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The outcomes of that nexus are still unfolding.
Politically, opposition to the American empire requires no under-estimation of its life-span; its fate remains to be settled. S ince the Second World War, the external order of American power has been largely insulated from the internal political system. If party competition in the domestic arena has rested on rival electoral blocs, combining significant fluidity of contours with increasing sharpness of conflicts, in the global arena such differences are far less. Commonality of outlook and continuity of objectives set the administration of empire apart from rule of the homeland.
In the American case it also follows from two further local particulars: the provincialism of an electorate with minimal knowledge of the outside world, and a political system that—in strident contradiction with the design of the Founders—has increasingly given virtually untrammelled power to the executive in the conduct of foreign affairs, freeing presidencies, often baulked of domestic goals by fractious legislatures, to act without comparable cross-cutting pressures abroad.
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The us imperium that came into being after had a long pre-history. In North America, uniquely, the originating coordinates of empire were coeval with the nation. These lay in the combination of a settler economy free of any of the feudal residues or impediments of the Old World, and a continental territory protected by two oceans: producing the purest form of nascent capitalism, in the largest nation-state, anywhere on earth.
To the objective privileges of an economy and geography without parallel were added two potent subjective legacies, of culture and politics: the idea—derived from initial Puritan settlement—of a nation enjoying divine favour, imbued with a sacred calling; and the belief—derived from the War of Independence—that a republic endowed with a constitution of liberty for all times had arisen in the New World. Out of these four ingredients emerged, very early, the ideological repertoire of an American nationalism that afforded seamless passage to an American imperialism, characterized by a complexio oppositorum of exceptionalism and universalism.
The United States was unique among nations, yet at the same time a lode-star for the world: an order at once historically unexampled and ultimately compelling example to all. These were the convictions of the Founders.
The radiance of the nation would in the first instance be territorial, within the Western Hemisphere. But in the last instance, that radiance would be more than territorial: it would be moral and political. During the Cold War, the term superpower replaced the term great power which, in turn, was replaced in the early s by a new term, hyperpower used to identify exclusively the United States. In the twenty-rst century, other terms, such as power of world inuence, regional hegemon, and new great power, have entered the vocabulary of power relationships.
Readers will note that, in the past, ideas about these matters devolved to the capability and capacity to wage war by projecting military power or to the ability to inuence other nations in some coercive way. Finally, the article concludes with contemporary understandings that increasingly include factors such as attitudes, concepts, language, and modes of life as essential capabilities in assessing national power. Measuring PowerTaylor, Kennedy, and De Keersmaeker published their books in , , and and, while they dier topically and thematically, all three rely on the quantiable analysis of economic industrial and raw materials , nancial gross domestic product and military expenditures , demographic populations and capabilities , and military numbers of weapons systems tabular data.
We point this out because, while there is no precise universally accepted denition for the term great power, there appear to be universally accepted standards by which a PAGE 12 11 great power is measured. Assessments of resources as noted above, both natural and man-made, are a unitary theme in the literature of this subject.
When assessing the impact of specic resources, we might also note that, according to historians MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, ve military revolutions have occurred since the world moved out of medieval times. It cannot be understated how closely changes in great power status and relationships mirror Knox and Murrays periodization of changes in military aairs table 1. Combining these ideas, the importance of mobilizing national resources in a utilitarian way, both natural and man-made, is a critical determinant in achieving or losing great power status.
Scholars exploring this subject illustrated by the work of Taylor, Kennedy, and Goedele De Keersmaeker, for example , at some point invariably gravitate toward the measurement and use of resources to support their arguments. The Emergence of Great PowersPaul Kennedy begins his classic work around , however, we begin here with the Treaty of Westphalia in as the dening genesis of the term the Great Powers of Europe.
It is notable historically for establishing the principle of sovereign states also establishing the idea of Table 1. Military revolutions according to Knox and Murray Military revolution 1: The seventeenth-century creation of the modern state and Military revolution 2: The French Revolution conscription and national mobilization Military revolution 3: The Industrial Revolution the factory system enabled the armMilitary revolution 4: The First World War the irrevocable combination of its three predecessors that enabled the waging of long-term, attritional, Military revolution 5: The Nuclear Age nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles created Source: MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, The Dynamics of Military Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , PAGE 13 12 nation-states as well as European norms of noninterference in another states domestic aairs.
