Topic Name Description
Course Syllabus Page Course Syllabus
1.1: What is Revolution? Book Mass Protests and the Military

Read this article to learn about mass uprisings and how governments react to them. As you read, think about the nature of mass uprisings and how they can lead to revolution. How do governments and militaries respond to mass uprisings and protests? Does their reaction stifle protest, or does it inspire an uprising to evolve into a rebellion or revolution?

Page The Long 19th Century

While the peasant or lower classes usually spearhead popular mass uprisings from below, small groups of the social elite typically initiate coup d'etats. These are highly organized and may or may not have popular support. For example, chosen military staff may suddenly replace political leaders with a violent revolt during a military coup, such as the coup d'état in Egypt in 1952 where Mohammed Naguib (1901–1984) and Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–1970) overthrew Egypt's King Farouk (1920–1965). Similarly, the military deposed and incarcerated the democratically-elected Aung San Suu Kyi during a military coup d'etat in Myanmar in 2021 despite mass protests.

Rebellions combine aspects of mass uprisings and coups. They are often the first step toward a revolution. They involve large numbers of participants and a high degree of planning and organization. The leaders typically have a clear vision for the future and enlist action from a large percentage of the population. The American Revolution began as a rebellion. So did the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1956.

Watch this video to learn how revolutions shape the world, compared to a mass uprising, coup d'etat, or rebellion. The presenter explores the definition of revolution and examines how conditions in the 17th century fostered an era of modern revolution. How do political revolutions differ from agricultural and industrial revolutions?

Book The Two Effects of Revolution

Revolutionary change may be intellectual or political. Political change involves government overthrow, such as when colonists in the United States (1765–1783) and citizens of France (1789–1799) rebelled against monarchical power to support democracy. Intellectual change occurs when individuals challenge beliefs about how the world functions, such as when scientists and philosophers questioned the natural order and religious traditions during the Scientific Revolution after Nicolaus Copernicus published De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) in 1543.

Do revolutions need to be violent to effect change? Many dubbed Czechoslovakia's revolution in 1989 the "velvet revolution" because the mass protests were essentially nonviolent. Leaders made compromises to avoid mass violence, which led some to argue it was not a true revolution. If violence is an essential component of a revolution, how do we define a peaceful transfer of power?

Read this article on the nature and consequences of revolution. What are some root causes of revolution? How do these factors instigate social and political change?

What is a revolution, and how does it compare to other kinds of uprisings? Why is it important to differentiate a mass uprising, revolt, or coup d'etat from a revolution?

1.2: Ideologies of Revolution Book Conflict Theory and Society

Read this lesson on the ideas of Marx. It explores his ideology which helps lay a foundation for what revolutions are and how they form. Think about the definition of revolution and how Marx's ideals contrast with those of Tocqueville, Johnson, and other philosophers.

Page What Is the Tocqueville Effect?

Read this article that explores Alex de Tocqueville's ideas and his basic theory on why revolution occurs. How did Tocqueville's ideas compare with those of Marx, Brinton, Johnson, and Anderson?

1.3: Paving the Way to Revolution Book Global Inequality

Read this article on how the concept of modernity was centered in Western Europe. How did industrialization and the socioeconomic stratification it created lead to revolution? What linkages can you make between the concept of modernity and the ideologies we studied in the previous section: Tocqueville, Marx, Brinton, Johnson, and Anderson?

Page Modern Revolution

Max Weber (1864–1920) argued that before the rise of the modern state, the king had to share his legitimate use of violence or force with the church. A defining feature of the modern state is that it alone has the ability to exert legitimate, coercive force. European governments no longer had to cooperate with the church to exert authority because the Catholic Church had lost much of its hegemonic power during the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution. This shift, however, would also empower the people to question the legitimacy of governments – they determined that citizens had an innate right to rise in revolt and revolution.

Page Dutch and British Exceptionalism

John Merriman argues that the turmoil of the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) led many members of the nobility and upper classes to agree to the terms of monarchy and absolute rule in exchange for a restoration of public order, protection against popular insurrection, and peasant uprisings, and the recognition of noble privilege.

For example, the ancien régime in France describes this era where religious and other conventions supported a social and political order that glorified the king as protector and subjugated the peasants and lower classes. These monarchies routinely ignored any parliaments or government assemblies.

However, in England and the Netherlands, the parliament refused to be ignored. These countries each had a growing influential commercial middle-class population, a large number of property owners, a strong urban population, a small nobility, and a decentralized police force and army. Both resisted the power of the Catholic church based in Rome in favor of more local control.

Historical and intellectual elements of the Enlightenment contributed to revolutionary processes across the world. These changes and revolutions all contributed to the rise of modernity (which we explore below).

Watch this lecture, which discusses how and why both England and Holland rejected absolutist rule.

Page Absolutism and the State

As you watch this lecture, try to understand how the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) influenced state-building in France and England. Focus on the following aspects of pre-revolutionary societies: the institution of kingship, the role of religion, and the mechanisms of taxation.

Page The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere

During the Enlightenment, several key philosophers shaped the way people viewed the Enlightenment itself and the growing socio-economic and political changes it engendered.

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), a German philosopher, encouraged individuals to think for themselves rather than exhibit blind obedience to political authority. Kant wrote that enlightenment is built on man's ability to use his own reason, which takes courage. He argued that most people reject enlightenment out of cowardice and laziness: they are unwilling to break away from the domination of others, particularly church leaders, government officials, and educators. Domination by these powerful people restricts one's individual freedom. Kant believed he did not live in an enlightened age, but in an age that was moving toward enlightenment, and that people would gradually learn to think for themselves over time.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), a Swiss philosopher, wrote "The Social Contract", in which he argued that humans are born free but coerced into economic and social dependence. Political and social covenants should restore this lost freedom. Rousseau believed that legitimate civil authority is only derived from civil contracts that both sides enter freely. In other words, to be legitimate, citizens must enter a civil contract with a government willingly. In this civil society, each individual works for their own best interest. Collectively, these individual wills support and benefit the general will, which Rousseau called "the sovereign". In this system, the will of the majority rules. Each person who enters this social contract agrees to abide by laws the government passes, even when they disagree with them.

Nicolas de Condorcet (1743–1794), a French philosopher and mathematician, believed continual progress led toward the perfection of mankind. He argued that the progress the Enlightenment promoted, especially in the areas of science and social thought, would lead to an increasingly perfect human state. Understanding health, wealth creation, and industry would eventually lead to the elimination of disease, poverty, and suffering. Through knowledge, humans are capable of unlimited progress.

Watch this lecture. Focus on the different meanings of the Enlightenment among the intellectual elites and in popular culture. What did the Enlightenment thinkers focus on? What did they critique? How was the influence of the intellectuals different from that on the "street"?

Page What Is Enlightenment? by Immanuel Kant

This 1784 essay is one of the most important texts of the European Enlightenment. What do you think Kant means by the "emergence from self-incurred immaturity"? What is the relationship between thinking for oneself and obedience to political authority? What do you think is revolutionary about this text?

Book The Social Contract

In The Social Contract, Rousseau articulated the concept of the general will, an idea the revolutionaries in France and other countries we will study frequently evoked. Read this selection of excerpts from Rousseau's influential text to understand what he meant by the concept of the general will.

Page The Future Progress of the Human Mind

Read this 1794 essay and analyze its tone. Why do you think Condorcet is so unshakably convinced about the necessity of progress? What does he mean by progress? What is his understanding of history?

Book The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment or Age of Reason (1715–1789) describes the period when philosophers and intellectuals emerged outside traditional religious spheres to question the established social and political order. Primary philosophical concepts included skepticism of the political establishment, the pursuit of reason, religious tolerance, liberty, and empiricism.

John Merriman says the enlightenment thinkers affected their readers in six ways:

  1. They weakened the hold of traditional religion as a public institution;
  2. They promoted a secular code of ethics;
  3. They developed a critical spirit of analysis that did not accept routine tradition and hierarchies;
  4. They were curious about history and believed in progress;
  5. They differentiated absolutism from despotism; and
  6. They disrespected monarchy and heaped abuse on unjustified privilege.

Read this article on the Enlightenment. Think about Merriman's six tenants of the Enlightenment and how they helped pave the way toward the great political revolutions of the modern era.

1.4: The Glorious Revolution Book Oliver Cromwell

Read this article to learn about Cromwell, his actions, and his importance. Think about Cromwell's actions and whether you believe he was a true revolutionary.

Book The Political Development of the British State

Although the monarchy was restored in 1660 with Charles II, this "revolution" saw many accomplishments:

  1. The rise of parliamentary supremacy over the Crown;
  2. The idea that careers are open to talent;
  3. Protection of private property (which supported the rise of mercantilism and capitalism);
  4. Religious tolerance; and
  5. Aggressive internationalism.

Many call the period between 1688 and 1689 the Glorious Revolution, before the Parliament passed the Bill of Rights in 1689 and signaled the official beginning of a constitutional monarchy.

Read this text and list the long-term causes of the English Revolution. Pay particular attention to the conflicts between religion and politics in 17th century England.

Page How Glorious was the Glorious Revolution?

Both revolution and civil war refer to dramatic and violent uprisings that express popular discontent. Both terms refer to upheaval within a particular country instead of international war. However, revolutions are generally uprisings against the current government. Civil war pits two or more opposing organized groups against each other, typically aligned within a country along ethnic, political, or religious lines. They typically engage in violent conflict with the goal of obtaining political power or control.

The historical determination on whether a conflict constitutes a civil war or revolution is not always clear-cut. For example, historians continue to disagree about the case of the English Civil War. Many call the conflict the English Civil War because two distinct groups battled against each other. However, others categorize the conflict as a revolution because the opponents ultimately fought against the government itself (the monarchy) and transformed the system of government into a constitutional monarchy.

Watch this lecture to understand the lasting impact of the Glorious Revolution. Think about how the Glorious Revolution changed how people viewed government, their role in it, and their right to interfere and overthrow it.

1.5: Government, Citizens' Rights, and Religion versus the State Page 800 Years of the Magna Carta

Watch this video to understand the impact and importance of the Magna Carta. How did this transformative document justify the actions of Cromwell and other leaders during and after the Glorious Revolution?

Page The English Bill of Rights of 1689

With the passage of the English Bill of Rights (1689), Parliament supported the rule of law and the civil rights outlined in the two founding documents. It declared that it alone (not the Crown) had the authority to levy taxes, raise an army, and wage wars. The King and others in positions of authority were responsible and answerable to the people. The Bill also required regular parliamentary meetings, free elections, freedom of speech in Parliament, prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and declared that judges would be independent of the monarchy.

As you read this document, focus on the kinds of rights it guarantees citizens. Test your understanding by writing a paragraph about how this document helps explain the difference between a traditional and constitutional monarchy.

Book Hobbes on Authority, Human Rights, and Social Order

When King James II fled England in 1648, his Protestant daughter Mary II (1662–1694) assumed the English throne with her Dutch husband, William III (1650–1702), also known as William of Orange. Both supported Parliament's efforts to expand its power.

To protest the restrictive and prohibitive nature of King James' Catholicism and outside control from the Pope, Parliament declared no Roman Catholic could ascend the English throne, nor could any English monarch marry a Roman Catholic. The Toleration Act of 1689 supported freedom of worship for Protestants but excluded Catholics, antitrinitarians, and atheists from its provisions.

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), an English philosopher, laid the foundation for modern concepts of government and revolution. Hobbes was a royalist, meaning he believed that government power was best vested in a monarch. However, he proposed the idea of a social contract in which citizens and government form a cooperative relationship. People give up some of their rights; in return, the government provides them protection. However, what happens when the government fails to provide basic protections for the people? Do the people have the right to rebel?

Read this article which links the revolutionary experience in England and John Locke's Two Treatises on Government. Focus on the second half of the article (after Leviathan: Structure and Major Themes) and make sure you can discuss the logic of Locke's thinking about the powers and role of government in modern societies. Try to summarize Locke's ideology in a few sentences.

Page A Letter Concerning Toleration

John Locke (1632–1704), the English philosopher, also feared that Catholicism would take over England and argued for religious freedom in his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). He argued the government existed to promote external, not spiritual, welfare and should not attempt to dictate religious choice. Locke believed that civil unrest and conflict would ensue when civil magistrates tried to limit the religious choices of citizens. In other words, Locke paved the way for the American idea of the separation of church and state. However, it is important to note that Locke was not opposed to suppressing religions that refused to accept his doctrine of tolerance.

Read "A Letter Concerning Toleration" by John Locke and "Liberty and Prosperity: The Levellers and Locke" by Murray Rothbard to understand what Hobbes and Locke thought about the relationship between politics, religion, the people, and the monarch. These discussions provide a foundation for the intellectual discussions revolutionaries will have during conflicts yet to come: the rights of the people, their relationship with the government, and their right to revolt or revolution. Where does Locke draw the boundaries of tolerance? How does he justify this choice? How does Hobbes see the relationship between the Crown and the People? How do Hobbes and Locke compare?"

Page A Short History of Human Rights

With the English Bill of Rights (1689), the English Parliament established its supremacy over the Crown and proclaimed the government a constitutional monarchy. Contrast this to an absolute monarchy, where the king or queen governs with absolute power and authority. In a constitutional monarchy, the country's written and unwritten constitution limits the powers of the monarch (the king or queen).

In today's United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), the monarch has limited formal authority and represents the country as its head of state, performing a primarily-public ceremonial role. The elected prime minister is the head of government: the parliament is responsible for debating, creating, and executing laws and overseeing and approving government taxation and spending.

Britain does not have a single written constitution like most modern states. Instead, its unwritten or uncodified constitution is based on Acts of Parliament, court judgments, and convention. Many of these traditional protocols originated with the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628), and the English Bill of Rights (1689). Note that English "common law" describes law derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than legislative statutes (statutory law). 

However, the importance of the evolution of English Common Law is in its assertion of human rights. The idea that the government exists for the betterment of the people and not the other way around – as was the common belief in feudalism – became the foundation of modern revolutions.

Watch this video which explores how human rights are integral to modern revolutions. Think about the importance of The Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628), and the English Bill of Rights (1689). How does the assertion of rights lead to empowerment and revolution?

Book The Magna Carta versus the Bill of Rights

The Glorious Revolution, the English Bill of Rights (1689), and the Enlightenment profoundly influenced the revolutions that followed. The leaders of the American Revolution, in particular, cited the influence of philosophers, such as Hobbes and Locke, as they asserted their right to overthrow a government they felt had become corrupt. While the Glorious Revolution did not result in a total change in government, its lasting effect cannot be debated. With the passage of the English Bill of Rights (1689), the rights of the citizenry became the foundation for many modern revolutions that reshaped geopolitics in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

Read this essay that analyzes the various traditions that influenced the writing of the U.S. Constitution. The English Bill of Rights was among its most important influences. Then examine the chart that reviews the Magna Carta. How does this analysis compare with your reading of the English Bill of Rights? How did this document pave the way for the U.S. Constitution?

Page Formative Documents on Citizens' Rights
Read this article as part of your comparative exercise. How did each document pave the way toward the American Revolution and U.S. Constitution?
Page The Levellers and Locke

Read this article about how the concepts of liberty and property were central to Locke's treatise and how religious liberty was central to the ideas of Locke and the ideas of the Enlightenment. How does religious liberty contribute to a population's feelings of empowerment toward revolution?

2.1: Origins of the American Revolution Page Being a British Colonist

Watch this lecture, which describes what it was like to live in the colonies in the 18th century.

Page The Origins of the American Revolution

The American Revolution began as a series of revolts between 1765 and 1783, when the 13 American colonies declared independence from Great Britain and formed the United States. With this declaration, the rebellion became a revolution, and the 13 colonies formally declared themselves an independent nation, granting themselves the powers of nations, including the right to declare war and enter into alliances.

Why did the American colonists change from being solid British citizens to revolutionaries in just ten years? Many Americans had fought proudly in the Seven Years War from 1756 to 1763, but the policies of taxation and mercantilism, coupled with the fact that the American colonists could not take the land gained during the war, transformed pride into hostility and resentment.

Read this article, which discusses this Revolutionary Era. Before delving into the dynamics and ideals of the American Revolution, you should understand its chronology and historical context.

Page Studying the American Revolution

During the colonial period, the 13 colonies had established a unique identity due to their isolation from Britain. However, each colony was unique and had developed separate cultures, economies, and governments. For example, many colonies, such as Massachusetts and Virginia, had set up governments based on representative elected legislatures. The people – mainly white land-owning men – were accustomed to having an active role in the day-to-day governance of their towns and colonies. The educated elite were well versed in Enlightenment philosophies and were influenced by the English Bill of Rights. Many colonial leaders, such as Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), John Adams (1735–1826), and Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), believed firmly in their role and the importance of citizen participation in government.

During the Seven Years' War, the colonists banded together under Benjamin Franklin's Albany Plan of Union. The idea was that the colonies needed to work together and cooperate to help in the war effort. This temporary union bridged some of the gaps that existed among the colonies and implanted the idea that the 13 separate governments could come together under a shared purpose.

In 1651, England passed the Navigation Acts, which were aimed mainly at the Dutch – England's largest trading partner. In 1664, England gained the colony of the New Netherlands, which became New York. The British East India Company and Dutch East India Company were great economic rivals, jostling for economic supremacy. The Navigation Acts, similar among all English colonies, prescribed that the colonies were to trade exclusively with England and serve as resource depots or markets for British produced goods – as part of a mercantile system.

The American colonists resisted these restrictions and resorted to smuggling to circumvent the Acts. The British government had essentially ignored this resistance until 1763, when they began to impose harsh punishments on the American smugglers. The American colonists chafed under the new penalties – they viewed the Navigation Acts (in addition to the new taxes from the Stamp, Tea, and Sugar Acts) as violations of the independence they had previously enjoyed.

The colonies appealed to the British government but lacked a clear way to redress their grievances. The British failed to consult the colonists on major policy issues and treated them like dependent children. Internal factors, such as population pressures, consumerism, commercialism, relationships (based on contracts rather than familial ties), and new ideas from the Enlightenment about political representation (Republicanism), prompted the American colonies to unite in a series of congresses and rebel.

Watch this lecture to review the causes of the American Revolution. Think about what you already know about these events and how Freeman's understanding of revolution fits into our previous discussions. How does Freeman analyze the revolutionary events in terms of facts and interpretations? What does she suggest should be your primary focus?

