RCH: Calvin Coolidge

I took on Calvin Coolidge this week. My Tuesday column dealt with Coolidge and his use of the radio, while this weekend’s column argues why you should love him:

2. Immigration. At odds with the rest of his anti-racist administration, Coolidge’s immigration policy was his weakest link. Although he was not opposed to immigration personally, and although he used the bully pulpit to speak out in favor of treating immigrants with respect and dignity, Coolidge was a party man, and the GOP was the party of immigration quotas in the 1920s. Reluctantly, and with public reservations, Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924, which significantly limited immigration into the United States up until the mid-1960s, when new legislation overturned the law.

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RCH: MacArthur’s battles

That’s the subject of my weekend column over at RealClearHistory. There’s not a whole lot of information out there about Douglas MacArthur’s battle history, so it’s gotten a lot of attention. I think most people avoid writing about MacArthur because he’s such a polarizing figure. At any rate, here’s an excerpt:

8. Battle of Chosin Reservoir (Nov.-Dec. 1950). Fought on the Korean Peninsula, take a quick moment to reflect on the rapid, violent change that catapulted the United States from regional hegemon in 1914 to world power less than half a century later. And MacArthur served in the military throughout the whole change. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir decisively ended MacArthur’s plans for reuniting Korea under one banner and established the two-country situation of the Korean Peninsula found today. One hundred and twenty thousand Chinese troops pushed 30,000 American, Korean, and British troops out of what is now North Korea and changed the trajectory of the Korean War once and for all. It also led to MacArthur’s political downfall, as his increasingly public calls to attack China’s coastline (with atomic bombs) angered Washington and eventually led Truman to dismiss MacArthur.

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RCH: MacArthur’s rule over Japan

That’s the subject of my latest over at RealClearHistory. An excerpt:

The relative graciousness of the American occupation of Japan led to the most peaceful and prosperous era in Japanese history. MacArthur’s governing strategy for a conquered people was so successful that it was aped by Washington in 2001 and 2003 when the United States invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. What went wrong? You could write a dissertation trying to answer that question, but the most straightforward answer is that Iraq and Afghanistan were not conquered. The governments of Kabul and Baghdad never officially surrendered to Washington, and they never really had the capacity to wage war the way that Japan was able to wage war on the United States.

As always, I appreciate the clicks…

RCH: Annexation of the Hawaiian islands

That’s the topic of my latest over at RealClearHistory. An excerpt:

That is to say, there are theoretical lessons we can draw from the American annexation of Hawaii and apply them to today’s world. The old Anglo-Dutch playbook turned out to serve American imperial interests well, especially when contrasted with the disastrous Spanish-American War of 1898, when the United States seized the Philippines, Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico from Spain in an unwarranted act of aggression. Hawaii, now an American state, has one of the highest standards of living in the world (including for its indigenous and Japanese citizens), while the territories seized by the U.S. from Spain continue to wallow in relative poverty and autocratic governance.

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RCH: Cassius Clay as the “greatest American” of the 20th century

My latest at RealClearHistory:

It was also the heyday of the Cold War, a nearly 50-year struggle for power between the liberal-capitalist United States and the socialist Soviet Union. The struggle was real (as the kids say today). The United States and its allies were losing, too, at least in the realm of ideas. The Soviet Union was funding groups that would today be considered progressive — anti-racist and anti-capitalist — around the world. One of the sticks that Moscow used to beat the West with was racism in the United States, especially in the officially segregated South.

It is doubtful that most of the African-American groups who took part in the struggle for liberty were funded, or even indirectly influenced by Soviet propaganda. The clear, powerful contrast between black and white in the United States was enough for most African-Americans to take part in the Civil Rights revolution. Yet Soviet propaganda still pestered Washington, and Moscow wasn’t wrong.

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RCH: Five facts about Emancipation Proclamation

That’s the subject of my weekend column over at RealClearHistory. An excerpt:

4. The Confederacy was, for all intents and purposes, an independent country. When Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Confederacy had long since declared independence from the United States and set up a federal government of its own. Montgomery, Ala. acted as its capital city until 1861, when the Confederacy’s government moved to Richmond, Va. Lincoln viewed Richmond’s diplomacy with the British and French as the most dangerous element of the Confederacy’s secession. If Richmond could somehow manage to get a world power on its side, the consequences for the future of the republic would be dire. For London and Paris, the calculations were a bit different. If either one joined the side of the Confederacy, the other would officially join the north and a global war could ensue. The Confederacy lobbied especially hard for the British to fight on their side, but there was one issue London’s hawks, the factions that wanted a war with Washington, couldn’t get past.

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My son is being born right about now (I scheduled this post). I hope everything goes well (it’s a c-section). Wish me luck!

RCH: Crazy Horse’s last battle

I’m back at it over at RealClearHistory. An excerpt:

When the Indian wars were underway, the battles were characterized as two very different peoples fighting against each other. Today, this view is still espoused, but the logic underneath has changed. Today, the American Indian fighting the American soldier has come to be viewed as more of a civil war than a clash of civilizations. The Native Americans are deeply intertwined in our culture, our history. As historical research gets better, thanks in part to the fact that our society continues to get wealthier and wealthier, the indigenous actors who helped shape American history receive more attention, empirically and theoretically.

Crazy Horse’s last battle in Montana against the U.S. Army highlights this civil war better than most. The Sioux and Cheyenne were not being pursued to be eliminated, but to be domesticated and transformed, by a benevolent government with the best of intentions, into American citizens.

Please, read the rest.