Category Archives: War

Subversive Historian – 08/27/09

The Kellogg-Briand Pact

Back in the day on August 27th, 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed in the city of Paris by fifteen nations pledging to halt wars of aggression. In the wake of the ravages of the First World War, the United States and France had originally approached the notion of the pact through a bilateral agreement. U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand discussed formally abolishing any possibility of war solely between the two nations, when Kellogg thought it best to extend the invitation to all nations. Among the initial signatories to the pact that called for the “renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy” were France, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Japan. Forty-seven nations would follow in formal adherence. Of course, wars of aggression would also soon follow, as was the case, for instance, when Italy invaded Ethiopia.

By not clearly delineating the boundaries of self-defense and having no enforcement behind it, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was practically useless in achieving its aim as evidenced most tragically by the outbreak of World War II.

Subversive Historian – 08/14/09

{Osceola: before the college football appropriation}

The End of the Second Seminole War

Back in the day on August 14th, 1842, the second Seminole War in Florida came to an official end. Prior to the onset of renewed conflict, President Andrew Jackson, who in the first war led army attacks on Seminole villages burning them down to the ground, saw to it that the Indian Removal Act become law during his administration. When the legislation was passed in 1930, it called for all natives to be moved to lands west of the Mississippi River. Clearly affected by this, the Seminoles of Florida did not want to leave their land and resisted instead. The Second Seminole War ensued as surprise attacks on white settlements and U.S. troops were coordinated and led by the native warrior Osceola. General Winfred Scott led a surge of U.S. troops into Florida in response as war raged on. The Seminoles were dealt a devastating blow when Osceola was captured and died in prison in 1838.

Four years later the war came to an end with many Seminoles forcibly moved west from their land to Oklahoma. That’s why when people ask me if I have a $20 dollar bill on me, I say “Oh, you mean an Indian Killer?”

Subversive Historian – 08/10/09

The Nueces Massacre

Back in the day on August 10th, 1862, the Nueces Massacre occurred in Texas. With the Civil War raging in the not-so-United States, many German immigrants living in Texas did not wish to serve in the Confederate Army. They continued their objections even after a new confederacy conscription law was passed that sought to force their hand into the ranks. Faced with the enforcement of a draft, the Germans dissenters in Texas plotted escapes to other states and even to Mexico. Such ventures carried with them the risk of death as Captain James Duff of the Confederate army considered those who fled conscription as traitors. Seeking refuge despite the threat, a group of German dissenters attempted to trek to Mexico, when Duff learned of their plans. His men descended upon the immigrant group along the Nueces River in Texas as fighting commenced. Many Germans were killed in the massacre as others were executed after having been taken prisoner.

The names of those who lost their lives mark the only monument in a former Confederate State for union sympathizers.

Subversive Historian – 08/06/09

Hiroshima

Back in the day on August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb named “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In the last phases of World War II, the devastating blast from the B-29 bomber known as the “Enola Gay” killed an estimated 140,000 people, the grand majority of which were civilians. Many in Hiroshima died instantly while tens of thousands more succumbed to radiation poising in the following years. The massive death wrought by the first usage of atomic weaponry in human history was rationalized under the context that it saved lives by hastening Japan’s surrender. However, historian Howard Zinn has argued against the notion citing General Eisenhower and Admiral Leary in making the case that Japan was on the verge of surrendering and that the bombing was unnecessary.

Sixty-four years later, however, a majority of people in the United States remained unconvinced by the Zinn Master’s work. According to a new poll, sixty-one percent still contend that the bombing was “the right thing to do.”

Subversive Historian – 08/04/09

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

Back in the day on August 4th, 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident took place – or did it? If one were to read the headlines of newspapers such as the New York Times or the Washington Post the morning after the North Vietnamese supposedly renewed attacks on the USS Maddox, the story seemed clear; the United States had been provoked into launching retaliatory strikes. President Lyndon B. Johnson even went on television to address the nation citing a Pentagon report claiming as much. In the days that followed, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was overwhelmingly passed in both the House and the Senate and spoke of deliberate and repeated attacks on US navy vessels in giving the President the power to take “all necessary measures” in going to war. However, in the aftermath more than a large shadow of doubt has been casted over the justification. A year after appearing on television speaking so resolutely, President Johnson himself offered the skeptical statement, “For all I know, the Navy was shooting at whales out there.” More concretely, Robert Hanyok, historian of the National Security Agency, reviewed all intelligence in 2001 and concluded that no attack took place that day.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident was the impetus for the escalation of U.S. hostilities that claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese. Yet further proof that the U.S. government engages, in the words of the Thompson Twins, in “Lies, Lies, Lies, Yeah!”

Subversive Historian – 07/30/09

The New Orleans Race Riot of 1866

Back in the day on July 30th, 1866, a race riot broke outside of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention held in New Orleans. Radical Republicans convened to amend the previous constitution of the Southern state that had failed to enfranchise blacks. They also sought to prohibit former Confederate soldiers from voting. With President Andrew Johnson’s granting of overtures to veterans and politicians of the Southern Confederacy, people like New Orleans’ Mayor John T. Monroe were able to return to their pre-Civil War posts and enact “black codes.” Delegates and supporters of the Convention held at the hall of the Mechanics Institute had sought to reverse those regressive perversions of Reconstruction politics when violence erupted. African-Americans marching in support of the effort were attacked outside by a white mob. Described as an “absolute massacre” the assault that ensued claimed the lives of more than thirty African-Americans and three white supporters as it disrupted the convention effort.

The race riots of New Orleans illustrated to the nation the deadly politics of destruction aimed at Reconstruction.

Subversive Historian – 07/28/09

The Eviction of the “Bonus Marchers”

Back in the day on July 28th, 1932, hard up World War I veterans encamped in Washington D.C. were forcibly evicted. Having taken place during the depths of the Great Depression, the marchers, dubbing themselves the “Bonus Expeditionary Forces,” and numbering in the tens of thousands, pressured Congress to accelerate payments promised to them for their services. Tensions escalated, however, when a newly introduced bill that proposed to pay out the cash bonuses much sooner than the originally scheduled year of 1945 was blocked in the Senate. A month later, eviction orders were given to clear out the encampment. In the initial attempts, bonus marchers resisted and when word reached President Hoover’s desk the army was called in.

The soldiers of the time, commanded by Douglas MacArthur, descended upon the veterans of yesteryear as the encampment ended up engulfed in flames. So too did the hopes of the destitute marchers who were abandoned in their time of need by a government they once put their lives on the line for.