AuthorTopic: The 1783-84 Laki Eruption: A Catastrophic Volcanic Eruption that Changed the Course of Human History  (Read 1307 times)

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   Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 16, 2015



   

   On June 10th wrote Sæmundur Magnusson Holm at the University of Copenhagen, falling ash coloured black the deck and sails of ships travelling to Denmark.


   

   Discuss this article at the History Table inside the Diner



   

   Most people are propagandized by the leaders of the societies they live in to believe that history is simply a collection of facts strung in chronological order. The truth is far more nuanced.



   Historians interpret the importance of events as if they are the only ones qualified to do so, or just leave them out all together, for allegedly "objective" scholarly reasons. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Human history is rife with key pivotal events that don't make it into the flag waving, hero worshipping, designated bad guy demonizing, condensed narrative.



   The fact that these key events are deemed "not credible" as key events by the academic community, despite the fact that said "scholars" (see lock step lackeys) accept that the event occurred, should be a red flag to anyone that still retains the ability to think critcally.



   I have written about the Piri Reis maps in an article titled Evidence that Demands a Verdict: The Consensus Historical View that Piri Reis used South American Coastline maps made by Columbus . I have pointed out how they do not "fit" the world view of the "scholars" of history. But that is an extreme example of the capacity, willingness and bulheadedness of historians to engage in agnotology (i.e. culturally induced ignorance or doubt) to avoid admitting even the possibility that their narrative is, not just flawed due to innocent mistakes, but a product of status quo defending mens rea.



   So what else is new? Humans lie to puff themselves up. We all know that, right? Or do we?



   Here, on this forum, among highly educated, intelligent people. I occasionally run into assumptions about our history that are the product of agnotology propaganda. Individuals who are properly cynical of government motives for doing this, that, or the other in our time are blissfully accepting of all the mendacious double talk that infects our history books.



   Conspiracy is the norm, not the exception, among powerful and influential humans now, is it not? WHAT makes you think it hasn't been the history twisting norm as long as we have been human?



   I wish historians were more open to criticism of their interpretaton(s) of history. I wish they would NOT leave stuff out just because they decided a certain event was not key.



   No, I'm not here to tell you that George Washingon's wooden false teeth were really made from Native American pelvic Indian "Ivory" (I'm kidding!) and he was a Sith Lord. It's true that walking sticks made from the femur bones of the "savages" were all the rage among the white well-to-do in our great and grand cities for over a century after the USA got started, but that's not what I want to discuss either.



   What I am about to discuss is NOT, as the walking sticks and other bits of European empathy deficit disorderd cruelty, a conspiracy theory, as many claim (but I don't).



   The events I will discuss have all been accepted by modern historians as factual. What they have not accepted is their cause and effect relationship.



   The case I wish to make is for the tremendous effects, in subsequent history from 1783 to 1825, of the Laki Volcanic Eruption.



   Natural historical events that coincide in time with human historical events are rarely given the importance they merit by the "scholars" that populate the academic institutions. Their convenient NON-interpretation of, or ignoring of, natural disasters as key causes of subsequent human historical events evidences a bias that exaggerates the power of human ideas and thought over the power of nature.



   Our behavior as individuals and as a society is strongly influenced by any natural disaster that we happen to witness due to the massive pointless suffering and death involved. We are generally stunned by such events. This the way it is for most of us.



   But for the elites of powerful, warlike countries, and conversely among the leaders of the downtrodden of said countries, natural disasters cause plans to do this or that to be postponed by the former, and conversely, accelerated by the latter.



   Since the survivors of disasters and/or the victors of wars write the history books, this cause and effect sequence rarely makes it to the flag waving masses. 

    



   

   1755 Lisbon Earthquake and Tsunami


   

   It's a side issue that I mention only briefly now, but Voltaire was deeply affected by the 1755 earthquake and tsunami which caused massive human suffering and death. He wrote some biting satire about the "Best of All Possible Worlds" did he not? TRY to find how that fits (and believe me, not the historians, it DOES!) in the historical narrative from that time period AND how that has affected human society and thinking to this day! You won't find it. Had the 1755 earthquake and tsunami not occurred, it is not a stretch to assume that no GIGANTIC society affecting satire would have been written.



   QUOTE: The earthquake and its fallout strongly influenced the intelligentsia of the European Age of Enlightenment. The noted writer-philosopher Voltaire used the earthquake in Candide and in his Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne ("Poem on the Lisbon disaster"). Voltaire's Candide attacks the notion that all is for the best in this, "the best of all possible worlds", a world closely supervised by a benevolent deity. UNQUOTE

   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1755_Lisbon_earthquake



   If Voltaire wasn't an atheist before that 1755, I would wager that the huge loss of life convinced him to eschew theism. I am not defending his decision. I don't agree with it. I simply understand where he was coming from. The corrupt church in those days wasn't exactly a source of inspiration for intellectuals, or anybody else.



   As a Christian, I find it perfectly appropriate for a Just God to destroy all the churches in Lisbon, along with killing the Grand Inquisitor of the Catholic Church there, while sparing all the brothels. Lisbon's "pious" society, all of them claiming to be Christians, would gather routinely to cheer the burning at the stake of "heretics" and "those engaging in witchcraft".



   Lisbon was one of the richest cities in Europe because of it's lucrative slave trade and it's lucrative influx of gold. That gold was mined in South America. That gold was obtained by cruel forced labor exploitation of South American natives and African slaves. A portion of that gold found its way into the spectacular amounts of gold gilding in Lisbon's churches. Lisbon's churches were the envy of Europe at the time because of their copious amounts of gold gliding. The Portuguese were Empathy Deficit Disordered human predators.



