History Department, University of Exeter
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From finding Toussaint L’Ouverture in Tennessee to the hidden story of 2,000 Afro-Caribbean soldiers imprisoned in a medieval castle, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.
Finding Toussaint L’Ouverture in Tennessee
In the summer of 1777, as musket balls flew about New York’s battlefields, José de Gálvez felt confident. The American Revolution had unsettled the entire Atlantic World, raising new questions for the Minister of the Indies. But, amid the uncertainty of international war, he, the man charged with not only reforming but also strengthening the Spanish Empire, thought he had the right answers.
So, less than a year later, ships began leaving the Canary Islands bound for New Orleans. The packetboats and frigates and polacres that arrived just before Spain declared war against Great Britain held more than 1,600 passengers, immigrants who Gálvez expected would populate Spanish Louisiana and bolster its defenses. Some Isleños, the bachelors especially, became soldiers. Other colonists, particularly the artisans, stayed in New Orleans. Most including the married men and their families moved to the settlements of Galveztown, San Bernardo, Terre-aux-Bouefs, and Valenzuela. In those places, they defined, sought and sometimes found prosperity in the same way as the Anglo-Americans who won their independence in 1783. [continue reading]
From Stauffenberg to PEGIDA: How the Far Right Adopted the Flag of the Anti-Hitler Resistance
On July 20, 1944 – 73 years ago today – Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg carried out a plot to assassinate Hitler with a bomb. The attack failed and Stauffenberg along with several dozen military and conservative elites involved were arrested, tortured and executed.
Since WWII, the bomb plot has been an important part of Germany’s political culture – Stauffenberg and the plotters are seen as evidence that not all Germans supported the Nazis and that within the elite there were still men who represented the traditional values of the nation and were willing to die for this. This interpretation is contested, but within the public sphere, commemoration of the plotters and their efforts is a touchstone of mainstream German politics. [continue reading]
Margaret Thatcher suggested threatening Saddam with chemical weapons
Margaret Thatcher suggested threatening Iraq with chemical weapons after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, declassified documents show. The formerly top secret correspondence was between the then UK prime minister and US defence secretary Dick Cheney. Mrs Thatcher told Mr Cheney the US should consider retaliating “in like manner” if Iraq used chemical weapons. But President George HW Bush said such a move would “put the US in the wrong in world opinion”.
Under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, Iraq invaded the Gulf state of Kuwait in August 1990.The correspondence, released by the National Archive, details conversations Mrs Thatcher held with President Bush and Mr Cheney before she was forced from office in November 1990, as the countries considered their response to the invasion. [continue reading]
“Historians of Cities and Global Historians Have Much to Learn From Each Other”: A Conversation with Nancy Kwak
Global Urban History
The Conversations section of our blog seeks to foster critical exchange about the theoretical and methodological implications of bringing together global and urban history. The blog’s editors will occasionally interview scholars to discuss questions of global urban history, spanning across different regional and thematic concerns.
For this post, we are delighted to have spoken with Nancy Kwak, Associate Professor of History at UC San Diego. She is the author of A World of Homeowners: American Power and the Politics of Housing Aid (University of Chicago Press, 2015), which won the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (2016) and the Kenneth T. Jackson Best Book Award from the Urban History Association (2016). With Andrew Sandoval-Strausz, she is the co-editor of Making Cities Global: The Transnational Turn in Urban History, out this fall from University of Pennsylvania Press. [continue reading]
Hidden story of 2,000 African-Caribbean PoWs in a medieval castle
The remarkable overlooked story of more than 2,000 African-Caribbean soldiers imprisoned in a medieval castle in the 18th century is to be told in a new exhibition by English Heritage. It comes after more than five years of painstaking research into the men – and 99 women and children – who were transported from St Lucia in 1796 to Portchester castle, which overlooks Portsmouth harbour.
All were black soldiers and their dependants, freed from slavery by the French in 1794 and fighting for France against the British. Among the names were Louis Delgrès, General Marinier and his wife Eulalie Piemont and Charlotte Pedre and her husband Jean-Louis Marin. Curator Abigail Coppins said that discovering individual identities had been astonishing. She said: “At a time when the entire black population of Britain was roughly 10-15,000 our exhibition completely turns the tables of the views of the period. These were not slaves, but free men and women, fighting and in some cases dying for a cause they believed in. Research is on-going but these names and this exhibition restores a forgotten chapter of black history in England’s story.” [continue reading]
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