America Comes to the Philippines

 

 

Here is Episode 29 for your listening pleasure!  This episode covers the part of the Spanish-American War that was fought in the Philippines.  In doing so we will say goodbye to Spain, and meet the last colonial power to come to Southeast Asia, the United States.  In the past the narrative could cover centuries of events with one episode, but this time almost everything happened in one year, 1898.

https://www.blubrry.com/hoseasia/26996769/episode-29-america-comes-to-the-philippines/

The Free State of Van Zandt

 

On the podcast, in the latest episode I mentioned America’s first war in Korea, the Shinmiyangyo Incident of 1871.  Now here is another strange war in the 1800s that most people have forgotten, to the point that I just heard about it.  On The Xenophile Historian, I have added it to Chapter 4 of the North American history series.

The Free State of Van Zandt

One part of the South that wanted nothing to do with slavery and Reconstruction was Van Zandt County, in northeastern Texas.  Almost no one in this county owned slaves, and they didn’t like the idea of fighting for someone else’s right to own slaves.  When Texas seceded in 1861, some folks in Van Zandt County proposed seceding from Texas, so that like West Virginia, they could remain with the Union.  However, the threat of military intervention by the state of Texas was enough to keep the citizens of Van Zandt from acting, for the duration of the Civil War.

After the war, the citizens of Van Zandt decided that another thing they didn’t like was letting Union troops and carpetbaggers run around in the county.  In 1867 Texas was readmitted into the Union, and a convention was held in Van Zandt to propose seceding from Texas, the Confederacy, and the United States of America!  The county commissioners approved of this move, and drafted a declaration of independence, which looked a lot like the more famous 1776 Declaration of Independence.

Naturally General Sheridan saw this move as an act of rebellion, and he sent a cavalry unit to deal with it.  However, the heavily forrested terrain of Van Zandt County canceled the advantage cavalry normally has, and the rebels knew their home ground well enough to surprise their opponents.  The first (and only) battle of the Free State War was won by the rebels, who ambushed and drove off the cavalry.  Then, to celebrate the ultimate David-vs.-Goliath victory, the rebels gathered in Canton, the main town of Van Zandt County.  At the party they drank too much, and while they were totally blotto, Sheridan’s troops returned, arrested the whole bunch, and built a stockade near Canton to hold them.

You’d think that would be the end of the story, but it has an epilogue.  One of the prisoners, a former Confederate soldier named William Allen, had a knife in his boot that was not discovered by his captors, and over the course of several days he used the knife like a file, wearing down the anklets restraining him until he could break them off.  Around the same time the rainy season started, and the guards posted on the site were reduced to one, who did his best to keep an eye on the prisoners by simply walking around the compound.  This allowed Allen to free the other prisoners while the guard wasn’t looking, and when they broke out of the stockade, most of them fled in two different directions, one group going north to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and the other going west to the neighborhood of Waco, TX.

Arrest warrants were put out for all the prisoners that escaped, but Federal troops did not look very hard for them, and none were caught.  Even Allen was able to return after most people forgot about the affair, and he spent the rest of his life as a doctor in Canton.  As for the Feds, they departed as soon as they brought Van Zandt County back into Texas, considering their work complete.  Nobody bothered to void the county’s declaration of independence, so technically the county is still independent.  Today the county calls itself "The Free State of Van Zandt," though today it isn’t clear if it got that name from the 1867 secession, the 1861 secession attempt, the county’s lack of slaves, or some incident that happened even earlier.

Philippine Nationalism

 

 

The latest episode went up two days ago, and because I was busy in the real world, I didn’t get around to announcing it here until now.  I also took an extra day to get the recording and editing finished.  The end result is the longest episode this podcast has produced so far, So I think you will find it was worth the wait.  For the first time in seven months, we will look at the Philippines.  Here you will hear how Spain lost its tight grip on the islands, and the development of Southeast Asia’s first modern nationalist movement.  The narrative will cover events in the 1700s and most of the 1800s, and end right before the United States got involved in the Philippines, the topic of the next episode.  And for the first time, you will hear my wife make a contribution!

https://www.blubrry.com/hoseasia/26658584/episode-28-philippine-nationalism/

A New Siam

 

I’m afraid I broke a promise.  A month ago, I predicted that future episodes would cover shorter time periods, but today, to get Siam done in one episode, I covered a 157-year time span, from 1782 to 1939.  That means this episode will be the longest so far in the podcast series, but fortunately it is still less than an hour; you won’t have to set aside a day to listen, like you would for Dan Carlin’s history podcast.  Here you will learn how Siam modernized, why it was the only Southeast Asian country that did not become a European colony, and why it changed its name to Thailand at the end of the period.

https://www.blubrry.com/hoseasia/26012651/episode-27-a-new-siam/

1809siam

Here is a map of Siam in the early 1800s, when the kingdom was at its greatest size.  These borders lasted until 1863, when Britain and France started taking parts of the kingdom for themselves.  The core territory they left behind became present-day Thailand in 1939.

French Indochina, Part I

 

Episode 25 is available!  Actually it has been up since July 16.  I didn’t announce here it until now because I was not happy with the sound quality, after I uploaded it.  For some reason my computer added static in some places.  Also, after uploading I discovered that one of the sources I used for Cambodia was in error.  Therefore I re-recorded the episode, with the static gone and the error corrected.  If you already listened to the episode, go ahead and download and listen to it again; it won’t cost you anything, after all.  And sorry for the inconvenience.

Anyway, for this episode the podcast moves to the east side of the Southeast Asian mainland.  This is the first in a two-part series on how the French conquered Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.  If you are interested in what I may say in the future about the twentieth-century Vietnam War, this episode is an important stepping stone, setting the stage for that conflict by bringing in the French.

https://www.blubrry.com/hoseasia/25285779/episode-25-french-indochina-part-i/

On the Road to Mandalay

 

Okay, since the latest episode went up today, we are back on schedule.  And that’s not all; today the podcast is one year old.  This time we look at the history of Burma/Myanmar from 1782 to 1890, when Britain conquered the country and made it part of British India.  You will also hear me read a poem by Rudyard Kipling; listen and enjoy!

https://www.blubrry.com/hoseasia/24938075/episode-24-on-the-road-to-mandalay/