   So, if God did it, why isn't He more consistent in His wrath? I don't know. However, what happened in Lisbon seems like a great example of Divine Justice visited on a particularly blatant example of egregious religious hypocrisy in the service of greed and rampant cruelty. People claiming to be Christians are, according to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, far more likely to get Da Business from God than other humans. Google ""Judgement begins in the house of God"" for details.



   But perhaps Voltaire, a product of his time, didn't see it that way. Voltaire's conclusion was that a Just God would not destroy Lisbon, so there must not be a God, period. The selective application of justice was not acceptable for God, according to Voltaire. That seems logical to me. ;D



   However, for humans like Voltaire, selective application of "Enlightenment" justice, was, though hypocritical in the extreme, quite acceptable  :P.  As you will learn in the final part of this three part article, despite his atheist "Enlightenment" rhetoric, born of the suffering he observed in Lisbon (and later in France), Voltaire did not seem to believe his  ideas applied to African slaves.



   If you think that earthquake did not change human history all the way TO THIS EMPATHY DEFICIT DISORDERED, ATHEISM DEFENDING DAY, you are wrong. But that's another, rather sore, subject.  I KNOW there are WAY TOO MANY cheerleaders for the "Enlightenment" (see Orwell) here for me to make a dent in their mechanistic reductionist, cause and effect comfort zones. The flexibility of those fine fellows in those matters is akin to that of one year old cured concrete.



   So, for the moment, forget I mentioned Voltaire and implied that the "God is Dead" fun and games that begat Darwin and Empathy Deficit Disordered profit over planet began with an earthquake in 1755.

    

   Travel with me back  in time to England in the year of our Lord 1783.

    



   

   English two-decker ship of the line


   

   Ships are, compared with today, small. Even the majestic clipper ships of the late 19th century have not been invented yet. It takes over a month to cross the Atlantic from England to the American Colonies that just successfully revolted. It cost the crown a lot of money to move a fleet with weapons and soldiers from England to the American Colonies and prosecute the, now failed, war effort, thanks to the well timed arrival of a rather impressive French fleet.



   Jamaica is still in the English fold, however. I mention it now because of the role it played in some Simon Bolivar history (mentioned in part 3 of this article). I also mention it now because, unlike the American Colonies, it continued to be exploited in order to provide commodities for the English Empire.



   As of 1783, the commodities flow coming from the American Colonies has been severely curtailed for several years and the English are not happy campers.



   England is a Maritime Empire. Testament to that is the fact that the English language is populated with sailing terms. Ships are the vessels through which the life blood of this warlike island nation flows. Ships need to know where they are when they are at sea. They navigate by compass, some pretty accurate clocks and sightings of the sun at noon and/or the 'moons of Jupiter positions' (ephemeris).



   Moving ships from here to there profitably is a matter of life and death for the British Empire. Any interruption in profitable shipping activity hurts the empire. Warships are profitable only if they can secure rebellious colonies and protect the commodities flow from the colonies and the finished goods (the English colonial "business model") to them.



   British America's most valuable exports in the early 1770s, in order of total value: sugar, tobacco, wheat, rice.



   Value of annual British imports to the North American colonies in the 1770s: nearly £885,000.



   http://www.shmoop.com/american-revolution/statistics.html



   Let us compare "Now" (1783) to the British national debt about 19 years ago (about ten years before the American Colonies revolted):



   British national debt in 1764: £129,586,789 (this was money that the British government borrowed from banks and investors, and it would be the equivalent of tens of trillions of dollars today).



   http://www.shmoop.com/american-revolution/statistics.html



   The war against the American colonies had finished only in 1782 during Rockingham's second ministry and the wars against most of the rest of Europe had been concluded by Shelburne's ministry in 1783.



   http://www.historyhome.co.uk/c-eight/pitt/taxpitt.htm



   Total British casualties from battle and disease in the Revolutionary War: around 24,000.



   http://www.shmoop.com/american-revolution/statistics.html



   The Rebellious American Colonies avoided the cost of sending a fleet across the Atlantic. They did a little better than the English in the war.



   Total American battle casualties in the Revolutionary War: 6,824 (estimates range between this figure and 4,435; some 90% of them came from the Continental Army).



   Total Americans wounded in the Revolutionary War: 8,445.



   Total American deaths from disease in the Revolutionary War: 10,000 (approximation).



   Total Americans who died in British prisons in the Revolutionary War: 8,500.



   Total Americans captured in the Revolutionary War: 18,152.



   http://www.shmoop.com/american-revolution/statistics.html



   The  British forces under Cornwallis at Yorktown had surrendered in October of 1781. In March of 1782, the British Government authorised peace negotiations.



   But before the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783  (formally ending the Revolutionary War), a very big volcanic eruption began in Iceland. The eruption immediately affected history by delaying the ratification of the treaty.



   Official ratification of the peace accord was delayed for months by a mix of political logistics and persistent bad weather. The makeshift U.S. capital in Annapolis, Maryland, was snowbound, preventing assembly of congressional delegates to ratify the treaty, while storms and ice across the Atlantic slowed communications between the two governments. At last, on May 13, 1784, Benjamin Franklin, wrangling matters in Paris, was able to send the treaty, signed by King George himself, to the Congress.



   http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10195.pdf



    



   


   

   June 8, 1783 the Laki Eruption began. It lasted EIGHT MONTHS. It killed about 22% of the human population of Iceland and sixty percent of their grazing animals.



