Wednesday, December 26, 2012

March 18, 1848 – Violence Begets German National Assembly

1848 became the Year of Revolution as nation after nation rose up, questioning their feudal leaders and calling for great populist reforms. The end of the first era of the Industrial Revolution had created a huge body in the Working Class. New ideas such as Nationalism and Socialism expanded, filling the population with demands from their traditional rulers. Revolution began in France, where it toppled King Louis Philippe, and spread throughout Europe as well as Latin America, but nowhere had as dramatic of a change as in Germany.

The German peoples had been largely disunited for as long as history recorded. Romans pitted tribes against one another to maintain vague control, but the people's strength was proven as Goths and Visigoths overran Rome. Otto I carved out the Holy Roman Empire, a confederation that included the German-speaking people as well as other groups. During his conquests of Europe, Napoleon dissolved the antiquated HRE and installed a new system with the Confederation of the Rhine that laid the groundwork for a true German nation. After Napoleon's defeat, the Congress of Vienna created a looser Federal Confederation, presided over by the Austrian emperor. It held a Federal Assembly in Frankfurt, which met weekly and was used to block attempts at liberalizing.

In 1848, Germans charged by nationalism cried for unity. Taxes and censorship spurred the people forward, and cities began to see demonstrations. Nobles, fearful that they might lose everything as Louis Philippe had, quickly bowed to liberal demands, such as freedom of the press, elections, and the right of arms for the people. Most anticipated the liberalism to be temporary and simply wished to ride out the storm.

One of the largest uprisings took place in Berlin, the capital of Prussia, Germany's most powerful nation. The army had initially been used in an attempt to scare the people from the streets. However, the people continued to return to protest, even facing oncoming fire from the army that killed hundreds. Rather than fleeing, the people became more aggressive, fighting back and establishing barricades. King Frederick Wilhelm IV was shocked that his people acted out and immediately agreed to all of their demands, calling for a new National Assembly to be elected through universal male suffrage.

Among those elected was Professor Jacob Grimm. He and his brother, Wilhelm, had become famous after compiling their collection of German folktales, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (“Children's and Household Tales”). The two became professors at the University of Göttingen in 1830 but were forced to leave when they refused to give loyalty oaths to King Ernest Augustus after he had eliminated Hanover's constitution in 1837. Their fame preceded them, however, and the brothers were invited by Frederick Wilhelm to professorships at the University of Berlin. They were also awarded scholarships from the Academy of Science to continue their studies, Wilhelm in mythology and Jacob in philology, together working to create the first German dictionary.

As Jacob left for the Assembly, Wilhelm sent along with him a special annotated edition of their fairy tales. Each story was given a description of its relation to the important work of unifying Germany. Jacob appreciated the gift, and its significance showed how cohesive and effective story is to the human spirit. As he came into the Assembly, Jacob made speeches referencing the stories, often reading them in entirety and showing their perspective on the situation. He made himself into a sort of “whip” for the Assembly, refusing to allow factional ideals to halt any progress.

Jacob's main point to force unification was the Schleswig War. On the southern end of Jutland, a great many Germans lived under the rule of the Danish king. In March of 1848, like the rest of Europe, the Germans began demonstrations to achieve a German government. The Danish king sent 7,000 troops to quell the uprising, and the Prussians reacted by sending troops of their own. Jacob did not rest at having Prussia take up so much responsibility alone and drafted a bill calling for soldiers from every corner of Germany. The Assembly had no clear legal authority to do so, but the positive response from the people forced the nobility to comply. A navy followed on June 14, which would end Danish blockades of German harbors. By the end of June, a massive German force fully garrisoned Schleswig. International pressure called for an end to the war, which was signed at the Treaty of Berlin with the National Assembly approving the annexation of Schleswig into a unified German state with Frederick Wilhelm as Kaiser.

The Assembly's next action was to appease the “Großdeutsche” (Greater German faction), which wished to include Austria. At times, they refused to cooperate with “Kleindeutsche” (Lesser Germany), but Jacob Grimm was able to convince them to be patient and work in steps, as in “The Tailor in Heaven,” who is cast out of paradise because he is not yet ready. In Austria, similar protests had caused the Emperor Ferdinand to abdicate, giving the throne to his nephew Franz Joseph, who immediately proclaimed Austria was indivisible. Jacob contributed to continuing the German revolution there until the rest of Europe became distracted by the Crimean War. In the Austro-German War, the Empire shattered into numerous ethnic states, destabilizing the Balkans but establishing Germany as the great new Central European power.