Book Common Sense

Revolutionaries and those who opposed the revolution wrote pamphlets and other forms of propaganda to gain domestic and international support for their movement. "Common Sense" was one of the most important pamphlets of the American Revolution. Read the introduction and parts I–IV. Pay attention to Paine's arguments for independence from Britain. What are his claims? What does he say about religious diversity in the new nation? How does he envision equal representation?

Page Considerations October 1765

In 1765, Daniel Dulaney (1722–1797), a Maryland Loyalist politician and mayor of Annapolis, explored the right of the British government to tax the colonies. How do his ideas complement and contrast with Paine's? How was the idea of taxes inherent to the revolution?

Page Logic of Resistance

The first elected assembly in October 1765, the so-called Stamp Act Congress, opposed the Acts of taxation. A group called the Sons of Liberty, based in Boston, Massachusetts, began to openly rebel against the British tax collectors by sabotaging the enforcement of the new laws. This led to the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Tensions escalated when the British government passed the Quartering Act of 1774, which essentially placed Boston under martial law.

The colonies united by forming the first Continental Congress, but the British ignored the petitions and letters of redress drafted against British policies. In April 1775, several major confrontations, including Lexington and Concord, sparked revolution. The colonies formed into the Second Continental Congress and, by July 1776, declared themselves independent. That spring, battles followed in North Carolina, New York, and Canada. The Continental Congress drafted its first constitution-the Articles of Confederation based on Enlightenment ideas of citizen participation, republicanism, and limited government.

Watch this lecture on why the colonists felt they needed to rebel and how they went about it. Think about what you know about the Enlightenment. Why did differences among the colonists fail to interfere with their shared purpose of independence?

Page The War for Independence

War with the United States was expensive to the British, who were still paying for the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). By 1783, their losses outweighed the value of the colonies. In 1783, representatives of King George III (1738–1820) signed the Treaty of Paris with the United States to end the American Revolution. At this time, this was truly revolutionary: a colonial master had declared it would allow one of its colonies to become independent. The United States, a former colony, created a brand new government, writing its own constitution, and organizing itself as an independent state.

Read this text, which outlines the timeline for the American Revolution. Why was the American Revolution so unconventional at the time? In what ways did it define the modern revolutionary movement?

Page The Consequences of the American Revolution

Read this article on the long-term consequences of the American Revolution. How are today's American's the recipients of this legacy?

Page Being an American: The Legacy of the Revolution

As you watch this lecture, pay attention to how Freeman defines revolution. What does it take for a revolution to end? What are some important legacies of the American Revolution?

Book Primary Sources of the American Revolution

Let's analyze some primary sources on the American Revolution. Choose at least one primary source document written between 1751–1775 and one written between 1776–1785 and answer these questions.

  • Who authored the document – were they in favor or opposed to the revolution?
  • Was it written before or after the Declaration of Independence? Why is this important?
  • What does the author argue? Do they support or oppose the revolution?
  • Where do you see Enlightenment ideology? How do the ideas in the document compare to the ideas of Paine and Dulaney?

2.2: Revolutionizing Governance Page The Articles of Confederation

Watch this lecture to review the Articles of Confederation. What aspects of this document caused the first government to be so ineffective? Can you explain the rationale for the framer's faulty decision-making? We will see how the framers learned from their mistakes in the following sections.

Page Article I of the U.S. Constitution

Although the framers had initially convened to revamp the Articles of Confederation, the attending politicians – steeped in Enlightenment ideology with competing visions of the best form of government – debated and eventually created an entirely new Constitution by the end of the meeting. They divided the government into three equal branches and gave the federal governing body more power and authority.

Study the text of the Constitution to see the compromises the framers made for this founding document for the United States. Can you point to any similarities with the documents we studied in Unit 1?

Page Keys to Understanding the Constitution

Read this article on the U.S. Constitution. How did the principles of Enlightenment help frame this document? How did the framers balance power between the federal and state governments?

Page The Iroquois Government

The framers looked at many sources when writing the Constitution, including Enlightenment philosophy, the English Bill of Rights, and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. Delegates from the tribes attended the convention and educated the framers about their government system and why it was effective.

Watch this video on the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. What elements may have influenced the U.S. Constitution and how the framers organized the U.S. government?

Book The Constitution of The Iroquois Nations Around 1500

Compare this constitution with the U.S. Constitution. What elements did the United States adopt from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy? How did their system of government influence our current model?

Page The Enlightenment and the American Revolution

Watch this lecture which describes how the Enlightenment influenced the framers of the U.S. Constitution. How did the revolutionary nature of the U.S. Constitution enable it to last so long?

Book Interpreting the Bill of Rights

The adoption process for the Constitution was not easy. Deep-seated fears of tyranny resounded throughout the United States, and two factions developed – the Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757–1804) supported a strong federal government while the anti-Federalists (later the Democratic-Republican and then the Democrat Party) led by Thomas Jefferson believed individual states should have more power.

The Federalists were committed to a strong central government, unwavering support for the U.S. Constitution, and a traditional social structure. Hamilton, James Madison (1751–1836), and John Jay (1745–1829) strengthened their talking points during the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787. They outlined their support for the U.S. Constitution in 85 articles and essays they wrote and published in New York papers in 1788. These became known as the Federalist Papers.

The Anti-Federalists preferred state sovereignty, a limited federal government, and increased local control. Patrick Henry (1736–1799), Thomas Jefferson, and other anti-Federalists were afraid the Federalists were paving the way for future government tyranny. However, they were not as organized in promoting their arguments since they had not participated in the Constitutional Convention. Their strongest argument was the lack of a bill of rights in the Constitution: they convinced the Federalists to add the Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments to the Constitution) as a condition for their support for ratification.

The principles of the U.S. Bill of Rights and why the U.S. founders felt it was needed to ratify the Constitution is key to understanding the revolutionary nature of the U.S. government. Consider how the Bill of Rights balances power between the government and its citizens as you read this article.

Page The U.S. Bill of Rights

Now, read the American Bill of Rights and compare it with the English Bill of Rights you studied in Unit 1. What are the most important differences between the two documents? What do you think accounts for these differences?

Page Federalists versus Anti-Federalists

Watch this video, which explains why the U.S. Bill of Rights is such an important part of the U.S. Constitution. How do you think the Enlightenment philosophers influenced the ideals of the U.S. Bill of Rights?

Book What Are Civil Liberties?

The U.S. Bill of Rights laid a foundation for civil rights and civil liberties for citizens in the United States. Read this article which explains the difference between these two concepts. How have they evolved since the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788?

Now let's take a moment to do some primary source analysis. Choose two primary source documents written between 1786–1800.

Answer these questions for each document:

  • Who authored the document? Were they in favor or opposed to the Bill of Rights/Constitution?
  • Was it written before or after the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788?
  • What is the argument in the document? Does it support or oppose the Constitution and Bill of Rights?
  • Where do you see Enlightenment ideology?
  • Is the document a Federalist or anti-Federalist document, and how did it help establish the U.S. government?

3.1: Roots of Revolution Page Beginning of the French Revolution

Watch this lecture to understand the class system in France that led to the revolution. You should be able to describe what life was like for people in the Third Estate and why they supported the armed protests.

Book Taxes and the Three Estates

Read this text about the tax system in France and its effect on the Third Estate. Compare the French tax system to that in America before the colonists rebelled against the British.

Book The French Revolution

Read this text for more analysis of the causes of the French Revolution. You should be able to explain the structural, long-term causes of the French Revolution. What events precipitated the outbreak of revolution in 1789? How do historians determine long- and short-term causes of revolution? What difficulties arise when we try to link long and short-term factors?

3.2: The Republic, Reign of Terror, and Thermidorean Reaction Page Louis XIV and Versailles

Watch this slideshow, which shows pictures of the Palace of Versailles, to get a glimpse of the life of Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV. Consider the funds needed to maintain the palace and this luxurious lifestyle. How do you think these excesses connect with the taxes the monarchy imposed on the Third Estate and the revolution?

Page Memoirs of the Private Life of Marie Antoinette

Read this account of the daily life of Marie Antoinette. Consider the hierarchies involved and procedures needed to tend to the queen's basic "needs". These disparities flamed the ire of those in the Third Estate. How did her life compare with those who were part of the Third Estate?

Page Marie Antoinette's Letter to Her Mother

Read this letter Marie Antoinette wrote to her mother in 1773. Think about the previous document that illustrated her daily life and how she lived in the palace of the Versailles. Do you think she understood the situation members of the Third Estate were in? How did this disconnect illustrate a core cause of the French Revolution?

Page The French Revolution, Part 1

Once the monarchy had been deposed, the revolutionary government suffered from instability. Infighting and mistrust prevented the revolutionaries from creating a new functional government and led to the so-called Reign of Terror. More than 300,000 people were arrested, and 17,000 were executed as enemies of the revolution from 1793 to 1794.

Watch this video for an overview of events of the French Revolution. Hostilities began in May 1789 with the meeting of the Estates-General – a general assembly representing the three French estates of the realm: the nobility, the church, and the common people.

Summoned by King Louis XVI to propose solutions to his government's financial problems, the Estates-General sat for several weeks in May and June 1789. They arrived at an impasse when the three estates clashed over their respective powers. Members of the Third Estate created a National Assembly, which signaled the outbreak of revolution. On July 14, a mob famously stormed the Bastille, a medieval fortress and prison which represented royal authority in the center of Paris, and demanded the arms and ammunition stored there.

Page The French Revolution, Part 2

We can see several similarities between the American and French Revolutions. Both rebellions arose from the financial chaos of the Seven Years' War (1763–1766), when the British and French governments demanded their respective working and middle classes pay for their wartime and personal excesses. The British imposed burdensome taxes on the American colonists, while the First and Second Estates in France did the same to the Third Estate. In fact, French military and financial support for the American revolution helped bankrupt France.

The ideas and philosophies of the Enlightenment fueled the American and French revolutions. As we explored in Unit 2, the 1700s saw the rise of capitalism, industrialization, secularization, and fundamental changes in class structure. Rousseau had argued that legitimate civil authority is only derived from civil contracts which the governor and governed enter freely. The American colonists and French people demanded this equality and modern change.

However, the French experience differed from the American colonists because it was primarily a class struggle brought about by economic disparities. The French revolutionaries wanted to reorder their society, while the Americans wanted to end colonial rule and create a new country based on self-government. The Americans did not want to undermine the basic class structure of their society. They wanted to throw the British out and end their colonial oppression.

The revolutionaries in both countries used violence to achieve their ends. After he had witnessed the chaos of the French Revolution, the conservative thinker Edmund Burke (1729–1797) wrote that revolutions cause more problems than they solve. He argued that change should be introduced gradually. He said that revolutions abandon generations of knowledge and experience, and societies should protect themselves from the temptation of revolutionary ideas. For Burke, slow and steady change will win. In contrast, Thomas Paine (1737–1809) argued that people have the right to revolt when their government fails to protect their natural rights. People have an obligation to protect their rights when their government does not.

Watch this video which describes the second stage of the French Revolution. The French revolutionary war began soon after Louis XV and his wife tried to escape Paris in 1791. However, the fighting went badly quickly, and prices rose sky-high. In August 1792, a mob assaulted the Royal Palace in Paris and arrested the King. In September, the Assembly abolished the monarchy and declared a republic.

Page Maximilien Robespierre

Listen to this lecture from 8:30 to the end. Focus on how Merriman characterizes revolutionary terror. How does he describe Maximilien Robespierre's (1758–1794) role?

Page The Reign of Terror

Watch this lecture on the Reign of Terror, the period of violence that occurred after the onset of the revolution. It was incited by conflict between rival political factions and marked by mass executions of "enemies of the revolution". The death toll ranged in the tens of thousands, with 16,594 executed by guillotine and another 25,000 in summary executions across France.

Page The Eleventh of Thermidor

The revolutionary government faced significant opposition due to the Reign of Terror and prompted a counter-revolution called the Thermidorian Reaction. This describes the liberal-conservative counter-revolution that followed the end of the Reign of Terror after Robespierre was executed on 9 Thermidor (July 27, 1794, according to the French revolutionary calendar). The state had become all-powerful and violent. The alliance purged the government of revolutionary political forces (led by the Jacobin Club) and attempted to restore the political, social, and economic order of 1789. After several military successes, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), the statesman and military leader, rose to prominence and became the authoritarian leader of France in 1799. He declared himself Emperor of France in 1804.

Read this primary source document which describes how fears of counter-revolution fueled revolutionary extremism and how the violence led to the Thermidorian reaction and the end of the Republic.

Page The Fall of the Republic

As you watch this lecture, think about how the Reign of Terror destabilized the revolutionary movement, led to the fall of the Republic, and opened the door to Napoleon's authoritarian takeover.

3.3: Revolution and New Government Page Diderot's 1750 Encyclopedia

Watch this video on the causes of the French Revolution. Think about how philosophical ideals had inspired these protests in France and the United States.

Page The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

As in the United States, the revolutionaries in France convened a new government: the National Assembly in June 1789. They approved a new Constitution of 1791, and Maximilien Robespierre took leadership of the government to serve as president of the National Convention. Inspired by the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the U.S. Bill of Rights (which was also drafted in 1789), the French penned the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), one of the most important documents for the establishment of the rights of all peoples.

Read the Declaration of the Rights of Man. How does it compare with the English and American Bill of Rights? Can you identify any common ideas and differences?

Page Declaration of the Rights of Women

Read the Declaration of the Rights of Women (1791). Think about how the framers of this document differed from the American revolutionaries to promote women's rights.

Page Admission of Jews to Rights of Citizenship

The French revolutionary government also extended rights to Jewish people. This was a significant move for several reasons. First, the French asserted that human rights were universal. Secondly, they rejected the established view that Jewish people were subhuman, a belief many Europeans had held since the medieval period.

Read this document to understand its revolutionary nature. Pay attention to the distinction between individual and communal rights. What rights did it extend to Jews in 1791? How does it compare to the English and American ideas of human rights?

Page The French Constitution of 1793

Read the constitution of the first French Republic. Compare it to the American Declaration of Independence (1776). Can you identify any similarities and differences? Think about how these aspects reflect the different social experiences and historical context of the American and the French revolutionaries.

Book Primary Sources of the French Revolution

Let's analyze some primary resources of the French Revolution and counter-revolution. Choose two of these primary documents we have not yet analyzed.

Analyze and compare the two documents by focusing on these questions:

  • Who authored the document-were they in favor or opposed to the French Revolution?
  • When was it written before, after, or during the French Revolution?
  • What is the argument in the document? Does it support or oppose the French Revolution?
  • Where do you see Enlightenment ideology?
  • What is the document's significance in helping to develop a detailed understanding of the French Revolution and its aftermath?
3.4: Napoleon and Legacies of the Revolution Page Napoleon Bonaparte's Early Life

Watch this lesson on the background of Napoleon, including his early life, education, and rise to power.

Page The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

Watch this video, which discusses the last stages of the French Revolution and how Napoleon Bonaparte was able to overthrow and replace the French Directory with the French Consulate. Napoleon rose to power during the French First Republic, which formed at the end of the French Revolution. He proclaimed himself dictator and then emperor under the First French Empire in 1804.

Book Napoleon's Government

Napoleon instituted several lasting reforms. He centralized the administration of the départements and created a higher education system, a tax collection system, a central bank, codes of law, and road and sewer systems. He created a set of civil laws, the Napoleonic Code or French Civil Code, that combined several legal principles (supported during the revolution) into one document. For example, his legal code formalized equality under the law, the right of property, and abolished the feudal system. Several countries, including Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, have adopted these legal standards into their legal traditions.

Read this text on the nature of Napoleon's government reforms.

Book The Napoleonic Code

Read this text, which examines the impact of the Napoleonic Code and how it promoted the rule of law.

Book The Concordat of 1801

To solidify his power, Napoleon formed a partnership with the Catholic Church. This move was part of the counter-revolution against the secular nature of the revolution of 1789.

As you read, think about why Napoleon sought the backing of the papacy and how this alliance was a rebuke of the radicalism of the French Revolution.

Book The European Powers During the Napoleonic Wars

During the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), Napoleon fought against Europe's powers to create a single, consolidated French empire. His military successes not only upended the traditional feudal systems in northern Italy, Germany, and Belgium, but they had worldwide implications in 1808 when Napoleon deposed the Spanish King Ferdinand VII (1784–1833). The political instability that resulted in Spain created a power vacuum that would embolden revolutionary movements in Spain's colonies in the Americas and Asia.

Read this article on the impact of the Napoleonic wars on Europe and on revolution. How did Napoleon's ambitions change Europe and the world economically, socially, and geopolitically?

Page Napoleon's Downfall

In 1812, Napoleon made the fatal mistake of invading Russia. The size and climate of Russia strained and decimated Napoleon's forces, which were spread across the continent. Napoleon's ambitions also prompted the European powers to ally together against him. At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon suffered a crushing defeat by the Prussian-English allied forces. Abdicating the throne, Napoleon was exiled first to the Island of Elba and later to Saint Helena, where he ultimately died of stomach cancer in 1821.

Watch this video on the fall of Napoleon. Why was Napoleon ultimately defeated? What was the impact of his ambitions in France and Europe?

Page The Restoration of the Monarchy

Although his rise to power was brief, Napoleon fundamentally changed Europe. Nevertheless, France restored its monarchy at the end of the Napoleonic Wars after the Congress of Vienna in 1814. King Louis XVIII (1755–1824) created a constitutional monarchy and preserved many of the liberties of the French Revolution during his rule from 1814–1824.

Watch these two lectures on the aftermath of Napoleon and the restoration of the French government. How was France organized politically and administratively after the Congress of Vienna in 1815? What were the causes of the Revolution of 1830?

Book Primary Sources of the Rise of Napoleon

Let's analyze some primary resources on the rise and impact of Napoleon. Choose two of these primary documents we have not yet analyzed.

Analyze and compare the two documents by focusing on these questions:

  • Who authored the document? Did they support or oppose Napoleon?
  • When was it written before, after, or during Napoleon's reign and the Napoleonic Wars?
  • What is the argument in the document? Does it support or oppose Napoleon?
  • Where do you see Enlightenment ideology?
  • What is the document's significance in helping to develop a detailed understanding of Napoleon and his legacy?
3.5: The Partitions of Poland-Lithuania Page Map of U.S. Land Gains

Examine this map, which shows the land the United States gained in North America with the Louisiana Purchase. Think about how the United States benefited from Napoleon's reign and the long-term impact this land acquisition would have on global geopolitics.

