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There are many reasons why students should learn history in schools. Among them is the fact that it helps students to train their mind and teaches them how to think and process information. Students who study history are also rounded people who develop understanding of both present and past events. In addition, history helps understand other subjects such as biology. It is through history that some biological topics such as natural selection can make sense to students. The paper will discuss the history of different events that took place on the earth with an emphasis on the 18-20th centuries. The paper discusses this period because it has been the most violent period in human history. The paper discusses the world wars, science, politics, nations, and money.
The World War I started in the year 1914 and lasted for four years. Thirty countries were involved in this war. The causes of this war are as illustrated below:
The first major cause of this war was militarism. Different countries thought that they were superior to others in terms of military. Britain and Germany had a large navy equipped with better weapons. France and Germany were competing to build larger armies. More nations at this time were competing to have a stronger military than others. Therefore, the more a country built its navy and army, the more other nations felt a need of strengthening their military power. In order to fulfill this objective, the civilian populations were paying high taxes. It was estimated that all major powers before the World War I had doubled their military size.
Alliances were another trigger of this war. European countries were forming allies in order to protect themselves from their enemies. If one country in the ally had a disagreement with another one in another ally, this resulted to a fight between all nations in the allies. It is the conflict between Austria and Serbia that resulted to this war.
Another cause of this war was imperialism. The act of gathering many colonies is what is called imperialism. Most European countries were ruling other countries that were called colonies. They competed with each other in acquiring colonies on a different continent such as Africa, Asia, America and some parts of Europe. The major objective of acquiring colonies was to build the nation’s wealth. France and Britain had many colonies in Asia and Africa that resulted in Italy and Germany to seek for colonies on these continents. Therefore, this led to competition that resulted in conflicts.
Nationalism was another cause of this war. Some countries felt that they were better than others. Therefore, they believed that their culture was better than other’s causing countries to build large navy and army.
In the year 1918 most countries were exhausted economically, and they could not finance the war anymore. Germany formally surrendered, and other countries agreed to stop the war. Treaty of Versailles was signed by both Allies to formally end the war.
World War 2
The World War II began in the year 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. The countries that were allied to Poland decided to fight against Germany. Germany had made allies with Italy, Japan, and the other side was France, Britain, Canada, Soviet Union, China, the USA, India and New Zealand. The United States was not directly participating in the war until the time when Japan attacked the US naval base. Afterward, the US proclaimed war on Japan. In 1945, America used atomic weapons against Japan where their air force struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than 200,000 civilians were killed after the two deadly attacks. The use of the nuclear weapon against Japan resulted in the end of the war after Japan surrendered.
Science (The Theory of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin)
Charles Darwin is known for his theory of natural selection. The theory states that evolution changes take place through production of variation in each generation. Therefore, the nature selects those species that can survive well in the world and reproduce to become the dominant population.
Charles Darwin comes up with five theories that are:
Species multiply: different species come up with the population of one species separated for many years.
Evolution: species are born and die after some time. When they are born, they change.
Common descent: all organisms originated from a common ancestor.
Gradualism: new species are not formed suddenly; they must be changed evolutionally that takes many years.
Natural selection: due to evolution, there are species which have more survival advantages than others. These species have extra survival probability hence they multiply and fill the earth.
All these theories were considered by Darwin as his grand idea. However, his most know idea is the natural selection.
How Does Natural Selection Work?
Darwin observed the world around him and noted that the organism produces more offspring than that the world can accommodate. Therefore, the population growth rate increases rapidly. However, the population tends to remain at the same level even if the numbers of offspring that are produced are more than the numbers that are dying. Here, Darwin looked for what causes this disparity. He found the answer to be limited and considered mates, food, water or even places to live. He published a book that explains how people are increasing at a rapid rate and predicted that after some time water and food will be not enough to feed them. Darwin later made a conclusion by saying that people will compete for limited resources.