   The Laki eruptions had a staggering effect on Iceland itself, in large part due to the volcanic gases released in the eruption and not the lava flows themselves.



   Sulfur dioxide released by the lava flows stayed close to the ground (within 5 km) in Iceland, creating acid rains that were strong enough to burn holes in leaves, kill trees and shrubs and irritate skin.



   The eruption released 8 Mt of fluorine, so as that fluorine settled out and was incorporated into grasses, grazing livestock got fluorinosis. Sixty percent of all grazing livestock died due to the effects of the Laki eruptions. The “Haze Famine” as it is called in Iceland killed over 10,000 people (~22% of the population) from famine and disease.



   http://www.wired.com/2013/06/local-and-global-impacts-1793-laki-eruption-iceland/



   But that was only the beginning.



   Of the 122 Mt of sulfur dioxide released in the eruption, 95 Mt made it to the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, so it entered the jet stream and was circulated around the entire northern hemisphere (see right). The haze quickly reached Europe and by July 1, 1783, the haze was noticed in China.



   There are not many historical records from North America that mention the arrival of the Laki haze, but tree ring records from northern Alaska suggest that July and August 1783 were very cold. The mean temperature in northern Alaska is 11.3ºC, but the mean temperature recorded in May-August 1783 was only 7.2ºC. Russian traders in Alaska noted a population decrease in the years after the eruption while Inuit oral histories do refer to a “Summer that did not come” that could correlate with the Laki eruption as well.



   Globally, those 95 Mt of sulfuric dioxide reacted with atmospheric water to form 200 Mt of sulfuric acid aerosols. Almost 90% of that sulfuric acid was removed in the form of acid rain or fogs, while 10% stayed aloft for over a year. This might explain why northern hemisphere temperatures were 1.3ºC below normal for 2-3 years after the eruion.



   Thordarson and Self (2003) created an excellent figure to show how the sulfur aerosols were dispersed during the eruion (see below), where 80% was part of the explosive phase of the eruion and launched 10-15 km, producing distant haze across the world while 20% came directly from cooling lava flows, so it stayed close to the ground to produce the local haze in Iceland. The sulfuric acid was even damaging to crops in Europe, where noxious dews and frosts (sulfur precipitates) formed. Ash from the eruion was noted as far away as Venice, Italy and many places in between.

   http://www.wired.com/2013/06/local-and-global-impacts-1793-laki-eruion-iceland/



   Here's a graphic of the aerosol spread from the Laki Eruion:



   


   

   NOBODY outside of Iceland knew what was causing the haze which killed people, animals and crops and then made it real, real cold.



    



   The Laki Eruption effects on England


   

   "When an Icelandic volcano erupted in 1783,  many feared it was the end of the world…"



   By June 22 it was above Le Havre in Normandy, and a day later arrived in Britain.



   Reports at the time stated that the fog was so thick boats stayed in port, unable to navigate. The skies became unrecognisable, with 'the sun at noon as blank as a clouded moon, but lurid and blood- coloured at rising and setting'.



   According to an article in Gentleman's Magazine in July 1783, a visitor to Lincoln reported: 'A thick hot vapour had for several days before filled up the valley, so that both the Sun and Moon appeared like heated brick-bars.'



   Another account, by Gilbert White in his Naturalist's Journal, spoke of: 'The peculiar haze or smoky fog that prevailed in this island and even beyond its limits was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.'



   But it was perhaps the observations of the travelling evangelist and founder of Methodism, the Reverend John Wesley, which put the drama in its most illuminating context.



   When he visited Witney in Oxfordshire in 1783 he witnessed a combination of summer thunderstorms and thick fog which left inhabitants convinced the end of the world was nigh.



   Yet at the time, in the summer of 1783, no one knew why so many farm labourers and outdoor workers were succumbing to fever and dying. Nor could they explain the strange, nauseating fog that had descended on the island, or the peculiar pall it cast over the sun.



   In fact the deadly cloud that shrouded Britain was a toxic mix of volcanic gases and particles sweeping south from the eruptions of the Laki Craters in southern Iceland.



   The sulphur dioxide and sulphuric rain it contained was destroying the lungs of its human and animal victims. Just as devastatingly, crops withered and died leading to famine, corruption and ugly riots.

   This week we have seen the crippling effects of another volcanic eruption in Iceland. But air-traffic chaos, stranded passengers and economic fallout pale into insignificance when compared with the catastrophic events of 1783.



   The series of eruptions then – which were severe for five months and lasted eight months in total – were 100 times stronger than those we have seen this month (April 2010). They propelled 120 million tonnes of toxic gases into the atmosphere.

   Without the benefits of modern science and accurate meteorological predictions our ancestors had no comprehension of what was happening to them.



   In some parts of eastern and central England entire families of farm workers (and it was typically the rural workers who toiled each day outdoors, breathing in great lungfuls of polluted air) were virtually wiped out.



   Families lost their father figures, their breadwinners and their fit young men, as the shortage of manpower left vast swathes of produce unpicked.



   Farmers had not enough hands to gather their harvest as the sight of grown men being carried out of the field – many of whom would die where they were lain – became commonplace. Towns and villages used to burying only a handful of people each season, suddenly had to deal with four times the usual number of deaths.



