Back to Windows 7–And Glad of it!

For those who did not read my previous message, a week ago I took the big step a lot of people have been doing recently, and upgraded my computer from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  What a disaster that was!  The new software did not work, because it could not access the Internet.  While the computer ran somewhat smoother than it did on Windows 7 + umpteen clunky updates, I lost more than I gained.  Some of my favorite programs no longer worked, Windows 10 doesn’t like my default browser (Opera), and every time I loaded a Microsoft Office 2010 program, Windows tried to reinstall it.  Office 2010!  You’d think that Windows would be compatible with another program from the same company that is less than ten years old, right?

So on Wednesday I tried to roll the computer back to Windows 7, like Windows 10 said I could do during the first thirty days.  No such luck.  After more hours on the phone with technical support, we decided to use my emergency backup DVDs and re-format the hard drive.  For those of you not familiar with computer terminology, this means I erased all the files my computer has accumulated since I bought it, five years ago.  Everything.  Therefore when I got done, my computer was exactly the same as it was back in August 2010; if it could talk, it would probably be waking up now and saying, "What an awful dream!"

Of course a lot of the files cleared off were accumulated junk, so overall it is now running better.  Almost as good as when it was new, in fact.  Since Wednesday I have been re-configuring everything for my purposes, deciding what programs and files to put back on (all the documents, pictures, etc. that I considered important were saved to external hard drives).  This morning, for example, I got the scanner to work again, so the main item left to fix is the Pogoplug device, which makes one of my hard drives part of the so-called Internet “Cloud.”

Overall, I’d say that someday Windows 10 will work right for users, but for now it is not ready for public consumption.  And I’m not going to wait until Microsoft gets the bugs out of it; I already lost half a week of my life, dealing with it as is.

Published in: on August 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Windows 10–Don’t Make the Switch Yet

In a follow-up to last month’s news, my brother Chris found free cemetery space for both of our parents.  It turns out there is a fairly new (opened 2009) veteran’s cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville National Cemetery.  Because Dad was in the Navy during the Korean War years, it costs nothing to put Mom and Dad’s urns there.  Therefore last Friday, Chris took the urns to the cemetery, bringing the family closure on that issue.

The other reason why we settled on Jacksonville is location – both Chris and my daughter Lindy can get there in about three hours of driving.  In Kentucky there is a military cemetery about 25 miles south of us, called Camp Nelson, but most of the other burials there go back to the Civil War era, and it won’t be a convenient visit for anyone in my family, if Leive and I move out of Kentucky.

I have been looking forward to having a computer that runs Windows 10 because the PC I have now is five years old, and after all the updates it has taken for Windows 7, it is quite slow and cumbersome.  Therefore, I accepted the offer Microsoft announced a couple months ago for a free upgrade.  Last Sunday I received a message saying it was my turn to download Windows 10.  After letting my computer download and install updates for all of Sunday, it turned out the updates I got were for Windows 7, probably irrelevant.  Then the Windows 10 material came in on Monday.  So what did my computer get?

Well, so far the upgrade experience has turned out to be a waste of time. None of the new software can access the Internet, making the Store and the Edge browser useless. In addition it is incompatible with the old browser that still works (Opera), the new music player is ugly and buggy compared with Windows Media Player, the weather app insists that I am in Washington, DC, and so far I have found out that three of my programs no longer work.  One of them is the webpage editor that I have used since 1999, so to continue writing material for my websites, I’ll have to install and learn to use a new HTML editor.

The only advantage I have seen is that aside from a few required restarts, my computer no longer locks up or crashes.  Still, it may not be worth all the other trouble.  Last night I was up past 1 AM with technical support, trying to get the Internet connection problem fixed.  If I can’t solve this soon, I’m going back to Windows 7.  And if I need to buy a new computer this year, I’ll look for one that still has Windows 7 on it.

