The Steam Engine – Invention of the Industrial Revolution


In our History class we have been studying the Industrial Revolution, so our teacher, Lenny, asked us to choose an invention of the revolution, carry out research on it and prepare a presentation. I chose the steam engine created by James Watt.

The steam engine converts the energy from the steam into mechanical force that can be used to power things. This is done thanks to a boiler full of water that heats up to make steam, which goes through a cylinder causing the piston to move first one way and then another. This can be seen in the gif in Infographic 1.

 

Infographic 1Infographic 2

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Essay on Causes of the French Revoluion

This is an essay I made that we were asked to write on the causes of the French Revolution:

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“Starvation was the main cause leading to the storming of the Bastille.” Discuss.

The following essay will develop whether starvation was the main cause leading to the storming of the Bastille.

Firstly, the people felt unheard and treated as inferiors by the king and the First and Second Estate. The storming of the Bastille was a call for attention. At the Estates General, even though the different social classes were able to agree on some terms, many other agreements couldn’t be reached such as the privileges connected to taxation. This angered the Third Estate since at the gathering, one of their objectives was to make this part of the system more fair. Nonetheless, the king’s objective was just the opposite. He summoned the meeting to get approval for a raise in taxes. Therefore, even though the Third Estate was made up of ninety-eight percent of the population, voting was by estate instead of head, which meant that with the clergy and nobility siding, there was no way their wishes would be granted as they wouldn’t give up what benefited them. As a result the National Assembly was formed and started meeting at a different hall. But to make matters worse, Louis XVI ordered to have it locked. This proved his egocentrism and his interest in only his own benefit which caused people to realise that if they wanted to be really heard and taken seriously, they would have to take more extreme measures.  Initially, they didn’t even want to overthrow the monarchy, they just wanted their wishes and complaints to be taken into account, but since they didn’t see this happening in the near future, they decided to take matters into their own hands and make a powerful statement by storming into the Bastille.

Secondly, the complaints about the differences in the social system, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, were a cause of people’s discontent as well. There was a huge difference between the average economical position of the people that integrated the Third Estate and the people that integrated the First and Second Estate. The peasants, the bourgeoisie and the artisans were the ones that had to pay taxes, while the clergy gained money by collecting the taxes, and in many cases stealing money, and the nobility gained money by collecting the rent. Considering the agricultural and financial crisis, that we will get into later on, hardship ruled mainly among the lower class. This is why the people started demanding action from the king to be taken and, most importantly, change. There was a great desire of equality and justice. It seemed like a joke that while some people could barely afford to have a roof over their heads, others were roaming around their gigantic castles.

Third of all, as said in Khan Academy’s video: “you can never underestimate what people are willing to do when they are actually hungry”. Starvation became a very big problem for France, but what made it even worse was that the people that suffered from this, were the ones who had to pay the taxes to the ones that were living the luxurious lives. So this adds up to the cause mentioned afore. There was a notable inequality between the Estates which the Third Estate brought up at the Estates General, but were ignored because of the egocentrism of the powerful figures in France, which, again, as mentioned before, caused fury to build up.

Fourth of all, the monarchs’ attitude and poor decision making was what got the people to get fed up. Louis XVI didn’t have a very powerful nor imposing enough personality to defend his position or his beliefs, and it did not help that his wife was spending all of France’s funds while people were lying on the streets begging for food. This angered people and caused them to lose the love and respect they had for their rulers, which the Jacobins took advantage of later on when convincing them that the monarchy should be abolished.

Fifth of all, the rivalry with Great Britain brought France down a spiral hole. This constant competition of trying to be the world power and bringing each other down got France to take part in two conflicts that drained her economically. Both the Seven Years War, which was fought mainly by these two major powers, and the American Revolution, which the French joined to support the Americans to weaken their coloniser, cost France a lot since it got her to lose her position as the world power and it got her to have many debts. As a response to this financial crisis, Louis XVI, decided to raise the taxes which, added to the problems with the crops, eventually led to the starvation of the people and to the building up of anger of the Third Estate, as mentioned before, because of taxation.

Finally, even though historians debate whether it was an actual cause of the revolution or not, during the Enlightenment a mentality very similar to the one of the French at this time emerged. Philosophers came up with new ways of thinking connected to the ideas of criticism, science and reason. For instance, people started thinking that God wasn’t the answer to everything nor the center of the universe, which is connected to the French not giving that much importance to the fact that the king was supposed to have the divine right to rule and had been sent directly by God. They were now criticising his decisions and demanding change from him.