   As quickly as the grave- diggers could excavate the plots, men fell to fill them. Little wonder then that many assumed the apocalypse was fast approaching.



   Describing the unrelenting thunder and lightning, he wrote that: 'Those that were asleep in the town were waked and many thought the day of judgment had come.'



   Throughout the day the panic intensified. 'Men, women and children flocked out of their houses and kneeled down together in the streets.' At Sunday service Wesley reported a full church, 'a sight never seen before'.



   Such was the mounting anxiety that many became afraid even to go to bed – convinced an earthquake or worse would befall them. Others begged their clergy to carry out exorcisms to rid the land of this evil.



   The poet William Cowper told his friend the fog was wreaking havoc. 'We never see the sun but shorn of his beams, the trees are scarce discernable at a mile's distance, he sets with the face of a hot salamander and rises with the same complexion.'



   And Gilbert White, who lived in the Hampshire village of Selborne, noted: 'There was reason for the most enlightened person to be apprehensive.' 

    

   The effects of the choking ash cloud were compounded by the abnormally hot summer, combining to frighten even the most rational of inhabitants.



   At some points the heat was so intense that butchers' meat was rendered inedible just a day after it had been killed and the flies it attracted irritated the horses, making them treacherous to ride.

   As time wore on, the masking of the sun led to a severe drop in temperature and frost and ice were reported in many places in late summer. All vegetation was affected.



   Leaves withered, crops failed, insects died in their millions, preventing the pollination of fruit and flowers. Fruit simply fell from the trees for lack of nourishment.



   Then the effect spread to animals. The first impact was on their food supply, as reported in a Cambridge newspaper. 'The grazing land, which only the day before was full of juice and had upon it the most delightful verdure, did, immediately after this uncommon event, look as if it had dried up by the sun, and was to walk on like hay.



   'The beans were turned to a whitish colour, the leaf and blade appearing as if dead.'

   At the same time sores and bare patches began appearing on the skin of the livestock. Little wonder then that this rural chaos led to disruption of food supplies and prices.



   By the autumn of 1783 shortages meant grain was being sold at 30 per cent more than its pre-fog price, sparking protests and riots.



   At Halifax market, men gathered from the surrounding weaving villages and formed into a mob to force merchants to sell their wheat and oats at the old prices.



   All across the country similar scenes were being played out, and at ports many even formed blockades to stop producers exporting grain in order to achieve higher prices.



   At the same time the fog was continuing to claim thousands of human lives. Tragically, it was often the younger and fitter members of the community as they were typically the agricultural workers who spent most of their time outdoors in the fields, breathing in the deadly particles falling from the sky.



   Recent analysis of climate detail and burial records shows eastern and central England saw their death tolls rise most. And even when the fog finally began to dissipate, the gases in the atmosphere continued to divert the sun's rays, precipitating a period of global cooling and the abnormally cold winter of 1783/4 which saw temperatures hit their lowest level for centuries.



   Mercury levels were typically two degrees celsius below the norm and Selborne in Hampshire experienced 28 continuous days of frost.



   For many, the twin catastrophes of the extremely hot then extremely cold weather coupled with the choking dry fog were attributed to God, but as this was the age of the European Enlightenment, other theories, not dependent on religion, began to emerge.



   In the days before global communication and mass media, it was several months before word of the Laki explosions filtered through to the rest of the world.



   Even with that knowledge no one could prove the connection (a feat achieved only relatively recently). Anyway, by that time the effects of the fog were beginning to decline and Britain had new worries to contend with.



   The last quarter of the 18th century was dominated by the aftermath of American Independence and the looming French Revolution. Consumed by these events, historians lost interest in the dry fog. 



   It is only now, as we once again face the cataclysmic effects of Mother Nature, that the true significance of those distant events can be put into perspective.

   • Adapted from Britain's Rottenest Years by Derek Wilson, published by Short Books, £12.99. To order a copy at £11.70 (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.

   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1268405/And-thought-THIS-eruption-nasty-When-Icelandic-volcano-erupted-1783-feared-end-world-.html#ixzz3jVNLiICD



    



   Increase in Mortality in England directly caused by the Laki Eruption


   

   Through analysis of monthly burial data we have revealedthat two periods of mortality crisis occurred in Englandduring the Laki Craters eruption. The first mortality crisis peak occurred in August and September 1783, nearly two months after the start of the eruption and the first reported appearance of haze in England, and the second peak occurred in January and February 1784, with mortality re-maining above normal in the following two months. If the parish data are assumed to be representative of England as a whole, then the peaks represent ~19,700 extra deaths in the country during this period.

   http://www.academia.edu/3860865/Mortality_in_England_during_the_1783_4_Laki_Craters_eruption



   Below please find an example of historical facts that completely ignore the deleterious effects of the Laki Eruption on British coffers. Nevertheless, anybody that can add and subtract, if they compare things as they ARE in 1784 to the way they were a mere 20 years earlier (British national debt in 1764: £129,586,789), understands that England was in no position to wage war for several years to come:



   … Britain's economic condition in 1784 apparently bordered on catastrophe.



   the National Debt stood at £250 million. That was twenty times the annual revenue of £12.5 million from taxes



   the annual interest on government borrowing, which stood at about £8.3 million, automatically produced a deficit which was funded by further borrowing resulting in increased interest and an even greater deficit.