Page The Enlightenment in Poland

The French Revolution and Napoleonic ascension also significantly affected Poland and Lithuania. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, established in 1569, was one of the most populated areas in Europe. It was established as a semi-federal/confederal, aristocratic government. The Commonwealth operated by sharing authority between the central and local governments. It combined ideas of democracy and constitutional monarchy and limited the monarch's power via the asserted power of the aristocracy – similar to the Magna Carta in England.

The Commonwealth, established between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, covered a large part of eastern Europe, including Latvia, parts of Ukraine and Estonia, and Belarus. Although officially a partnership, Poland maintained the majority of power in the Commonwealth. While it eventually degraded into partial anarchy, the Commonwealth, at its apex, stood against the Russian, Ottoman, and Swedish empires.

The first century of the Commonwealth was its most successful – many historians called it a Golden Age. The Parliament was powerful and was able to keep it out of the Thirty Years War that ravaged Europe in the 17th century. The Enlightenment also significantly affected the Commonwealth. The ideas of constitutionalism, human rights, and universal education predominated intellectualism in the Commonwealth. These ideas spread throughout Europe and had a great impact on the ideology of government that characterized early modern revolutions.

Listen to this article about the Polish Enlightenment through 4:01. Think about how the ideas of the Polish Enlightenment influenced beliefs about revolution in the late 18th century.

Book The Decline of Poland

Things began to fall apart for the Commonwealth during the end of the 17th century. The Khmelnytskyi Uprising of 1648 – the largest Cossack uprising in history weakened stability. The Russian Tsar readily supported the Cossacks by moving into Ukraine and exerting its influence to supplant Polish authority. In 1655, the Swedes allied with Transylvania to launch an invasion that further weakened the Commonwealth. An alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor and involvement in the Great Turkish War led to even more chaos. These external pressures caused internal instabilities, which devolved into near anarchy.

Read this lecture until the Partition of Poland. Make a timeline as you read to note the important dates and events. Then, make a T chart that lists the successes of the Commonwealth on one side and the challenges it faced on the other.

Book The Partition of Poland

The Four-Year Sejm of 1788–1792 tried to pass several reforms to preserve the Commonwealth. The Constitution of 1791 was its last failed attempt to maintain the political entity, but the partitions by neighboring Russia, Prussia, and the Habsburg Monarchy had already taken place. By 1795, the three foreign powers had carved up its territories, and the Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth ceased to exist. Poland and Lithuania would remain absorbed until the end of World War I, when in 1918, the nations of Poland and Lithuania would once again establish themselves as independent nations.

Read this continuation of the lecture notes you just read. Make a chart with four columns. In the first column, note the key points of the first partitioning. In the second column, note the key points of the second partitioning. In the third column, note the key points of the third partition. In the fourth column, note the key points of the Constitution of 1791.

Book Historical Partitions of Poland

Read this article about the partitioning of Poland. Add what you learn to the timeline, T chart, and four-column chart you created. Why do you think we have included the partitioning of Poland in a course about revolution? How did external conflicts lead to internal instability and the takeover of the Commonwealth by foreign powers? In what ways did Napoleon's aggressive conquests and continental ambitions in Europe prompt Russia, Prussia, and the Habsburg Monarchy to carve up the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth?

3.6: The Congress of Vienna Page Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna

Watch this video to begin our investigation. Think about the lasting impact Napoleon's ambitions had on the boundaries of Europe and how they set the stage for the development of modern Europe.

Page Territorial Changes in Europe

The prominent dignitaries and leaders of the day attended the Congress of Vienna. Britain's foreign secretary Robert Stewart (1769–1822), whose formal title was Viscount Castlereagh, and Arthur Wellesley (1769–1852), the first Duke of Wellington, represented Great Britain. Prince Metternich represented Austria, and Prince Karl August von Hardenberg (1750–1822) represented Prussia. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754–1838), the French foreign minister, represented the newly-instated King Louis XVIII (1755–1824). Russia was dually represented by Count Karl von Nesselrode (1780–1862) and Tsar Alexander I (1777–1825).

While inferior powers such as Spain and Portugal were invited to send representatives to the Congress, Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia, and France made the major decisions. Interestingly, the negotiators initially excluded France from the discussions, but Talleyrand-Périgord was soon able to assert his presence to take part. The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, an ally of Britain during the War of 1812, also sent representatives.

The main objective of the Congress of Vienna was to reorganize Europe, as the major powers negotiated to divide the territories Napoleon had defeated among themselves. For example, Italy was divided into eight parts, while 300 German states were consolidated into 39. Great Britain gained control of more colonial territory, while Russia exerted its control over Poland.

Read this article to explore how the Congress participants reorganized the borders of their respective countries. Pay attention to what happened to the German states, which previously existed as independent kingdoms. How do you think merging these jurisdictions might influence the future consolidation of Germany into one state? Note Russia's gains in Poland in light of what you have learned about the Partitioning of Poland. What did Great Britain gain? How did these decisions impact less powerful countries, such as Spain, Norway, and Portugal? Screen reader support enabled.

Book The Congress of Vienna

Many 19th-century observers criticized the Congress as a conservative backlash to revolutionary liberalism, since it opposed the human rights and liberties the French and American revolutionaries had asserted. They complained that the so-called Conservative Order ignored the civil rights of the people who lived in the reorganized states in support of the interests of the major powers. However, opinions about the Congress shifted in the 20th century – many historians came to appreciate the "feats of diplomacy" the participants had achieved and credited the Congress with preserving the peace for 100 years, until World War I. The Paris Peace Conference of 1918, at the end of World War I, was modeled after the Vienna Congress.

Read this lesson on the Congress of Vienna to understand these different perceptions. As you read, make a two-column chart. In the first column, note the definition and characteristics of the Conservative Order. In the second column, note key features of the Concert of Europe. Do you agree with the 19th-century critics or the 20th-century historians on the impact of the Congress of Vienna?

Page Nationalism and Unifications

The Congress of Vienna had a significant impact on the development of nationalism, which led to the outbreak of World War I. While the participants may have meant to prevent unrest and instability, some believe the Congress helped create a larger nationalist movement across Europe.

Watch this lecture to understand these trends. What role did the Congress of Vienna play in developing nationalism and the European geopolitical structure?

Book Diplomatic Consequences of the Congress of Vienna

The reorganization changed the power structure of Europe, as Russia, Great Britain, and France became increasingly assertive. Their power struggles led to the Crimean War (1853-1856), pitting Russia against Great Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empire.

Read this text on the diplomatic fallout and consequences of the Congress of Vienna. As you read, make a chart. In the first column, note the key points of 1848 – the year of revolution. In the second column, note the key points of the Crimean War. In the third column, note key points for the Holy Alliance. In the fourth column, note the key points of the Quadruple Alliance. Then, write a summary to explain how the Congress of Vienna led to failed revolutions, diplomatic upheaval, and the development of alliances in Europe which eventually contributed to the outbreak of World War I.

Page The Troubled 19th Century

As the 19th century progressed, France and England came to control most of Europe. However, the ideas of nationalism, Marxism, and socialism led those who lived in countries with less power to chafe at the hegemony of France and England. The stability of the Congress of Vienna devolved. This instability and burgeoning nationalism led to the "year of revolution" in 1848, when republican revolts swept the continent from Sicily to France, Germany, and Austria. While these revolutions ultimately failed, they reminded the European powers that they had not extinguished the zeal for civil rights and representation.

Watch this video. Think about how the Congress of Vienna contributed to the growth of nationalism and the outbreak of revolution. How did the famine of 1845 further destabilize Europe and contribute to the reassertion of republicanism?

Page Why Was There No Revolution in 1848 in Britain?

Watch this video. What were the most important causes of the 1848 revolutions in Europe? How did these revolutions compare with the French Revolution? Why was there no revolution in Britain?

Page Cromwell and the English Middle Class Revolution

Focus on these questions as you read this essay. What are the most important features of a Marxist interpretation of revolutionary change? How does Christopher Hill characterize the causes and outcomes of the English Revolution?

As the 19th century came to a close, nationalism, Marxism, and socialism gained momentum, and Europe became embroiled in unrest. By 1861, Italy's states and kingdoms had joined to form a nation, while Germany also united as a country under the leadership of Otto Von Bismark (1815–1898) in 1871. These two new nations were bursting with nationalistic fervor and eager to assert themselves as European powers, but they lacked the imperial clout of England and France.

In addition to a tangle of alliances that had begun forming in Vienna in 1815, this jostling would come to a head when Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. The web of alliances and colonies caused Europe and the world to plunge into the conflagration of World War I. This war would impact geopolitics worldwide. The Russian Revolution presaged Soviet and Japanese ambitions against Asia, and the world tumbled into an even larger global firestorm known as World War II.

4.1: Revolution in Haiti Page Colonial Revolutions

To understand the Haitian Revolution, you need to understand slavery in Saint Domingue and elsewhere in the Americas. As you watch this video, think about Haiti's different racial and socioeconomic groups and how society was structured in Saint Domingue.

Page Rebellions in the Caribbean

Watch this lecture about slavery in the Americas. How did the American institution of slavery differ from earlier forms of slavery? How did this form of slavery create an environment or culture that would foment Haiti's revolution?

Page Toussaint L'Ouverture

France followed the same policy of mercantilism that Britain had imposed on its 13 colonies in the future United States. The colony of Saint Domingue was only allowed to trade with France. Its aristocracy was not represented in the government. The country served as a natural resource depot for France, which reaped the profits from its cash crops. However, when France published the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, the residents of Saint Domingue expected the new government would also convey these rights to them.

The French revolutionary government granted varying degrees of autonomy, rights, and participation to certain groups in Saint Domingue. The White planters and some wealthy free Blacks were allowed to participate, but they excluded the petit blancs, enslaved people, and maroons. These disparities led to a multi-faceted civil war in Saint Domingue. The conflict eventually developed into the Haitian Revolution, where enslaved people rose up to oppose the French government and their enslavers.

Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743–1803), a formerly enslaved person, was the son of an African prince who had been captured into slavery. Although L'Ouverture was born into slavery, his enslavers had treated him less harshly, and he was highly educated. L'Overture joined the slave rebellion in 1792 following the Night of Fire, when enslaved people rose up against their enslavers, set their plantations on fire, and mounted armed resistance against their oppressors. This revolution was more successful than previous slave rebellions – the 500,000 enslaved people vastly outnumbered the 40,000 White people on the island – but it was costly: 100,000 enslaved people and 24,000 White people died.

Spain, which controlled the eastern part of the island (today's Dominican Republic), took advantage of the instability by offering to support the revolution. L'Ouverture and other revolutionary leaders allied with Spain against France. In 1793, Britain followed Spain's cue and began pushing into the island. In response, the National Assembly of France (the revolutionary government in Paris) decided to emancipate all the enslaved people in the French empire and make them citizens. This had the intended effect: in 1794, L'Ouverture realigned with France, and they pushed the British out and took the eastern side of the island from Spain.

Saint Domingue remained a semi-autonomous French colony from 1794 to 1803. L'Ouverture became general-in-chief of the army, drafted a constitution based on the liberation of enslaved people, and later appointed himself governor-general for life.

Watch this video which describes the Constitution L'Ouverture drafted. How does it compare to the American and French constitutions we have studied and the ideals of the Enlightenment philosophers embedded in its framework?

Page The Haitian Revolution

In 1803, Napoleon, France's new leader, sent 43,000 troops to regain full control of Saint Domingue. L'Ouverture was captured and sent to prison in France, where he died in 1803. However, Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758–1806), L'Ouverture's second in command, successfully fought off the French forces. He declared Haiti an independent nation in 1804. France recognized its independence, but the nation still faced many challenges.

Watch this video to understand the significance of the Haitian Revolution. As you watch, think about how Haiti's culture contributed to the uprising. Why do many consider the revolution a watershed moment in history?

Page Colonial Revolutions

Since it was the first republic established by formerly enslaved people, Haiti faced challenges securing trading partners and establishing diplomatic relations. Many Americans were reluctant to form alliances or create ties with a country where formerly enslaved people had just wrest power from their enslavers. Edmund Burke, the conservative pundit who criticized the French Revolution, claimed the Haitian Revolution threatened the institution of slavery.

Watch this video on the challenges Haiti faced after it had achieved independence. How did the American and French Revolutions inspire the protesters? Describe the opposition its leaders faced concerning trade and diplomatic relations and how these barriers affected its development as a nation.

Page Letter to Thomas Jefferson from Jean Jacques Dessalines

Read this letter that Dessalines sent to Thomas Jefferson. Think about the words he used to appeal to the president of the United States. How do you think Jefferson, who helped draft the U.S. Constitution but enslaved 600 people during his lifetime, recieved this letter? How do you think Jefferson's conflicting views may have complicated Haiti's situation?

Book Saint Domingue, Rights, and Empire

The next two articles discuss the ideological conflicts the new Haitian republic faced. How did the history of slavery in the Americas influence whether leaders would accept the results of the revolution and independence? Make a Venn Diagram that compares Koekkoek and Sepinwall's ideas. Then, develop your own argument. Why was the revolution of Haiti and its independence so controversial, then and now?

This first article examines various perspectives on the Haitian Revolution while it was taking place.

Page Views on the Haitian Revolution

This second article explores how French and American historians have viewed the Haitian Revolution.

4.2: Revolution in Mexico and Texas Book The Mexican War of Independence

As you read this lesson, create a timeline of the different revolts against Spanish rule. How did pressures in Europe help lead to independence in Mexico and Latin America?

Page Revolution in Latin America

As you watch this video, consider how the Enlightenment principles played into the revolutions in Mexico and Latin America. How were they similar to the American Revolution?

Page Texas Declaration of Independence

The newly-independent Mexico faced many challenges. The war had been costly and had left the country in an economic crisis with rampant political instability. Agricultural yields had suffered while conservative and liberal factions fought over how the government should operate. Some wanted to create a system similar to Spain, while others sought to model Mexico after the United States. After gaining independence, Mexico experienced 50 governments in 30 years as military generals led several coups to overtake the government. None of the military leaders were as impactful or controversial as Antonio López de Santa Anna (1794–1876), who controlled 11 of the 50 governments as president and military dictator.

During the fray of instability, the northern colony of Tejas (Texas) rose in rebellion. In 1820, Spain allowed Moses Austin and his son Stephen to bring 300 Anglo-Americans to settle in Tejas. Mexico honored this agreement in 1821 when the settlement occurred.

Spain and Mexico had a hard time finding settlers willing to live in Tejas. In 1718, Spain had recruited settlers from the Canary Islands to found the city of San Antonio, but few moved outside of the city. In 1820, Tejas had about 7,000 residents. The Spanish and Mexican governments lured Americans to Tejas with the promise of large tracts of land provided they became Mexican citizens and converted to Catholicism. Many White Americans immigrated to Tejas from the southern states, with their plantation systems and the people they had enslaved, drawn to the fertile soil in east Tejas that was suitable for cotton farming.

Page Texas, Mexico, and America

Since Santa Anna had personally led Mexican forces to quell the rebellion, he was forced to surrender and cede the control of Tejas when the Texan forces captured him in 1836. His government was declared illegitimate when he returned to Mexico, and the Mexican government never recognized Texan independence. This led to the Mexican-American War in 1845, when the United States annexed Tejas and Mexico lost most of its territory north of the Rio Grande River. This led to further reform in Mexico when the government convened another constitutional convention to reestablish most of the 1824 Constitution (with modifications).

Read this lesson about the Texas Revolution. How did Mexico's instability, following its independence from Spain in 1821, contribute to the revolt in Texas? How did these events catalyze change in Mexico and lead to the formation of a new Constitution?

Book The Path of Dictatorship

The Mexican Constitution of 1857 would last until the Revolution of 1910, with the onset of the Mexican Civil War (1910–1920). This revolution brought an end to the Porfiriato, the rule of Porfirio Diaz (1830–1915). Diaz had seized political power in 1876 and created a dictatorship that lasted from 1876 to 1911. During his 34-year dictatorship, Porfirio Diaz created a centralized government and pursued an aggressive policy to build a modern capitalist and industrialized state with substantial investment from the United States and other foreign countries.

The Mexican Revolution of 1910 represented the culmination of a century of political and social conflict in Latin and South America, following independence from Spain and Portugal. As we have learned, Mexico became a democracy when it separated from Spain. However, wealthy elites came to dominate its political, economic, and social institutions. Lower and middle-class Mexicans had little political power and faced constant subjugation from corrupt landlords and political officials. The 1910 revolution changed Mexico's culture and government on a national and regional level. Important revolutionary figures include Francisco Madero (1873–1913), Emiliano Zapata (1879–1919), and Pancho Villa (1878–1923).

The Mexican Revolution began as an upper-middle-class political conflict between Porfirio Diaz and Francisco Madero, his political rival, but eventually encompassed all classes of Mexican society. The conflict led to Diaz's fall from power and a series of coups and counter-coups that prevented a return to stable government.

Poor farmers and the indigenous population took advantage of the revolutionary chaos to challenge the political and economic power of wealthy landlords and local officials. In the early 1930s, President Lazaro Cardenas restored political and social order by implementing several social reforms to address extreme social and economic inequalities.

Power and wealth were concentrated within the central government, among the foreign (usually American) investors, and among the members of the wealthier upper classes, who were often of Spanish heritage. They included wealthy merchants and the owners of the large landed estates (haciendas). The peasants, villagers, and members of the Mexican working class were often of mixed race (Mestizos) or members of the indigenous population (Zapotecs, Yaquis, and Maya).

Both the peasants and workers had a history of rebellion in Mexico. Not only were Mexican landowners and American conglomerates abusing the peasants, miners, oil workers, ranch hands, and other members of the working class, but massive amounts of land were being transferred to foreign corporations, such as American agribusiness and Mexican landowners. These groups had few rights and saw little of the economic prosperity that benefited those who supported Diaz.

Read this paper which describes Mexico's political situation before the 1910 Revolution. How did capitalism and the desire for wealth and power create an economic and political structure that fomented revolution in Mexico? Consider the larger situation in Latin America – these Mexican revolutionaries in 1910 were the first members of the lower classes to rise in rebellion against the established society.

Page The Mexican Revolution

Increasingly, Mexican intellectuals aligned themselves with European-style liberalism. Industrial workers (although not unified) began to unionize, and the rural and urban poor began to object to their positions. The small but growing middle class also objected to the concentration of wealth in the upper class and foreign investors. As in the French Revolution, the consolidation of power and wealth at the top left the vast majority of citizens out of the political and economic life of the country.