All in all, the causes mentioned last are at the same time causes for the ones mentioned before them. Hence why the discontent of, mainly, the Third Estate is considered the main cause that led to the breaking in of the prison. Because the discontent was inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment and caused by the unjust social division, by the starvation, by the monarch’s attitude and poor-decision making which was represented in the rivalry with Great Britain.

The Berlin Blockade – Images

Since we are studying the Berlin Blockade in our History class, in order to have a better image of what life was like during this time in Berlin, I looked up some images in Pinterest.

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This, Tempelhof, was one of the main hubs from where the city received its supplies.

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“The Berlin Blockade (…) caused shortages of food requiring the Berlin population to grow their own fruits and vegetables”.

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The Berlin Blockade

Below are a series of videos to help us understand better what the Berlin Blockade was, why it was caused, and what consequences it had.

 

After watching the following videos, we were asked to complete the graph:

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And answer the questions below:

1. What was life like in Berlin in the post-war era?

In the third video it is described since the gas and electric supplies were cut, the people in Western Berlin were facing a very hard winter. They had to get used to cooking slowly and to candle light as “the russian blockade brought darkness to the city”. In addition, the people were running out of medical supplies.

2. How did Soviet policy towards Berlin differ from that of the West?

There were different governments. West Berlin was capitalist while East Berlin was communist. Moreover, Stalin wanted his the Soviet part of Berlin to be crippled wheareas wanted their part to have an econimic recovery. In the East, rebuilding had hardly got underway. Everything was Russian. They would only allow one brand of each product to be sold, no publicity was allowed, all the cars were the same, as were the buildings.

3. Why was reform of the German currency a key issue for both sides?

Because the USA wanted to replace the inflated war time currency with a more stable one which the Soviets saw as a provocative move since they wanted to introduce their own currency.

4. Why was the airlift such a major feat?

Because it consisted of 500 flights and 5000 tons a day for almost a full year despite the weather and accidents. In addition, the pilots had to keep exact timing and speed becuase there was another aircraft 30 seconds ahead of them at the same level.

5. In what respect can the USSR and US be responsible for further increasing tensions during the airlift?

The airlift created an atmosphere of uncertainty as the Soviets could never be sure if the aircrafts were overflying to drop goods or to bombard. Therefore this made both countries be suspicious of one another.

6. Why did Stalin eventually agree to talks over the airlift?

Because he had his own problems and was in no position to fight.

Extension question:

Who was more to blame for Berlin becoming a major flashpoint in the Cold War, the Soviets or the Americans?

They were both to blame because the Soviets closed all roads into West Berlin, which wasn’t under their control,  soit could be seen as a threatening action and the Americans because their aircrafts overflying East Germany was very dangerous because the USSR couldn’t tell if they were going to bombard or drop goods.

The Yalta & Potsdam Conferences

After answering the questions of the previous post on the Yalta and Potsdam Conference, we analysed them both in class and made the following slideshare:

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Why had the agreements at Yalta been relatively easy to reach while Potsdam had mainly disagreements?

  • There was a change of president in USA. During Yalta, Roosevelt was part of the Big Three, while at Potsdam, Truman replaced the former president.
  • At Yalta, the Sphere of Influence was just an ‘idea/concept/theory’. In Potsdam it became true. This meant that many eastern european countries were under soviet control.
  • At Yalta, the war had not ended, therefore USA and the USSR still had a common enemy, Japan. Whereas at Potsdam it had ended, and in the absence of a common enemy, soviet fear becam real.
  • At Potsdam, Churchill was replaced by Atlee so the tension between USA and the USSR grew.
  • Threat of nuclear power on the side of the US meant tension for the USSR.

How far were the disagreements at Potsdam to blame for the start of the Cold War?

The Outbreak of The Cold War

In our History class, we finished studying the Second World War, and so we moved onto our next topic: The Cold War.

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Our teacher, Lenny, created a post in her blog where we had to look at the following slideshare and answer the questions on the third slide.

1. Why did the wartime alliance fall apart?

USA and the USSR had allied against Facism, but once it was defeated, the reason for co-operation was gone and their differences started emerging.

2. What were the major differences between the superpowers?

The main difference between these major powers was that the USA was capitalist and the USSR was communist. The last one was still resentful about Great Britain and USA trying to stop the Russian Revolution in 1917, about the Red Scare in the 1920s and about not being given enough help during WW2, according to them. On the other hand, the Americans were also bitter because Stalin had signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Germany. Another difference between these two, was that the European/Asian country, suffered many more casualties and deaths during WW2 while the other one, although it still suffered a lot of deaths, wasn’t as affected.

