I want to start by asking a simple question. Do you believe in fate?
This essay is about how the belief in fate influenced the ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Before I jump into that however, I want to make certain you know all about these cultures so I am going to be describing the ancient civilizations of the Olmecs and Mayans to get you familiar with just who we will be discussing.
The Mesoamericans cultures were many different civilizations that thrived in Mexico and South America before the Spanish colonized those areas in the 15th and 16th centuries. There were many different cultures but they all had commonalities. All of them were pagan based societies that worshiped numerous gods. All of them used rituals, forms of worship, and human sacrifice to please these gods, and all of them believed in fate. All of these civilizations were made up of master builders and ingenious minds. They were knowledgeable, and grew from the more humble beginnings of the Olmecs and Mayans to being untouchable.
We will start with the Olmecs. The name Olmec literally means “rubber people”. The reason they called themselves “rubber people” was because in the area of Mexico they lived in, they had rubber trees from which they would extract latex. Mixing this with a substance from the plant Ipomoea alba, the Olmecs were able to produce their own rubber. Not only the Olmecs however, but also the Mayans and Aztecs as they also inhabited Mexico.
The Olmecs are one of the oldest Mesoamerican civilizations we know of and were one of the very first to come into existence. The Olmecs had a pictorial language. In other words it was a language expressed by pictures. They also had a complex calendar. The Olmecs are most famous for their colossal heads that were sculpted from large basalt boulders. These heads were a major feature of the Olmec civilization, and they may have been representations of mighty leaders.
The Mayans lived in southeastern Mexico occupying the entire Yucatan Peninsula. They were a very mighty civilization and strong power in their time. They are known for having extraordinary talents in math, architecture, and calendar work.
In math they had their own way to show numbers and were able to easily record huge amounts. They used a system invented earlier in history. When it came to the calendar, the Mayan version proved to be even more accurate than the Julian version that was being used in the rest of the world at the time. They were a truly brilliant people. They recorded very correctly important solar information such as eclipses, lunar and solar cycles, and even movements of planets. As for architecture, the Mayan people would build stone pyramids with stairs leading up to a shrine at the top dedicated to a specific god. The Mayans didn’t invent all of the materials or ideas they worked with but they were responsible for the development and enhancement of them.
These cultures were the beginning of two very strong cultures that formed over time. The Aztecs and the Incans. My question is, with all of the smarts that these cultures possessed, the massive population that the Aztecs and Incans grew overtime, and the fortification of hideous and deadly weapons, how could the Aztecs and Incans be overthrown by outnumbered Spanish troops? Let me enlighten you. I believe it was their worldview that was their eventual downfall. The reason is, any action you take influences you in every area of your life. Physical actions influence you in some way emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, just as spiritual actions influence you in some way mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Think about what these people believed. They believed in cosmological views that intertwined making fate the ultimate power. From this grows desperation. These people didn’t even value life because they believed in fate. One persons fate may be to become a sacrifice to the gods while another persons fate may be to rule and dictate. Whatever happened they just accepted it because it must be their fate. This would make it incredibly easy for someone to overthrow them. If they believed a god was angry with them at the same time that enemies were invading as in the case of a fe, why wouldn’t they just give up? The fact is, they would. The fact is, they did.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my essay and learning about the Mesoamerica civilizations.
Jesus is mercy, my Jesus is grace
When I wander far look away from His face,
When I put myself in a very dark place,
Jesus is mercy, His love never shakes.
Jesus is wisdom, my Jesus is light
When I am confused and know not what it is right,
When I can not see past the dark of the night,
Jesus is wisdom, He’ll give me new sight.
Jesus is vict’ry, my Jesus is triumph
When I can’t go on He’ll defeat all my giants,
My Lord is the Lamb but He’s also the Lion,
Jesus is vict’ry, in Him I’m defiant.
I am always on the move,
Even when it’s hard to see it.
I won’t take my hand off you,
Even when you don’t believe it.
Your secure, your in My name,
I will bring you through this season.
Though it’s hard I stay the same,
Rest, and know I have a reason.
Come to me, I’ll fill Your soul.
Seek and you will find My power.
Peace and joy will overflow,
I will guard you every hour.