Importantly, it established the concept of a balance of power designed to keep the peace in Europe by creating conditions that made aggression between nation-states very dicult. In addressing the treaty of , A.
Taylor illustrated how quickly great powers can either attain or lose great power status: Of the Powers indisputably ranked as Great at the Congress of Westphalia in , threeSweden, Holland, and Spain ceased to be Great and onePolandceased to exist before the close of the eighteenth century; their place was taken by Russia and Prussia, two states hardly within notice a hundred years before.
He argued that the relative strengths of the leading nations in world aairs never remain constant, principally because of the uneven rate of growth among dierent societies and of the technological and organizational breakthroughs which bring a greater advantage to one society than to another. Regardless of the chronological point of origin of the term great powers, the extant literature relies on tabular data to establish the resources needed to become a great power and to maintain great power status.
In this foundational period, scholars measured such variables as increases in military manpower, wartime expenditures and revenues, and the size of armies and navies. In this way, it became possible to measure capability what could be done and capacity the extent to which something could be done in both absolute and relative terms.
The Emergence of the Balance of Power Taylor attributed the long periods of general peace in Europe to the maintenance of the balance of power. PAGE 14 13 e United Kingdom emerged as a great power with the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession formalized by the Treaty of Utrecht in , an event that would prove to have profound consequences for both Europe and for the world.
Spains decline began about this time, and within 50 years, it was nished as a great power. Spains dilemma was that continual wars and the costs of its empire drained the treasury, which was dependent on the American colonies producing gold and silver. In the end, Spains small population and lack of a viable domestic economy reduced it to penury.
Swedens small military and naval forces were excellent but fragile in that the tiny population and economy could not replace losses. Sweden would continue to be an important second-tier power through the end of the Napoleonic Wars Likewise, 50 years later, the Dutch joined the ranks of the second-tier powers after the British defeated the United Provinces Holland in the ird Anglo-Dutch War of Hollands decline had begun earlier in a series of wars that forced it to eld both an army and a navy. Unfortunately, Poland also left the eld permanently when the powerful absolute monarchs of Prussia, Russia, and Austria-Hungary conspired and orchestrated the partition of the country in , destroying it as a nation-state until its resurrection in In turn, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte after reinforced the formation of new European coalitions designed to prevent French hegemony on the continent.
Because of Lazare Carnots innovations in national mobilization and conscription in this period, modern scholars added populations and per capita income to their growing list of variables by which to calculate power relationships and rank ordering. The Congress of Vienna and the Concert of Europe Engineered by Austro-Hungarian foreign minister prince Klemens von Metternich, the Congress of Vienna concluded a year period of nearly continuous warfare between the European nations and France.
In terms of European stability, the most important outcome of the congress was the establishment of what has been called the Concert of Europe.
Metternichs system was designed keep France at bay by maintaining a balance of power that pitted at least three of the four other great powers opposite France. France briefly joined the alliance but withdrew. Metternich also was keenly aware of the economically and socially driven unhappiness of the lower classes of European nations and simmering rebellious intentions of captive minorities living under the dynastic empires. In turn, Metternich mobilized the fears of European monarchs and governments to agree to support one another in crushing revolutionary movements.
At this point, Prussian foreign minister prince Otto von Bismarck crossed the stage of history by delivering the famous Blood and Iron speech to the Prussian Reichstag in , proclaiming that German unication under Prussian leadership could only be achieved by using war as a foreign policy tool. Indeed, the primacy of France and its unchallenged position as the most powerful nation in Europe had been the driving force in how European monarchs and diplomats thought about power relationships.
Literally overnight a new Germany displaced France in the computations and alignment of the European balance of power. Bismarcks name and reputation has long been associated with Prussian and German militarism.
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However, it is important to remember that after German unication Bismarcks activities increasingly turned to domestic policies designed to strengthen Germany internally. He also turned to the establishment PAGE 16 15 of a system of defensive alliances designed to protect the new nation. Bismarcks objective was to ensure that France would not attack Germany in an eort to recover lost provinces or simply for revenge. Unfortunately, an unforeseen consequence of this was that France sought an alliance with Russia, leading to a period of equating the balance of power in Europe with the strength and position of two opposing alliance systems.