Published in: on August 18, 2015 at 8:05 pm  Comments (1)  

The South Sea Bubble

Nearly four years ago, I posted a message about the Darien Scheme, an unsuccessful attempt by Scotland to colonize Panama (see my message from August 29, 2011).  Then yesterday I read an article listing the worst investments of all time, and it reminded me that until now I have not written about one which was distantly tied in with Latin American history – the 1720 South Sea Bubble.  The action took place in London, England, but it involved trade with Latin America, and the person who thought up the Darien Scheme may have thought this one up, too, so I am adding this to the section on Darien, in Chapter 3 of my Latin American HistoryHere is how the new addition (not the band called the New Edition!) will read:


Meanwhile, the European wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries taught the British that it was safer to take colonies overseas, especially small islands, than it was to occupy a territory on the Continent. Limiting their landholdings on the European mainland meant they could sit out the frequent conflicts there, if they chose to do so.  Overseas colonies could also be more profitable, if defended and managed right. Accordingly, in the Treaty of Utrecht, one of the things the British asked for, and got, was the French half of the island of St. Kitts. They also won the right to sell up to 4,800 slaves and 500 tons of cargo per year in the Spanish colonies, something they probably considered more important than the land they gained.

The British wanted trading rights because wars are expensive, and they had run up some big debts during the War of the Spanish Succession. By 1711 the national debt was estimated at £9 million; the government staged lotteries and sold tickets to citizens looking for a chance to win prizes, but this only raised a fraction of the money needed to pay down the debt. Then the idea came up of floating a company that would assume at least part of the debt. In return this company, called the South Sea Company, would be given the right to trade in Latin America and the Caribbean, once the Spanish colonies opened up to non-Spanish merchants. The government would also give the company an annual annuity, worth 6 percent of the debt it took on, and this annuity was distributed to the shareholders as a dividend. We don’t know who thought of the South Sea Company first; some historians think it was Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe; others think it was William Paterson, the same fellow who gave us the Darien Scheme. If it was Paterson, this shows us that Great Britain did not learn anything from Scotland’s experience in Panama.

The trade rights granted by the Treaty of Utrecht were much less than what the South Sea Company had expected, meaning its ability to make a profit legally would be limited. Nevertheless, many saw great potential in Latin America, and persuaded themselves that the company was another Dutch West India Company; once Latin American colonists tried British-made products, the profits would pour in. When the company issued its first shares of stock, investors bought them eagerly. The first voyage by a company ship in 1717 only brought a moderate return, but then King George I became governor of the company in the following year, boosting investor confidence again. By 1720 the company was doing so well that it offered to take over the entire national debt, and Parliament accepted the proposal.

What Parliament did not realize was that the company was experiencing its first cash flow problem; it did not have enough money to pay the Christmas 1719 dividend, and it informed shareholders that payment would be delayed twelve months. Since it would take too long to get the money by expanding trade, Company executives tried bidding up the value of their stock. In January 1720, company shares were trading at £128, and had not changed much for a while. Back then one pound (£1) was worth about $400 in today’s dollars, so if you do the math, you will see why the stock wasn’t selling very fast.

When the company executives told wild stories about the wealth of the lands beyond the "South Sea," how Latin America was loaded with gold and silver that the company would eventually bring to Europe, this caused a buying frenzy, now called the South Sea Bubble, that drove up the value of the stock, to £175 in February, £330 in March, £550 at the end of May, and at the peak in August, around £1,000 a share. Politicians were offered a chance to buy shares at pre-bubble prices, allowing them to make a profit when they sold the shares later. The big bubble also led to the appearance of little bubbles, as swindlers went to investors who missed out on the company stock and offered them absurd get-rich-quick schemes that were limited only by imagination. The proposals put forth by these "companies" ranged from making better soap, to importing walnut trees from Virginia, to cannon that fired square cannonballs. Probably the cleverest and craziest proposal got investors to put down money "for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage; but nobody to know what it is."

Well, what goes up must come down. When those running the South Sea Company realized that their personal shares were worth many times as much as the company itself, they sold their stock, hoping that if they kept this move secret, the company would continue to do all right without them. Instead, word of them cutting and running got out, a panic selling replaced the frenzied buying, and share prices instantly collapsed; prices fell to £175 by the end of September, and £124 by December. Those who got in after the bubble started swelling were financially ruined when the bubble burst, especially those who had borrowed money to purchase shares. Among the losers was the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton, who lost £20,000 (worth probably $8 million today) and remarked, "I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men."

The House of Commons conducted an investigation in 1721, which found plenty of deceit and corruption; at least three government ministers had taken bribes from the company. The prosecution of those officials and the company managers followed. The South Sea Company stayed in business until 1853, but its stock was given to two real moneymakers, the Bank of England and the British East India Company, and it sold most of its rights to the Spanish government in 1750. Finally, the British government outlawed the issuing of stock certificates, and that law stayed on the books until 1825.