The children of Israel continually struggled with fearing God. The reason they struggled with this was simply because they were bad history enthusiasts. They didn’t like to study their history and remember just how good God was.
Pslam 78 taught me the importance of history by showing me the deadliness of Israel’s forgetfulness. History is a big deal. If you don’t remember the things that happened in the past then they can’t affect your future. If nothing affects your future then you never learn anything but continue to stumble around in the dark. Richard Weaver said, “The recollection of the past is only useful by way of provision for the future.”
Keep in mind that forgetfulness is a choice. Israel chose to forget God. They chose to disregard Him in their mind. Right now many people are stumbling around in the dark because they are choosing not to apply the lessons that past experiences teach us. They are choosing to forget them.
I hope you now see history in a new light. I hope you realize that without knowing what happened in the past we are just going to make the same mistakes over again.
Not everyone is brave enough to run,
To run with their heart and soul.
They will let up when they want to be done,
Not enough courage to meet their goal.
Never give up if there is still a chance,
Be daring, be fearless, be strong.
Forget the pain and focus on advance,
You will be done ere long.
Remember you aren’t promised tomorrow,
So don’t hold anything back.
For then you will reflect with sorrow,
That you wish you would have picked up the slack.
A life that is easy is cowardice,
If you are afraid of the pain.
You will be frightened and anxious,
And you will never experience gain.
What’s more, you yourself as a person,
Will be a weak and cowardly sort,
You can never rely on your actions,
And hard things you will always abort.
Your denying yourself when you do this,
And trampling your life under-foot.
You were meant to do hard things I insist,
Your life could be a better output.
So how do you overcome hardship?
How do you combat your weakness?
When pain is telling you to up and quit,
When doubt and fear leave nothing but bleakness?
Sense whisper lies about what’s possible
Doubt claims you are not enough.
Fear wishes to ruin your potential,
But it is crucial to be tough.
The way to conquer your trials,
I wish to give you the key.
To win your inward battles,
You simply must believe.
America has just been through five years of raging bloodshed and terrible, terrible violence. At least six hundred thousand Americans have fallen dead having killed each other. Everyone knows that America can’t just pretend like the Civil War never happened, but how can they bring about peace? Each side is still as passionate as ever, and no one wants to compromise. This essay is going to explain a concept called reconstruction which was the Union’s effort to piece back together their broken nation. In addition to that, I will list some amendments and acts passed to bring about and enforce reconstruction, explain the South’s reaction to these new policies, and briefly summarize where the next three presidents (who were in office during this time) stood on reconstruction.
Reconstruction is very easy to understand. The North believed to reunite the nation they would have to change the culture of the South. This might have worked, but they went about it in a very forceful way. They laid down new laws demanding they be followed, and enforced them through military. It was definitely not the right way to go mending a relationship and it simply brought on more violence. To start reconstruction, they passed three amendments so that new laws could be made. They were called Reconstruction Amendments. These were amendments thirteen through fifteen.
Amendment thirteen abolished slavery, and said that it could only be used as punishment for a crime. This was proposed and ratified the same year the Civil War ended. Amendment fourteen had many parts. It defined citizenship and dealt with post civil war issues. It also contained three clauses called the Privileges Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause. These clauses protected U.S. citizens from having their rights and privileges infringed, applied the right of due process to state as well as federal courts, and regardless of any Black Codes that had been instated, provided protection to both to blacks and whites. Amendment fifteen stated that no one could take away someones right to vote based on race, color, or previous conditions of servitude. These amendments were so important to the Union that they even passed the Enforcement Acts which were three bills that gave the Union authority to enforce these amendments.
Despite the Reconstruction Amendments, it wasn’t until one hundred years later that any of these new laws were actually followed. The south was still seething at having lost the war, and the fact that they were being overseen by military, and so harshly treated made them furious. Because of their anger, organizations like the Klu Klux Klan or KKK formed. The KKK was an organization founded on the belief that whites should have supremacy. They acted on this belief by destroying property, and threatening and killing republicans, blacks, and anyone that didn’t support their way of thinking.