In October 1910, Francisco Madero (1873–1913), an advocate for social justice and democracy, called on Mexicans to rise up to oppose the Diaz dictatorship. He was supported by Emiliano Zapata (1879–1919), who had inspired an agrarian movement (Zapatismo) in the state of Morelos by calling on the peasants to demand water rights and land reform. In May 1911, Díaz was forced to resign and flee to France after the Federal Army suffered several military defeats by the forces supporting Madero. In October 1911, Madero was elected president with resounding support from the Mexican people. However, Madero soon disavowed the support he had received from Zapata's forces and denounced the Zapatistas as simple bandits.

As you watch this video, think about the nature of revolution in the 1900s in Mexico and why many call it a civil war.

Book Francisco (Pancho) Villa

Despite his popularity, Madero soon encountered opposition from more radical revolutionaries and former Diaz supporters. In February 1913, General Victoriano Huerta, the military commander of Mexico City, led a military coup that included intense fighting (called the Ten Tragic Days or la Decena Trágica) and resulted in the arrest and assassination of Madero along with his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. The country quickly plunged into civil war in protest, and Huerta fled the country in 1914, ousted by a coalition of Constitutionalist forces from northern Mexico led by Venustiano Carranza, Álvaro Obregón, and Francisco Pancho Villa (1877–1923), with the support of Zapata's troops.

Complicating this infighting among economic and political groups was a growing sense of Mexican nationalism which would create a sense of national identity and provide an element of cohesion to resist foreign domination, especially from the United States. These nationalist sentiments allowed groups to join together, often temporarily, because they felt it was their right to assert their own national independence and national sovereignty.

Pancho Villa and his actions symbolized the uprising of the common class against the ruling elites. He became a folk hero and symbol of revolution.

Read this text about Pancho Villa. Why do some see him as a Robin Hood-like hero and others as a terrorist?

Book Mexico's 1917 Constitution

After the revolution, Mexico created a new Constitution. Venustiano Carranza, who was elected president from 1917 to 1920, oversaw the creation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. This constitution was revolutionary. It recognized the rights of organized labor, established the basis for a free, mandatory, and secular education, and limited the power of the Catholic Church. Carranza was assassinated in 1920, and his opponent Obregon was elected president, marking the end of the Mexican Revolution.

Since the Constitution of 1917 was the first constitution to discuss social rights, many historians view it as the first socialist constitution. It would directly influence later socialist revolutions and constitutions, including the Weimar Constitution of 1919 in Germany and the Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Constitution of 1918 in Russia. This socialist and Marxist revolutionary tradition was evident in 1910 Mexico and would resurface in Chile, Ecuador, and Cuba.

The Mexican Constitution of 1917 provides the basis for today's government. Read this text. Why do you think many consider it to be revolutionary? How do you think it changed the structure of the Mexican government and society?

4.3: Revolution in South America Page Other Revolutions in South America

As you watch this lecture, consider how events in Europe inspired revolutions in South America. Compare the revolutions in Mexico and Central America and how they fit into the overall story of revolution.

Book María Antonia Bolívar and the War for Independence in Venezuela

Just as had occurred during the American Revolution, the revolutions in South America split loyalists who continued to support the Spanish monarchy and those who wanted independence. To stem the intense infighting and conflict that frequently resulted, Bolívar became a temporary dictator in Venezuela, Peru, and president of the newly-formed Gran Colombia.

Read this article which describes the power dynamic between revolutionaries and royalists. How did this type of conflict impact the revolutionary movements?

Book The South American Revolutions

Bolivia was established in 1825 – the country took Bolívar's name who had set up its constitution. It is important to note that while these revolutionaries had abolished the monarchy, they had authoritarian tendencies. For example, Bolívar created a government with a lifetime president while he restricted voting rights for the people in Bolivia. These new nations in South America were privy to internal revolts and instability, which resulted in several revolutions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Book Spain and America from 1808 to 1826

As you read this article, consider how the juntas provided temporary stability but long-term strife. How did the revolutions in Mexico and Latin America differ from the United States? What do they have in common?

4.4: U.S. Involvement and Filipino Independence Page The Monroe Doctrine

Read the Monroe Doctrine. Who was president James Monroe (1758–1831) addressing when he wrote the Monroe Doctrine? How does this document support revolution? How did it transform the U.S. into a world power?

Book Roosevelt's "Big Stick" Foreign Policy

The U.S. became directly involved in the revolutions of Latin America when it declared war on Spain in support of the independence of Cuba and the Philippines during the Spanish American War of 1898. The war was short, and Spain relinquished control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States.

Cuba was granted independence, but the United States decided to keep the other territories. This was not welcome news in the Philippines. Filipino revolutionaries had welcomed the United States because they admired the Americans who had also fought against colonial rule. But they rebelled when the United States tried to assert itself as a colonial master: the Philippine American War (1899–1902) pitted Filipino freedom fighters against the United States.

Read this text. Do you think the U.S. leaders who wanted to keep the Philippines as a U.S. colony were hypocritical, or was this arrangement merely an irony of history? Why did the Americans grant freedom to Cuba, which is close to the U.S. mainland, but try to maintain control over the Philippines?

The United States began to flex its muscles when it realized it could direct policy in the Americas and around the world. Many American leaders believed in the assertions of the Monroe Doctrine and felt they should take advantage of their military successes during the Spanish American War. The United States claimed dominance over Latin America and other areas of interest. According to President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), the United States would famously continue to "walk softly, but carry a big stick". The Roosevelt Corollary prompted the United States to assert a new position: it would serve as a police force in the Americas and carry out its objectives as a world power, with force if necessary.

Read this article on this shift in U.S. policy. How did Roosevelt assert U.S. dominance as a world power in the Roosevelt Corally? How do you think this policy impacted revolutions in Latin America and other conflicts around the world?

Book American Empire

Read this article on the American empire. Why do you think the United States became involved in Latin America and other parts of the world? How did the United States exert its power and destabilize the governments it disagreed with?

4.5: Revolutions of the 20th century Page Panamanian Independence and U.S. Political Intervention

Read this article on U.S. involvement in the Panamanian revolution. How did U.S. intentions and actions compare with what had occurred in the Philippines? Do you think the events in Panama fit the definition of a revolution? Why or why not?

Book The Cuban Revolution

The Cuban Revolution was the most significant socialist/communist revolution in the Americas in the 1900s. Led by Fidel Castro (1926–2016) and Che Guevara (1928–1967), the participants overthrew Cuba's capitalist system, which had become beholden to U.S. commercial interests. They replaced it with a communist system that is still in place today. These events in Cuba became a proxy war for the Cold War (1947–1989). The United States and the Soviet Union (today's Russia) engaged in a constant struggle between the ideologies of capitalism and communism. The two superpowers were to fight several future conflicts to establish their world dominance.

As you read this chapter, think about how the 1910 Mexican Revolution influenced the events in Cuba. How were the changes to Cuba's government and economic system revolutionary?

Page Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution

Watch these videos. How does each lecturer characterize Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution? Why do you think each person carries the beliefs they espouse? Do they exhibit certain biases or objectives? What evidence do they use to substantiate their claims? Then, formulate your own opinion of the history of the Cuban Revolution and its importance to the discussion of revolution.

This first video is from a professor and advocate of Marxism. In the video, he focuses on the successes of the Cuban Revolution.

Page The U.S. Approach to Cuba

This second video was created in 1960. It explores the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro based on U.S. foreign policy. It focuses on the possibility of similar revolutions throughout the globe and their possible impact.

5.1: Historical Background to European Imperialism Page Cities, Societies, and Empires

Watch this video on the development of civilization, cities, and states. How do you think these social constructs relate to socio-political and economic development and eventually lead to European imperialism?

Page Byzantium between East and West

The Roman Empire was connected to China via the Silk Road, a series of trading routes that had allowed Europe and Asia to share their knowledge, technology, and culture. Rome had developed an advanced civilization with complex legal codes, citizenship rights, and a semi-market economy. However, Rome began to fall apart by the third century due to Germanic tribes they could not conquer in the north, political infighting and corruption, pollution in the city itself, and a shift to Christianity, which outlawed many Roman practices such as the gladiator games which were central to the Roman economy. By the 5th century, Rome fell to the Germanic tribes.

While the Roman Empire continued as the Byzantine Empire in Turkey for 1,000 more years, Europe was effectively cut off from the Middle East and Asia. Trade continued, but the interconnected nature of Eurasia ceased to exist. In 610, Muhammad ibn Abdullah (570–632) founded the Islamic religion, which spread throughout the Middle East. A series of Islamic empires or Caliphates consolidated control in the Middle East while powerful dynasties continued to advance in China. Japan and Korea also entered the written record and joined this league of powerful kingdoms that vied for power. In India, the Chola Empire spread to consolidate control of India and the Malay Archipelago (which included Indonesia).

Watch this video which discusses the importance Byzantium played during the medieval period. How did the Crusades help lay the seeds for European Imperialism?

Book The Mongolian Code of Laws

In the 13th century, Genghis Khan (c. 1158–1227), an obscure Mongolian khan, began his campaign of conquest that reshaped the world. He moved into China, Korea, Japan, Russia, eastern Europe, India, and the Middle East from Mongolia. Genghis Khan established the largest land empire in history. Most importantly, he replicated the Eurasian trade routes that had existed during the Roman Empire and established an intricate system of roads, trading posts, and banks.

The Mongolian laws inscribed in the Yassa were progressive for this time, based on the semi-democratic nature of Mongolian society. Male and female leaders from various tribes elected the Khans who led the traditional Mongolian government. They recognized freedom of religion, criminalized torture, abolished slavery (at least for the Mongols), and punished anyone who raped or harmed Mongolian women. These rights for women were unheard of in other parts of the world. Some historians believe the Yassa and Mongolian traditions inspired the Enlightenment philosophers, especially with their belief that individuals are entitled to certain rights under the law.

Read about these laws excerpted from the Yassa. Do you think the Yassa could have influenced European thought and influenced the Enlightenment philosophers?

Page Medieval Europe

During the Dark Ages, Europe had devolved into a series of small kingdoms that constantly fought for dominion over their neighbors. The Holy Roman Empire, a multi-ethnic complex of territories in western, central, and southern Europe (in today's Italy, Germany, and France), and the Catholic Church established a firm grip on the European power structure. During this time, Scandinavians (the Vikings) pushed into England, northern and eastern Europe, and established Kievan Rus, which would become Russia in the 10th century. William the Conqueror (c.1028–1087), a Norman nobleman, deposed the Scandinavian monarchy in England and established the British monarchy.

As you watch this video, consider what life was like in Medieval Europe. How did feudal and manorial systems operate? How did they compare with the kingdoms in Eurasia during this period? How do you think medieval warfare and the frequency of military invasion influenced European imperialism in the 15th century?

Page Early Globalization and Revolution

As you watch this lecture, think about how we characterize European powers. How did the revolution and ideas of nationalism propel Europeans to venture beyond Europe to overtake the world?

Page The Reconquest of Spain

The Caliphate of Córdoba (or Umayyad Caliphate) was an Islamic state the Umayyad dynasty ruled in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) from 929 to 1031. The caliphate prospered. It filled the void Rome had left in 711 and successfully promoted trade, literature, scholarship, the arts, and architecture. The Reconquista, an 800-year series of battles Christian states engaged in to expel the caliphate, was eventually successful and Christian rulers controlled the entire peninsula by 1492. A series of edicts (1499–1526) forced Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity. King Philip III (1578–1621) eventually forced the Muslims and Jews to leave the peninsula for Tunisia and Morocco in 1609.

Watch this video to learn about the origins of the Reconquista, how it unfolded, and how it influenced the Spanish and Portuguese desire to expand beyond its borders.

5.2: Early and New European Imperialism Book The Effects of Colonization

Read this text. While it focuses on America, you can apply its lessons to the rest of the world. How did European colonization affect the lives of the people who lived in the colonies?

Page Colonial Possessions in 1674

Examine this world map from 1674. Which European nations controlled the most and least amount of territory? Why do you think some parts of the world remained uncolonized?

Page Colonial Possessions in 1898

The early imperial/colonial period lasted through the end of the 1700s. By the beginning of the 1800s, European imperialism had reached a new level. The newly-formed countries of Germany and Italy, which had missed out on early colonization, began to assert their stance on the world stage. The United States also became an imperial power. By the end of the 1800s, every inhabited continent and most islands ertr either colonized by a European power or, as in the case of Japan, galvanized by imperialism to act in an aggressive imperial manner. Imperialism defined world history from 1500 to 1900. By 1900, the British Empire – in addition to the French, Dutch, Germans, and other minor European powers to a lesser extent – had supplanted Spain. They said the "sun never sets on the British Empire".

Compare this world map from 1898 with the map of 1674 that we studied earlier in this unit. How did the colonial powers change? What areas did Europeans control in 1898 that had not been colonized in 1674?

Page Colonialism through a Ghanaian Lens

Watch this video on the consequences of European imperialism and colonization. What were the objectives of the European powers? How did they affect the societies they colonized?

Page The Dark Side of Progress

Watch this video. How did colonialism and imperialism divide the world? How did this stratification contribute to the revolutions we have studied in the course?

Page What is Racial Capitalism and Why Does It Matter?

Many Europeans justified their commercial ambitions by promoting concepts of race and racial superiority. Many believed the sentiments Rudyard Kipling espoused in his 1899 poem, White Man's Burden, which claimed Christian Europeans had a duty to civilize, educate, and impart their religion on the non-White, "half-devil", and "half-child" people they colonized. The Atlantic slave traders justified their barbaric, inhuman actions with claims of European superiority. Equating skin color with value and claiming Europeans were superior to those with darker skin convinced slave traders they could treat the people they bought and sold as subhuman property. These ideologies gave birth to modern-day racism. This Eurocentrism places Europe at the center of the world and idealizes European culture, goods, and achievements above other cultures.

Watch this lecture which examines the effects imperialism and colonialism had on social stratification and racism. How did ideas of private property and capitalism influence social and race relations? How about feelings of racial superiority?

Page Imperialists and Boy Scouts

As you watch this video, think about the thesis in the previous video. Make a Venn diagram. Notate the main ideas of each video in the outside circles, and notate the similarities in the center.

5.3: The Scramble for Africa, Transatlantic Slavery, and Decolonization Page Imperialism

Watch this video. How did the Atlantic slave trade influence the so-called Scramble for Africa?

Page Slavery in Ancient Rome

Interest in Africa predated this Scramble for Africa, which was propelled by a desire to extract Africa's vast natural resources and exploit its human capital. Slavery had existed since the Sumerians and Akkadians ruled Mesopotamia during the early days of written history. The Code of Hammurabi, written in Sumer in 1771 B.C., references slavery. It was also a part of society in Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, Mongolia, China, and Europe before this period of European imperialism. When the Islamic Caliphates took control of the Middle East, they established trade networks from east Asia to the Indian subcontinent through the Middle East and into Africa. Human trafficking and slavery were a big part of the economies of the premodern world.

However, slavery was much different before European imperialism. People were enslaved due to financial debts and war, or they were sometimes kidnapped and forced into service. But enslaved people were always considered human beings. In many cultures, they could own property, earn wages, and even hold high military and government offices. Ancient Rome had strict prohibitions against inflicting arbitrary harm or murdering enslaved people. Enslavers and enslaved people often traded places, such as during the festival of Saturnalia when the enslavers served enslaved people during lavish banquets. This holiday would influence modern-day Christmas.

The Ottoman Empire, the Islamic empire that conquered Turkey and plundered the Byzantian Empire, enslaved people from eastern Europe. Christian settlements were required to provide young boys to the Ottoman military as a form of taxation. These boys were trained as elite soldiers, known as Janissaries, and served as the elite bodyguards of the sultan and in other high-rank positions. In India, the Mamluk Dynasty (1206–1290) that was part of the Delhi Sultuanate, was known as the "slave dynasty" when Muhammad of Ghor (1149–1202) died without heirs and bequeathed his empire to four slaves who he had treated as his sons. These high-ranking generals, Malmuk, Yildiz, Aibek, and Qubacha, divided the empire among themselves.

Watch this lecture on slavery in ancient Rome. What rights did enslaved people have in ancient Rome? Make a chart that notes the most interesting aspects of Roman slavery. Compare this list to what you know about the enslaved people who were part of the transatlantic slave trade.

Book Slavery Before the Transatlantic Trade

As you read this lesson, make a chart of each culture with slavery. Note the major characteristics of slavery in each culture and compare that to your chart about slavery in Rome and the Americas. Write a summary about these aspects of premodern slavery.

Page West Africa and the Role of Slavery

In the Americas during the 1500s, the Spanish Crown employed the Encomienda system of labor, which rewarded Spanish explorers, conquistadors, and military men with land in the New World" They were granted the labor of the people who lived on the land alongside their new land acquisitions" But their attempts to enslave the native populations were largely unsuccessful" European diseases such as smallpox had devastated the native people, and many escaped because they had much more extensive knowledge of the land"

The Europeans turned to Africa as their source of bonded labor" Most enslaved people were kidnapped against their will and forced into bondage" Rival tribes raided villages to capture prisoners who they sold to European slave traders" Families were broken up, and entire villages were destroyed" The enslaved people were stripped of their humanity and designated as chattel or moveable property" They were mistreated, beaten, and killed with impunity" No one was exempt, including the ruling elites – remember the father of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture, who was an African prince"

Read this article, which describes key aspects of the slave trade"

Page Interviews with Former Slaves

The transatlantic slave trade was a tool and outgrowth of European imperialism and colonization. It redefined the world in terms of race and social relations and divided individuals according to their skin color and ethnicity.

Slavery took many forms in the Americas. The Spanish initiated the transatlantic slave trade in 1518 when they began importing enslaved people from Africa because they had wiped out the local population and needed people to work in the fields. Conditions were especially harsh in the Portuguese plantations in Brazil, where only men were brought over and worked to death. France introduced slavery to its colonies in the 1500s, and the British brought the first enslaved people to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619.

Enslaved people were treated more humanely in Jamestown and the northern British colonies. Still, conditions were especially harsh and cruel in the sugar plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean Islands, where enslaved people were often beaten and killed. The planters who moved into the colonies in the American South brought this inhuman plantation system, which was based on abject cruelty, with them.