Published in: on August 12, 2015 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mt. Pelée Kills St. Pierre

Back in 2013, when I composed Chapter 5 of the Latin American history project for The Xenophile Historian, I forgot to write about the disaster that struck Martinique in 1902.  Then when I remembered it recently, there wasn’t an appropriate place in the chapter to add it, even among the footnotes.  Therefore I just created a new section early in the chapter for it.  Here is how it reads:


While the Americans were turning Cuba loose, the worst volcanic disaster of the twentieth century struck in the Caribbean, on the French-ruled island of Martinique. Mt. Pelée, the volcano on the north side of Martinique, had shown it was active by erupting in the past, but those were minor eruptions, not big enough to prevent the nearby building of Martinique’s largest town, St. Pierre. When more minor eruptions and earthquakes occurred in early 1902, the island government told everyone St. Pierre was safe, and urged the residents to stay so they could vote in the elections scheduled for May 11; the governor even sent troops to the road going between St. Pierre and Fort-de-France, to turn back refugees trying to escape to the latter town. The election never happened, because the big eruption came on May 8, 1902; a pyroclastic flow (a large black cloud of superheated gas, ash and rock) rolled straight down the mountain at more than 100 miles per hour, destroying every building in St. Pierre in just one minute. A second eruption on May 20 wiped out what was left, including the two thousand rescue workers who had arrived by that time. St. Pierre has not recovered since then; whereas the population was an estimated 28,000-30,000 right before the May 8 eruption, the community on that spot today has only 4,544 people (2004 census).

Quite a few Romans managed to flee from the famous first-century eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, but Mt. Pelée’s first major eruption left only two survivors. One, a young shoemaker named Léon Compere-Léandre, was badly burned in his house, but because he was in better-than-average health, managed to run out of town and stay alive. The other was a prison inmate, Ludger Sylbaris (Louis-Auguste Cyparis in some texts), who had been put in solitary confinement for getting into a barfight or street brawl the night before the big eruption. His poorly ventilated cell was the only real underground shelter in town, and that saved his life, though he suffered burns as well. Four days later, rescuers heard him crying for help, and got him out of the ruined prison. Sylbaris was subsequently pardoned and went on to join the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, becoming the first black man to star in that show, as "the man who lived through Doomsday."



Published in: on August 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm  Comments (1)  

In Memory of Charles Burton Kimball

Chuck Kimball

June 3, 1933 – July 11, 2015

My father passed away around 6:20 AM Saturday.  The whole family knew it would happen soon, and we are relieved that his long time of suffering is finally ended.  Of course it still hurts, though.  May we meet again on the other side.

Mr. Kimball’s departure marks the end of an era for my family.  Except for a few uncles and aunts, the generations preceding Leive and I are now gone.  I will always be thankful for all that he did to help the rest of us (I don’t think I can list all the ways), for teaching his kids the difference between right and wrong, and directing us down the straight & narrow path.  We’ll also cherish the memories of fond times.  One comes to mind now:  when I was ten years old, he took me to Cape Canaveral so I could see the Apollo 11 rocket on the launching pad, one month before it went to the moon.

Currently we are planning to hold a memorial service here in Kentucky next Thursday, and since most of the people he knew are in central Florida, we’ll hold another service there at a later date (not yet specified).  My brother wrote the obituary that will be appearing this week in The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Orlando Sentinel.  I’ll share a draft of it here because it gives his life story in better words than I could write:


Mr. Charles “Chuck” Kimball passed away on July 11, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky, at the age of 82 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was a resident of Winter Park, Florida, for 46 years.