Its leaders also had different objectives. Stalin wanted Germany to pay huge reparations and wanted a buffer of friendly states to protect the USSR from being invaded again. While USA, with Britain, wanted to protect democracy, to help Germany recover and was afraid that large areas of Eastern Europe could fall under Soviet Control.

3. Explain the importance of Yalta and Potsdam conferneces.

The aims of these conferences were to discuss the future, discuss what to do with the German leaders after the war, what would happen to the occupied countries after liberation, how to end the war with Japan and how to build long lasting peace.

Later on, we analysed the confernce in class and did this slideshare:

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We also analysed the following questions.

Why had the agreements at Yalta been relatively easy to reach while Potsdam had mainly disagreements?

  • There was a change of president in USA. During Yalta, Roosevelt was part of the Big Three, while at Potsdam, Truman replaced the former president.
  • At Yalta, the Sphere of Influence was just an ‘idea/concept/theory’. In Potsdam it became true. This meant that many eastern european countries were under soviet control.
  • At Yalta, the war had not ended, therefore USA and the USSR still had a common enemy, Japan. Whereas at Potsdam it had ended, and in the absence of a common enemy, soviet fear becam real.
  • At Potsdam, Churchill was replaced by Atlee so the tension between USA and the USSR grew.
  • Threat of nuclear power on the side of the US meant tension for the USSR.

How far were the disagreements at Potsdam to blame for the start of the Cold War?

On The Verge of War

We have already gone into the short term causes of WW2 and we have also analysed the failures of the League in the 1930s in our History class.

Before we study the war itself, we shall work on some of the protagonists of the conflicts of the League before the start of WW2.

Our teacher, Lenny made groups for us to work with to prepare a fakebook of one of these famous political figures. I worked on Hitler with Jose, Juan and Pancho.

FAKEBOOK.

She also told us to watch the following meograph called “Hitler’s Road to WW2” made by some of the people currently in Senior 5.

The explanation of the causes of WW2 were very good and very clear. Although I did think that there were some points missing.

When Rearmament was discussed, they could’ve included the excuse that Hitler gave, which was to fight unemployement, and Britain’s reaction that was that she believed that the limits put on Germany’s army by the Treaty had been too harsh and that a strong Germany would make a good buffer against communism.

As regards the Rhineland, also the excuse Hitler gave is missing which was to protect Germany as she felt under threat because of the treaty that France signed with USSR.

On the Anschuluss, what happened, meaning how the event went and what Hitler did and Britain’s response.

While talking about the Sudetenland, I think it would have been helpful if they talked about the actions of Britain and France, what Hitler claimed and again, Britain’s response.

And finally, as regards the Nazi – Soviet Pact, in my opinion they didn’t really talk about what it consisted on.

 

 

The Manchuria Crisis

We have started working on our new topic for this year in History, The League of Nations in the 1930s.

Our teacher, Lenny, asked us to watch a video and answer the following questions.

 

1. How does the video open? What might the connection between the League and the opening scenes in Poland be?

The video starts by saying how the League had failed at mantaining peace, enforcing disarmament and establishing stability. The opening scenes show Hitler’s SS taking over Poland which was the start of the Second World War as Germany and the USSR, in a secret agreement in the Nazi-Soviet Pact, stated that they would attack and divide Poland.

2. What problems did Japan face? (Mention ALL of them)

The problems were that its population was booming which meant more than a million mouths to feed, she was an isolated country that needed to open up trade to get materials, it had no natural resources (agricultural failure) to exploit on its own, there was very high unemployement, it was very affected by the depression and it relied on international networks to import its goods.

3. What was the role of the army in Japan?

Step by step, Japan started being under the control of the military. The army was first, and the polititians second. The army controlled the education, they made learning martial arts compulsory.

4. What did army leaders believe Japan needed?

They thought that expanding towards eastern Asia would benefit the empire as they would get natural resources and more land for its very large population.

5. What was the value of Manchuria?

It was rich in resources that the Japanese desperately needed for their economy, it meant more land for its population and they thought it was perfect for the “elimination of the Chinese subhuman race”.

6. What happened at Mudken?

There was an explosion of a Japanese railway in Mukden, China, which was planned by themselves but blamed on the Chinese since they wanted everyone to believe that China was out of control and that they needed to intervene since they wanted and excuse to attack Manchuria.

7. What did the League do about it?

The League consulted the Japanese ambassador in Geneva.

8. What was Japan’s reaction to the decision of the League?

They thought it was impossible to accept what the report stated and decided to leave the League.