern existence, even spreading the ideology to parts of Europe and Asia. North America is understood by both its inhabitants and outsiders as a fractured continent, drought with political and military intrigue. Without any successful examples of the widespread (continental) application of democratic and republican ideas to ethnically and religiously diverse polities, it can be argued that the enlightened absolutist philosophies of the European monarchies, most notably the French and the Austrians, have been irreconcilably strengthened against republicanism.

2. The Caracas Dispute (1925) brought the major nations of North America together with and against the leading powers of Europe, the French and Austrian Empires, in both a military and a political sense. How did the politics and national identities of the North American republics change in the aftermath of that meeting? Use three distinct examples when writing your five paragraph essay.

* * *

Kyle Owenby is a former history educator and soon to be law student residing in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, a fellow history enthusiast. In his free time he reads and writes speculative fiction, especially alternate history and space opera.

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