Through the nineteenth century, Germany would join the new balance of power in Europe and participate in colonial wars in Africa and the Pacific. In the twentieth century, governments worked to suppress uprisings at home and overseas in the next great political movement: socialism.


In reality, the German National Assembly failed to follow through on the revolution. Grimm, despite his fervent nationalism, did not make much of a show at the Assembly, which disintegrated into factional infighting. After the failure of the First Schleswig War and Frederick Wilhelm refusing the crown (later saying he did not want to receive it “from the gutter”), the movement had clearly fallen out of favor. Germany would not be unified until military successes in the Austro-Prussian War and Franco-Prussian War two decades later.

Friday, December 21, 2012

March 17, 180 – Pompeianus Succeeds Marcus Aurelius as Co-Ruler

After having ruled for 19 years, Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus died while campaigning against the Germans.  Marcus Aurelius had completed a stellar career, succeeding at nearly everything he attempted since his induction into the equestrian order at age six.  The Emperor Hadrian seemed impressed by Aurelius’ abilities and groomed him to rule: waiving requirements for entry into the priesthood and recommending that the Senate make exemption for him for the post of quaestor even though he was not 24.  He was first made consul at the age of 18, and regained the position many times afterward.  Upon the death of Emperor Antonius Pius in 161, Marcus Aurelius became co-ruler alongside his adopted brother Lucius Verus.

The two emperors were an odd couple.  Marcus focused on the necessities of administration and carried more authority despite their political equality.  Lucius, on the other hand, enjoyed the games and chariot racing.  Both, however, carried an informality that endeared them to the people.  They handled firsthand crises in Rome such as the flooding of the Tiber, and Lucius was dispatched to the east to battle the Parthians, who had begun an invasion.  Lucius was at first accused of luxury and gambling, but he proved an able commander, and the Parthians were defeated by 167.  Plague flowed through the empire after, wiping out thousands.  Lucius died in 169, possibly as a casualty of the plague.

From 169 to 177, Marcus ruled alone.  He spent his years away from Rome, campaigning against Germanic incursions across the imperial border.  At age 52, he thought of the coming generation and elevated his surviving son Commodus, only sixteen years old, to co-ruler.  Commodus had been born “in the purple” months after Marcus became emperor, never knowing a life outside of near-absolute authority.  Commodus would be the first non-adopted son to succeed his father as emperor in generations.  From the days of Vespasian, no male heirs had been born, creating a system of adoption.  It arguably became a system of meritocracy, but Marcus felt that Commodus, despite his youth, would make an able ruler.  Still on campaign in 180, Marcus died in Vindobona (modern day Vienna) on the Danube.

While he carried out his civic duties well, Marcus Aurelius considered himself a philosopher at heart.  He had been very close with his teachers, especially Marcus Cornelius Fronto.  Fronto, a Numidian-Lybian, had become famous in Rome for his oratory, believed to be next to that of the great Cicero, which spurred Antonius Pius to hire him as the tutor for Marcus and Lucius.  Poor health troubled Fronto most of his adult life, ending chances at a career in politics, but instead giving him more time to write.  Lucius did not appreciate the education on the level that Marcus did, who even imitated Fronto and carried out single-sided conversations with himself about the necessity of discipline.  Fronto often played devil’s advocate and tried to steer Marcus away from philosophy with the old saying, “Better never to have touched the teaching of philosophy...than to have tasted it superficially, with the edge of the lips.”  Another teacher, Quintus Junius Rusticus, would introduce Marcus Aurelius to Stoicism, in which he found his true calling.

In his last years of campaigning, Aurelius wrote his Meditations.  While Fronto had taught him to speak, he thanked Rusticus for teaching him to think clearly.  He took upon himself to be the philosopher-king, fulfilling his requirements of office while still having time to write reflections on philosophy, life, and the world.  Like many Stoics, he focused on discipline and self direction, writing “If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now” (VIII. 47) and “Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good” (IV. 17).