Before 1790, most plantations in the American South farmed rice and tobacco. Some historians claim the abolitionist politicians who met in 1787 agreed to incorporate slavery into the U.S. Constitution because they did not believe slavery would last. Tobacco was slowly depleting the soil and would no longer be able to serve as America's cash crop. These key legislators needed the southern votes to pass the Constitution. This could be wishful thinking on the part of these historians, since many people today do not want to believe the U.S. founders were crass or unethical. However, several U.S. legislators actively fought to retain slavery in their states.

Other historians point out that the U.S. Constitution failed to outlaw slavery despite its lofty statements about human rights. The three-fifths compromise proportioned slave populations for representation and taxation. Congress also had the power to ban the slave trade but pushed the date out to 1808. The Fugitive Slave Clause (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3) also gave enslavers the right to capture enslaved people who ran away anywhere in the country. This clause codified slavery as a federally-protected enterprise.

As you watch this interview, consider how Laura Smalley was treated and the long-term consequences this culture of oppression has had on race relations in the United States.

Page How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America

In 1790, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, a machine that made it easier and faster to clean cotton. Although Whitney was an abolitionist and had intended to eliminate the need for slave labor, the opposite occurred. Many tobacco and rice farmers converted to cotton when the cotton gin made cotton production more lucrative. Consequently, the demand for free slave labor increased. The Industrial Revolution also began to take hold in the north, and the textile mills benefited from the low-cost cotton the southern plantations produced.

Slavery became a central component of wealth creation throughout the United States. In 1808, the United States outlawed the importation of enslaved people from Africa, but traders continued to smuggle them in. By this time, enslaved people were "produced" and traded domestically with inhumane consequences. Children and family members were divided and sold between plantations and across state lines. Nearly four million enslaved people lived in the United States when the Civil War began in 1860.

Watch this lecture on the domestic slave trade. Consider how slavery and racism became ingrained into every aspect of American society and how domestic slave traders helped perpetuate the system.

Book African Americans

While the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865) may have had several causes, it ultimately came down to issues of slavery. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) signed the Emancipation Proclamation, an Executive Order that freed enslaved people in the Confederate states, but it did not free anyone enslaved in the Union – many officers and soldiers continued to enslave people throughout the war.

Legislators and three-fourths of the states had to amend the U.S. Constitution because the framers had written slavery into the document in 1788. With the passage of the 13th Amendment at the war's conclusion (1865), the U.S. Congress and 27 states amended the U.S. Constitution to formally end slavery, except in the case of incarceration.

The 14th Amendment (1868) granted automatic citizenship to African Americans and anyone born on U.S. soil. The amendment specified that citizens were entitled to equal treatment. The 15th Amendment (1870) granted American citizens the right to vote, regardless of skin color.

While these amendments were meant to revolutionize the United States' social structure and grant equal footing to newly-freed people, the southern states and the U.S. Congress passed a series of Jim Crow laws to weaken these Constitutional amendments and deny equality to formerly enslaved people. During Reconstruction, southern plantation owners turned to sharecropping, a system that allowed newly-freed people to remain on their plantations to lease their homes and land from the owner. Since they had no money, many formerly enslaved people had no choice but to accept this Faustian bargain.

The plantation owners gave the newly-freed people their houses and land on credit and charged exorbitant rates for seed, equipment, and food. The formerly enslaved people lacked the money ever to repay what they owed. Most were stuck in the same situation of servitude they had experienced while they were enslaved. Many states also passed laws that made it impossible for formerly enslaved people to vote. The U.S. Supreme Court also upheld segregation laws that separated white and black people in public facilities (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896). Although most of these laws were officially eliminated in the 1950s and 1960s, much of their societal effects remain today.

Read this text to explore how slavery has impacted race relations and racism in the United States. How do you think these systems and practices have affected racial equality in today's environment?

Book The Transatlantic Slave Trade

European colonization and slavery were devastating for Africa, where societies and kingdoms were plundered and destroyed. This destruction included the vast repositories and documents at the Library of Timbuktu, one of the great centers of knowledge in premodern Africa.

As you read this text, consider the personal horrors of the Middle Passage and how the slave traders treated their cargo as produce that was less than human. They had become mere chattel, or property. How did slavery lead to the American Civil War and the fall of the European powers?

Book Imperialism and Slavery

Read this article on the global consequences of imperialism and slavery. What role did slavery play in Japan and Ethiopia?

Page Resisting Colonialism through a Ghanaian Lens

Steps toward decolonization began in the 1950s with the work of Ghana's Convention People's Party and the Tanganyika African National Union. The calls for independence, racial equality, and justice coincided with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic promoted boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience. Many called 1960 the Year of Africa, when 17 countries gained independence. They had effectively ousted the European powers from the continent by 1980.

Watch this video to learn about the tactics the African revolutionaries used. How did these compare with the revolutionary uprisings we have discussed in this course so far?

Page Africa's Independence and Its Challenges

European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade have left deep scars. Racial injustice, such as the system of apartheid in South Africa, continued to oppress Black Africans. When the Europeans drew their colonial borders, they boxed rival tribes into the same countries, creating political unrest that led to military coups and genocide. Since the colonial leaders were never interested in economic growth or development, the newly-independent countries grappled with widespread poverty, lack of sanitation, and the absence of industrial development.

Watch this lecture about the challenges the newly-independent countries in Africa have faced as they shake off the literal and figurative chains of their colonial past.

Book Women during Colonial Occupation

As you review the next two resources, consider how colonialism has influenced today's social structures and race relations in Africa. Do you think the post-colonial powers are responsible for correcting the wrongs they inflicted on their colonies in Africa?

Read this study, which focuses on how British colonialism affected the role of women in Kenya.

Page Racism and Colonial Occupation

Watch this video, which explores instances of racial insensitivity and racism that residents of post-colonial Brussels, Belgium, still harbor toward those who come from their former African colonies.

5.4: Scientific and Industrial Revolutions of Europe Page Philosophy of Science

Watch this video. What role did the Catholic Church play in the Scientific Revolution and the growth of scientific thinking in Europe?

Book The Scientific Revolution

The Renaissance introduced the philosophy of humanism to Europe, which shifted the focus of art, literature, and philosophy from the divinity and majesty of God to the achievements and splendor of humanity. Martin Luther (1483–1546), a Catholic priest, founded the Lutheran Church when he tired of the excesses and corruption of the Catholic Church. Luther's protests led to the Protestant Reformation, a period of religious, political, intellectual, and cultural upheaval that splintered the Catholic Church in northern and central Europe during the 1500s. Reformers like Luther, John Calvin (1509–1564), and King Henry VIII (1491–1547) challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church's ability to define Christian practice.

As you read the next two articles, make sure you can define and explain how the following concepts, individuals, and institutions influenced the Scientific Revolution in Europe. How did the Scientific Revolution change society and provide a foundation for the modern world?

  •  Advances in medicine
  •  Astronomy
  •  Galileo Galilei
  •  Instruments and Methods
  •  Nicolaus Copernicus
  •  Philosophy
  •  Religion
  •  Royal Society
  •  Scientific thinking the scientific method
  •  Women

Book Natural Philosophy from Galileo to Newton

This article explores the foundation Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) and Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) laid for the Scientific Revolution. The author also examines the limits of this thinking and cultural transition.

Page Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

The Scientific Revolution in Europe had tremendous sociopolitical consequences. It loosened the hold of the Catholic Church and prompted individuals to reexamine all aspects of their lives – from the natural (scientific) to culture and politics. As we discussed in Unit 1, the period of the Enlightenment that followed represented a departure from the status quo. Political philosophers applied the ideas of reason and logic to examine the purpose and limits of government, civil rights, and the role of the individual in civic life.

As you watch this video, pay attention to the individuals it features.

Book Scientific Revolution to Political Revolution

As you read this article, think about how the Scientific Revolution impacted the Enlightenment and major revolutions of the modern period.

Page Industrial Revolutions

Historians believe the Industrial Revolution began in England, which offered many prerequisites, such as mechanized farming, water power, large iron and coal reserves, and a vast empire to draw raw materials from. Factory production developed in urban centers (cities), incorporating modern machines and rudimentary automation. Powered by steam engines and the broad use of steel, the following key inventions propelled the factory system to develop in Great Britain during the 18th century: James Hargreaves (1720–1778) invented the spinning jenny in 1770, James Watt (1736–1819) innovated the steam engine in 1776, and Edmund Cartwright (1743–1823) invented the power loom in 1785. The mass production of goods led to modernization and urbanization on a scale that was never seen before.

Watch this lecture which discusses the impact the Industrial Revolution had on capitalism, modes of production, the role of women, and class consciousness.

Page The Industrial Revolution In Britain and Its Consequences

Since Great Britain was the first country to industrialize, it exercised great proprietary control over its inventions and methods. It also harvested the resources of its colonies and forced them to trade exclusively with Great Britain. For example, the colonial government in India reorganized Indian workers to work on large tea and indigo plantations and forced local artisans and craftsmen to practice agriculture. Indians were also pressed into coal mines to meet the coal demand for steam engines. Great Britain turned these natural resources into the manufactured goods it sold back to Indians. The large-scale reorganizations depleted the soil and led to food shortages, which caused great famines.

As you watch this video, think about the laws enacted during this time and how they revolutionized working conditions and workers' rights. Construct a T-chart that lists the positive and negative consequences of the Industrial Revolution. How did the negative conditions contribute to the divide between rich and poor and catalyze the socialist movements in the 1900s?

Page A Brief History of Industrial Revolutions

The first Industrial Revolution involved Great Britain, the other European powers, and the United States in the early 1800s. Belgium was the first nation on mainland Europe to industrialize when William (1759–1832) and John Cockerill (1780–1830), two English brothers, established a major textile manufacturing firm near Liège in 1807. France joined this group by 1848, but the other European nations became part of a second wave from 1870 to 1914. Germany began industrializing in the 1870s after its unification, but Spain and Italy were slower. Japan became a military powerhouse during the 1900s after a rapid period of industrialization.

Watch this video on the ideas of agency and how Marx viewed industrialization and its impact on humanity, agency, and the idea of rights. Consider how the Industrial Revolutions influenced politics and contributed to both growth and instability.

6.1: A Brief History of Russia Book Rising Discontent in Russia

Read the text on the rise of discontent in Russia and why its people rose in revolution.

6.2: Origins of Revolution Book The Political Development of the Russian State

Read this text which explores the roots of Russian discontent. Think about the connections between these Russian protests and the social upheaval we discussed in earlier units on the Industrial Revolution.

Book The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution occurred in two stages. During the first stage, liberal movements challenged the monarchy and the Russian tsar following Russia's humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). Major revolutionary fever followed, with a series of uncoordinated worker uprisings in the major urban centers and peasant uprisings in 1905. While Tsar Nicholas II (1868–1918) created a Duma (Russian legislature) in 1906, the government was essentially an authoritarian constitutional monarchy since the Duma had little control or influence.

As you read this text, note the major causes of the 1905 uprisings, the key events, failures, and results.

Page The Manifesto of 17 October 1905

Read this manifesto that Tsar Nicholas II issued in response to the revolutionary coalition's demands. Compare it to the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen" that the French revolutionaries issued in 1789 (See Unit 3, section 3.3). Name some similarities and differences between the two documents.

Book The Provisional Government

The second stage of revolution followed Tsar Nicolas II's decision to enter World War I (1914–1917), which led to five million casualties, disease, starvation, and disaster for Russia and its Tsarist regime. In February 1917, Tsar Nicolas II was forced to abdicate due to these leadership failures. In 1918, Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family were executed. However, the Duma that replaced him had no experience running a government. Petrograd was torn by strikes by industrial workers, such as a strike at the Putilov Mill, women's demonstrations, food shortages, and general middle-class discontent. Local soviets, or workers councils, organized in the cities while groups of peasants claimed the land in the countryside in response to this decentralization.

Read this text. Why do you think the structure of the provisional government was considered "moderate"? Compare it to the Manifesto of 1905. Why was it ultimately ineffective?

Page A Dramatic Reading of the October Revolution

By October 1917, the Bolshevik Party, a communist organization led by Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924), staged a revolution against the provisional government and seized control of the state. Interestingly, Lenin was in exile in Switzerland during World War I. Germany helped Lenin return to Russia. Lenin initiated the October Revolution upon his return, which drew Russia out of World War I. Many historians believe German involvement was a strategic move to weaken Allied Powers at the apex of the war.

Listen to this dramatic reading of the October Revolution. Note Lenin's involvement and examine the role of the Bolshevik Party in the revolution and its outcome.

Page The Programme of the Social-Democratic Workers' Party

The Bolsheviks used military force to consolidate power and establish control over the local soviets. Throughout the 1920s, Lenin and his successor Joseph Stalin (1878–1953) used violence and political control to implement communism across Russia's political, economic, and social institutions. Communist leaders tried to export the revolution by supporting communist political organizations in Europe and the United States.

Read the program of the Bolshevik Party. How do their claims and demands compare to the previous revolutions we have studied? In the next section, we will explore how these complaints relate to Marxist ideals and the alienation and social inequities the industrial revolution caused.

6.3: The Manifesto of the Communist Party Page Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited Peoples

This declaration, published in January 1918, outlines the key rights to be obtained in the new Soviet state. Compare it with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the English Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Bill of Rights. What common themes and values do you notice? What is unique about this document when compared to earlier revolutionary declarations?

Page What is to be Done

Read this crucial revolutionary text from 1902. Make a note of Lenin's motivations and how he justifies the need for revolution. How does this document compare to the Declaration of Rights published in 1918?

Page The State and Revolution

Read this text written by Lenin in 1918. Consider how his ideas evolved from 1902. Also, consider how his ideas laid the foundation for what would become the soviet state of Russia.

Page Bourgeois and Proletarians

The Bolshevik leaders of the Russian revolution attempted to move beyond this stage and into the next, when the underclass would rise up and seize the means of production, including all private property. In the "Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited Peoples", the new Soviet collective did away with private ownership of property and collectivized all industry and farms. Many sociologists categorize Marxist theory as conflict theory, which examines social inequalities in terms of competition for power and resources. Throughout the long Russian Revolution, Soviet leaders attempted to move human society through the stages of history faster than Marx had predicted. Many argue that Marx would have opposed the authoritarian regime that resulted had he lived to see it.

This is an authoritative English translation of Marx and Engels' "Communist Manifesto". It was originally published in German in London, in 1848, shortly before a wave of revolutions swept through Europe. Marxist theory was fundamental for Lenin and other Russian Revolutionaries. Reading the Manifesto will give you insights into the key claims, problems, and contradictions that characterize Marxist theory.

Read both the "Preamble" and "Chapter I: Bourgeois and Proletarians", focusing on the following questions: how do the authors characterize these social classes? What is the role of the bourgeoisie in world history? What role do the proletarians play? Does individual human will matter in history? Can we predict a sociopolitical system's future?

Book Propaganda in the Russian Revolution

Examine this propaganda. As you analyze, think about the Manifesto of the Communist Party and examine what evidence of communist philosophy is evident in the propaganda.

This resource explores the symbolism in revolutionary propaganda and how it is used to communicate its message.

Page Russian Revolution Propaganda Posters

Watch this video, which analyzes the Russian propaganda campaign led by Leon Trotsky (1879–1940), another Bolshevik leader.

6.4: Revolutionary Legacies Page April Theses

Lenin's "April Theses" was a crucially important document that outlined the aspirations of the Bolshevik Party. Read it and compare it to the Communist Manifesto. How did Lenin depart from the Communist Manifesto?

Book Violence and Terror in the Russian Revolution

By the end of the civil war in 1920, the Bolsheviks had to build the new economic infrastructure of the new Soviet Union. Lenin introduced his New Economic Policy (NEP) which created some stability and instituted limited free-market policies, such as land ownership. However, Joseph Stalin eventually won the power struggle that followed Lenin's death in 1924, when Nikolai Bukharin (1888–1938), a supporter of the NEP, was expelled from the Politburo in 1929 and executed in 1938. Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927 and exiled in 1929.

Like the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution of 1918 was plagued by excessive violence. The advent of new weapons and technology only aided an already volatile situation. Read this article which examines why the Russian Revolution descended into violence, and the long-term impact the terror had on the formation of the Soviet Union.

Book February 1917: Anatomy of a Revolution

During the 1930s, Stalin nationalized the Soviet economy and reinstituted the strict policies of wartime to create a command economy. He demanded laborers build the heavy industrial base that would create a modern industrialized economy, forced the peasants into mass collective farms that led to millions of deaths during the Great Famine (1932–1933), and provoked a mass migration of millions of peasants to the Russian urban centers (1928–1932). By 1934, Stalin declared the revolution was over.

Read this article. Make a timeline as you read and consider the long-term impact of the revolution on world history.

Book Women and the Russian Revolution
Communism stressed the inherent equality of the sexes and was a liberating ideology for women who participated in the revolution and civil war. Reforms in literacy and education also promoted greater opportunities for women. Read this article to explore how the Russian Revolution affected the role of women in Russian society.
Book Religion and the Russian Revolution

Since secularism is a key component of communist ideology, the revolutionaries directly conflicted with the Russian Orthodox Church, which had become a significant part of Russian society. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 changed Russia's economy and political structure and dramatically weakened the church's position. Churches were demolished, religion outlawed, and many practitioners were forced to take their faith underground.

Read this article, which explores Lenin's ideas about the Russian Orthodox Church.

Page Conflict with the Church
This article also examines the church's role in Russian history and the consequences of the Bolshevik revolution.
Book Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 changed the political structure of Eurasia. The Soviet Union was officially established in 1922 and eventually included Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. At the Yalta Conference at the end of World War II (1945), President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin divided Europe into the Western and Eastern (Soviet) Blocs, and Soviet influence expanded into Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

Germany was partitioned into East and West Germany, and the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to divide east from west Berlin. This evolution would draw the Soviet Union into a protracted competition with the United States following World War II, known as the Cold War.

Read this lecture on the formation of the Soviet Union. Focus on how the Soviet Union came to control Eastern European politics and economies.

While the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the authoritarian nature of its governance structure is still in place today. We consider many countries communist, but few could argue they still follow the principles Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels outlined in 1848 in the Communist Manifesto. Nevertheless, the Russian Revolution radically changed the social and political structure of Russia and Eastern Europe. These founding principles would become attractive to many nations, including Cuba, China, and Vietnam, which were successful in removing the shackles of imperialism.

7.1: A Brief History of India and European Imperialism Page The Indian Caste System

Watch this video, which explains how and why the caste system developed in India.