While the world was not what we might term bipolar in the sense of two superpowers, it is fair to assert that European security aairs from to were seen in terms of balancing alliance polarity. In particular, coal, iron, and steel production became important, as did the relative share of world manufacturing output.
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Although Italy would initially remain neutral at the onset of the First World War, replaced by the second-tier Ottoman Empire, which joined the Germans and Austro-Hungarians, this system endured. Most historians also assert that the alliance system dragged somewhat reluctant great powers into an unwanted general war over a localized Balkan crisis between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.
After the Ottomans entered the war in November , the term Central Powers composed of the three aforementioned participants plus the Bulgarians replaced the term Triple Alliance, while the Triple Entente members came to be called the Allies, which also included newcomer Japan. In , Czarist Russia collapsed and the United States entered the war, bringing the net total of Allied resources to an even higher level of superiority. In the end, many historians attribute their defeat to exhaustion caused by a resource-decient ability to wage long-term, attritional warfare.
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However, both powers were essentially hemispheric in their approach to world aairs. Importantly, this is the point where the Euro-centricity of the term great powers became obsolete and was relegated to a historical curiosity. After , the term great powers took on a global context, and we might note that in terms of measurable data, the inclusion of Italy became problematic. By , Italy, for example, had the trappings of a great powera large army and navy, colonies, and power-projection capabilities as demonstrated in the Spanish Civil War and the conquest of Ethiopia.
However, as would be seen in the Second World War, Italy did not have the resources, especially in manufacturing capacity, to sustain itself under the demands of long-term, attritional warfare. China also was a victor, but it remained a populous but underdeveloped nation. PAGE 18 17 e United Kingdom and France attempted to maintain the illusion that they remained great powers, at least until the mids, but after ghting a losing series of colonial wars they uneasily accepted their reduced position.
China was soon joined by India, Israel, and Pakistan, which also acquired nuclear weapons, giving them powerful regional military capabilities.
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Approaching the end of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union maintained their status and position primarily through a large resource base, which enabled them to eld both signicant capability and almost unlimited capacity. Much to the surprise of world leaders, military intelligence analysts, subject matter experts in security aairs, and the world population, the fall of the Berlin Wall in November led directly and quickly to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Unlike previous changes in great power status, defeat in armed conict did not cause the dissolution of the Soviet state. However, a strong argument can be made that the Soviets could not bear the nancial costs of an extended period of confrontation with the United States in a Cold War. Many scholars feel that the command economy of the Soviet system proved inadequate to the task of maintaining a resource-based armaments competition with the United States. He asserted that the breadth of American strength is unique, extending beyond economics, technology or military might to this domination of attitudes, concepts, language and modes of life.
Certainly, the inuence and power of the United States at the dawn of the twenty-rst century appeared unchallenged. While a case can be made that the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China remained military powers with global capability and reach, only Russia retained a capacity to match the American nuclear arsenal. No military argument can be made that Germany, Japan, or India had signicant powers beyond their economic capabilities and capacity.
American interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq in and led to continuing long-term wars that drained its treasury and imposed crippling restrictions on the capability and capacity of its military and naval forces to respond to other crises. Continuing interventions after the Arab Spring in imposed further liabilities on already strained American military power by adding quasi-wars in Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Niger, Yemen, and Syria to American commitments.
Trump to the presidency on a promise of withdrawing from expensive overseas military adventures and protecting the American industrial base. It is clear that the United States no longer enjoys the resource advantage or the cultural supremacy predicted by the French foreign minister in An associated term that emerged in this timeframe is regional hegemon, which is used to describe nations seeking to dominate adjacent geographic areas and geopolitical entities.
Countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are considered aspiring regional hegemons. Whether these countries have the resources to match their aspirations remains to be seen. On a larger scale, Russia and China certainly have the resources to assert hegemony in the near abroad and the South China Sea, respectively.
Looking back at Paul Kennedys work, the problem of predicting an uncertain future becomes immediately obvious. Kennedy predicted that the Soviet Union would gradually weaken and lose its position of superpower status, but he missed its imminent collapse. Likewise, Kennedy saw Japan as an emerging power whose power status would inevitably increase. Barnett redened power status PAGE 20 19 in terms of new core powers, whose strength lay in being inside a perimeter of integrated economies.
What tabular data and measurements support such assertions?