None of Aurelius’ reflections seemed to settle on his son Commodus, who acted a great deal like Lucius.  They made an effective pair as rulers, however, with Aurelius’ administrative mind while Commodus, like Lucius, held a sense of public mood.  This thought settled on Aurelius, who summoned Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus, one of his best generals and the second husband of Lucius’ widow, Lucilla.  He had apparently offered Caesarship to Pompeianus to continue the tradition of co-rule, but Pompeianus had declined.  Now Aurelius pleaded with Pompeianus to take the position should anything ever happen to Aurelius.  After a great deal of convincing and a Stoic discussion of duty, Pompeianus accepted the order and the will was changed just before Aurelius’ death.

Returning to Rome, Commodus seemed upset by the invasion of his rule, but Pompeianus maintained a tight grip on the young emperor.  Though they bickered, the rule proved for the good: Pompeianus handling administration while Commodus won the support of the people with games and victories in the field.  Pompeianus died in 195, giving rule over to Publius Helvius Pertinax, who in turn passed his title to the great general Septimius Severus. A new tradition of separation of powers continued for centuries until 406, when pressure from Hun invaders tempted German allies to revolt and flee rather than serving as the buffer Rome intended them to be.  The stable empire persuaded the Germans to stay and even push back against the Huns.

Four hundred years later, another wave of invasion by Maygars and Vikings proved too much for Rome, which toppled as was carved into Viking kingdoms at sea an a Maygar empire in eastern Europe.  With vast wealth behind them, the Vikings continued to explore and plunder, reaching as far as southern African, Native American, and Mayan lands.


In reality, Commodus succeeded his father as sole emperor.  In his short reign, he proved at times wildly popular by devaluing the currency as using the extra money for spectacles and games for the people as well as paying exorbitant salaries to the Praetorian Guard.  Commodus seemed to have little interest in administration, instead handling public relations while the government weakened.  He descended into megalomania and was assassinated in 192, leading to civil war in the Year of the Five Emperors.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

March 16, 1889 – German-American War Begins in Pacific

As imperialism spread through the Pacific in the nineteenth century, three Western powers settled on the Samoan Islands. Although it was first sighted by the Dutch, the British, Germans, and Americans competed among the local tribes for control of the strategic island chain. Germans established numerous plantations while Britain created a consulship and Americans began trading extensively from posts around Pago Pago harbor. All three nations claimed the entirety of the island group and sold weapons to the locals, sparking a civil war in 1886.

As the war continued among the tribes, the diplomats of Germany, Britain, and America met in attempt to sort out the issue in Washington in 1887. They were unable to come to any agreement, however, and left with no progress made. Instead, more warships sailed for Samoa. In 1889, German foreign minister Count Herbert von Bismarck called for a meeting in Berlin that April for a new try to calm international tensions.

In March, however, a literal storm was brewing. A tropical cyclone of massive proportions rolled toward Apia, and natives warned the fleets anchored in its harbor with tales of a storm that had struck three years before. The captains could clearly see the signs of storms and the telltale plummet in barometric pressure. Sailing out into open sea would give the ships a chance of bracing themselves through the storm. However, each nation looked at each other to move first, and a game of chicken began.

A sudden south-westerly wind came up, pushing the cyclone farther to the north and giving the ships a chance to escape. The large British HMS Calliope managed to push its way to safety, but the smaller Germans and Americans were slower to follow. As they came to the entrance to the harbor on the north side, their engines bolstered by the wind, the two fleets became tangled up. Tempers rose to match the fury of the storm, and ships were fired upon to sabotage engines. Disabled ships were pushed back by the storm tide and smashed against the reef to the south. Hundreds ended up dead on both sides, and each blamed the other. The scuffle became a full battle, and the Americans became overwhelmed by the Germans who were able to call up reinforcements from their plantations.

Americans became infuriated. While former President Grover Cleveland had been anti-imperialist, Benjamin Harrison's term had begun eleven days before, and he took this as his first great act. After leading Congress to declare war, Harrison called the American Navy to action, assembling a fleet in San Francisco to retake Samoa once and for all.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, thirty-year-old Kaiser Wilhelm II had been on the throne less than a year. He had already begun to chafe with his ministers, particularly Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck suggested patience and to continue the planned meeting, but Wilhelm saw this war as a chance to prove German military prowess and strength in colonizing. He called for the resignation of both Bismarcks and assembled his own military advisers.