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Another observation was made when he made many crosses from different breeds of pigeons to understand whether their offspring would have similar variations. In addition, he made this observation using different animals and plants before he made his conclusion. He later concluded that differences in individuals are heritable. The similarities are passed from one offspring to another.
Another thing that made Darwin a genius is how he explained the way individuals compete for limited resources. Some individuals have unique features that make them have advantage to produce and have more offspring than others. These offsprings inherit the genes that make their parents successful so that they can also have the advantage over the other. After some time, these dominant populations will spread and change the population in a process that is called evolution.
Darwin also explained how nature selects the best organism to survive. He gave an example of two similar species of birds that were separated for many years. They developed the features that made them survive in a different environment. One group of species was found to have shorter beaks while the other group of species was found to have longer beaks. The difference was distinguished on the basis of what the birds were feeding on.
Mercantilism is nationalism in economics which objectives included building a wealthy and powerful state. According to Adam Smith, mercantile system is a system where countries are encouraging exports of goods and services while discouraging the imports. The system dominated the European nations from the sixteen century to the late eighteenth century. The objective of this system was to achieve a balance of trade. Favorable balance of payment means that a country will have more gold and silver thus improving domestic employment. Unlike the agricultural system that existed in the nineteenth century, the mercantile system was encouraged by the states.
During the period of the mercantile system, the conflicts between nations were frequent and more extensive than in any other time. The navies and armies during this period were trained by professionals whose objective was to ensure their countries have acquired more wealth. To achieve this, there were conflicts between nations since many countries felt that they had strong militaries to expand their territory.
The mercantile objective was to ensure that they are relating well to the government and their mercantile classes. Since the mercantile were paying high taxes and levies, they had power to influence the government’s decisions that protected their businesses against the foreign businesses. The policies took different forms. The government would provide capital for supporting new businesses and also exempt new business from taxes and guild rules. The government would also discourage the importation of products that were produced locally. Successful producers were also granted with titles. Local traders benefited from the government since, there was no tax paid for their exports, quotas were increased and also imports were prohibited especially for those products that were produced locally.
The government also prohibited the export of skilled labor, tools and capital equipment that would allow other countries to benefit from efficient production. During the mercantile period, shipping was important to the expansion of gold and silver and colonies. Therefore, nations started to control their oceans which were considered vital. Ships were used for both the merchant and military purposes. The government on the other hand developed stronger merchant marines. For example, some countries such as France and England prohibited the foreign vessels from entering their ports, or they were charged high levies if they docked in their territory.
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During this period, the main objective of the foreign trade was to acquire more gold and expand the wealth of the nations by acquiring more gold and silver. Those countries that were fighting could drain one another of gold and silver. However, there were several criticisms that were made by Smith against the mercantilist system. First, the system specialized in the production of large scale. Second, disagreement between the government and the industries was harmful to the population. The system did not benefit the entire population.
The 18th century is characterized by a lot of political revolutions all over the world. In Asia, for instance, China went through a political revolution in an attempt to rid itself of the pressure of Western countries aiming to westernize their country. The Chinese relied on the Confucian beliefs and morals in making decisions about their government and laws. Western countries such as England and America felt that the Chinese culture was sick and needed to be changed. As this pressure went on, some Chinese intellectuals felt that their strict adherence to the Confucian culture made China unable to repulse the military and political incursions imposed by the West.
The combination of foreign aggression and internal wrangles led to the fall of the Manchu dynasty which had been in power as the calls for the establishment of a republic intensified. The dynastic system collapsed as political parties were formed by regional power centers who wanted control. As this went on, a civil war broke at the end of the World War II between communists and the nationalists fighting for the right to lead China into political and economic development and back to its former position in the world. Breakthrough occurred on October 1, 1949 owing the efforts of the Chinese communist party headed by Mao Zedong when the People’s Republic of China was established.