Page Caste Systems

Read this article that compares the Hindu caste system with other social systems throughout history. How did the caste system play into the British colonial system with similar views on class and social hierarchy? Some argue that a similar system exists in the United States.

Page The 1857 Rebellion in Colonial India

In 1608, British traders began operating in India under the auspices of the British East India Company. As British settlers set up factories in different cities (starting in Surat), their influence slowly spread throughout the country. The British began to eclipse the other European powers as they capitalized on trade in silk, indigo, tea, and opium (a drug like heroin derived from the poppy plant). When the Indian Rebellion of 1857 failed to oust the East India Company, the company, which had acted as a sovereign power on behalf of the British government, was dissolved, and the British Crown took direct control of India.

Read this article. What were the causes and effects of the Indian Rebellion of 1857?

Page Mahatma Gandhi

The British installed a series of puppet princes and capitalized off the social structure of the Hindu caste system. They introduced segregated communities where English settlers lived in lavish walled cities, which welcomed Indian servants and laborers who were not allowed to interact with the British on an equal footing. While built to serve British interests, the settlers did oversee the creation of extensive railway infrastructure and administrative bureaucracy that survived the colonial period. They also passed a series of laws to help the status of women. For example, the Hindu Widow's Remarriage Act of 1856 allowed Hindu widows to remarry, which had been outlawed. The Age of Consent Act of 1891 also raised the age of sexual consent for girls to marry from age 10 to 12.

However, as we discussed in Unit 5, British colonization reorganized India's agricultural system to serve the needs of Great Britain rather than India. Under the mercantile system, the government forced Indians to buy their finished goods from Great Britain, which destroyed the local textile, metalwork, glass, and paper industries. This led to widespread poverty and famine.

In 1930 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi* (1869–1948), an Indian nationalist and member of the Indian National Congress, told the Indians they should no longer be subject to the British mercantile system that harvested Indian natural resources and resold its manufactured goods (including salt) back to the Indians at an inflated price. He famously scooped a handful of mud and boiled it to extract the salt. He showed the Indians they could produce their own salt and other goods. They did not need to follow British practices anymore.

During the Great Salt March, Gandhi led thousands of protesters to the Dharmasena Salt Work. The British soldiers beat the Indians with steel rods and arrested Gandhi and more than 60,000 of his followers. But the Indian revolutionaries did not fight back, and the incident made international news. They had planted the seeds of revolution.

Unlike revolutions in Russia and France, the Indian Revolution was pacifist in nature, based on civil protest and disobedience rather than violence. As you watch this documentary, consider Gandhi's larger impact on future movements, such as the civil rights movement Martin Luther King, Jr. led in the United States during the 1960s.

* Note that Gandhi's followers called him Mahatma, which means "the great-souled one" in Sanskrit.

Book Speeches and Writings of M. K. Gandhi

Let's analyze some primary documents written by M.K. Gandhi. Choose two documents and answer these questions.

  • What is the occasion of the document?
  • What is its purpose?
  • What important points does Gandhi make?
  • How are his ideas revolutionary?

Next, make a Venn diagram to compare the differences and similarities of the two documents you have chosen and summarize how his philosophy helped India gain independence.

Page The Effects of Colonization in India

In 1947, Britain's decision to grant independence to India at the end of World War II ushered in a wave of decolonization worldwide. Unfortunately, Gandhi's intent to preserve the revolution's spirit of unity after independence did not last. A Hindu extremist, dissatisfied with Gandhi's policies of tolerance toward Muslims, assassinated him in 1948. India and Pakistan split into two separate religious nations – with India for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims in the northwest. The tension between these two states persists to this day.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), who served as India's first and longest-serving prime minister from 1947–1964, rebuilt India's government and economy after independence. The new government outlawed the Hindu caste system and initiated programs to create equal education and workplace opportunities for those from lower castes. However, the scars of colonialism run deep, and many still consider India a developing nation. Half a billion people still live without electricity or running water. However, India has a vibrant tech center, a highly-educated workforce, and a growing industrialized base. Many economists predict India will outstep China as one of the world's largest economies by 2026.

Read this article on the effects of European imperialism on India.

7.2: The Qing Dynasty, Opium Wars, and the Republic of China Page Imperialism in China

Watch this lecture on European imperialism in China and the Opium Wars.

Page The Political Development of Modern China

Like India, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations, with more than 4,000 years of sustained history. A cultural and technological powerhouse, China had ten dynastical periods and more than 500 emperors. It was the birthplace of Confucianism, Buddhism, ideographic writing systems, architecture, art, and fashion. The Qing Dynasty superseded the Ming Dynasty, which had become famous for its commercial production, market economy, and exploration. Some believe the Ming may have sailed to the Americas before Christopher Columbus in 1942. However, the Ming closed China off to outside trade and diplomacy when the Portuguese and other Europeans moved into other parts of Asia.

Read this article. Pay attention to the timeline of Chinese history and the philosophical foundation of Confucianism in China.

Page The Effects of Imperialism on China

The British made economic inroads into China as they searched for new markets to trade opium. But instability followed the spread of opium addiction. In 1839, the Qing government confiscated 20,000 chests, with more than one million tons of opium, from a British warehouse in today's city of Guangzhou. The tensions boiled over when the British refused to hand over a sailor the Qing government accused of murdering a Chinese citizen.

Watch this video which describes the political events that followed.

Page Production and Consumption

Read this article on the British interest in and Chinese resistance to the opium market.

Page The Opium Wars and the Unequal Treaties

The First Opium War (1839–1842) was a small-scale conflict fought in today's city of Hong Kong. The fighting concluded with the Treaty of Nanking and featured terms that heavily favored the British victors. The Qing was forced to pay restitution, cede Hong Kong to the British Empire, and grant British traders access to more ports, including Shanghai. In a subsequent treaty, the Qing issued Great Britain most-favored-nation status.

Watch this lecture on the history of China and the Opium Wars. How did the weaknesses of the Qing lead to their overall destruction?

Page The First Opium War

Read this article, which explores the consequences of the first Opium War.

Page The Taiping Rebellion, Japan's Meiji Restoration, and the Decline of the Qing

In 1856, France supported Great Britain during the Second Opium War (also called the Anglo-French War), which lasted until 1860. By this time, the beleaguered Qing Dynasty had already been weakened by the Taiping Rebellion, a religious conflict from 1850 to 1855 that ended the lives of more than 20 million civilians.

During the Second Opium War, the British took the cities of Guangzhou and Tianjin with the help of the French. The war concluded with the Treaty of Tianjin, another lopsided agreement that legalized opium and allowed the English and French to set up residences in Beijing, travel freely throughout China, and create several Christian missions. When the Qing objected, the Anglo-French forces invaded Beijing and burned down the emperor's summer palace. The Qing backed down and ratified the treaty. As a concession, the Qing government also relinquished the Kaulun Peninsula near Hong Kong and Stonecutter Island.

Watch this video. How did the Opium Wars and Taiping Rebellion weaken the Qing to make China susceptible to revolution?

Page The Boxer Rebellion

As opium addiction spread like wildfire throughout China, European, American, and Japanese interests vied for dominance throughout the region. The Opium Wars, the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), and the spread of Christianity became a rallying cry for the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists. This organization led the Boxer Rebellion in 1899.

The Boxer rebels tried to expel foreign influence from Beijing by attacking the Chinese Christians and foreign residents who lived in northern China. They also destroyed railroad depots and foreign businesses. Foreign powers, including the United States, allied with the Qing to squash the rebellion. In 1901 the foreign powers forced the Qing to pay reparations to reimburse them for their losses during the conflict, but they later agreed to earmark the money they received to educate Chinese students at overseas institutions and to found Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Read this article on the Boxer Rebellion. What were the causes, key events, and outcomes of this protest? Why did it ultimately fail?

Page Vizualizing the Boxer Rebellion

Read this article and analyze the map, photographs, and images. What do they tell you about the Boxer Rebellion and how it contributed to the weakening of the Qing?

Page Carving Up China

This resource explores foreign intervention and ambitions in China.

Page China from 1900 to 1949

In 1911, several factors sparked the Xinhai or Republican Revolution, which overthrew the Qing Dynasty to create the Republic of China. These included grain shortages, widespread poverty, dissatisfaction among members of the merchant class, widespread government corruption, the rise of various ethnic groups, objections to Chinese subjugation to Western and Japanese powers, opposition to the prevalence of Christian missions, and the influence of successful revolutionary movements in other countries.

In January 1912, Sun Yat-Sen (1866–1925), the revolutionary leader of the Kuomintang (sometimes spelled Guomindang), became provisional president, but he agreed to let Yuan Shikai (1859–1916) replace him as part of a political compromise a month later. In February 1912, Yuan was inaugurated as the first president of the Republic of China. Meanwhile, the child Puyi (1906–1967) abdicated as the last Chinese emperor.

Watch this lecture which describes these events.

Page The Three Stages of Revolution

The Republican Revolution built on China's tradition of promoting efficient administration and organization. Sun Yat-Sen's political philosophy centered on three modern ideals that he called the Three Principles of the People (san min zhuyi) – nationalism, democracy, and people's livelihood. Nationalism called for overthrowing the Manchus and ending foreign hegemony in China. Secondly, Sun Yat-Sen supported creating a popularly-elected republican government. His third objective, people's livelihood, referred to a socialist desire to help common people by regulating the ownership of land and the means of production.

Read the introduction and the "Longer Selection" of this 1918 text. How does Sun Yat-sen define various stages of a revolution?

Page China from 1912 to 1949

This revolution ultimately failed due to political infighting among Sun Yat-Sen's nationalist supporters. Other factors included organized protests from peasants in the countryside and growing opposition from urban industrial workers, who would later become the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Japan's invasion of Nanking in 1937, which killed as many as 300,000 Chinese civilians and surrendered troops, inflicted yet another blow to the new republic. In 1949 after the end of World War II, the leaders of the Republic of China escaped to the island of Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China created a communist system that has led China ever since.

Read this article that describes the failures of the Republic of China.

7.3: Thailand and Indochina Page The Big Picture of Thailand

Watch this documentary on the history of Thailand. What sacrifices did the government make to preserve its independence? Do you think the video producers created this video to justify U.S. actions in Vietnam?

Page Understanding Thai Politics

Since the 1970s, several governments have sprung up in Thailand, only to be deposed in coups and other upheavals. Watch this lecture about this instability in modern Thailand and why popular uprisings have occurred so frequently since World War II.

Page Libraries in Late Colonial Vietnam

Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam were not able to resist colonialism and maintain their independence as Thailand had. France made its swift inroads into Vietnam, beginning with establishing several missions and mercantile outposts in 1883. By 1900, France controlled the colony called Indochina (today's Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). Initially, the French government allowed the monarchies of the three kingdoms to continue – to help with administration and tax collection. Each kingdom had separate languages, cultures, and histories, and the French government conferred different rights to the people who lived in each area. For example, while they restricted free speech and outlawed an independent press in the north, they encouraged these freedoms in the south.

The French authorities issued consumption quotas that required residents to purchase a set amount of goods, such as salt, rice, alcohol, and opium. These requirements crippled local economies and made the colonists dependent on the French in more ways than one. The taxes – assessed on goods individuals were forced to purchase – accounted for nearly 44% of France's revenue. Meanwhile, French-owned businesses, such as the Michelin tire company, became rich based on the rubber and other natural resources they could extract for little or no cost.

Although colonialism was oppressive, cities like Saigon became major industrial centers. Vietnam's written language transitioned from Chinese to Vietnamese script derived from the Latin alphabet. Literacy rates improved, and French democratic ideals spread throughout parts of Indochina.

Watch this lecture that describes how some parts of Indochina received limited benefits from colonialism, such as state-sponsored libraries and efforts to expand literacy.

Book French Colonization and Japanese Occupation

Vietnam has a long history of opposition to colonial rule, beginning with its struggles against Chinese imperial ambitions as early as 111 B.C. Most Vietnamese never accepted its position as a French colony. Resistance began in the 1860s and continued to gain strength throughout the 20th century. Educated in Europe, Ho Chi Minh became a revolutionary leader who founded the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1945. He was especially drawn to Marxist ideals that encouraged members of the proletariat, or working classes, to shake off the economic oppression imposed by the bourgeoisie and members of the ruling classes.

Read this article which describes how French and Japanese imperialism influenced Vietnam's history and culture. How did colonialism affect the people of Vietnam?

Page Letter from Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman

Resistance to French colonialism spread, but Japan replaced French colonial power after it invaded in 1940. During this time, revolutionary forces allied with the Allied Powers against Japan. During the war, Ho Chi Minh sent a letter of entreaty to the United States, requesting aid from the U.S., which had positioned itself against colonial rule.

Read the letter written by Ho Chi Minh to President Truman. As you read, consider his argument for aid against colonial rule and why he thinks the U.S. will help.

Page Vietnamese Declaration of Independence

After World War II, the United States provided military and financial assistance to help France retake Indochina. This led Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese revolutionaries to declare Vietnam's independence in September 1945.

Read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam. How does it borrow from the U.S. Declaration of Independence and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man? Make a list of the grievances it outlines and summarize how this document is a formal declaration of revolution.

Page Unexploded Ordnance in Laos

The joint forces of France and the United States actively opposed Vietnamese independence. In 1954, the Vietnamese defeated and ousted the French from Vietnam during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. In 1955 the U.S. military advised the capitalist democratic government it helped create in South Vietnam to oppose communist North Vietnam led Ho Chi Minh. By 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) sent U.S. military forces to defeat the Viet Cong in North Vietnam.

Many Americans feared the fall of Vietnam to communist forces would create a domino effect throughout the region that would create a new Soviet sphere of influence in Asia. But the Vietnamese had few if any historical ties with the Soviet Union and were fighting for their independence. The United States eventually committed more than 2.7 million U.S. soldiers, suffered more than 50,000 casualties, and spent nearly $1 trillion to fight the Vietnam War. In 1975, the United States left South Vietnam, which allowed Ho Chi Minh to unite North and South Vietnam under a communist government. Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

United States involvement in Indochina has extended beyond Vietnam. For example, the United States dropped more than 270 million cluster bombs throughout the region that were designed to spread debris in many directions when detonated. Many of these bombs buried themselves in the ground without detonating. These bombs frequently kill and injure the civilian farmers and children who accidentally detonate them.

Watch this video on the human toll and catastrophic effects of the Vietnam War on Laos. Note that this video includes many disturbing images.

Page Pol Pot in Cambodia

The Vietnam War was probably most costly to the country of Cambodia, which experienced the ascension of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), also called the Khmer Rouge. This communist dictatorship seized power in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and perpetuated a campaign of mass genocide. Marxist activists, educated in France, formed the CPK in 1951. They took advantage of the political instability that followed a military coup in 1970 that ousted the traditional Cambodian monarchy. The CPK received financial backing from North Vietnam and took control of Cambodia after a five-year civil war.

In 1976 the infamous Pol Pot (1925–1998) assumed power as the prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea, later the general secretary of the CPK. He led mass executions of perceived government opponents, coupled with malnutrition and poor medical care, which historians estimate killed between 1.5 and 2 million people, approximately a quarter of Cambodia's population. The three years of genocide featured mass grave sites known as Cambodia's killing fields. In December 1978, the newly-unified Vietnam invaded Cambodia after several years of border clashes. They deposed Pol Pot and installed a rival Marxist–Leninist government in 1979.

Watch this documentary which explains why Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were able to gain such power. How did this period of violence and genocide impact the history of Cambodia and Southeast Asia?

Note that this video includes many disturbing images of the victims of Pol Pot's killing fields.

Page Decolonization and the Cold War

Historians estimate between two and three million people lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Tragically, the American military used the chemical agent napalm to create fires to burn or clear extensive tracts of land so they could see their enemy. Destroying 1.7 million acres of jungle decimated villages and their inhabitants and led to a massive rat infestation that caused the bubonic plague to spread throughout the human population.

The devastation of the war, coupled with oppressive policies, have made development in Cambodia and Vietnam difficult. The monarchy of Cambodia was restored in 1991, and the country now operates as a constitutional monarchy. Political scientists describe Cambodia as a "competitive authoritarian regime" since it features characteristics of democracy and authoritarianism.

Watch this video which explores how decolonization and the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union influenced national independence movements in Korea and Vietnam. Why do you think the United States refused to support these efforts (a policy the United States also adopted in the Philippines – see Unit 4)?

7.4: The Meiji Restoration and Japanese Imperialism Page The Way of the Samurai

Watch this documentary that explains how Ieyasu consolidated control of Japan as Shogun. How did samurai culture, which has its roots in the Warring States period, create the Tokugawa Shogunate, also known as the Edo Shogunate, the military government of Japan during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868?

Page The Shimabara Revolt

The Tokugawa Shogunate, also known as the Edo Period, lasted until 1867. Edo (later renamed Tokyo) became the capital city and the seat of power for the Tokugawa Shoguns. Similar to China and Thailand, Japan cut off all trade with the rest of the world. They only traded with the Dutch through the Chinese and only through the city of Nagasaki. Travel outside of Japan was outlawed and punishable by death. Movement within Japan was also strictly controlled. Travel checkpoints were established throughout the country, and people had to have government permission and passports to travel through cities and checkpoints. Christianity was outlawed, and Christians were forced to renounce their religion or face execution, often in the form of crucifixion.

Read this paper on the Shimabara Revolt. Why do you think the Tokugawa government had such strict laws that restricted contact with the outside world?

Book Japan from the Edo Period to Meiji Restoration

The samurai, who had served various daimyo, were transformed into Japan's ruling class during their power struggles. The samurai no longer rode into battle since the Edo period featured 264 years of sustained peace. Instead, they began to cultivate their status and develop Japanese culture. They developed iconic cultural traditions during this period, such as elaborate tea ceremonies, Geisha, and Kabuki. They also cultivated a code of conduct befitting a Samurai.

Read this article on Japanese artistic and intellectual development. Pay attention to how the Tokugawa Shogunate developed, its societal structure, and the creation of distinctly Japanese culture.

Page Black Ships and Samurai

In 1854, after the conclusion of the Mexican American War, the United States began to assert itself as a world power. The Americans aggressively sought to create a commercial empire based on trade to compete with European imperialism. They had already established trade relations with the Qing in 1784, and they were interested in working with Japan.

Under the command of Commodore Mathew Perry (1794–1858), the United States forcibly entered Edo Bay and demanded Japan open trade relations, a move that greatly destabilized the Shogun government. The 1854 Treaty of Kanagawa gave American ships traveling to mainland Asia access to Japanese coal ports and protected American whaling ships.

