Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Opium Wars

The opium war was a battle between China and Britain that occurred from 1839 to 1842. The British opium trade in China started the world’s first drug war, in the 19th century. In the 15th century when opium was first introduced to China, it was used as medicine to treat diseases. It wasn't until the 16th century, when the British started mixing the opium with tobacco allowing the Chinese to smoke it and become addicted.

China was trading tea to Britain, however China was a self sufficient country and didn't want anything from Britain. Britain didn't want it to become a one sided trade so they decided to import opium drugs to China. As a result
a large amount of China's population weakened. When the Chinese government found out that opium was still being brought to China even after the restrictions were set, a letter was written to Queen Victoria. The letter stated that if the opium was so harmful in its effects that Britain had made opium trading and consumption illegal in England, then why was England exporting such harmful products to other countries. Queen Victoria never had the letter delivered to her.

Soon after Britain demanded that China put an end to the anti-opium campaign. But Lin refused to end it. In 1840, British gunboats arrived and attacked China, destroying many coastal cities. China was not prepared for this war because Britain had a technological advantage over them, such as weapons. China was eventually defeated by Great Britain, and was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"The White Man's Burden"

"The White Man's Burden" is about imperialism, meaning the Europeans felt obligated to take over another country and adapt to western ways to better themselves. I don't agree with the analysis of the white man's burden because if the country doesn't want to change then they shouldn't have to. The Europeans are not helping by imposing their beliefs on someone else. I think that the U.S is still imperialistic today because the army is over in Iraq trying to civilize their government. Before the war Iraq was a dictatorship, but now after Saddam Hussein was captured and executed there is no ruler. The U.S thinks that they can calm people down and make Iraq a democracy. It's not going to happen unless everybody wants it to. I believe we are still living the "white man's burden" however other countries are stepping up to the plate and helping us out. We're not taking all of the responsibility for ourselves.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"The Scramble for Africa"

The Scramble for Africa, which began in 1881 was about how European leaders divided up the African land amongst themselves. The African people didn't have any say about it at all. As a result Africa suffered from tribalism. The new African nations contain different tribes which causes tension, and civil wars among the people. Many European countries were involved with this scramble including Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal. The Europeans wanted power and thought that owning more land than everyone else meant they had a lot of it. The Europeans knew that Africa was wealthy in natural resources that turned into manufactured goods and made a bundle of money. Great Britain gained an important port for the sea route to India in South Africa. France's main interest was trade in West Africa. Trading stations had been set up on the West African coasts to deal in slaves and be transported to the Americas. Europeans were able to dominate Africa easily because they had better weapons then them. Africa only had handmade spears, and sticks while the Europeans had guns and more sophisticated weapons.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Film Lesson: "Mountains of the Moon"

Some of the hardships the Europeans had to face exploring Africa was not having enough water or supplies, not being able to speak the native language of the people, and not having a map to guide them. The source of the nile river was named after the British Queen because two explorers (Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke) were searching for it for Europe and allegedly discovered it. The African people knew about the lake all before the Europeans did. The Europeans didn't care what the African people thought and named it anyway. It made no sense for a lake all the way in Africa to be named after a Queen in England. One of the advantages that the Europeans had over the Africans was the fact that they had weapons. The Africans had handmade spears and sticks but the Europeans had guns and knives. The Europeans had the upper hand because of their weapons even though the Africans might have outnumbered them.