CategoryHistory

The Man in the Arena: Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizenship In A Republic

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength.

Planning the Attack on Pearl Harbor

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 The successful Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor  brought the United States into the war, but prevailing wisdom in Japan at the time said that the entrance was an inevitable eventuality. Many feared that a full-on attack by the United States had the potential to hobble Japanese war efforts elsewhere and even bring about a Japanese defeat. Thus, the attack was more of a desperate gamble to buy Japan time to secure a larger geography from which to extract natural resources and defend itself.

Japan’s strategy in the lead up to the December 7th attack was as impressive as the attack itself, providing a reminder that underestimating what you are up against, as the United States did with Japan at the time, can give the other side an advantage over you.

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

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People in Paris were getting rich — and they were getting rich fast. In fact, it was so hard to describe how rich everyone was becoming that a new word was needed and the term  “millionaire” was coined in 1719 .

The people of France could thank a Scotsman with a penchant for gambling, the printing of new paper money, and all the vast riches that surely would be found in the New World for their sudden wealth.

The Scotsman was John Law and his paper money and stories of the New World brought France much prosperity, for a time.

Born in 1671, Law grew up in Edinburgh in a well-to-do family, his father being a goldsmith with enough money  to buy a castle that the family would never live in  just to say that he had one. His father was also a financier/private banker, and at the age of 14, Law joined his father’s business. An innate aptitude for mathematics and an interest in studying economics led to him quickly picking up the principles of banking before his father died three years later. His mother took control over the business, and being a wealthy young man…

Israel & Palestine: A Fairly Recent History (Part 2)

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As was to be expected, the British immigration quotas were not viewed popularly by the Jewish population in Palestine. True to Rothschild’s warning above, Jewish refugees from Europe needed a place to escape, and while Britain did make some exceptions, the majority were cut off from immigration to Palestine.

This dynamic gave rise to anti-British movements and paramilitary/terrorist groups — such as the  Lehi, a group that spun out of one of the main Jewish militaries in Palestine (the  Haganah, which eventually became Israel’s military today, and the  Irgun were the two largest groups). More broadly, however, Palestine's Jews did their best to support Britain during the war, with  David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s future first Prime Minister, saying that the population must " assist the British in the war as if there were no White Paper and resist the White Paper as if there were no war ”. In fact, many Palestinian Jews served in the British army, especially in campaigns in Africa.

Meanwhile, the Arab populations in Palestine seemed to be split on whether or not to support the Allied or Axis Powers. While some Arabs also joined British forces, one of the key Palestinian Arab leaders, Amin al-Husayni, became close to the Nazis in Germany. Husayni went on to serve in the Nazi military in Bosnia and Yugoslavia, and he secured promises that the Nazis would eliminate the Jewish people in Palestine following an Axis victory.

Israel & Palestine: A Fairly Recent History (Part 1)

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When I started this newsletter, I decided to stay away from current events.

There are enough sources of news that I thought focusing on historical stories that most people would never come across would be best. However, sometimes what is happening today could use historical context — and that is not always readily available.

For example - what should be done around the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians? This is being widely debated. As I started to listen to impassioned speakers debate right and wrong, I found that I was often too ignorant to follow their logic, let alone provide any viewpoints of my own. I would be asked to voice an opinion — and all I could do was repeat the headline rhetoric I learned growing up in the central United States. These lines were almost entirely pro-Israel — and maybe that was fine, but I couldn’t tell you why it was right, if it was right.