Mr. Kimball was born in Fair Lawn New Jersey, in 1933. Working at both a veterinarian and gas station in his youth, he developed both a love and care for animals, and a skill at auto repair; both of which he would practice his entire life. Upon graduating high school, he joined the Navy and served during the Korean War. Afterwards, he attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, where he met his wife Linda. He graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and was also the founding President of the Central California Chapter of the American Rocket Society, and made the front page of the Los Angeles Times by launching his own rocket before Sputnik was launched. He was a pioneer in US rockets and flight simulators, and an aerospace engineer for 43 years. He worked various jobs in rocket testing and design; aircraft and helicopter maintenance and training. He worked for Igor Sikorski and was responsible for the repair and maintenance of President Johnson’s fleet of ten helicopters. He also studied law at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In 1966 he moved Winter Park, Florida, and would work the next 30 years for the Naval Training and Equipment Center, retiring in 1997. He was in charge of procurement and design for aircraft training devices and flight simulators to train Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Army pilots. He built flight training devices for the US Navy all over the world, including the “Top Gun” Naval flight school in Miramar, California. He had a number of patents including the “Air Cushion Proprioceptive Motion System” of a flight simulator on an air motion system.

Chuck earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Rollins College, which led him to be a founding partner in Micrad Electronics in Orlando in 1970, where he sold and repaired microwave ovens; one of the first to do so in the country at the time.

During many years, Chuck and his wife Linda volunteered at church and for numerous charitable organizations, and were loved and admired by many. Chuck was an officer for Wycliffe Associates’ Orlando Chapter, and a volunteer for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Chuck and Linda were last active at Community United Methodist Church in Casselberry through many of the community projects that the church did. Chuck’s declining health required much attention, so in 2012, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, to be under the care of his son and daughter-in-law. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, a grand-daughter, and great-grand-daughter.

Chuck was fair and honest to all, and always kind. He would like to be remembered as a born-again spirit-filled Christian, who loved the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; a fine husband, father, & grandfather.


Published in: on July 12, 2015 at 11:20 pm  Comments (2)  

The Dahomey Amazons

Over the years I have come to believe that pages on my websites should have a maximum size, and if that size is exceeded, the page becomes cumbersome.  Then the page can take a long time to load in slow browsers, Internet search engines find them a challenge to index, and no visitor to the website will have the attention span to read the whole page in one sitting.  Back in the early years of The Xenophile Historian, I put that page size limit at 75 KB; more recently the limit has been 120 KB.

For the new pages I have written in the past decade, I have used that size to determine which pages will be uploaded in one piece (not counting pictures), and which will be divided into more than one part before uploading.  So far the largest page to get that treatment was the last chapter of my Latin American history project; it went up on the site in seven parts.

Recently it occurred to me that some of my African history pages were big enough to divide when I first uploaded them, but I didn’t.  One of those pages is Chapter 6, which covers African history from 1415 to 1795 A.D.  This was the period when Europeans explored the coast of Africa, but across most of the continent they weren’t ready to go into the interior, so the African kingdoms were still going strong.  Well, that page took up 180 KB, so last week I divided the chapter in two; here is how it is now organized:

Chapter 6: The Forest Kingdoms

1415 to 1795
Part I

Prince Henry’s Captains

The Way to the Orient


Kongo and the Rise of Modern Slavery

Mwene Mutapa

Cross vs. Crescent: The Indian Ocean and East Africa

Cross vs. Crescent: The Mediterranean Front and the Maghreb

Morocco and the Sahel Out of Balance

Part II

East African Tribal Migrations

Dutch, French, English and Omani Intruders


Oyo and Dahomey


Luba, Lunda and Kuba

The Barbary States

The Cape Colony

Madagascar Coalesces

The Effects of the Slave Trade on Population

The other change that I made to the chapter was to elaborate on one subject:  the warriors of the kingdom of Dahomey (in present-day Benin).  Previously I casually mentioned that Dahomey employed female warriors, in this paragraph:

The two kings following Dakpodunu turned away slave raids from Allada, defeated two invasions from Oyo (1680 & 1698), and found time to increase the size of the kingdom to forty towns. The next king, Agaja (1708-32), did even better, conquering Allada in 1724 and Whydah (also spelled Ouidah), the French-built port on the coast, in 1727. Today Agaja is mainly known for creating a female royal bodyguard, arming them with muskets and machetes; Europeans nicknamed these warriors the “Dahomey Amazons.”  However, he met his match in Gberu, the king of Oyo. From 1726 to 1730 Oyo invaded almost every year during the dry season, until Agaja agreed to pay an annual tribute. This tributary status lasted until 1818, but Dahomey continued to expand and prosper, first because of the slave trade, and later by exporting palm oil, an essential ingredient of soap, from large plantations.

