Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Compromise In France; War In Virginia

The state of TIAH

June 20th, 2006

in 1789, deputies of the Troisieme Estate-General, a national body that represented the commoners of France, rename themselves the National Assembly and send an ultimatum to King Louis XVI – accept a constitution limiting his powers or face revolt from the commoners. King Louis had been remarkably inept at managing French national affairs, and the common folk, as well as many of the lesser nobles, wanted a new government along the lines of the American one they had helped fight for at the beginning of the decade. King Louis was reportedly furious at this imposition on his authority, and threatened to send troops to quell this miniature rebellion, but his ablest minister, Jacques Necker, advised him to accept the Assembly's terms and work with them to create a new constitution – otherwise, he might see himself headed for the gallows as a deposed king. Although his court was outraged, Louis accepted Necker's advice and crafted a constitutional monarchy in France that resembled the one in Britain, keeping some small powers, as well as considerable wealth, for himself while doling out most governmental powers to the National Assembly. The other Estates-General, which represented the nobles and the clergy, protested at their own diminishment, but when the National Assembly threatened to abolish them completely, came back into line. This spirit of compromise has allowed France to maintain its powerless but decorative noble classes and royalty to the present day, while letting the common classes run the country efficiently.

in 1863, internal strife within Virginia led to a civil war within the civil war – loyal Unionists in the western part of the state, who had been suppressed and cajoled into joining the Confederacy when Virginia seceded in 1861, erupted into open rebellion against the Confederate government. The west Virginians had always been resentful of their eastern neighbors, and had never been an area conducive to the plantations that held most of the state's slaves. These differences with the east boiled up into war meetings across the mountains, and they became a steady sieve of information to the Union. When the Richmond government attempted to send troops to settle them down, the westerners took up arms and attacked the easterners. CSA President Jefferson Davis moved the capital back to Montgomery, Alabama out of fear that the war in Virginia would reach Richmond. General Robert E. Lee, who had pledged himself to the Confederate cause solely because Virginia had joined it, abandoned the CSA and joined the westerners, providing them with excellent leadership and organization against their more numerous eastern foes. The United States exploited the chaos in Virginia by encouraging loyalist factions throughout the former states to rise up in rebellion against their governments, which many did. Alabama itself split in two, with the pro-Union north fighting the south; Arkansas mirrored this situation, and Texas was convulsed by numerous factions within itself that fought for Union, Confederacy, independence and even a reunion with Mexico. By the end of the year, what had been the Confederate States of America was a handful of plantation owners seeking to keep their less affluent citizens in line and failing miserably. Throughout 1864, state after state rejoined the US in order to quell the disorder and save themselves from the chaos that they lay squarely at the feet of the southern elites.

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