Cultural Focus

Paige Haas/ 4th period/ 5-29-15

Catherine The Great


1. Early life: Catherine II, or Catherine the Great, was born on May 2, 1729, in Stettin, Prussia. She became the Russian empress in 1762 and under her reign Russia expanded its territories and modernized. Catherine the Great, started out as a minor German princess. Catherine's original birth name was Sophie Friederike Auguste which she would later change to Catherine. Educated by tutors, Catherine had religious studies with a military chaplain, but she questioned much of what he taught her. She also learned three languages: German, French and Russian. While she grew up with a lot of religious and cultural influence, Catherine greatly opposed some of the teachings and beliefs that were forced on her.


2. Becoming Russian Royalty: In 1744 Catherine travelled with her mother to Russia. While in Russia Catherine became very close with the Grand Duke Peter. The pair became engaged, and Catherine converted to the Russian Orthodox faith, despite her deeply Lutheran father's objections. Along with her new religion, she received her new name of Catherine. On August 21, 1745, Catherine II married into the Russian royal family, becoming a grand duchess. After Empress Elizabeth's death, Catherine's husband assumed the throne, becoming Peter III, while she received the title of "Empress Consort". But peter was not a very good ruler and after six months, he was overthrown in a seize of power orchestrated by Catherine. She was able to get him to step down from power, and assumed control herself. Concerned about being toppled by opposing forces herself, Catherine wanted to please the military and the church. She used the failures of peters reign to her success by appealing to the people and their cultures. Catherine gained their appeal by presenting herself as a ruler for the people and church.


3. Ruling: Catherine believed in absolute rule, but she did make some efforts toward social and political reforms. Catherine put together a document, known as the "Nakaz," which stated how the country's legal system should run. No laws came out of the commission, but it was the first time that Russians from across the empire had been able to collaborate their thoughts about the country's needs and problems. Later in her rule, Catherine made an turn around on policy and argued upper-class power, with a large amount of citizens forced into the oppressive conditions of serfdom. Catherine was a religious skeptic and sought to contain the power of the Orthodox Church. She had given them their land and property back initially, but she soon changed her mind. She believed the wealth of the church should belong to the state. To that end, she made the church part of the state and all of its holdings, including more than one million serfs, became state property and subject to taxes.


4. Changes in culture: During Catherine's rule Russia was not viewed highly. She sought to change this negative opinion through expanding educational opportunities and the arts. Catherine had a boarding school established for girls from noble families in St. Petersburg, and later called for free schools to be created in towns across Russia. Catherine was also devoted to the arts, and sponsored many cultural projects. Catherine was especially fond of the philosophers and writers of the Enlightenment. In her later years, Catherine continued to possess an active mind and a strong spirit. She died on November 17, 1796 after suffering from a stroke.

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African Independence- Congo

1. Religion : Although Belgium takes responsibility in 1908 for the Congo, it remains a colony unlike others in Africa. It is still ruled from Brussels (rather than by a governor in situ), though a minister for the Congo now takes direct charge rather than the king. Similarly Brussels continues to leave much of the administration of the colony to non-governmental agencies. The predominantly Catholic missionaries are in charge of education, in which they have a good record. By mid-century 10% of Congolese children attend primary school, compared to just 3% in neighboring French Equatorial Africa. And as before, the economy of the region is largely left under the control of large commercial companies.


2. Economics (1908-1957): The importance of rubber in the local economy declines dramatically during the first quarter of the century; in 1901 it represents 87% of the Congo's exports, by 1928 the proportion is as low as 1%. Meanwhile Katanga, in the southeast, has begun to produce immense mineral wealth. A mining company, the Union Minière du Haut Kanga, is formed in 1906 to exploit the new opportunities. It begins to extract copper in 1911. By 1928 it is producing 7% of the world's total. At the same time diamonds contribute to the status of the Congo as one of Africa's richest regions. First mined in 1907, the Congo's diamond output is twenty years later a close second in the world after South Africa's.


