Why do governments exist? One major reason is that they create rules. But what rules are necessary or desirable? That is open to question, and different types of governments have certainly created a wide variety of rules.
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In the wake of Columbus' historic voyage in 1492, expeditions, especially from Imperial Spain, swarmed into Aztec territory. They came in search of gold and souls gold to enrich the coffers of the Spanish king (and their own), and heathen souls to rescue for Christianity. Within a generation, America's ancient civilizations were crushed. Both the Aztec and Inca Empires collapsed after campaigns lasting just a couple of years. How did they fall so fast? Historians suggest many causes.
The 1790s brought extraordinary divisions to the forefront of American life and politics. Strong differences about how best to maintain the benefits of the Revolution lay at the center of these conflicts. Hamilton's economic policies were among the earliest sources of tension. They sparked strong reactions not only from elected officials and ordinary farmers, but even split Washington's cabinet.
Congress admitted Texas to the Union in a joint resolution passed the day before Polk's inauguration. Mexico was outraged. Inclusion in the United States would forever rule out the possibility of re-acquiring the lost province.
Despite his suspicions, Chief Powhatan helped the British settlers through their first winters. But the good relations did not last, and Powhatan was forced to fight.
The Mexican War was over. Every goal set by the United States government when declaring war against Mexico was reached and then some. The ports of California were now under the United States flag. In fact, the United States increased its territory by more than one third as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. One would expect Americans to rejoice and come together in a burst of postwar nationalism. These were not, however, ordinary times.
Kansas would be the battleground on which the north and south would first fight. The Kansas-Nebraska Act led both to statehood and to corruption, hatred, anger, and violence. Men from neighboring Missouri stuffed ballot boxes in Kansas to ensure that a legislature friendly to slavery would be elected. Anti-slavery, or free soil, settlers formed a legislature of their own in Topeka. Within two years, there would be armed conflict between proponents of slavery and those against it.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 may have been the single most significant event leading to the Civil War. By the early 1850s settlers and entrepreneurs wanted to move into the area now known as Nebraska. However, until the area was organized as a territory, settlers would not move there because they could not legally hold a claim on the land. The southern states' representatives in Congress were in no hurry to permit a Nebraska territory because the land lay north of the 36°30' parallel where slavery had been outlawed by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Just when things between the north and south were in an uneasy balance, Kansas and Nebraska opened fresh wounds.
Lawrence was the center of Kansas's anti-slavery movement. It was named for Amos Lawrence, a New England financier who provided aid to anti-slavery farmers and settlers. This group went beyond simple monetary aid. New England Abolitionists shipped boxes of Sharps rifles, named "Beecher's Bibles," to anti-slavery forces. The name for the rifles came from a comment by Henry Ward Beecher, the anti-slavery preacher who had remarked that a rifle might be a more powerful moral agent on the Kansas plains than a Bible. The lines were now drawn. Each side had passion, and each side had guns.
Between 1856 and 1860, America would see a breakdown in many of its political processes that had developed over the last eight decades. The great compromisers of the early 19th century Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and John Calhoun were gone, and their leadership in avoiding disunion were gone as well. Forces on the extremes were becoming more and more powerful, reducing the influence of moderates and crippling the spirit of reconciliation. Front and center was the issue of slavery. Could the country be saved, or was it on an irrevocable path toward disunion?
On October 16, 1859, John Brown led a small army of 18 men into the small town of Harper's Ferry, Virginia. His plan was to instigate a major slave rebellion in the South. He would seize the arms and ammunition in the federal arsenal, arm slaves in the area and move south along the Appalachian Mountains, attracting slaves to his cause. He had no rations. He had no escape route. His plan was doomed from the very beginning. But it did succeed to deepen the divide between the North and South.
The battle lines were clearly drawn. People were either workers or bosses, and with that strong identity often came an equally strong dislike for those who were on the other side. As the number of self-employed Americans dwindled in the Gilded Age, workers began to feel strength in their numbers and ask greater and greater demands of their bosses. When those demands were rejected, they plotted schemes to win their cases.
There was not too much room for religious disagreement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritans defended their dogma with uncommon fury. Their devotion to principle was God's work; to ignore God's work was unfathomable. When free-thinkers speak their minds in such a society, conflict inevitably results.
The crackdown on Native Americans did not end with the pursuance of Custer's attackers. Any tribes resisting American advancement were relentlessly hunted by settlers and federal troops. The Lakota Sioux that fought for their lands were decimated by yet another American tactic.
The American Civil Liberties Union led the charge of evolution's supporters. It offered to fund the legal defense of any Tennessee teacher willing to fight the law in court. Another showdown between modernity and tradition was unfolding.
Old versus new was not a conscious topic to be discussed calmly at the nation's dinner tables. In an effort to preserve so-called true American values, the forces against change sometimes displayed intolerance ranging from restrictive legislation to outright violence.
The New World was only a small piece of a struggle for global domination between England and France. During the 1600s, France was the dominant power on the European continent, emerging victorious from the Thirty Years War. Louis XIV, the Sun King, built a palace at Versailles that made him the envy of every European monarch. French language, art, and literature prevailed on the continent. England, meanwhile, was in the throes of the only civil war in its history. As the century drew to a close, however, England was ready to start settling the New World.
The Treaty of Paris, which marked the end of the French and Indian War, granted Britain a great deal of valuable North American land. But the new land also gave rise to a plethora of problems.
This collection uses primary sources to explore the Spanish-American War. Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills and draw diverse material from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. Each set includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. These sets were created and reviewed by the teachers on the DPLA's Education Advisory Committee.
An introduction to bargaining and negotiation in public, business, and legal settings. Combines a "hands-on" skill-building orientation with a look at pertinent social theory. Strategy, communications, ethics, and institutional influences are examined as they influence the ability of actors to analyze problems, negotiate agreements, and resolve disputes in social, organizational, and political circumstances characterized by interdependent interests.