This month I read an article on the Dahomey Amazons, so I added two footnotes to include what I learned.  Here is the one in Chapter 6:

A previous king, Wegbaja (1650?-1680?) recruited women to hunt elephants. Agaja put women in his army because he was impressed by his father’s huntresses and because wars and slave raids had caused a shortage of men. While some women joined willingly, there are also reports of wives being drafted into the unit if their husbands complained to the king about their behavior. I wish someone would explain to me how turning the wife into a killing machine was considered the solution for a troubled marriage. It reminds me of the gun shop that put an ad on the Internet saying, “We provide quick solutions for women in spousal abuse situations.”

Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh, a leader of the Amazons in 1851. If her husband complained about her cooking, I’m sure he only did it once!
Wikimedia Commons.

While in the army, Dahomeyan women were not permitted to have children or marry — children would get in the way of their duties and the women were considered married to the king — but since the king did not actually have sex with them, many Amazons were virgins. They were also given a grueling physical training that was tougher than what the male soldiers endured. During wartime their motto was, “Whatever the town to be attacked, we will conquer or bury ourselves in its ruins.” Any Amazon that fled from battle without being ordered by the king to withdraw was executed on the spot. In return for the strict discipline they had to live under, the Amazons were given extraordinary privileges for women in those days: they were allowed to have alcohol, tobacco, and as many as fifty slaves. They were considered better warriors than the men even when defeated, and the king revered them so much that the penalty for touching an Amazon was death.

Incidentally, after Haiti became independent in 1804, the Haitian emperor, Henri Christophe, hired (male) palace guards from Dahomey.

Now since this military unit lasted until 1894, I put the other footnote in the next chapter.  Quote:

Because Dahomey faced a serious challenge in the mid-nineteenth century from the Yoruba, a much larger tribe, the Dahomeyan kings enlarged the Amazon Corps from 800 warrior women to 6,000 — roughly half the size of the whole Dahomeyan army. The trouble with the French started when Dahomey attacked a village that happened to be a French protectorate. The Amazons found the chief of the village in his palace, holding a French tricolor flag, and shouting, “This will protect me!” Sure it did; on the Dahomeyan general’s command, the Amazons beheaded the chief and took his head to their king, wrapped in the flag. But when the French armed forces arrived the Dahomeyans found that even they could not beat a modern army. The Amazons were armed mainly with their traditional muskets and machetes, while the French had a gunboat to bombard the enemy, plus gatling guns and the latest rifles. Over the course of twenty-four battles (many fought hand-to-hand), superior firepower decided it for the French.

It is said that 1,500 Amazons took part in the last battles against the French, and 50 were still able to fight at the end of it all. Needless to say, the Amazon corps was disbanded when the French took over. Of the survivors, we believe the last was a woman named Nawi. She had plenty of memories about fighting the French in the 1890s, so when she died in 1979, she had to be more than a century old.

Unquote:  Who was it who referred to women as “the weaker sex?”

Published in: on June 28, 2015 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Travel Broadens the Mind, Except for These Folks

I have seen this funny list posted several times this week, and since geography is related to history, I added it to the joke folder of The Xenophile Historian.  You can see it here, as well as read it below:


These are actual complaints received by "Thomas Cook Vacations" from dissatisfied customers:

  1. "They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax."
  2. "On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food."
  3. "We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish."
  4. "We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price."
  5. "The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room."
  6. "We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow."
  7. "It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallartato close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned."
  8. "No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared."
  9. "Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers."
  10. "I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts."
  11. "The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun."
  12. "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."
  13. "I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller."
  14. "The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service."
  15. "When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners."
  16. "We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning."
  17. "It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."
  18. "I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes."
  19. "My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."
Published in: on May 30, 2015 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #25

I just sent it out.  Here it is, if you’re not on my e-mail list.

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #25
( )

Greetings once again to all my loyal readers!  This is Charles Kimball, here to give you the latest news on my world history website.  If you are a long-time reader you may notice I’m here early.  A few times in the past I have let more than twelve months go by between newsletters, but this time it has only been five months since the previous one.  Well, I have a lot to report, starting with not one, not two, but SEVEN new history papers on the site!  How did I do it while working full-time?  Well, let’s get into the details and find out.


