Monday, September 18, 2017

A Diversity of Topics.

For thousands of years, art has been part of our consciousness as human beings. Art’s beauty is well known, because of its diversity, its qualities of exquisite form, and its diverse meanings or interpretations. Art encompasses many attributes. A painting of a forest, the sculpture of a great leader, and people performing dance are all examples of art. Architecture is a part of art as well. The large structures of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Eiffel Tower make up real artistic expression. Internationally, art ought to be appreciated. In Africa, Asia, and the Americas, elaborate, complex forms of art have existed. For thousands of years and in a wide spectrum of locations, art has flourished in the four corners of the Earth. Since the first humans existed in the Earth, art has captivated the human imagination. The modern age has movies, theater, the Internet, Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, the IPhone 10, etc. Therefore, these platforms include a wide display of art. Art constantly evolves or changes throughout generations. Yet, it is uniform in its common link of advancing creative, human expression. Debates and controversies are related heavily to art history, but art remains an intrepid, powerful aspect of human civilization. Periods like the Romantic period, the Renaissance, etc. outline how expressive the visual and the decorative arts are. Now, we live in a new era of time and the power of art has continued to shine a great light in the Universe. It will continue to exist forevermore.

One of the most important parts of religious and human history was the Reformation. It was a revolutionary change in Christianity. From the time of the 95 Theses to the beginnings of the 18th century, early Reformation events greatly influence our modern world. The Reformation inspired more inquires or the questioning of the authoritarianism of medieval Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authority. It established the modern existence of Protestant and Baptist religious groups. Also, the Reformation made the Catholic Church to create their Counter-Reformation. Part of the Counter-Reformation was the invention of the Jesuits during the 16th century. The Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola desired the suppression of the vibrant, growing Protestant movement. The Jesuits had been banned in numerous nations. Not to mention that the corruption and theological errors of the Roman Catholic Church were massive factors on why the Reformation commenced in the first place. The evil practice of indulgences (of the Catholic Church) harmed the poor and exploited human lives. Martin Luther of Germany was one of the many early Reformers who sought not only the promotion of sola fide (or faith alone). Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others wanted the Bible to be translated into their own tongues as the Catholic hierarchy back then forbid Bible translations to be in languages other than Latin. Bloodshed followed the Reformation. This included religious wars among Protestants and Catholics. Independent Anabaptists (who were autonomous in their structures, they believed in the believer’s baptism, and they followed the separation of church and state) existed back then as well. Anabaptists were also persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants. The Greek Textus Receptus (or a Greek translation of the New Testament) were used heavily during the Reformation period. William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible in English relied on the Textus Receptus. William Tyndale would be murdered, because of his support of the Reformation. In fact, many Protestants would be murdered by political and religious authorities because of their faith. The Reformation was facilitated by the printing press (which accelerated pro-Reformers’ literature rapidly). Not to mention that many poor and working class people in Europe agreed with some of the principles of the Reformation. The Waldensians, John Wycliffe, John Huss, Erasmus, and other people were predecessors of the historic Reformation movement. Many people, who claimed to support the Reformation, would be involved in many evils like slavery, racism, and sexism. Others, who supported the teachings of the Reformation (back then and today), would go on to advance religious tolerance, human freedom, the freedom of press, an end to slavery, and justice. So, the Reformation was a world changing event whose legacy is diverse and whose influence is extremely powerful.

