Thursday, September 15, 2016
How African Slavery Proliferated: Aside from the Atlantic slave trade and the Arab slave trade, which took slaves off the African continent, how did slavery grow and develop in Africa? Like Europe or the colonial Americas, between the 1600s and the 1800s, slavery was widespread in African societies. According to historian John Thornton, the main reason why African slavery proliferated, especially in Atlantic Africa, was because "slaves were the only form of private, revenue-producing property recognized in African law." In Europe, however, "land was the primary form of revenue-producing property." Thus, land ownership became a major factor behind slavery's growth in Europe and the colonial Americas. And as such, the master-slave relationship functioned like a landlord-tenant relationship in European legal systems. Yet it was the absence private (landed) property in African societies that helped slavery proliferate on the continent. Anthropologists have sought reasons for Africa's lack of private land ownership, and two factors seem to surface consistently. Low population densities coupled with a lack of agricultural technologies made land plentiful for much of Africa, and thus, little need to declare ownership of it.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
On the Pearl Harbor Attack: Often considered an immediate cause of the U.S. entering WWII, the Attack on Pearl Harbor marked a major short-term victory for the Japanese Imperial Navy. Early in 1941, President Roosevelt ordered the U.S. Pacific Fleet to be moved from San Diego to Pearl Harbor in an effort to thwart Japanese expansion throughout the region. Part of Roosevelt's reasoning here stemmed from the idea that Pearl Harbor was a shallow water lagoon, which would make torpedo attacks from planes very difficult. After a plane-dropped torpedo hits the water, it needs to reach an appropriate depth to achieve maximum speed, and thus, create mass destruction by hitting a ship's bow or stern. And although many of the torpedo strikes that sunk American battleships came from Japanese planes, the Imperial Navy also stationed numerous submarines near the harbor's entrance to deter escape. Yet when the U.S. ended its oil exports to Japan in July 1941 (to protest Japanese aggression in China), relations between the two nations had become largely toxic (although each side held non-aggression talks until late November).