The 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce, also known as the Harris Treaty, gave the United States access to four Japanese port cities, allowed the Americans to create a U.S. consulate, instituted religious freedoms, and protected Americans from prosecution in Japanese courts. Like so many trade treaties signed in Asia, these agreements favored U.S. interests at Japanese expense. European powers quickly set up similar arrangements while the Japanese leaders disagreed fervently about whether they should trade with the United States and Europe. These issues divided Japan in the same way sectarianism and slavery had divided the United States.

The Bakumatsu period refers to the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, or Edo Period. Historians mark its beginnings with Perry's 1853 visit to Japan, ending with the Meiji Restoration of 1868. This period of political infighting featured one political faction which believed the treaties with the United States and Europe indicated the Shogunate had weakened and should be removed. This group, led by several powerful daimyos in western Japan, sought to restore the Emperor as the sovereign political leader of Japan. The opposing group remained loyal to the Shogun. These factions fought in the Boshin War, known as the Japanese civil war or revolution, from 1868 to 1869.

Japan traditionally divides its history by the reign of its emperors. During the Boshin War, Emperor Kōmei died in 1867 and was replaced by Emperor Matuhitom, known formally as Meiji Tennō. Thus, the Meiji period began. Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the sitting shōgun, realized the futility of his situation and abdicated his political power to the Emperor. While the conflict pitted fellow citizens against one another, it was also a revolution.

Read this article and analyze the images provided. Think about the competing perspectives of the United States and Japan. Next, we will explore how the forced opening of Japan and the Meiji Restoration fundamentally changed Japan.

Page The Meiji Restoration

The reorganization of Japan after the abdication of the Shogun was aptly named the Meiji Restoration. The Shogunate was replaced by a system modeled after Germany with the premise of public assembly. The Emperor did not have direct control, and powerful leaders rose to make most major decisions. For example, the government abolished the traditional feudal system that placed samurai as lords. This reorganization of the social class system left many samurai without homes, money, and possessions. The Haitō edict, passed in 1876, outlawed the wearing of swords for anyone except for the military and police.

This reorganization and abolishment of the samurai class led to the rise of the merchant class. Rapid industrialization contributed directly to Japanese imperial interests in Asia. Many Japanese feared their country would succumb to the United States and Europe, as many of their neighbors in southeast Asia had, or crumble into civil war as in China. The best way to protect Japan was to make it as powerful as these other countries.

Read this article on the government reorganization in Japan and its impact on Japanese society. How did it galvanize Japanese people who feared an American or European takeover?

Book The Nanking Massacre

Japan began to embark on its own imperialistic endeavors in Asia. First, Japan took over the southern part of the Korean Peninsula during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). In 1905, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) and gained control of Manchuria. Defeating a European nation empowered Japan to renegotiate its trade treaties with the United States and Europe as equals. Japan took over southern Manchuria, legitimized its control of Korea, and absorbed the southern half of Sakhalin Island. By 1910, Japan had colonized the entire Korean Peninsula.

During World War I, Japan joined the Allied Powers and sent ships to fight Germany. In 1914, while the European powers were embroiled in conflicts at home, Japan became an industrial power. In 1931, the Mukden Incident ceded Manchuria to Japan. In 1937, Japan invaded China during the second Sino-Japanese War. By 1940 it had consolidated its control of Vietnam. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor to draw the United States into World War II. By 1942, Japan controlled the islands of Indonesia and the Philippines.

Several of these events remain controversial. Many Japanese historians believe Japan was responding to U.S. and European hostility during this period. Meanwhile, Chinese, European, and American historians accused the Japanese Imperial Army of massacring 50,000 to 300,000 civilizations and raping 20,000 women during the Nanking Massacre, also called the Rape of Nanking. Many Japanese historians deny this massacre occurred or believe the number of casualties has been exaggerated.

Read this article to examine arguments for and against the validity of the Nanking Massacre.

Page "Comfort Women" in Korea

Similar controversies surround the Japanese enslavement of women known as comfort women in Korea before and during World War II. Historians estimate the Japanese forced between 50,000 and 200,000 women into prostitution during this time. While the Japanese government has acknowledged the Japanese Imperial Army used Asian prostitutes, they argue the women were willing participants. In 1965 the Japanese agreed to pay reparations for these atrocities to the South Korean government.

Watch this lecture that discusses Japan's actions in Asia during World War II. How does this compare to how the Europeans treated the people who lived in their colonies?

Page Japanese Imperialism in Asia

In August 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs, on the cities of Hiroshima (killing 70,000 to 150,000) and Nagasaki (killing 60,000 to 80,000), Japan to end the fighting of World War II.

Historians estimate Japanese imperialism in Asia cost more than nine million civilian deaths. Japan has had close ties with the United States ever since it ended its occupation to help Japan rebuild its cities in 1952. Today, Japan is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. While the scars of World War II have faded, the Meiji Restoration period and subsequent Japanese imperialism are a subject of continued tension with countries in Asia.

Watch this video that explores the effects of Japanese imperialism in Asia.

7.5: The Revolutionary Period: Republic of China vs the People's Republic Book Chiang Kai-Shek

Read this article about Chiang Kai-Shek. Pay attention to his rise to power, his actions during World War II, and why he was ultimately forced to escape mainland China for Taiwan.

Book Mao Zedong

From 1934 to 1950, the Communist party was left in relative isolation in the caves of Yan'an as Mao rebuilt the People's Army and strengthened his support with the peasants interested in land reform, increased literacy, and a more equitable society. Mao also established his nationalist credentials by leading the fight against Japanese occupation. By 1950, Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang were forced to flee mainland China for Taiwan.

Once in power, Mao Zedong realized many of his communist revolutionary ideals. These included nationalizing the economy to force rapid industrial growth, redistributing land ownership in the countryside to the peasants, establishing literacy programs, and banishing all foreign economic and cultural influence. Mao abolished the traditional subjugation of women, forced marriage, and made religious practice illegal. However, Mao instituted several destructive and violent initiatives during the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, to eliminate all political and cultural hierarchies to create a more egalitarian society.

Tensions between Taiwan and mainland China continue to this day. Relations between the Soviet Union and China broke down during the 1950s – the two countries have been on the brink of war many times since.

Read this article about Mao Zedong. Pay attention to his rise in power and how he was able to form the Communist Party in China. Consider how China interacted with Tibet and Korea as it transitioned to a communist state.

Page China from 1949 to 2008

The Chinese communists transformed Chinese society, established a centralized state power, unified the disintegrated territories, created a national market, and built the basis for China's modern economic development. Mao also directed China's intense, massive modernization and industrialization effort that transformed China's economy from one based on agricultural production into one of the world's largest economies.

Watch this lecture for a detailed overview of the communist revolution. Pay attention to the timeline of key events.

Page The Rule of Mao Zedong

The communist revolutions in Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea, and Latin America created an intense fear of communism in the United States, Europe, and other capitalist countries. The Cold War only exacerbated this trepidation. Watch these three videos on Mao and the Chinese communist revolution. Do you think Mao succeeded or failed in meeting his objectives? What was the effect on Chinese society?

Note that the third video in this series includes some disturbing images of the famine that occurred during China's Great Leap Forward.

Page Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong

Mao wrote that revolution is a violent process. While the French revolutionaries had used wide-scale violence to destroy their political rivals during the Reign of Terror (an estimated 30,000 people died), the Russian and Chinese communists seemed willing to accept massive death tolls as a harsh consequence of revolutionary change. Researchers estimate that Stalin's forced collectivization effort led to the death of nearly 10 million people in the Soviet countryside during the Soviet Famine of 1932–33. To eradicate "enemies of the working class", Stalin imprisoned more than a million people in the Gulag prison system and executed at least 700,000 individuals during the Great Purge between 1934 and 1939.

Read these quotes from Mao Zedong. What was his philosophy toward revolution and reorganization? How did his ideas about death and violence contribute to what occurred in China?

Book The Great Leap Forward

The extraordinary number of deaths during the Chinese revolution is difficult to comprehend. The Soviet Union had a similar experience when Stalin forced the population to modernize Russia's agricultural and industrialization practices. Historians estimate that Mao's Great Leap Forward (1958–1962), mandatory collectivization, forced labor, and the famine that ensued caused the deaths of between 18 and 30 million people in China.

Read this article on the Great Leap Forward. Pay attention to the toll it had on the people of China and how these experiences have shaped today's China.

Book The Cultural Revolution

Conversely, the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) was Mao's attempt to purge China of anything deemed corruptive to the revolutionary cause. The government and local citizens suppressed anything considered western, American, or European, and anything that promoted capitalism or democracy. Homes were invaded, dissidents were imprisoned in reeducation camps, and prisoners were executed for their crimes against the state. This damaged China's economy and led to the persecution of tens of millions of people. Historians estimate up to 20 million people were killed.

Read this text on the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath. Make a timeline of these events. How does the Cultural Revolution compare with the Great Leap Forward?

Page Mao Zedong's Victory and Its Aftermath

Watch this video. How was Mao able to ascend to power and triumph over the Republic of China? How do you think these events shaped China into the nation it is today?

Page China in the Future

Until 1971, the international community had not officially recognized the People's Republic of China – the Republic of China (based in Taiwan), which had become an oppressive dynastic dictatorship, held China's seat in the United Nations. When Chiang Kai Shek died in 1975, his son, Chiang Ching-Kuo (1910–1988), served as the country's premier and president until 1988. Freedom of speech was limited, and political dissidents were imprisoned. In 1986, the government eased its martial law restrictions, authorized freedom of the press, and allowed political parties to form. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed to oppose the Chiang government. By the 1990s, Taiwan had transformed into a democracy.

In 1971, the communist People's Republic of China took the place of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United Nations. In 1972, Richard Nixon (1913–1994), the American president, visited China and established a policy of detente that eased tensions with the People's Republic and allowed American companies to set up factories within its borders. In 1979, the United States switched its official recognition of China from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the communist People's Republic of China. Today, the People's Republic of China is a mixed-market economy that operates within a communist system.

However, the People's Republic of China continues to impose strict controls on freedom of speech and the press. Within this politically oppressive climate, the government promotes a restricted market economy and people can become private entrepreneurs. In 1999, China regained Hong Kong from Great Britain but promised to maintain the city's status as a democracy. However, since 2020, new security laws have severely restricted democratic rights, freedom of speech, and the press. The international community also criticizes China for its repression of the Uyghur People, a Muslim Turkic ethnic minority that lives in the Xinjiang Province. Human rights abuses have included forced labor, re-education, and political detention camps, forced sterilization of women, and genocide.

Watch this video that describes life in the People's Republic of China. Do you believe China intends to achieve world dominance, as the narrator states?

8.1: The End of the Ottoman Empire and Reorganization of the Middle East Page The Ottoman Empire in 1800

As you examine this map, pay attention to how far the Ottoman Empire stretched into Europe and Africa.

Book Southeast Europe and the Ottomans

The Ottoman Empire (1299–1922) was one of the mightiest and longest-serving dynasties in world history. This Islamic superpower ruled large areas of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North Africa for more than 600 years. It provided great regional stability and security and led significant achievements in the arts, science, religion, and culture. In 1453, Mehmed II the Conqueror ended the 1,000-year reign of the Byzantine Empire when he led the Ottoman Turks to seize the ancient city of Constantinople. Sultan Mehmed renamed the city Istanbul and made it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Istanbul became a dominant center for international trade and culture.

The Ottomans provided a strategic gateway for trade between Europe and Asia. Trade caravans traversed overland from Asia across the Middle East to ports in Istanbul. The Ottomans' control as intermediaries began to wane as European explorers started to sail around Africa into the Indian Ocean. The Ottoman Empire eventually began to fall apart, coupled with poor leadership and inflation.

As you read this article, think about the interplay between military power, trade, religion, and culture in the Ottoman Empire.

Page The Armenian Genocide

In 1683, Ottoman hegemony declined in eastern Europe due to a failed siege against the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I in the Battle of Vienna. Greece revolted and gained independence in 1830. After Russia defeated the Ottomans in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, the empire lost Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria during the Congress of Berlin in 1878. During the two Balkan Wars (1912–1913) against Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia, the Ottoman Empire lost nearly all its territories in Europe.

In 1915, historians believe Turkish leaders killed about 1.5 million Armenians living in present-day Turkey. Around 100,000 to 200,000 Armenian women and children were forcibly converted to Islam and integrated into Muslim households. The Armenian Genocide was perhaps the most controversial and damning event associated with the Ottomans – it is illegal to talk about these events in Turkey.

Watch this video about the Armenian Genocide.

Page The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire

Read this text. Pay attention to the key reasons the Ottoman Empire rose to power and why they began to decline.

Page Iran's Oil Concessions

Before the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the European powers were operating in the Middle East as they had in Asia. Beginning in the 1500s, Great Britain, France, and Russia vied to secure trading and commercial rights in the Middle East. Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798. Great Britain painted a picture of the Middle East as an exotic land with depraved, despotic rulers who languished in their luxuries. They used the concept of the White man's burden to justify spreading into the region.

During the 1800s, the British dubbed the Ottoman Empire the "sick man of Europe'' and pledged its support. They allied with the Ottomans against Russia during the Crimean War (1854–1856) and the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). They also helped Greece secure its independence in 1830 through its close relationship with the Ottoman government. Great Britain used its influence to make inroads with the Qajar Dynasty (in today's Iran), secured trade agreements and offered financial backing to rulers in Bahrain (1880), Muscat (1891), and Kuwait (1899).

Great Britain was able to edge out Russia in the Qajar Dynasty of Iran, setting up a telegraph company and securing exclusive trading rights. In 1901, Britain had exclusive rights over Iran's oil wells and founded the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in 1909. These vast oil fields were essential to its success in World War I.

Examine this map of oil concessions in Iran.

Page The Islamic Republic of Iran

As you read this article, make a timeline of the different regimes in Iran since the Qajar Dynasty. How did British intervention affect Iran's development?

Page The Third Anglo-Afghan War

Great Britain and Russia also competed for control of Afghanistan, strategically located connecting south, central, and east Asia. Great Britain invaded Afghanistan three times in its attempts to outmaneuver Russia. After the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842), Britain set up an embassy in Kabul and began to oversee Afghan foreign policy.

After the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–1880), Russia and Great Britain drew Afghanistan's present-day boundaries. Britain invaded a third time when Afghanistan declared its independence in May 1919, but the Afghan people had to wait until this short conflict ended three months later before Afghanistan was duly recognized as a sovereign country. Afghanistan was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with the new Soviet Union in 1919.

Watch this video that describes the history of European involvement in Afghanistan.

Page Urbanism in Egypt from the 1880s to the 1920s

In 1881, a nationalist movement threatened English hegemony in Egypt. This led to the direct invasion of Alexandria in Egypt and the absorption of Egypt into the British Empire until 1956. Some historians point to British actions in Egypt as the catalyst for its future interests in Africa and Asia.

Read this article which describes how urbanism impacted the British occupation of Egypt. How did British interest in control over the Nile River and Suez Canal lead to the Scramble for Africa?

Page The Scramble for Africa from 1880 to 1913

Compare these maps from 1880 and 1913. Notice Egypt's physical location, which shows why Great Britain was interested in Egypt as a strategic gateway to Africa and Asia.

8.2: World War I and the Growth of Nationalism and Zionism Book The Causes of Famine in Iran during World War I

Read this study on the causes of Iran's great famine. Think about how this famine contributed to anti-Western sentiment in Iran.

Page The Treaties of Sevres, Lausanne, and the Sykes-Picot Agreement

Let's look at three agreements that transformed the Middle East during this period: the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the Balfour Declaration.

The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence refers to the written conversations between Hussein bin Ali Al-Hashimi (1854–1931), the Sharif and Emir of Mecca, and Henry McMahon (1862–1932), the British High Commissioner to Egypt. During this exchange, Hussein secured British backing, including financial support and military weapons, for a rebellion against Ottoman rule. The Arab Rebellion (1916–1918) caused the Ottomans to lose Damascus, Syria.

According to the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), Britain and France would divide the Ottoman territories in the Middle East so France would control Syria and Lebanon, while the British would take the Fertile Crescent (today's Iraq). The treaty briefly mentioned Palestine since Britain wanted to build a railroad on this strategic site.

The Balfour Declaration (1917) was Britain's announcement that it supported the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine. The next resource discusses this in more detail.

Watch this lecture. Think about how France and Great Britain felt they had the power and right to divide the Middle East in these ways that benefited them.

Page Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration directly addressed the question of Palestine and the Zionist movement. Zionism was the belief that the Jewish people deserved a homeland in Palestine. During the Roman Empire, a series of Jewish rebellions against Roman rule (60–136 A.D.) led to the destruction of Jerusalem and a great diaspora where the Jewish survivors migrated to Europe. Anti-semitism has been common in Europe since the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century. During the 1800s, the Haskalah (an intellectual movement proclaiming Jewish enlightenment) and anti-semitic persecution led many to claim that the Jewish community needed a homeland to protect the unique religious and ethnic values they had lost during the diaspora.

In the Balfour Declaration, the British government announced its support for developing a Jewish state in Palestine. Some historians believe this British support for Zionism was simply another attempt to weaken the Ottoman Empire since Palestine was part of its jurisdiction.

Read the Balfour Declaration. Why do you think Britain supported the creation of Israel in Palestine?

Page One Hundred Years After Balfour

Watch this lecture on the impact of the Balfour Declaration and the creation of Israel in Palestine. Do you think the speaker is an independent or objective observer? Why or why not?

Page Partitioning the Ottoman Empire

In 1917, Great Britain captured Jerusalem and Baghdad. After the war, Britain and France actualized the Sykes-Picot Agreement at the San Remo Conference in 1920. This treaty divided the Middle East and drew the political boundaries (which still exist today) to reflect their respective spheres of influence. The League of Nations named these areas "territories", not nation-states, because the diplomatic leaders claimed the people who lived there were not "ready" to govern themselves. Great Britain and France agreed to govern these areas through a mandate system that many historians believed was another form of colonialism. Great Britain gained Palestine and Iraq, expanding its hegemony over the oil fields, while France took Syria and Lebanon.

Watch this video. How do you think Europe's partitioning of the Ottoman Empire stoked the ethnic and religious divisions plaguing the Middle East?

Page The Treaty of Sèvres 1920

Analyze this map. How does it compare with the illustration in the previous video?