Both nations hurried to modernize their fleets, stalling the expansion of the war for months. Harrison's fleet succeeded in chasing off the Germans in Samoa, but the Kaiser was ready to dispatch a new wave of his own, and the Kaiserliche Marine was twice the size of the US Navy. Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson had moved to Samoa on an extended tour of the Pacific only months before and wrote a detailed account of the battles at sea as well as the chaos among native factions. Newspapers picked up the violent tales and contributed to the failing popularity of the war. Nearly one-third of American farmers had German backgrounds, and anti-German sentiment spread the violence to the United States as well. German immigration had halted, as had a good deal of business in trade. Harrison's “first great act” turned into a political nightmare from which he could not back down.

Finally, in 1892, Grover Cleveland was swept back into the White House, vowing to end the war. Britain hosted peace talks, saving face for both nations. While the war ended, German-American relations did not heal rapidly. Decades' worth of immigrants bent on coming to America were refused, instead heading to Germany's many colonies in Africa and the Pacific, where Samoa had been split into east-west spheres of influence. Wilhelm claimed victory in the war and successfully pursued his ideals of colonies and navy, which made a stunning show at the Fleet Review in his grandmother Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

The United States, meanwhile, struggled in an economic depression. The nation yearned for hope, and they found it in McKinley's renewed imperialism. The Spanish-American War reaffirmed America's reputation and brought Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, and Cuba into the fold. When the World War broke out in Europe, however, war-weariness from Americans already facing quagmire in Cuba and the Philippines refused to participate. It finally ended in 1919 as a general draw, and Wilhelm II seemed to have his fill of war, instead focusing on empire-building in Germany's many colonies.


In reality, the Apia cyclone hit the island directly, and the German and American ships had no hope of escaping. Over 200 sailors perished as ships were tossed onto the shore, slammed against one another, and torn apart by wind and waves. The disaster eased the tension, which later returned and was finally solved in 1899 with the Tripartite Convention dividing the islands.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

March 15, 44 BC – Conspirators Assassinate Caesar and Antony

The rise of Julius Caesar had been meteoric.  He was born to a comfortable, but hardly powerful, patrician family in 100 BC and spent much of his youth away from Rome as the dictator Sulla committed his purges.  Young Caesar surrendered his title in the priesthood and instead joined the army to further his career in politics.  In potentially corrupt elections, Caesar began to win titles such as quaestor, Pontifex Maximus, and governor of Spain.  His victories over barbarians there earned him a triumph, which catapulted his fame and earned him spots in the circles of General Pompey the Great and Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome.  Caesar managed to bring the two, who had long been opponents, into an informal political alliance known as the Triumvirate.  He was made consul for a year and then dispatched to Gaul where his conquests would make him legendary.

Caesar returned to Rome in 49 BC on order of the Senate.  Rather than disband his army, Caesar brought with him his most loyal legion, crossing the Rubicon, which was an illegal movement of troops.  Civil war erupted as the Senate fled and built up forces to defeat the wildly popular Caesar on the field of battle.  Caesar, meanwhile, established himself as dictator and made Mark Antony his second-in-command.  Antony came from a famous and powerful family and had served on Caesar’s staff in Gaul.  He proved an effective administrator of Italy while Caesar traveled abroad, destroying the Senate’s armies and conquering Egypt.  At the celebration of Lupercalia in 44 BC, Antony won a footrace and offered his diadem to Caesar, who refused it.  The political show excited the people, who were overwhelmed by Caesar’s humility, but the thinly veiled hubris also infuriated Caesar’s enemies.  They determined to kill him.

This group of senators dubbed themselves the “Liberators” who would free Rome of Caesar, the would-be tyrant.  Conspirators Brutus, Cassius, and Casca met the night before their planned assassination on the Ides of March to discuss the political fallout.  Other conspirators suggested wiping out Caesar’s whole faction, especially the fiery Mark Antony.  Brutus and his cohorts, however, determined that only Caesar should die, which would make clear their just action as protection of the Republic.  Casca, nervous about the ordeal, let slip to Antony that Caesar would meet his end the next day at the games at Pompey’s theater.  Antony immediately hurried to warn Caesar, who accepted his company but refused to appear fearful.  Antony suggested carrying weapons and bringing bodyguards, but Caesar again refused.  On the way to the games, the Liberators ambushed Caesar and stabbed him repeatedly.  Antony attempted to defend him and in fact killed Casca’s brother Publius, but the Liberators struck him down as well, practically in self-defense against the raging onslaught of the young veteran soldier.

