Friday, August 19, 2016

History: The Year is 1853

I've uploaded year 1853 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

We Come in Peace and Ready for War -- Japan and gunboat diplomacy is on the agenda and Commodore Perry comes sliding into Edo Bay.

Buying is Cheaper than Fighting -- A boarder dispute with Mexico is settled by simply buying land... but not too much land.

In Other News -- The potato chip, pianos and the filibuster.

We Come in Peace and Ready for War

Four black ships enter Japan's Edo Bay. Commodore Perry has come to trade with the Japanese, but he is ready for war if the Japanese want to bring it. Two of Perry's ships are powered by steam engines so they are belching smoke. It must seem like the demons of the underworld have come to Japan's capital city of Edo. Japan has no navy to speak of and their shore batteries are 200 year old cannons, poorly maintained. The Japanese direct Perry to Nagasaki which is the designated port for meeting foreigners. Perry is well aware of the Japanese refusal to trade with outsiders so he "slips 'em a convincer." He loads up his cannons with gunpowder without shot and fires! The Japanese leadership is in an uproar. That night an especially large meteor casts a blue shimmering light over the Bay. It is a sign. Good sign for Perry. Bad sign for Edo. Then the head shogun drops dead and the Japanese are freaking out! Perry delivers a letter from President Millard Fillmore and promises to return next spring for trade negotiations... or else. This is not the first example of "gunboat diplomacy" but the practice gains popularity around this time. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the 1500s, the Japanese had been master gunsmiths, but the shoguns feared the gun in the hands of the peasants. Over time they regulated guns and gunpowder and eventually took them out of the hands of the peasants. This made Japan a much safer place for the shoguns, and the samurai but it left the country defenseless. They carried swords, but against a gun, a sword is not much of a defense... even at 21 feet. Commodore Perry's ships were carrying the new exploding shells... well... 30 years old by that time, but it must have looked like a super weapon to the Japanese of the day. An explosive shell meant that not only could a cannon shot put a fairly big hole in your roof, but it could ruin your whole darn day when it exploded inside your house. An ocean might seem like enough of a barrier against the bad guys until it isn't enough any more. By the time you find that out, it is usually too late. [3]

Buying is Cheaper than Fighting

Remember that Mexican-American War? There are still border problems. The United States under President Buchanan promised to stop the Comanche and Apache cross-border raids into Mexico, but it turned out to be more difficult than anticipated. Mexico is demanding compensation for this breech of the original treaty. They want millions of dollars. Naturally the United States offers less. After a lot of back and forth, the Senate finally ratifies the Gadsden Purchase. The United States has just bought a large part of southern Arizona and the southwest part of New Mexico. This is almost 30,000 square miles of territory, for 10 million dollars (or about 232 million in today's money). Not only does this settle the question of compensation, but it opens the way for a southern route for the railroad. It also re-validates the original Treaty of Guadalupe without US troops looming over the proceedings. [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Ambassador Gadsden tried to include Baja California in the purchase but a freebooter from the USA took troops into Baja and declared its independence. That was an embarrassment during negotiations, but frankly, Mexico didn't want to sell off massive parts of its land in any case. It was willing to let go of the minimum amount of land to make the deal good and that was it. The Gadsden was a controversial figure, being a railroad owner. He realized that the South was losing economic power without a railroad to transport goods from Southern ports such as Charleston. New York could offload cargo and move it inland more easily using rail. Ambassador Gadsden was trying to enhance the possibility of a southern railway system so as to extend slavery into Southern California, but the Civil War postponed that project.... and ended slavery to boot. [7] [8]

In Other News

  • The potato chip is invented. George Crum is a restaurant cook who thin-slices potatoes and deep fries them. Dinner is served. [9] [10]
  • Steinway & Sons makes their first piano in Manhattan. It is numbered 483 because he already made 482 pianos back in Germany. [11] [12]
  • The term 'filibuster' enters the political lexicon. The word means "freebooter" or "pirate" but in a debate, a Congressman warns against filibustering... meaning disrupting the legislative process. [13] [14] [15] [16]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1853, Wikipedia.

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