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The French revolution began at the end of the 18th century with Napoleon Bonaparte’s ascent to power. The revolution was characterized by French citizens razing and redesigning their political landscape by getting rid of old institutions of power such as the feudal system and absolute monarchy. The French revolution similar to the American Revolution was influenced by concepts of popular sovereignty, enlightenment ideals, and inalienable rights. The revolution may have failed to achieve all of its objectives, but it has been a great subject of reference as far as discussion of people’s role in shaping modern nations and the people could change the circumstances.
The other revolution that was popular in the 18th and 20th centuries was the American Revolution. The Americans enjoyed more liberties than British subjects because they paid lower taxes. Although they declared their loyalty to the British monarch, they would defy taxes, boycott imports and sometimes burn the British ships that dared to dock at their ports. Although Americans came from different regions, they were very united especially in their views about the British tyranny.
Even before the revolution was waged on the battlefields, they would meet in churches, town halls and mansions to discuss their plans of action. Pamphlets on the enlightenment ideals that were easy- to-read would be distributed by revolutionaries like Thomas Paine. Slaves understood the meaning of liberty and would escape fighting for the British. This made the Americans realize that they were ready to fight for their freedom and independence when in their homes they cordoned slavery.
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However, fighting among the patriots erupted because not all joined the revolution with good intentions as some did it because they could benefit economically. There were those who did not want to grant freedom to their slaves because they felt that they would lose their source of labor. However, despite this flaw of the American Revolution, it gave birth to an age of revolutions all over the world. The League of Nations formed in 1920 was an international organization whose main objective was to bring about equitable peace in Europe and the United States. Despite its formation being suggested by the former President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, the United States never became a member.
Formation of the League of Nations was one of the fourteen points of President Woodrow aimed at forming an association of nations. The association was to be based on specific agreements and covenants with the purpose of ensuring that its members would guarantee political independence and territorial integrity.
As most of the countries in Europe were recovering from the World War I, they shared Woodrow’s opinion that formation of the League of Nations would be a good way to solve international disputes that had led to the war. They also felt that the organization dedicated to fostering international understanding and peace would be a way forward in avoiding a break out of another world war in the future. The organization would also provide security to its members. Wilson took it upon himself to travel abroad to mass up enthusiasm for the formation of the organization.
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Using his influence, Wilson ensured that he had attached a charter of the organization’s covenant to the Treaty of Versailles. He felt that this was the first step to mitigating any inequities in the peace terms. With the help of the other members of the ‘Big Three’; David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom and Georges Clemenceau of France, the covenant was drafted as part 1 of the Treaty of Versailles. The main organs of the league included a council consisting of five permanent members and four rotational members, an international court of justice and an assembly made up of all members of the organization.
The leagues’ main role would be to
- guarantee political independence and territorial integrity of member states;
- safeguard peace;
- provide procedures and ways of arbitration in case of disputes;
- create sanctions for military and economic purposes.
Although Wilson was successful in getting the covenant and the Treaty of the Versailles, he faced difficulties in making the Congress consent to ratify the documents. In fact, his tenure of power came to an end without successfully convincing the United States to become a member of the League of Nations. Failure of the United States to ratify the treaty and the covenant defined the political division as for the role of the United States in the world. Republicans’ reason for failure to ratify the documents was the concern that the league would reduce their country’s ability to fight for their interests. However, after World War II, the United felt that there was a need to form an organization to uphold the peace among countries. Under the leadership of Roosevelt, the United States became a founding member of the United Nations.
History is a subject that helps students to develop open-mindedness. The period from the 18th to 20th century had many historical events that should be observed. Among these events are the world wars. World War I was started due to several reasons such as militarism, alliances, imperialism and nationalism. The World War I was started in the year 1914 and continued up to 1918. The World War I ended after the countries signed a peace treaty that was called a Treaty of Versailles. The World War II was started after Germany invaded Poland. This triggered other European nations that were allied to Poland to declare war against Germany. The war ended after the America attacked Japan with nuclear weapon. Other historical events that took place during this period include the emergence of the Charles Darwin’s theory.