Chaos came over Rome, and the bodies of Antony and Caesar lay in the Forum for hours before being collected.  Days later when Caesar’s will was read, the senators were surprised to learn that Caesar had named his eighteen-year-old grandnephew Octavian as his heir.  If it had been Antony, Caesar’s legacy would have been wiped out.  Instead, Caesar’s power continued through the new, ambitious boy.  Unlike Antony, who seemed the embodiment of Mars, Octavian had little military experience but great cunning and potential.  The senators determined that the best way to be rid of him was to proceed with Caesar’s plans of a campaign against Parthia to retrieve aquilae standards lost in 53 BC.

Some were fearful that a stunning victory in Parthia would make Octavian even more famous than his predecessor, but the war turned into a stalemate.  The Romans made initial gains, but Parthian counterattack pushed them back in 40 BC.  Octavian and generals such as Ventidius managed to take back their losses, but nearly a decade of fighting put them back where they had begun.  While Octavian was away, the Senate under Cicero allowed Octavian’s titles to expire, reducing his political might.  When the war finally ended in 20 BC, Octavian returned to Rome with the lost legions’ standards, but his triumph did not last long.  Octavian served as a reformer in the Senate until his death in AD 14 with a huge expansion of public works projects but would only be known to Roman history enthusiasts.

The Roman Republic continued until 70, when generals fresh from fighting in the First Roman-Jewish War returned and settled unrest in Gaul by establishing a strong central imperator.  Military control continued as more and more rebellions occurred in Caledonia, Germania, and Dacia, as well as further issues with the Jews and Parthians in the East.  Eventually Rome’s resources became stretched too thinly, and it broke apart into a series of kingdoms, smaller empires, and vacuums of power invaders quickly seized.


In reality, Mark Antony was too late to defend of Caesar.  He fled from the Forum and slipped out of Rome until he was certain the assassins did not mean to eliminate him as well.  Returning to Rome, he gave an explosive eulogy at Caesar’s funeral and exposed the assassins’ crime.  The senators fled the mob, and a new wave of civil war came upon Rome.  Mark Antony joined with Octavian to become victorious, though they soon had their own civil war.  Octavian prevailed at the Battle of Actium and became the sole ruler of an imperial Rome that would last for centuries.

March 14, 1783 – Newburgh Conspiracy Marches

After years of fighting, the War of Independence for the United States was coming to a close.  The Battle of Yorktown in 1781 saw the last major British expeditionary force surrender, leaving only strong garrisons in New York, Charleston, and Savannah.  Smaller-scale fights continued in some areas, but the war had become a costly stalemate with American victory in sight, and the Peace Party in Parliament wanted to end it before more colonies fell to the Americans’ allies overseas.  The bulk of the American Army settled in Newburgh, New York, under the command of George Washington, where they held in check the British forces in New York City.

Just weeks away from a formal ceasefire in 1783, the American officers began to fidget with unrest.  During the Revolution, many sacrifices had been made, especially by soldiers who often accepted postponement of their pay.  Congress had no legal means to raise taxes, meaning that it operated on voluntary contributions from the states.  As the states rarely offered to contribute, Congress could not pay the soldiers their due and instead made promises.  With the war waning and the promises of pay seeming thinner every day, the disgruntled officers began to look for ways to gain what they felt was rightfully theirs.

An anonymous letter to the general army was written and distributed by Major John Armstrong, aide-de-camp to General Horatio Gates, the highest commander behind Commander-in-Chief George Washington.  The letter voiced the opinions of the officers, who felt that their service during the war had been largely unappreciated and that hopes of “future fortune may be… desperate” when the threat of the British was gone.  They felt they had reached “points beyond which neither can be stretched, without sinking into cowardice, or plunging into credulity” in “a country that tramples upon your rights, disdains your cries, and insults your distresses.”  The letter ended with a call for petitions to Congress to pay out what it had promised and a meeting of officers to discuss action on March 11, which might have very well been following up on the rumor among enlisted men to march on Congress itself.