When I sent out the last newsletter, there were two parts of the world I hadn’t written history papers on yet:  Central Asia and the South Pacific.  Well, for years I had been collecting notes about the exploration of the Pacific, and that decided the matter, when I realized it would not take much effort to combines those notes into one history paper.  So I did that and in record time (it was done in a month and a half), I had a chapter for a history series on Oceania (Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, and all the little islands of the Pacific).  However, it covered the years from 1500 to 1780, so it could not be the first chapter in the series; I called it Chapter 2, Terra Australis Incognita.

Later, after rewriting the papers on the site about Japan and Korea (more about that below), it occurred to me that if Chapter 2 is already up, I’d better not wait too long before writing Chapter 1.  You may remember how I once said it is my job to fill in the gaps other historians leave in our knowledge of the past, and now I had to fill in one of my own gaps!  I was reminded of a funny bit Bill Murray did on Saturday Night Live, back around 1980.  He was supposed to review the movie “Chapter Two” and he said, “What happened to Chapter One?  I think anyone who sees Chapter Two without first seeing Chapter One has to be a jerk.”  Which naturally led to the next movie he was going to talk about, “The Jerk.”

Therefore I corrected that omission by finishing Chapter 1.  Called “Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration,” it covers the history, or should I say pre-history, of the South Pacific, from whenever the ancestors of the Australian Aborigines showed up, until 1500 A.D.  It also did not take long to put together, because I had no written records to look up and read.  All I had to do was mention what archaeologists have found so far, include a few native legends about how their tribes got started, and make sure I did not overlook any of the two dozen or so archipelagoes in the region.  Thus, Chapter 1 was a two-month job, which was finished by mid-April.  Here is the link to Chapter 1, and the list of topics covered:

Chapter 1: Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration

Before 1500 A.D.

Pacific Geography
From Sunda-Land to Sahul-Land
The Melanesians
Early Austronesian Migrations
The Polynesian Expeditions
Polynesian Cultures
The Micronesians
The Tu’i Tongan “Empire”
Nan Madol
The Easter Island Mystery — Solved

And here (now in the right order) is Chapter 2:

Chapter 2: Terra Australis Incognita

1500 to 1780

Demographics at the Time of the European Arrival
The Mysterious Southern Continent
Did Spain Discover Hawaii First?
The Spanish Lake
Early Expeditions to Australia
Pohnpei Liberated
The Discovery of Easter Island
The Discovery of Tahiti
Captain Cook
The First Voyage
The Second Voyage
The Third Voyage

And the homepage for the new folder on the site is .

At the same time, I realized the pages on Japanese and Korean history needed to be updated, because I had not done much with them in at least a dozen years, and a lot has happened in Northeast Asia since 2002.  For one thing, South Korea has introduced a new way to write Korean words in the Latin (Western) alphabet, called Revised Romanization, and that alone rendered the Korean page out of date.  I also decided to combine the two histories into one, because on more than one occasion the same event affected both countries, like the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95.  Thus, with much of the narrative you will have one section about Japan, the next about Korea, and so on; I hope readers won’t find it too disconnected, compared with previous versions.  Between that, adding recent events, expanding older material, and putting in new pictures, by the time I was done in February, I had five chapters where there used to be two!  Here is how they are organized now:

Chapter 1: The Formation of Korean and Japanese Civilizations

Korea Before 668, Japan Before 710

Introduction to Korea
Later Gojoseon and Jin
Japan: How It All Began
Korea: The Samhan (Proto-Three Kingdoms) Period
Japan: The Yayoi Culture
Japan: The Kofun Period
Korea: The Three Kingdoms
Japan: The Asuka Period

Chapter 2: Medieval Korea and Japan

Korea from 668 to 1637, Japan from 710 to 1603

Japan: The Nara Period
Silla & Sinicization
Ultracivilization: The Heian Era
Goryeo: Civilization For the Few
Japan: The Kamakura Shogunate
Korea: The Joseon Dynasty
Japan: The Ashikaga Shogunate
European Contact
The Reunification of Japan

Chapter 3: Closed and Opened Societies

Korea from 1637 to 1910, Japan from 1603 to 1912

Japan: The Tokugawa Shogunate
Korea: The Hermit Kingdom
Perry Opens Japan
The Meiji Restoration
The First Sino-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War
The End of the Korean Empire