   National bankruptcy was a strong possibility.



   http://www.historyhome.co.uk/c-eight/pitt/taxpitt.htm

    



   Profound effects of eight-month eruption in 1783 caused chaos from US to Egypt,


   

   SNIPPET:



   Then, as now, there were more wide-ranging impacts. In Norway, the Netherlands, the British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, in North America and even Egypt, the Laki eruption had its consequences, as the haze of dust and sulphur particles thrown up by the volcano was carried over much of the northern hemisphere.



   


   Ships moored up in many ports, effectively fogbound. Crops were affected as the fall-out from the continuing eruption coincided with an abnormally hot summer. A clergyman, the Rev Sir John Cullum, wrote to the Royal Society that barley crops "became brown and withered … as did the leaves of the oats; the rye had the appearance of being mildewed".



   "The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers' meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic



   … the country people began to look with a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun."

   Across the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin wrote of "a constant fog over all Europe, and a great part of North America".

   The disruption to weather patterns meant the ensuing winter was unusually harsh, with consequent spring flooding claiming more lives. In America the Mississippi reportedly froze at New Orleans.  :o



   http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/15/iceland-volcano-weather-french-revolution



   The wretched state of the British economy kept the Brits licking their wounds while the Laki Eruption caused crop failures and famines in France that served as triggers for the French Revolution in 1789. 



   As usual, the historians list all the social problems festering at the time as primary causes. I believe they contributed, but were not the primary causes. Despotism wasn't exactly a new fad in Europe, was it?  Historians also give a lot of credit to the "Enlightenment" for said Revolution. Of course, those factors are real. But without the crop failures and the famines, THAT Revolution would probably have occurred much later than 1789. 



   The Haitians took a keen interest in the French Revolution.



   Here's the "scholarly" Cliffs Notes type boilerplate for the French Revolution. NOTICE (i.e. LACK of bold font  ;)) how the lack of available food is low balled in comparison to the "Enlightenment" and the "American Revolution". LOL!



   


   

   HELLO? WHERE is the Laki Eruption that caused the crop failures that caused the famines that caused the high food prices and bread riots that were, ADMITTEDLY (by academia) a sine qua non factor in the French Revolution?



   Richard Saul Wurman knows his history. And he is not happy about how we are not taught the historical cause and effect FACTS of history in general, and the MAIN cause of the French Revolution in particular.



   He has been awarded several honorary doctorates, Graham Fellowships, a Guggenheim and numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Wurman has also been awarded the Annual Gold Medal from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, a Gold Medal from AIGA and will receive the Boston Science Museum’s 50th Annual Bradford Washburn Award in October, 2014. He is also a Fellow of the AIA and in the Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame.



   PLEASE, take 3 minutes of your time and watch this Richard Saul Wurman  video (start at the one minute mark):

    



   The Volcano That Caused the French Revolution



   

   TED founder Richard Saul Wurman believes knowledge of history is crucial to understanding our present and future. On today's EPIPHANY Wurman shares a now obscure story about a volcano that altered the course of history.

   Conservative estimates are that 5 MILLION people died from the THREE YEAR EFFECTS (1783- 1786) of the Laki Eruption.

    



   


   21 Sept 1792 – In France, The Republic is declared, abolishing the monarchy. In January of the following year Louis XVI is beheaded.

   Upheavals in France and Saint-Domingue 1792–1796



   Ideas don't move people to Revolution if they are well fed. How is it possible that historians don't know that? Downtrodden people resist change (see long train of abuses) unless they lose all hope of a reasonable existence. Losing all hope is what famines do to people when the Empathy Deficit Disordered "Enlightened" elite that rule their country turn a blind eye to the starvation of the masses. "Enlightenment", my ass! Most of the people in France couldn't even read!



   The ones sucking up Voltaire were part of the OPPRESSOR class. They loved all his pretty words about equality and justice, as long as the rabble never read them. Yeah, the church (that pretended to be Christian, while in truth it had eschewed all Christian ethics and embraced elite cruelty) was part of that same corrupt and cruel class too. But the very definition of ethical behavior was (and is) RELATIVE for the "enlightenment". You call THAT an improvement? Yeah, most readers here do.  :(



   It really torques me that historians try to cast "Enlightenment" ideas as some sort of "hunger and thirst for justice" magic wand that produced the French Revolution.  Such stuffed shirt, idea glorifying arrogance is breathtaking! But, it is expected from insulated ivory tower types that have never missed a meal.



   Or perhaps they know better and, in order to not miss any meals and retain their tenure job security, are just toeing the lock step line dictated to them by the history "sanitizing" propagandists.



   Ashvin, a scholar and a lawyer, said the following hard truth that modern academics refuse to accept:




      Quote
   




      Secular ideologies can be abused and cause just as much harm as religious ones, and if there was ever any doubt about this fact, they should have been stripped away by the events of the 20th century.
   





       
   



    



   At any rate , for those who have their eyes open, you can SEE the results of the "Enlightenment" ALL AROUND YOU in the year 2015.  :P



   But for now, we are in Haiti in 1790. The French Revolution is a green light for the ever opportunistic English to see what they can conquer in France. France has a dictator in the wings called Napoleon, who was working his way up the ranks at the time. I'm sure he had lots of enlightened ideas about equality, fraternity and so on…



   Here's a timeline of all the "fun and games" going on back then:

   Principal Dates and Time Line of the French Revolution



   Any historian will acknowledge that the opportunistic English aggression against the French was directly connected with French weakness from the Revolution. But for some reason, they fail to make the SAME connection with the motivation of the slaves in Haiti to cast off the slavery yoke.