W.E.B. DuBois lived for almost one century on this Earth. From the time of his birth to his passing on 1963, he changed the world. He grew up in a middle class, integrated community of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He had a great intellectual curiosity. His community financially facilitated his educational endeavors. W.E.B. DuBois attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.  At that HBCU location, he encountered a wide spectrum of African American human beings (from the rich to the poor). W.E.B. DuBois became an expert sociologist and an excellent researcher of history. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University and he eloquently established sociological studies about the breadth of black life (from the 19th century to the early 20th century). He studied the Maafa and slavery intensively. His works like the Souls of Black Folks and Black Reconstruction crystallized great analytical information on the black American experience. As a lifelong social activist, he opposed racism, lynching, economic oppression, and imperialism. WEB DuBois taught history and economics at Atlanta University. He had ideological disagreements with Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey (both Washington and Garvey held similar conservative self-help views). While I disagree with Booker T. Washington on some issues (like his Atlanta Compromise speech and his views on immigration), he wasn’t wrong on everything that he has said. Both DuBois and Washington were right that education is very important for black people to embrace. DuBois promoted Pan-Africanism. He was an early member of the NAACP. I disagree with DuBois on his advocacy of the concept of the Talented Tenth (as I believe in egalitarianism) and his views on eugenics. He was an outspoken critic of capitalism (which I do agree with) and desired socialist principles to be part of American society. Later, he left the NAACP since it (among its leadership back then during the McCarthyite era) embraced the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950’s among other reasons. By this time, DuBois was harassed by the federal government because of his political views. He was shunned by the establishment and his passport was restricted for a time. Yet, he still courageously promoted peace and an end to imperialism. W.E.B. DuBois later moved into Ghana by the 1960’s. He worked on forming his African encyclopedia to deal with information about Africa including the African Diaspora. He talked about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. too. In Ghana, DuBois would embrace Communism fully. Ironically, Dr. King would talk about W.E.B. DuBois in celebrating his 100th birthday in a speech from February 23, 1968.  W.E.B. DuBois was a heroic black man. DuBois was representative of the black progressive, radical tradition (using social activism and intellectual discovery) that is still going strong to this very day in our generation. DuBois’ intellectual genius, aptness to defend the rights of humanity, and heroism will always be remembered.

The beginnings of economic history started with the beginning of human history. The economy deals with the production, distribution, and the consumption of goods and services. The first age of the human race starts in the Paleolithic Era (or the Old Stone Age). This was the time when humans worked readily in bands or small kin groups. These bands communicated in order to trade ideas. Some told stories. Others used tools, gathered foods, gathered skins plus other commodities. Flora and Fauna had massive differences back then, competition was unique and the climate was massively different than today. Human beings used various forms of technologies to adjust to the climate and to increase productivity. For example, there were handmade tools and objects like the cudgel, the club, sharpened stone, the chopper, a spear, the hand axe, the harpoon, etc. Many of these objects were used to hunt and gather animals. Humanity lived in caves, huts, and by rivers plus lakes. Some believed in an afterlife. There were burial rituals and ancestor worship too. Priests, shamans, and sanctuary locations did exist during this time period. The global population of humanity grew during this time was from 1 to 15 million people. Some scholars believe that during this period of prehistory, the world average GDP per capita was about $158 per annum (adjusted to 2013 dollars), and did not rise much until the Industrial Revolution. This age lasted form ca. 500,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C. The Mesolithic Age started with the end of the last glacial period over 10,000 years ago. Human beings domesticated plants and animals. There were many formations of settled communities in various times and places. The Mesolithic era saw tribes and bands flourishing. Economic activities existed in various villages. There were more complex tools like the harpoon, the bow and arrows, etc. Some of them fished, created baskets, and hunted plus gathered wild animals. Many of them used seeds of wild plants for domestic use and planting. Some used extensive hunting. The Neolithic Era represented a revolutionary period of humanity and of technology including the economy. It lasted from ca. 10,000 B.C. to ca. 3,300 B.C. Tons of new inventions, structures, and technologies flourished during the Neolithic period. This was one of the greatest parts of human history. It was the start of the agricultural revolution in the world. People started to live in stationary locations. More animals were bred to be domesticated. People worked in farms. Settled communities and the first cities were created (as hunter gatherers started to settle down in locations permanently). There was agriculture in the modern sense in the Middle East as early as 8,000 B.C. People in India, Africa, the Americas, Southeast Asia, China, Europe, etc. grew villages and other civilizations. Jericho and Catal Huyuk (in Turkey) were some of the earliest modern cities and towns in human history. Human beings used more medal tools. Mud brick houses flourished during this time including ladders and doorways. Cooking tools existed. Within each tribe the activity of individuals was differentiated to specific activities, and the characteristic of some of these activities were limited by the resources naturally present and available from within each tribe's territory, creating specializations of skill. By the "... division of labor and evolution of new crafts ..." (Cameron p. 25) "tribal units became naturally isolated through time from the over-all developments in skill and technique present within their neighboring environment. To utilize artifacts made by tribes specializing in areas of production not present to other tribes, exchange and trade became necessary. Scholars believed that cattle was used as currency back then. Trading in red ochre is attested in Swaziland, shell jewelry in the form of strung beads also dates back to this period, and had the basic attributes needed of commodity money. To organize production and to distribute goods and services among their populations, before market economies existed, people relied on tradition, top-down command, or community cooperation.