Chapter 4: The War-Ravaged Years

Korea from 1910 to 1953, Japan from 1912 to 1945

Korea: Pax Japonica
Japan: The Militants Take Over
World War II
Siberia or the Pacific?
The Rise and Fall of Tojo
Iwo Jima and Okinawa
The Grim Endgame
The Creation of North and South Korea
The Korean War

Chapter 5: Northeast Asia Today

Korea since 1953, Japan since 1945

Japan, Incorporated
South Korea: Growing Pains
Japan’s Lost Decades
South Korea: The Sixth Time is the Charm
The Bizarre Land of North Korea


Of course, after announcing seven new papers on the site, anything else happening will seem anticlimatic, by comparison.  In fact, there are only two other things I find big enough to be worth mentioning, so this newsletter will finish in a hurry.

For the European history, I read a hilarious World War I story about George S. Patton, the future American general and war hero.  The story covered what happened when the French discovered what they thought was the grave of an American soldier, and showed it to Patton.  Naturally it deserved to be repeated, so I gave it a footnote here:

And in US history, I learned that Arkansas had a mini-civil war a few years after the big civil war you’ve heard of, over the issue of who would be the state’s next governor.  You can read about this conflict, the Brooks-Baxter War, in a new section added to Chapter 4 of the North American history:


What’s next on the agenda?  I will continue writing about the South Pacific, now that I have started that project.  The way things are going, I may be able to finish with just two more chapters.  And I will probably update another existing project before I write the next newsletter; most likely I will update the Chinese history, because it got its last major revision in the 1990s.  And then there is Central Asia, which I must get done in order to make good my claim to have written the history of just about everybody.  That is a project I have been putting off since 1992, and I’d better not put it off much longer.  May you have a great 2015, and keep on reading!


If you missed older issues of this newsletter and want to see them, they can be downloaded in a zip file from .  And the links below go to topics I mentioned in previous issues, that are still valid.  Please visit them, if you haven’t already:

The Xenohistorian Weblog, this site’s official blog.

My world history textbook, “A Biblical Interpretation of World History.”

And my business website:

Take Care and God Bless,

Charles Scott Kimball


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Published in: on April 30, 2015 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration

I know, I have been away from this blog for nearly two months.  A lot has happened here in the real world:  two days when the snowfall exceeded ten inches, the coldest day in my lifetime (-18 on February 20!), doing my taxes, another post-season where the University of Kentucky Wildcats made it to the Final Four in the basketball playoffs (the fourth time this has happened in the past five years), and three guests staying in my house over the past week.

Also, I have been composing a new history paper since the rewrite of Japan and Korea was finished, exactly two months ago.  This time it is Chapter 1 of my new South Pacific history series.  You remember how I once said it is my job to fill in the gaps other historians leave in our knowledge of the past?  Well, now I am filling in one of my own gaps; I gave you Chapter 2 last December, without giving you Chapter 1.  Since then I have remembered a funny bit Bill Murray did on Saturday Night Live many years ago.  He was supposed to review the movie “Chapter Two” and he said, “What happened to Chapter One?  I think anyone who sees Chapter Two without first seeing Chapter One has to be a jerk.”  Which naturally led to the next movie he was going to talk about, “The Jerk.”

Now I have corrected that omission by finishing Chapter 1.  Called “Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration,” it covers the history, or should I say pre-history, of the South Pacific, from whenever the ancestors of the Australian Aborigines showed up, until 1500 A.D.  The topics covered are named as follows:

Chapter 1: Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration

Pacific Geography

From Sunda-Land to Sahul-Land

The Melanesians

Early Austronesian Migrations

The Polynesian Expeditions

Polynesian Cultures

The Micronesians

The Tu’i Tongan "Empire"

Nan Madol

The Easter Island Mystery — Solved




Or if you missed Chapter 2 and want another chance to read it, click on the link below:

Chapter 2:  Terra Australis Incognita (1500 to 1780)

As with my other history papers, I hope you enjoy reading my latest one as much as I enjoyed composing it!