   The French sent some dudes down to Haiti to tell them all about equality, fraternity and so on. The slave owners were nervous about that even though, of course, they knew that equality stuff (probably) did not apply to the slaves. Nevertheless, the slave plantation owners were not amused. The Haitians were.



   Both groups thought it was happy talk propaganda. History has proven them right.



   But at the time, the slaves decided to do a little liberty, equality and fraternity of their own.  Which brings us to August 22, 1791.



    



   


   How the French Revolution triggered the Revolution in Haiti


   

   SNIPPET:



   One must emphasize the struggles that had been occurring for decades prior to the 1791 outbreak of full-scale rebellion. Yet the French Revolution was also crucially important, for the conflicts between whites about what exactly its ideals meant triggered an opportunity for blacks.

   http://scholar.library.miami.edu/slaves/san_domingo_revolution/revolution.html



   In the following video, the historical importance of the Haitian Revolution in concert with the American Revolution and French Revolution is clearly established. It is a historically accurate video about Haiti.

   Somehow Voltaire never managed to voice any defense of the Haitian Revolution. Perhaps the FACT that Haiti provided two fifths of French overseas trade had something to do with that hypocrisy by Voltaire and his "enlightened" luminaries  ;).



   Haiti was known as the Pearl of the Antilles. Haiti, little bigger than Maryland, was the richest colony in the new world, producing HALF of the word's sugar.

    




    



   


   General Toussaint Louverture


   

   February 1793 – Rebel leaders, including Toussaint Louverture, join Spanish forces to fight against the French. France declares war on England and Holland

   Agelbert NOTE: The forces of the North or the South, as referred to below, are in regard to Haitian geography.



   Early June 1793 – Louverture offers to aid French General Laveaux, Chief Commander of the republican forces in the North. Louverture offers his support and 5,000-6,000 troops in exchange for full amnesty and general emancipation. Laveaux refuses and Louverture continues to aid the Spanish for another full year.



   20 September 1793 – British troops sever ties between the North and South, isolating the provinces from each other as the Europeans, planters and rebels all fight for control. The British intend to restore order, make Saint-Domingue a British colony, and reinstate slavery.

    



   


   Benoit Joseph André Rigaud (1761 – 18 September 1811) was the leading mulatto military leader during the Haïtian Revolution. Among his protégés were Alexandre Pétion and Jean-Pierre Boyer, both future presidents of Haïti.



   

   Land ownership in Saint-Domingue was a critical issue before, during, and after the Haitian Revolution. Land ownership granted access to power and prosperity and was sought after by all of the colony’s social classes.



   During the build up to the revolution whites were increasingly threatened by the mulattoes and free blacks who were becoming powerful landowners. At the beginning of the revolution, one of the slaves’ central demands was to have small plots of land and an additional free day during the week to cultivate them. Later on, during Louverture’s reign, laborers objected to his adherence to a plantation-based economy which required blacks to work land that was not theirs.  



   Through the course of the revolution, and in the years following, former slaves felt owning land was critical in order to truly claim their freedom. To that end they fought for the colonists – and even their own leaders – for land rights, never giving up their goal to own the fields they worked in.

    



   


   

   29 August 1793 – Sonthonax issues a General Emancipation decree abolishing slavery in the North. More slaves in the colony have their freedom than ever before. Monsieur Artaud, one of the colony’s wealthiest planters with more than 1,000 slaves, tells Sonthonax that “only universal freedom could spare the whites from being totally annihilated.”



   Agelbert NOTE: The "issue" of potential annihilation is often presented in historical narratives involving the decision by European whites to agree to reforms that provide African slaves with freedom. But, as you will see, these reforms are mostly on paper.



   What you are seeing here is a precursor to a similar white reaction to freed slaves in the US in the South after the Civil war. And even before that, in the American Revolutionary war, both sides offered freedom to African slaves in return for becoming cannon fodder. As soon as the war was over, most of the promised freedoms were arrogantly discarded. It's all documented in "The Unsteady March", a truthful, hard hitting, thoroughly referenced, scholarly work on African American history from the first colonies in North America to the present.



   Returning to Haiti in 1793:



   Following decrees further restrict punishments and grant minimal pay to slaves – now called “laborers” – in the colony. Skilled laborers are legally allowed on administrative councils. However, the declarations of freedom are bound solely to theoretical property rights. Slaves are still regulated by the government, legally bound to the same plantations and masters. Their daily lives change little. In protest, many slaves go on strike, arriving to the fields late, leaving early, and doing little work. Disarmed, many former rebels turn to vagrancy as their main form of resistance. Notably, women demand that they are granted equal pay and rights as men. Under the current system women are held to the same rules and punishments but paid only two thirds of men's wages.

   Upheavals in France and Saint-Domingue 1792–1796

   CLEARLY, the African-Haitians wanted exactly the same things that American and French Revolutionaries wanted. African-Haitians were not stupid, backward or unable to grasp. or take responsibility for, Liberty. Even the women were far more progressive than American, English or French women of that time period!



   The Haitians, despite a brief period of working with France against the British and Spanish, decided to get rid of the "liberty, equality, fraternity " rhetoric spouting French once and for all. WHY? Because the Haitians discovered that the French had no intention of treating African-Haitians as anything but commodities to exploit, PERIOD.



   For those who don't get that, a cursory look at  all the post French Revolution rhetoric coming from France (i.e. proclamations and laws about this, that and the other in regard to ending slavery and codifying freedom for the Haitian blacks) will reveal that Napoleon reversed ALL of it in short order.