St. Louis has a long history. In the beginning, the first people of St. Louis were Native Americans. Native Americans built the complex, highly advanced Mound builder civilization.  The people of the Mississippian culture created more than two dozen burial mounds around the area of the city of St. Louis. These mounds existed in ca. 1050 A.D. Some settlements of early St. Louis are preserved at the Cahokia Mounds site in Illinois. The mounds in St. Louis were almost all demolished. Only one mound remains within the city called Sugarloaf Mound. Although, St. Louis maintained the nickname of “The Mound City” well into the 19th century. Many Native Americans settled along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, especially the Missouri River. Many Native Americans created canoes for transportation out of the large forests in the region. The end of the Mississippian culture by the 14th century resulted in a new era of history in the area. There were French Canadian settlers and Siouan speaking groups like the Missouri and the Osage migrating into the Missouri valley. They lived in villages along the Osage and Missouri rivers. Both groups had conflict with the northeastern tribes like the Sauk and the Fox. All four of these groups confronted the earliest explorers of Missouri. Europeans explored the area almost a century before the city of St. Louis was officially founded. By the early 1670’s, Jean Talon, the went along the Mississippi River after hearing of rumors that it connected to the Pacific Ocean. So, explorer Louis Joliet and Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette came into the Mississippi River on June 1673. They traveled past the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas River. At this point Joliet returned north after determining the river would not reach the Pacific and fearing attack by Spanish settlers. Nine years later, the French explorer La Salle led an expedition south from the Illinois River to the mouth of the Mississippi. He claimed the entire valley for France. La Salle named the Mississippi river basin Louisiana after King Louis XIV. That region was between and near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi was named Illinois Country. Many forts existed in the Mississippi valley. In 1699, the French built a settlement on the east bank of the Mississippi at Cahokia, Illinois, near the Cahokia Mounds complex. During the next year, the Kaskaskia tribe formed a village at a small river. It was within the present day area of St. Louis. There were two Jesuit priests, Pierre-Gabriel Marest and Francois Pinet, who built a small mission at the site, naming the river the River Des Peres (River of the Fathers). However, by 1703 the site was abandoned as the Kaskaskia moved to the east bank and further south to a new settlement named Kaskaskia, Illinois. A powerful monopoly involving trade was sent to Antoine Crozat in the Mississippi Valley. He wanted to find and mine precious stones, gold, and silver. Yet, Crozat’s venture failed by 1717, because of Spanish interference. He relinquished his charter. The next company to be granted a trade monopoly for the region was led by John Law. Law was a Scottish financier. In 1717, Law convinced Louis XIV to provide the Company of the West a 25-year monopoly of trade and ownership of all mines, while promising to settle 6,000 whites and 3,000 black slaves (as a way to build churches throughout the region). The company founded New Orleans as the capital of Louisiana in 1718, and merged with other companies in 1719 to form the Company of the Indies. There was a financial crisis. Law was ousted in 1720. The Company of the Indies formed its capital of the Illinois Country (in upper Louisiana) at Fort de Chartres. That location was 15 miles north of Kaskaskia on the east bank of the Mississippi. There was another early settlement. It was near present day St. Louis. It was called Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. It was built in 1732 across from the Kaskaskia village as a convenient port for salt and ore was mined on the western side of the Mississippi. The Company of the Indies began making trade ties with the Missouri River tribes during the early 1720’s and the 1730’s. French economic policy dealt with trade with the Spanish colony of New Mexico to the southwest. Many trade expeditions between New Mexico and the Mississippi valley occurred between 1739 and the Seven Years’ War of 1756-1763. The war destroyed the wealth of many French trading firms and merchants based in New Orleans. The French governor of Louisiana began granting trade monopolies in several areas at the conclusion of the war to stimulate growth.

By Timothy

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