3. Rule:In the months leading up to independence, the Congolese elected a president, Joseph Kasavubu, prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, a senate and assembly, and similar bodies in the Congo’s numerous provinces. The Eisenhower administration had high hopes that the Republic of the Congo would form a stable, pro-Western, central government. Those hopes vanished in a matter of days as the newly independent nation descended into chaos. On July 5, Congolese soldiers in the Force Publique mutinied against their white Belgian commanders at the Thysville military base, seeking higher pay as well as greater opportunity and authority. The mutiny quickly spread to other bases and violence soon broke out across the nation. Thousands of Europeans fled, and stories of atrocities against whites surfaced in newspapers around the globe. Unable to control the indigenous army, the Belgians brought in troops to restore order without seeking permission to do so from either Kasavubu or Lumumba. In response, the Congolese government appealed directly to the United Nations to provide troops and demanded the removal of Belgian troops. On July 13, the United Nations approved a resolution which authorized the creation of an intervention force, the Organisations des Nations Unities au Congo, and called for the withdrawal of all Belgian troops. Two days earlier, the wealthy Katanga province had declared its independence from the Republic of the Congo, followed in August by South Kasai province.


4. Changes in Culture: The lack of centralized education left the new nation in a stunted state of growth. Across the African continent, educated Africans had often played a key role in the independence movements and these leaders had then stepped in to govern the new nations which emerged in the 1960s. In many of these new African states, a uniform educational system had helped to promote national unity and identity. Which were desperately needed as the colonial map had created artificially constructed nations that had numerous different and even competing ethnic groups. This was unfortunate because the Congo, as the third largest country in Africa, was home to many distinct ethnic groups and possessed incredible wealth in its natural resources. While post-colonial African nations needed to establish and create a national identity in the wake of colonialism and although all of these nations required an educated citizenry, the absence of these in the ethnically diverse Congo contributed greatly to its instability in the decades that followed.

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WW1 Propganda: US

1. Propaganda can be defined as; words, pictures, songs, and other devices used to sway and manipulate the collective attitudes of a group of people. In World War I new ways of creating propaganda arose. propaganda ensured that the people only got to know what their governments wanted them to know. To ensure that everybody thought in the way the government wanted, all forms of information were controlled.


2. When America entered the war on April 6, 1917, the biggest worry was public unity. So President Wilson created the Committee on Public Information. They censored and limited any “damaging information,” that might have induced support for the non-allies. Soon the company was combining advertising techniques with psychology to create all sorts of propaganda. The Committee on Public Information was soon using news, parades, posters, radios, music, and movies to build support for the war. America created more posters than any other country. They used emotional appeals, demonization, and even dishonesty, to sway the public’s opinions.


3. The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens". The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.


4. Propaganda during this time centered around the war. Posters were hung to recruit soldiers, volunteers, and encourage country involvement in support of the world. Most posters were aimed at your conscious so you would feel obliged to help. Not only did men volunteer but women could become nurses or join organizations that could aid the soldiers. Whatever the message, it always reinforced the idea of total country involvement in the war effort

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Communism WW1- Russia

1. Any problems were dealt with by the Cheka - the feared communist secret police. They had used what was known as the Red Terror during the civil war to keep people in order. To survive during the civil war, Lenin introduced War Communism. In the factories, the government took complete control. The workers who had been given to right to run factories, had that right taken away. Managers ran them and discipline was strict. Food was rationed. Workers and soldiers received the most while civil servants received little. The workers had to do what the government said they had to - just as in the days of the tsar.


2. In the countryside, the Cheka was sent out to take food from the peasant farmers. Anybody found keeping food from others was shot. The peasants responded by producing food only for themselves and so the cities were more short of food than before. Life under Lenin appeared to be worse than under Nicholas II. The civil war had devastated Russia’s economy. People survived by doing whatever they could - there was a great increase in robberies and law and order was on the verge of breaking down. Agriculture had been ruined by the war and in 1921, after a drought, there was a terrible famine. Five million people died as a result of this. Cannibalism was common amongst those who survived. Every part of industry was at a worse level than it had been in 1913.


3. By 1921, opposition to Lenin had grown. The country was in a disastrous stare when compared to the state it had been in under the tsar. Workers formed themselves into Workers’ Opposition demanding a) higher wages b) more food and c) the return of workers control of industry. These were the same workers who had supported Lenin in 1917. Also sailors at a base near Petrograd rose up against the communist government. The base was called Kronstadt. It needed 20,000 soldiers from the Red Army to put down the rising and those sailors who had surrendered were executed. This uprising deeply upset the government as sailors had always been seen as loyal supporters of the communists.