   The Haitians got the message. They sent their own message to the French troops. This was VERY expensive for France. Over fifty Thousand French soldiers had died by 1803. France, with its new emperor Napoleon, had tried to reinstate slavery. France lost many soldiers, ships and stopped getting sugar from the Pearl of the Antilles.

   Casualty Facts Haitian Revolution



   Napoleon needed money to keep his war machine up to snuff. As you know, he had plans for expanding his "empire" to the east, as well as war with England. He had a racist friend in the USA (always happy to do anything he could to give England a hard time) named Thomas Jefferson who helped him get it.  It was called the Louisiana Purchase.



   The back story to the Louisiana Purchase, not taught to most Americans, is that France only got "title" to that massive amount of land from Spain in 1800!



   On October 1, 1800, Spain ceded the Louisiana Territory to France in the Treaty of San Ildefonso. The territory was equal in size to the entire United States at the time. Napoleon Bonaparte envisioned a Caribbean empire, with the Louisiana Territory providing the resources to support the center of the empire on the island of Santo Domingo (now Haiti). At the time the Treaty of San Ildefonso was signed, Santo Domingo was controlled by former slaves, under Toussaint L'Ouverture, who had driven their masters from the island. Napoleon dispatched the French army to regain control of the island, but the islanders met the troops with fierce resistance. Faced with this resistance, and many troops suffering from yellow fever, the French retreated in defeat. Napoleon gave up on his plan for a Caribbean empire.



   By 1802, France had still not taken control of the Louisiana Territory, leaving it in the hands of the Spanish despite the fact that the land belonged to France. In October 1802, the Spanish colonial administrator in New Orleans prohibited American crops from being deposited at the port of New Orleans before being shipped to other nations. This severely constricted US commerce in the southwest, and many Americans believed, incorrectly, that the order had actually come from Napoleon. Fears of French control of the Louisiana Territory, and especially of New Orleans, loomed large. Jefferson began efforts to ingratiate himself to the British in preparation for enlisting their aid against the French. 



   Jefferson sent James Monroe and Robert Livingston to France with the intention of negotiating the purchase of the port of New Orleans, in an attempt to end, at long last, American difficulties there.

   He also instructed them to negotiate the purchase, if possible, of as much of Florida as possible. However, the envoy found Napoleon had given up on his plan for a Caribbean empire in order to focus on the war in Europe.

   http://www.sparknotes.com/history/american/firstyears/section6.rhtml



   Agelbert NOTE: You do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand why no French defeat in Haiti would have meant no Louisiana Purchase!



   Napoleon figured if he could get a quick influx of money from a deal with the United States, he could curry some favor with his own people as he geared up for more war with  England. The $15 million deal was broken down as such:



   The French received $2 million cash up front.



   France received 60 million francs ($11.25 million) over the 20-year loan.



   The French debt of 20 million francs ($3.75 million) to the United States was forgiven.

   http://history.howstuffworks.com/revolutionary-war/louisiana-purchase2.htm



   Napoleon was also already slugging it out with England when the Haitians kicked the French out.



   1801 Battle of Aboukir 8 March – British-Turkish army under Sir Ralph Abernathy defeats French Army of Egypt under Jacques de Menou



   1801 First Battle of Algeciras 6 July – English naval defeat by French



   1802 Battle of Delhi 11 September – British forces under Gerard Lake defeat Maratha forces led by French officer Louis Bourquin Battle of Assaye



   1802 18 November – Haitians defeat French in last battle of war of independence



   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battles_1801%E2%80%931900



   The Englsh had gradually bounced back from the dark days in 1783 to a robust economy that could finance predatory capitalist wars.

    

   Pitt the Younger became PM in December 1783 at the age of 22. The effects of Pitt's economic policies were a substantial increase in Britain's trade and an upturn in the economy. Confidence was restored in the £.  Worries, especially over the National Debt, ended and more people were prepared and able to lend to Government at guaranteed rates of interest.



   Anglo-American trade quadrupled, providing an example of the effectiveness of free trade.

   Pitt rebuilt the financial foundations of Britain, which later enabled him to subsidise European armies to fight France in the French wars.



   As 1804 begins, Thomas Jefferson, having digested the news of the French defeat in Haiti, is in a panic (and high dungeon) over the very idea that African slaves are running their own country. ALL the despotic colonial powers were in full agreement to DO what they DO to "uppity" Africans. That is, if it was too hard to defeat them in combat, then white=civilized countries would agree to not give them loans of any sort, allow their ships to engage in commerce with "civilized" nations or buy their export commodities.  It is right and proper for "civilized" folks to treat "uncivilized" blacks in an uncivilized manner, right? Ah, the smell of Orwellian enlightenment in 1803.



   Not much changed for well over a century. And when it did change, it was when American military forces INVADED Haiti and set up a puppet government to start the predatory capitalist "business model" shafting the Haitians all over again. Whitey just loves to have fun, don't he? THAT is why Haiti has not done better.

    

   When France finally recognized Haiti in 1825, something Haiti sorely needed to trade internationally, the massive "reparations" Haiti was forced to pay kept the nation without working capital to improve its infrastructure and economy for OVER a century. The "debt" (with lots of usurious interest, of course) was not paid of until 1947! French Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and the "Enlightenment"? I don't think so. Hypocrisy and empty rhetoric is more like it.