Book Ottoman Empire

The Treaty of Sèvres (1920) marked the official end of the Ottoman Empire. Greece received Thrace (a region in southeast Europe divided among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey), while Italy and France obtained the rights to build railways and mine coal. The Treaty of Sèvres solidified British and French control over the finances of the newly "liberated" states. However, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938), known as the father of the Turks, led a resistance to the treaty, which prevented it from being implemented. Atatürk led the Turkish nationalist movement and established the Turkish republic in 1920.

Read this text. Why do you think Europe was interested in obtaining control over the spoils of the Ottoman Empire?

Page The Middle East and World War I

Watch this video. Do you think the Ottoman Empire's decision to ally with the Central Powers during World War I influenced the dissolution of its empire? What do you think would have happened otherwise?

Page A Crisis on Empire: World War I and the Interwar Consolidation

Great Britain did not fulfill its promises to Arab rebels in the Hussein-McMahon correspondence. In April 1921, the British installed Abdullah I bin Hussein (1882–1951), the brother of King Faisal I of Syria and Iraq, to become the Emir of Transjordan, part of the British mandate in Palestine (in an area not reserved for Israel). In August 1921, it asked King Faisal I of Syria (1885–1933) to become the first king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq, which was part of its mandate. The Hashemite Kingdom was semi-independent since Britain maintained control of the oil fields and the military.

Finally, Britain installed Hussein bin Ali Al-Hashimi to rule the Hashemite Kingdom of the Hijaz (the western part of today's Saudi Arabia). However, this kingdom did not last long since a nationalist movement led by Abd al Aziz Ibn Saud (1876–1953) pushed Hussein out of power in 1924. Great Britain soon recognized Ibn Saud and his family as the rulers of this region (today's Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) with the Treaty of Jidda in 1927.

Watch this lecture about the mandate system created after World War I.

Book Egypt

Great Britain took advantage of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to push Russia out of Iran. The Anglo-Persian Agreement (1919) guaranteed British access to all Iranian oil fields, with exclusive control over Iran's military, government, transportation, and communication systems. However, the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) never ratified this agreement, and the Iranian elites, the descendants of centuries of technologically-advanced kingdoms, never accepted British control.

Meanwhile, British colonial rule provoked the sentiments of Egyptian nationalists who took advantage of a free and vibrant press. In 1919, the Egyptians asserted their right to self-determination, armed with quotes from Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), the U.S. president. British attempts to prevent Egyptian nationals from speaking at the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I led to an open revolt. In 1922 Britain granted Egypt unilateral independence. The agreement established an Egyptian parliament, but Britain continued to control Egyptian foreign policy and maintain troops in Egypt. The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 granted Egypt more independence, but separation from England was gradual.

Read this text about British involvement in Egypt. Compare this to Great Britain's actions in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Page U.S. Recognition of the State of Israel

Meanwhile, the League of Nations began to transition the territory of Palestine to a Jewish state. The diplomats did not give the Palestinian population, including Muslims and Arab Christians, the same considerations of self-determination they proclaimed other states should enjoy. The Palestinian mandate provided an initial framework for the Jewish repatriation, but the non-Jewish residents (the Palestinians) became increasingly vocal about their resentment of the Zionist movement that they believed was stealing their land. In response, Great Britain issued the White Paper in 1939, a policy paper that stipulated the need to address the interests of Palestinians and Jewish settlers equally. By 1939, Hitler and the Nazi persecution of Jewish people in Europe intensified the situation in Palestine.

Read this article and review each primary source. How did the United States' position help substantiate the establishment of Israel?

8.3: Fascism in Europe Page History of International Relations: World War I

Watch this video about World War I. How do you think international relations and technological developments contributed to the war?

Page The Great Depression in Germany: Causes and Consequences

A worldwide economic depression and the burden of reparations devastated the German economy during the post-war period in the 1930s. Inflation skyrocketed, leading to mass poverty and starvation. Hitler and other nationalists were able to capitalize on the anger, resentment, and nationalism that the German people felt and directed it at toward the foreign countries demanding they pay reparations.

Watch this video on the effect of World War I on the Great Depression in Germany. How did these dire conditions contribute to the rise of fascism in Germany?

Book The Holocaust

Adolph Hitler (1889–1945), the radical leader of the newly-formed National Socialist German Workers' Party (the Nazi Party), rose to power during this period of financial and political chaos. Hitler had served in World War I and was jailed for leading an unsuccessful coup in Munich from 1923 to 1924. While he was in jail, he wrote Mein Kampf, a political treatise that asserted the exceptionalism of the German people as a superior race.

Hitler's antisemitic beliefs formed the backbone of the Nazi Party. These policies gradually denied Jewish people their rights as German citizens. The government soon encouraged its paramilitary forces and regular citizens to destroy Jewish businesses (such as during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in November 1936), forced them to live in ghettos, and eventually transported them to their deaths in forced labor concentration and extermination camps. Historians estimate the German government killed six million Jews and at least five million prisoners of war during the Holocaust.

Read this description of the Holocaust. Pay attention to the roots of antisemitism that Hitler outlined in Kampf and how he convinced his enablers to commit such crimes against humanity. Why did these camps develop? How did the concentration camps impact Europe? Can you draw any parallels to slavery and victims of the slave trade?

Page The End of the Weimar Republic and Hitler's Rise to Power: Chancellor to Fuhrer 1933–1934
Hitler and the Nazi Party promised to solve the economic crisis crippling Germany. In 1933, the leaders of the German Reichstag (parliament) appointed Hitler chancellor of Germany when a single party was unable to obtain a majority. Once in power, Hitler quickly converted the democratic government of Germany into a dictatorship. In 1934, Hitler dissolved the presidency of Germany and declared himself the Führer, or the absolute leader of Germany. As Führer, Hitler had total control of the military and government and was no longer bound by the German constitution.

Watch these two videos. How was Hitler able to manipulate the democratic system to gain absolute control in democratic Germany and establish a dictatorship? What factors helped Hitler's philosophy become widespread and popular during the post-war period?

This video focuses on the ascension of Hitler following the end of World War I.
Page Who Were the Nazis? Nazi Party Ideas and Rise to Power 1918–1945

Watch this video on the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany.

Page Italy Under Mussolini

A similar fascist system developed in Italy, a country that had also been devastated by World War I and was reeling from an economic depression. During the two red years (1919–1921), Italians participated in numerous strikes and protests against the rising cost of living. Clashes between socialists and business people and landowners led to factory and land occupations by industrial workers and agricultural laborers.

The March on Rome in 1922 was an organized mass demonstration and a coup d'état Mussolini led with fascist demonstrators and Blackshirt paramilitaries. In response, King Victor Emmanuel III (1869–1947) appointed Benito Mussolini (1883–1945), the founder and leader of the National Fascist Party (PNF), prime minister in October 1922. In 1925 Mussolini solidified his power as the dictator of Italy, or Il Dulce.

Mussolini appealed to Italy's sense of nationalism. Once in power, he issued decrees to secure his power over the PNF by imprisoning anyone he suspected of being subversive to the cause. The Mussolini government propagated fascist ideologies, controlled the Italian newspapers, contended the superiority of the Italian race, and allied with Hitler in 1940 during World War II.

But in 1943, as the Americans and other Allied Powers gained control of southern Italy, the Italian government turned on Mussolini and convinced King Emmanuel III to remove him from power. Italy switched sides to join the Allies and oppose Nazi control. People rejoiced because they believed the end of Mussolini also meant the war's end. Mussolini fled to Nazi territory in northern Italy, where he remained until he was shot in 1945 during an attempt to flee to Switzerland.

Read this lesson about the rise of Mussolini and his impact on Italy. Why do you think similar leaders were able to gain power in Italy and Germany? Why were both populations susceptible to fascism?

Page World War II

Hitler idolized Napoleon and had similar ambitions to conquer Europe and the world. He invaded Poland in 1939; Belgium, France, and Luxembourg in 1940; Greece and Yugoslavia in 1941; but failed to win Egypt from the British in 1942. Hitler famously employed a military tactic of Genghis Khan (c. 1158–1227 B.C.) called Blitzkrieg, where the German military quickly overwhelmed its enemies from the air and land. In 1940, the Axis Powers of Germany and Italy allied with Japan to further their ambitions to subject the world to fascism.

After Hitler defeated France in 1940, Great Britain stood alone against Hitler's quest for world dominance. The Soviet Union had allied with Germany at the beginning of the war but changed sides in June 1941 when Hitler attacked Soviet territory during Operation Barbarossa. Historians believe the Soviet Union lost nearly 27,000,000 civilian and military lives during World War II. The United States joined the Allies in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States proved to be an essential ally – it sent American troops to the Pacific to fight Japan and Europe to fight Hitler and Mussolini.

Watch this video which provides an overview of World War II. How did the U.S. industrial and military strength contribute to the defeat of the Axis Powers?

Page Russia Stops Hitler, Soviets Fight Back

During Operation Barbarossa (1941), Hitler opened an Eastern Front against the Soviet Union to create more Lebensraum ("living space") for Germany. He wanted to use the Russians he captured to support the Axis war effort, take control of the oil reserves of the Caucasus, and acquire the agricultural resources of Ukraine and other Soviet territories. He aimed to enslave, Germanize, exterminate, or deport the Slavic people to Siberia.

Hitler wanted to succeed where Napoleon had failed in 1812. He even used a map of Napoleon's invasion as his guide. But Hitler was surprised by the bravery and perseverance of the Soviet people and their fighters. Like Napoleon before him, Russia's expansive territory stretched Hitler's armies and supply chain, while a freezing winter exhausted his military. Hitler's decision to invade Russia secured his eventual defeat.

Watch this video. How did Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union contribute to the defeat of the Nazis? How did the Soviet victory propel the Soviet Union to become a superpower at the end of World War II?

Page Remembering the Holocaust

Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, which led Germany to surrender on May 7, 1945. Watch this video, which provides footage of the Nazi death camps, remembrances from the relatives of its victims, and oral history from survivors and members of the U.S. military who entered the camps after the war. Note that this video includes many disturbing images of the victims of the Holocaust.

Page The Legacy of the Nuremberg Trials

During the Nuremberg War Crime Trials (1945–1946), the International Military Tribunal prosecuted the Nazi war criminals for their crimes against humanity. These were the first international criminal courts in world history.

Watch this video where Michael Bryant examines the international resistance to protecting or policing human rights before World War II in the interest of state sovereignty. Bryant outlines the changes the international community made after World War II in light of the Holocaust. The former Allies created the United Nations (1945), the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the European Court of Human Rights (1959), and the International Criminal Court (2003), which have enforced and prosecuted war crimes and other human rights abuses since World War II. Bryant also describes the Nuremberg Trials, which brought many Nazi leaders to justice for their crimes against humanity.

8.4: The Effect of World War II on the Middle East Book Impact of World War II: Terms of Surrender

Read this text on the various agreements and their effects on how the world developed after the war.

Book Impact of World War II: The Atlantic Charter through The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1945, the weary combatants of World War II created the United Nations. This intergovernmental organization would provide an international forum to help maintain peace, resolve disputes, and foster cooperation. Based on the principles of its predecessor, the League of Nations, a central goal of the United Nations was to prevent a third world war. Representatives of the five Allied Powers – the United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the Republic of China – would form the main governing and decision-making body.

The group began by redrawing the political boundaries and dividing the territories of the Axis Powers. However, they had learned from the mistakes of World War I. Rather than impose reparations or destroy the countries they defeated, the Allies aimed to rebuild Europe, Germany, and Japan as democratic nation-states. In 1948, the United States enacted the Marshall Plan to provide more than $13 billion in economic recovery programs to Western European economies after World War II. From July 1945 to June 1946, the United States also shipped 16.5 million tons of food to Europe and Japan.

The United States and the Soviet Union maintained most of the previous boundaries of Europe but created two separate spheres of influence that would divide eastern and western Europe. The United States occupied Japan, while the Soviet Union and the United States divided Korea into communist North Korea and democratic South Korea. These boundaries were cemented during the Korean War (1950–1953).

Read this lesson on the goals and objectives of the United Nations.

Page History of Israel and Palestine

At the end of World War II, Zionist groups in Palestine escalated their attacks on British soldiers who were there to police the mandate they had controlled since 1916. In 1947 the British government agreed to relinquish its control of this mandate to the United Nations, and in 1948 the United Nations officially recognized the independent state of Israel. Many issues that predated the official creation of Israel remained. While Jewish settlers had purchased several tracts of land from Arabs in the region, many non-Jewish Palestinians lost their traditional farmland, homes, and possessions.

In May 1948, Arab forces from Egypt, Syria, and Iraq invaded Israel. During this one-year conflict, more than 700,000 Palestinians fled Israel as refugees. The new state of Israel did not grant equal rights to the Palestinians who remained and subjected them to a state of martial law. The friction and infighting among the Israelis, Palestinians, and the surrounding Arab states persists to this day.

Watch this video. Think about how World War II and the Holocaust influenced the formation of Israel and how it has led to internal and external conflict with its neighbors.

Page A History of Lebanon
Independence, Wars, Revolutions, Foreign Influences, Lebanon Protests

In Unit 7, we discussed post-World War II independence movements in India and Southeast Asia. Let's take a brief look at some nationalist movements in the Middle East that took advantage of the devastation (and distraction) the war brought to the powers of Great Britain and France.

Watch this video on the history of Lebanon. Remember that Britain and France had drawn the political boundaries for these countries to reflect their own economic interests. Many of these boundaries ignored the political, social, and religious divisions that had delineated the national and familial ties of the former kingdoms in this region. How did these arbitrary colonial divisions lead to political instability that followed independence?

Book Egypt

Remember that Britain had retained control of the Suez Canal zone when it granted Egypt independence in 1922. In 1952, a coup overthrew the Egyptian monarchy and established the modern Republic of Egypt with a new parliament. In June 1956, the last British troops left Egypt, but a crisis resulted when the Egyptian government nationalized the Suez Canal and directed its revenue to the state of Egypt.

Great Britain, France, and Israel threatened to invade the canal zone in response. But the United States and Soviet Union, the two post-war superpowers, interceded to prevent any conflict. Britain ceded its control of the Suez Canal to the newly-established government. The week-long Suez Crisis of 1956 signaled a shift in geopolitical dominance from Europe to the United States and the Soviet Union, each of which would continue to involve themselves in Middle East politics.

Read this text. Make a timeline of how Egypt evolved and changed throughout the 20th century. Consider the impact of the mandate system and how European imperialism influenced the post-independence Egyptian government.

Page U.S. Interests in the Middle East

After a coup d'etat in 1921, Reza Pahlavi (1878–1944) became Iran's prime minister. In 1925, Iran's constituent assembly deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar, the Shah of Iran from 1909–1925, and amended Iran's 1906 constitution to allow Reza Pahlavi to become the new Shah of Iran. In August 1941, the Allies invaded Iran and forced Reza Shah Pahlavi to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919–1980).

In 1952, Mohammed Mossadegh (1882–1967), Iran's newly-appointed prime minister, successfully removed British control from the area and nationalized the Iranian oil fields. The United States backed a military coup to overthrow Mossadegh in 1953. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was initially criticized for his weakness, continued to reign and eventually solidified his power over his opponents.

The Iranian Revolution in 1978–1979 shares many similarities with the revolutions we have studied. However, in Iran's case, religion played a central role. The Iranian Revolution was not prompted by a financial crisis or a major rebellion of the underclass or peasantry. Religious and political groups who opposed the Shah preferred to work within the legal system. Others emphasized the cultural difference between the rule of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the teachings of Islam. These two perspectives clashed during the Iranian Revolution.

During the late 1970s, a broad coalition of religious leaders, students, and middle-class Iranians would challenge the secular authoritarian rule of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who they criticized for using Iran's natural resources unfairly, prioritizing Western interests, and torturing dissidents. After forcing the Shah to flee the country in 1979, Iran's theocratic leaders appointed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902–1989) as the new supreme religious leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khomeini consolidated his power by arresting and persecuting members of the secular political groups that had initially supported the revolution. Like the Shah and many revolutionary predecessors, Khomeini did not tolerate any political or social dissent.

While Sunni Muslims dominate most of the Islamic world, Shi'a Muslims are in the majority in Iran. The two religious groups live peacefully side-by-side in some places, but conflict has erupted into violence in many others. In Iran, Sunni Muslims do not recognize Khomeini as their primary religious leader.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Iraq, a coup d'etat in 1958 overthrew the Hashemite monarchy. Iraq evolved under a series of military and civilian governments until 1979, when the United States backed the rise of a new dictator, Saddam Hussein (1937–2006). This area was strategically important to the United States and the Soviet Union due to its proximity to the Persian Gulf and rich oil fields. The dynamic changed when the Cold War ended during the 1990s. Hussein's government fell out of favor when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. After the World Trade Center in New York City was bombed in 2001, the United States deposed, arrested, and executed Hussein in 2003. The United States occupied Iraq until 2009.

Watch this lecture on U.S. interests in the Middle East. How did Cold War politics prompt the United States to intervene in the Middle East? What was the long-term impact of its involvement?

Book U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention

Kuwait secured its independence in 1961, followed by Qatar, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Trucial States (now the United Arab Emirates) during the next ten years.

Read this overview and policy analysis of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. In what ways did European imperialism, followed by the United States and Soviet intervention, promote anti-Western sentiment?

Page The Syrian Refugee Crisis

The state of Syria offers a cautionary tale in the Middle East. Watch this video that describes the many internal and external factions involved in the Syrian Civil War, which has rocked the country since March 2011.

A major cause of this war goes back to the borders the British and French drew after World War I, which did not align with the many political and religious divisions among the people who lived within their boundaries. Many of these same boundaries and divisions remain to this day. In Syria, the population eventually rose to protest the totalitarian rule of Bashar al-Assad (1965– ). Assad's regime was not only brutally oppressive, but it did not represent the interests of the majority Sunni Muslim community. Although their circumstances differ, the countries of Libya and Yemen are also embroiled in civil wars that have devastated their populations and involve similar external entanglements.

Page Political Thought on the Just Rebellion

Is there such a thing as a just rebellion? In this lecture, Stephen Chan discusses the concept of just rebellion in light of the Islamic extremism and jihad (a struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam), which we have seen recently in the Middle East. The speaker discusses Wahhabism, an extreme puritanical form of Islam that provided a foundation for several of today's militant and extremist Islamic groups. These include al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), and the Taliban. Do you think the Enlightenment thinkers would have been supporters of this type of rebellion? Is this type of rebellion "just"?

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