Congress, meanwhile, was divided between those who were wary of centralized government and those who wanted a stronger, clearer rule in America, such as Gouverneur Morris and Washington’s former aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton.  A commission from General Henry Knox lobbying for pay for soldiers and officers had already been largely ignored.  Hamilton wrote to Washington hoping for leverage in his push for a more centralized government, but Washington replied that he trusted in republicanism and would never use the military to threaten civilian Congress.  Washington himself sent a general order cancelling the March 11 meeting and calling his own on March 15 after tempers had cooled.

Armstrong and his fellow officers were worried that Washington would hinder their efforts to stir the men to action and even considered overthrowing his command and making Horatio Gates the Commander-in-Chief.  As a direct coup would have failed due to Washington’s overwhelming political popularity, they decided to take action using a rank Gates already held higher than Washington: president of the Board of War.  Created in 1776 and expanded in 1777, the Board handled Army ordinance in a civilian manner, and Gates served there until the end of his career despite it being a severe conflict of interest.

The evening before Washington’s meeting, Armstrong managed to persuade Gates to invite (rather than militarily order) officers to a civilian meeting outside of camp, twenty miles away in Poughkeepsie, NY, where the New York State Assembly was meeting.  Many of the supporters came to the meeting, which became an Army demonstration and stirred support in the Assembly to dispatch funds earmarked for their pay.  Washington held his meeting and gave an impassioned reading of a letter from Congress explaining its lack of funds, but actions spoke more loudly than words.  Gates followed Washington’s address with an appeal for more lobbying, and General Knox agreed.

Nonviolent demonstrations (which many felt were thinly veiled threats) began occurring wherever the Army was stationed.  Orders for furlough were extended, which saved on pay but gave soldiers time to organize more protests.  From Massachusetts to North Carolina, legislators were harangued for pay.  That June, a mob of soldiers from Lancaster, PA, marched on Congress itself, blocking the door and refusing to allow the congressmen to leave the building until Alexander Hamilton (himself a former soldier awaiting his pension) persuaded them that they would meet again the next day.  Using the rabble to his favor, Hamilton managed to push through a bill, to be ratified for the states, for taxation on luxury imports to repay the military.  Many of the states balked at the idea of federal taxation, but the pressure of the soldiers suppressed any counterargument. The tax came into effect and easily paid the $800,000 owed to soldiers as well as supplying a national Revenue Cutter Service to ensure the safety of American waters and payment.

The power of the veterans was clear, and Hamilton began correspondence with Armstrong and Gates, the latter of whom became president of the Society of the Cincinnati, a brotherhood of officers founded to preserve the Revolution’s ideals.  When Shays’ Rebellion began in 1786 amid a post-war recession due to a credit crisis, Hamilton used the Society to show the power of his army, which marched under the still-popular Horatio Gates at request of Massachusetts Governor James Bowdoin.  This proved that the Articles of Confederation could work, thanks to Hamilton’s modifications.  Hamilton gained greater political clout, founding the National Bank and creating a sitting executive branch.

As also France itself became a republic baptized in blood, relations fell apart between the nations.  After a bribery scandal, Hamilton pushed through the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 and 1799.  Jeffersonians reacted with the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which were widely unpopular and became grounds for treason.  Hamilton installed federal courts and rigged them to his favor, eliminating many of his enemies.  The US gradually became a militarized state as Hamilton prepared to invade Florida and Louisiana.  Taxes increased to fund the army, spurring unrest that Hamilton attempted to cure by establishing dictatorial powers for himself.  In 1807, Hamilton declared war on France and Spain as they attacked Portugal, and the United States itself fell into civil war as Southern states rebelled.  Eventually Hamilton’s rule would be overthrown by a popular colonel, Andrew Jackson, who himself would establish a dictatorship that would lead to civil war and dissolution of the United States.


In reality, Gates planned to make his case at the meeting on March 15, which George Washington interrupted and pulled out his glasses to read, stating, “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”  Many officers were reduced to tears, and Washington’s moderation proved a solid foundation for the new republic.

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