   But l digress. The English took note of the Louisiana Purchase. Tell me, dear readers, how do you think the English received the news that the "traitor" Jefferson was helping Napoleon spruce up his war machine? Napoleon wasn't going to use that money for spreading Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, was he?



   I do believe the English Maritime Empire, now with a healthy economy, was thinking that:



   1) France was weakened BY THE LOSS OF HAITI.



   2) The Rebellious American Colonies were giving money to an enemy of England.



   3) Said American Colonies could still count on French help as long as Napoleon was a threat to England.



   4) When, not if, France was eliminated as a threat to England, the Rebellious American Colonies were in line for a good thrashing (and good, properly dictated, trade deals!).



   SO, the British Empire, in 1803, continued to kick French ass whenever and wherever they could. The Americans would be dealt with by English maritime "policies" until France was out of the picture. Then a military visit  to the American Colonies would be in order.

    



   


   1803 British war song against the French


   

   The amazing amount of hero worshipping glorification of Thomas Jefferson's OBVIOUS unconstitutional embrace of the Louisiana Purchase by historians is breathtaking, if not downright Orwellian.

    

   They go to great lengths to call Jefferson a "strict constructionist" (because of all his high flying Constitutional rhetoric, still liberally quoted to this day). They want us to picture him as being involved in soul searching and hand wringing about whether to make the deal with Napoleon or not. They say he considered "making it legal"  by getting an Amendment to the Constitution passed that would authorize the purchase of FOREIGN lands.



   He didn't need to bother. The US Congress, despite some hemming and hawing from Federalists, went for the Louisiana Purchase like bees to honey.



   As usual in the USA, when expansion is in play, the Constitution is just a piece of paper to be amended at oligarchic will. The historians are then tasked with burying all the bodies and providing sainthood for the oligarchs. So it is with Jefferson. The historians even try to portray Jefferson as a big enemy of Napoleon. That too is Orwellian. Jefferson admired, then feared Napoleon.   



   An objective analysis of history at that time shows that Jefferson's concern for English agression against the USA was his main worry. Historians today try to paint Jefferson as trying to "ingratiate" the USA with England. That is simply NOT TRUE. Jefferson understood England quite well. He KNEW they would be back to the the US mainland in high dungeon as soon as they could. The Brits, especially from the Revolution on up to 1806, were NOT the forgiving sort.



   The American Revolution, followed by the Laki Eruption, almost destroyed England. Were in the hell do historians get the idea that the Brits were not extremely angry with the Rebellious Colonies all the way up to the War of 1812 and a few decades after? 



   Moving right along, we now arrive at 1806. Napoleon rattles his saber at England.



   A chain of cause and effect events, begun by the Laki Eruption, followed by the French Revolution, followed by the Revolution in Haiti, followed by the French defeat in Haiti, followed by Napoleon's new plan to focus on Europe instead of the Caribbean, followed by the Louisiana purchase, followed by Napoleon getting funds to build up his war machine, now brings about the conditions for the War of 1812.

     

   In 1806 France prohibited all neutral trade with Great Britain and in 1807 Great Britain banned trade between France, her allies, and the Americas. The US Congress passed an embargo act in 1807 in retaliation, prohibiting U.S. vessels from trading with European nations, and later the Non-Intercourse Acts, aimed solely at France and Britain.



   The embargo and non-intercourse act proved ineffective and in 1810 the United States reopened trade with France and Great Britain provided they ceased their blockades against neutral trading.



   Great Britain continued to stop American merchant ships to search for Royal Navy deserters, to impress American seamen on the high seas into the Royal Navy, and to enforce its blockade of neutral commerce. Madison made the issue of impressment from ships under the American flag a matter of national sovereignty—even after the British agreed to end the practice   —and asked Congress for a declaration of War on Great Britain on June 1, 1812. Many who supported the call to arms saw British and Spanish territory in North America as potential prizes to be won by battle or negotiations after a successful war.



   Pro-British Federalists in Washington were outraged by what they considered Republican favoritism toward France. The leading Republican, Thomas Jefferson responded, that “the English being equally tyrannical at sea as he [Napoleon] is on land, and that tyranny bearing on us in every point of either honor or interest, I say ‘down with England.’”



   The United States declared the war on Britain.

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if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Eddie

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I read some of this when you first  put it up, but I need to find time to sit down and give it my full attention. Nice piece, AG.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline g

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I read some of this when you first  put it up, but I need to find time to sit down and give it my full attention. Nice piece, AG.

Yes Eddie, there is no speed reading AG's original work, you either have to pass on it or find the time to pour a fresh coffee and get into it.

The amount of energy he has for a man his age is always amazing to me. He puts out a prodigious amount of high quality work.

A source of pride to us seniors who are often seen as tending in the opposite direction.  :emthup: :icon_sunny:

Offline Surly1

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I read some of this when you first  put it up, but I need to find time to sit down and give it my full attention. Nice piece, AG.

Yes Eddie, there is no speed reading AG's original work, you either have to pass on it or find the time to pour a fresh coffee and get into it.

The amount of energy he has for a man his age is always amazing to me. He puts out a prodigious amount of high quality work.

A source of pride to us seniors who are often seen as tending in the opposite direction.  :emthup: :icon_sunny:

I read the whole thing front to back this morning.

Truly a remarkable piece of work. First rate research and investigation. I readily admit to being a sucker for the "untold history" genre anyhow. Relating Loki to the French Revolution, Haiti and the Louisiana Purchase is audacious and a real work of ambition.

Hats off, AG.

Write the damned book!

 :emthup:
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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