Published in: on April 12, 2015 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Brooks-Baxter War

Earlier this week I read about an armed conflict fought in Arkansas during the Reconstruction era.  Of course I had to add it to Chapter 4 of my North American history project, and since it took more than a paragraph to explain, that meant creating a new section.  Here is how it reads:

The Brooks-Baxter War

While Reconstruction ended peacefully in most states, Arkansas briefly saw a second civil war, now called the “Brooks-Baxter War.” The state’s Reconstruction-era constitution, passed in 1868, did not allow former Confederates to serve in the government, so for the gubernatorial election of 1872, no Democrat ran. However, the Republicans split into two factions. The “Brindle Tails,” the local group that supported Horace Greeley and the Liberal Republicans in the presidential race, nominated Joseph Brooks, a carpetbagger, for governor; Democrats and black voters tended to back him as well. Meanwhile the establishment Republicans, now nicknamed the “Minstrels,” ran Elisha Baxter, a scalawag. We don’t know who won on Election Day because there were so many predictions and reports of fraud that one historian, Michael B. Dougan, called the election a “masterpiece of confusion.” It was decided in Baxter’s favor because those controlling the voting process favored Baxter, and they announced Baxter had won by just 3,000 votes; Brooks refused to accept this result and proclaimed himself the winner as well.

Baxter was sworn in as governor; Brooks petitioned the state legislature for a recount, and filed suits with the state courts. But the politicians and judges he approached were largely Minstrels, and thus refused to hear his case. After a year it looked like Brooks had run out of ways to overturn the election legally, when Baxter’s method of governing gave him a second chance. Baxter alienated Republicans both inside and outside Arkansas by being too friendly to Democrats (he allowed the passage of a bill re-enfranchising ex-Confederates), and by vetoing bills that would have allowed government funding for railroads; we saw earlier that most Republicans favored railroad building. The backers of Baxter began switching to Brooks, and one day in April 1874, a judge looked at an appeal Brooks had filed the previous June and suddenly ruled in his favor, awarding him $2,000 in damages and the office of governor of Arkansas.

Bringing the county sheriff and about twenty armed men, Brooks marched to the State House (the old state capitol building) and kicked Baxter out. Baxter escaped to a nearby hotel, made it his new headquarters, declared martial law over Pulaski County, called in the militia from the nearest military academy, and sent President Grant a telegram requesting military assistance in taking back the state government. Brooks in turn barricaded the doors and windows of the State House, made his own call for the militia to support him, and sent a general on his side to break into the state armory. The general brought back not only small arms and ammunition, but also two six-pounder cannon, which were aimed in the general direction of Baxter’s hotel. Baster’s men soon one-upped this by digging up a buried twenty-six-pounder left over from the previous war; they repaired the cannon so it could be used again, named it the “Lady Baxter,” and aimed it at the State House. Meanwhile, men showed up to support one governor or the other, until Brooks had an army of 600 troops on his side, and Baxter had 2,000. Skirmishes occurred around Little Rock for a month–estimates of the number of casualties range from 40 to 200–but there wasn’t an all-out battle because both forces expected Grant to send in the US Army on their side.

Grant did intervene in mid-May, first using federal troops to separate the armies of the governors, and then proclaiming that Baxter was the rightful governor. With no chance of winning left, Brooks abandoned the State House and dispersed his force. Since Baxter wasn’t on good terms with the Republican Party, it is not clear why Grant chose him; he may have simply picked the faction with the most soldiers and the biggest gun. Incidentally, the Lady Baxter was only fired once, to celebrate Baxter’s return to the State House; it is still parked on the State House Lawn.

Baxter did not celebrate his victory for long; before 1874 ended another constitution was written for Arkansas, and new elections were held. With Democrats able to participate again, and the Republicans gravely weakened, Baxter was replaced by a Democratic governor, after he had held the office for less than two years. Then in the 1876 elections for Arkansas, the Democrats won every race that mattered.

In the rest of the South, white Democrats also regained control of state governments. Sometimes they did it by forming coalitions with Republicans, emphasizing the need to build railroads and do other things to modernize the Southern economy.  Other times they did it by frightening blacks to keep them away from the polls at election time, depriving the carpetbagger governments of the votes they needed to stay in power. Still other times the Democrats persuaded scalawags and even black Republicans to switch parties and join them. Those Democrats who wanted to put the Civil War behind them were called “Redeemers,” and thus when they took over, the Southern states they ran were “redeemed.” By 1876, only Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina were still under Republican leadership.


Published in: on February 21, 2015 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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