4. The First World War, much like the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, acted as a catalyst for social change. The war brought many of Russia’s underlying social, political, economic, and military problems into sharp focus. It is important to note that the declaration of war in 1913 was undoubtedly popular in Russia. The declaration led to a surge in popularity for the Tsar and greatly enhanced his position. Indeed, briefly, the Tsar enjoyed more popularity than at any other point in his reign. In the short term, the war also weakened support for opponents of the tsar who were opposed to the war. Total war: A struggle in which the whole nation – its people, resources, institutions, and politics – were involved. The diversion of resources to the war effort caused severe problems for the civilian population of Russia. Some of the main problems faced by the Russian people during the war were severe shortages of goods and inflation. The Russian civilian faced increased taxation in order to pay for the war, inflation and shortages of goods of all kinds (but in particular food and fuel)

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American Railroads

1. The railroad was first developed in Great Britain. A man named George Stephenson successfully applied the steam technology of the day and created the world's first successful locomotive. The first engines used in the United States were purchased from the Stephenson Works in England. Even rails were largely imported from England until the Civil War. Americans who had visited England to see new Steam locomotives were impressed that railroads dropped the cost of shipping by carriage by 60-70%.


2. Although the first railroads were successful, attempts to finance new ones originally failed as opposition was mounted by turnpike operators, canal companies, stagecoach companies and those who drove wagons. Opposition was mounted, in many cases, by tavern owners and innkeepers whose businesses were threatened. Sometimes opposition turned to violence. Religious leaders decried trains as sacriligious. But the economic benefits of the railroad soon won over the skeptics.


3. Chinese immigration began with the discovery of gold in California in 1848. Competition for mining jobs, however, quickly turned to racial problems in the state. During the 1850s the unequal treatment of African-Americans extended to the Chinese. During the 1850s and early 1860s, the state legislature and numerous local governments passed anti-Chinese laws and imposed taxes to discourage Chinese immigration and to deny civil rights to those working in the U.S. But when the Central Pacific began laying tracks in 1865, white labor was scarce and unreliable. Charles Crocker's solution to the labor shortage was to hire out-of-work Chinese.


4. In July 1868, Secretary of State William Seward concluded the Treaty of Trade, Consuls, and Emigration with China. Known as the Burlingame Treaty, named after consul Anson Burlingame, the treaty gave China favored nation status and was meant to increase trade between the U.S. and China. A corollary component of the treaty increased the number of Chinese immigrants and provided civil rights protection for Chinese living and working in the U.S. Immigration increased soon after the treaty was signed: 11,085 Chinese immigrants in 1868, and 14,994 Chinese immigrants in 1869. At the height of the transcontinental construction period, the Central Pacific employed over 12,000 Chinese workers, which was more than 90 percent of the company's workforce. The Central Pacific released Chinese workers in April 1869 with the completion of the railroad at Promontory, Utah. Racial tensions increased in the West as the workers returned to California in search of employment. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act that barred future Chinese immigration and denied naturalization for those already in the U.S. The Act stood in place for 60 years until President Franklin Roosevelt repealed it in 1943 during World War II.

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Aung San Suu Kyi

1. Aung San Suu Kyi was born on June 19, 1945. She is a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma. Growing up in a political background, Suu Kyi was exposed to diverse political views and religions. Aung San Suu Kyi's father, formerly the de facto prime minister of British Burma, was assassinated in 1947. Her mother, Khin Kyi, was appointed ambassador to India in 1960. With he father and mothers influence Aung San Suu Kyi was exposed at a young age to the diversities and struggled in life. This, along with her parents strong cultures helped shape who she has become and prepared her for the things she went through.


2. When facing the struggle against the military government Suu Kyi turned to rallying the people peacefully rather than violently. To bring down the authoritarian rule of the military, Suu Kyi entered politics and founded the National League for Democracy (or NLD) party on September 27, 1988. Her party worked on the lines of Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence and Buddhist concepts. Serving as the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi gave numerous speeches calling for freedom and democracy.


3. Aung San Suu Kyi believes in the Theravada form of Buddhism. Theravada means "The Way of the Elders" in Pali, reflecting the Theravadins' belief that they most closely follow the original beliefs and practices of the Buddha and the early monastic Elders. The purpose of life for Theravadins is to become an arhat, a perfected saint who has acheived nirvana and will not be reborn again. As a result, Southern Buddhism tends to be more monastic, strict and world-renouncing than its Northern Buddhism, and its approach is more philosophical than religious. Throughout Suu Kyi's struggle with the government and finding liberation for the people she held firm in her faith. By staying firm in her faith and beliefs Suu Kyi was able to peacefully rebel against the government and leave a lasting impact and legacy on the world.


4. Aung San Suu Kyi is the leading politician of Burma and world’s highest political prisoner who has upheld the right for democracy and worked relentlessly for the freedom of Burmese people against military rule and human rights. She has been given the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize and Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in US in 1991. She is the founding member and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma.

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