Thursday, August 6, 2015

History: The Year is 1619

I've uploaded year 1619 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Have It Your Way: The Jamestown House of Burgesses -- The first representative legislature is set up this year in the Americas.

The Deadly Economic Logic of Southern Slavery -- Slavery begins in the Virgina colony. I talk about the non-obvious economics of slavery in the New World.

The 30 Years' War: The Budweiser Battle -- The town of Budweis supports the Emperor. Yes. They are the guys who make the beer.

Have It Your Way: The Jamestown House of Burgesses

The first representative legislative body in the American colonies is formed this year in Jamestown, Virginia and there is a reason for that. The Virginia Company appointed a governor to rule over the colony... in a sense a CEO looking after the investors' interests. It's been a rough 12 years in Jamestown and frankly, if the colonists thought they could make it, they'd swim all the way back to England. Naturally, angry letters have been sent to relatives and friends complaining about the conditions, but the governor has been intercepting their mail and tossing it! These complainers are brought before the governor and punished, but apparently, word has gotten back to London. A representative of the Virgina Company has arrived to address the plantation-owners' concerns and to put a bridle on the governor and his council. Each plantation will send two burgesses (which are representatives) to share power with the governor and his council. Any new laws are subject to final approval by the Company (and in later years, the King of England). It doesn't seem like much right now, but it is the beginning of a House of Representatives. Separation of powers comes later. Right now they are all meeting in the same building where they hold their prayer services. It's a start. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The term 'Burgess' comes from the Latin word meaning 'fortified town'. It is related to the word 'borough' as in the five boroughs of New York City, but the New York boroughs work differently than the Virginia Colony did. Virginia landholders were becoming more numerous because the colony wasn't making any money those first 12 years or so. In order to keep the shareholders interested in their investment, the Company handed out land grants instead. The Company also sold investors on the idea of bringing religion to the savages and the rest of that claptrap, but frankly, what was really exciting the plantation owners was the prospect of 1000% profit on the sale of their tobacco crops. Eventually the Virginia Company lost its charter and the new legislature disbanded for a few years. It returned at the direction of King James the 1st, and the House of Burgesses became more powerful than the governor and his council. [4]

The Deadly Economic Logic of Southern Slavery

Virginia farmers are short on labor and it's harvest time. They have a new cash crop to get in and they are looking at 1000% profit on their investments if they can just bring in the harvest. That is when a Dutch pirate ship comes into port selling slaves. The farmers put these slaves to work. The status of these slaves is not clear, but clearly they are not free to leave. They might be indentured servants working off their debt or lifetime slaves. No one has put much thought into it. In either case the new labor force must work. Thus begins the ugly history of English slavery in America. The history of Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch slavery in the New World has been well established. Eventually, English slavery will be outlawed by the monumental determination and drive of William Wilberforce in 1807. Outlawing slavery in the United States will take considerably longer. [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
England was an unlikely nation to embrace slavery because the Barbary Pirates had enslaved so many English sailors, and from an economic standpoint, slavery doesn't make sense. A slave costs the equivalent of 4 years of a laborer's salary whereas an indentured servant cost about 1.6 years worth. Given those upfront costs, only a knucklehead would use slave labor, but practical experience in the New World demonstrated that most indentured servants died within their first year from diseases like malaria and the American Indians were dropping like flies from various European diseases. African slaves were resistant to many of the diseases that plagued the southern plantations and had already been exposed to European diseases. FYI... no one realized what germs were! They certainly weren't thinking of mosquitoes as vectors for disease! They simply saw who lived, who died and made their calculations accordingly. It was an ugly business. [7]

The 30 Years' War: The Budweiser Battle

King Ferdinand the 2nd has now been crowned the Holy Roman Emperor, while Bohemia is still in revolt. Three towns have sided with the Emperor, including... yes... Budweis... the home of the King of Beers. The Bohemian rebels have laid siege to Budweis, but after a stunning victory by the Emperor's forces elsewhere, the rebels back off and regroup. Budweis is saved. It's time to break out a cool one! [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've taken the opportunity to have a little fun at Budweiser's expense. Let's run through a quick review of how Budweiser beer is involved. Many, many years ago, the town of Budweis began producing a local brew that appealed to the King of Bohemia at the time. He granted them a license to produce that beer. That makes their slogan "The King of Beers" more comprehensible. The word "Budweiser" means "From Budweis" which makes it a simple, straightforward name that is tough to protect with a trademark. It's like naming your beer "From Milwaukee". Legal wrangling continues into the modern day which explains why their labeling will vary depending on the country in which it is sold and whatever lawsuit is pending. [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1619, Wikipedia.

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