The first president after the Civil War was technically Lincoln, but his sudden murder soon forced his vice president to step up. It is important for you to know that Andrew Johnson was a southern democrat, and Abraham Lincoln was a northern republican. Congress definitely did not get along with their new president. Though Johnson supported reconstruction, he didn’t support it in the way Congress supported it. He had more sensible ways that didn’t included enraging the south. As a result, while Congress was trying to pass all of these formidable laws, he was trying to pass more reasonable ones. His bad reputation in the Congress made him the first president to be impeached. He escaped by one vote being thrown out of the presidency for doing nothing wrong.
The following president, Ulysses S. Grant, believed in the policies that the Congress did, and so wasn’t a help to the growing tensions. The next presidential election however, was one like never before. It was confusing because their were some votes so disputed that Congress didn’t know who they should go to. Because of this, the Compromise of 1877 was made. It stated that Congress would give Rutherford B. Hayes the unknown votes if he promised to end reconstruction when he became president. He accepted the invitation and thus was responsible for ending reconstruction.
This essay has explained what reconstruction was, the amendments and acts that were made for reconstruction, the South’s reaction to these, and finally where three presidents stood on the issue. Though it will be many more years before we have a peaceful nation again, it is important to know how we began trying to recover from the hideous scars the Civil War left with our nation.
The Civil War was a series of very violent years. During this time, uncountable numbers of fellow countrymen died on American soil. Because of all the passion which each side had for their own cause, this war had numerous ardent and strong generals. In this essay I will be discussing these leaders, and comparing them to each other.
The first general we will go over was the most famous general on the Union side and a legendary hero. His name was Ulysses S. Grant. Surprisingly however, he was not born as Ulysses S. Grant, but Hiram Ulysses Grant. He changed his name right before his father entered him into the U.S. Military Academy because there had been a mistake and he had been listed wrong. Funny that this little mistake was later taken advantage of when he was given the nickname U.S. Grant.
Ulysses S. Grant was born April 27, 1822 to Jesse and Hannah Grant. He was the oldest of five brothers and sisters, and his father owned a tannery business in Georgetown OH where he grew up. Grant described his childhood as “uneventful”, and he was reserved and scrupulous. His father enrolled him into the military academy and though he was not very fond of the idea of the military for a while, he ended up becoming one of America’s best generals.
He served in the Mexican-American War during his required four years of military service after graduating the U.S. Military Academy in 1843. This was the time when he developed his outstanding leadership skills that brought him so far during the Civil War. He observed his generals and learned valuable lessons from them. Not only that, but he got a chance to prove his fearless courage, and was recognized by those above him. His scrupulous character came out as well, when he decided that the war was wrong because it was only being waged so that the U.S. could gain more territory.
When the Civil War broke out, Grant returned to military life. He was passionate that the rebellious ways of the South needed to be dealt with. Because of former drinking habits as a result of stress in his life, he started out in a low field. Slowly however, he made his way up, and he soon became in charge of a very successful western campaign. Unlike many, Grant believed that it was more important to hunt down the enemy than conquer their land.
He set himself to this, and persistently pursued Robert E. Lee, the top Confederate general. He had many victories including Fort Henry, Fort Donelsone, and the Siege of Vicksburg. The Siege of Vicksburg was his best victory though, because it split the Confederate’s territory in half, and used the Mississippi to block the enemy. After this, he was promoted to Commander of all the Union Armies. He then organized the Shenandoah and Atlanta campaigns which where also very successful and ended up being instrumental to the end of the war.
Grant was elected president of the United States in 1868. He served two terms. Grant supported reconstruction, but not discrimination. He died on July 23, 1885.
Robert E. Lee is our next general. As mentioned earlier, Lee was the Confederate’s top general. He was Chief Commander of Confederate Armies from 1862 to the end of the war. He and Grant were always feverishly fighting against each other because both of them were the commanders of all the armies on their respective sides.
Another way these two were similar, is that they fought on the side of their home states. (Lee decided to follow Virginia’s path even though he believed the U.S. should stay unified). They also both served in the Mexican-American War. Grant and Lee were incredible generals, but the lack of supplies on the Confederate’s side led to Lee’s defeat.
I have demonstrated how Lee and Grant were similar in many ways, so I will mention one way they were completely different. After Lee resigned, he became President of Washington and Lee University. He did not have a hard time getting a post war career. When Grant resigned the military however, he had a very hard time. He failed countless business ventures and couldn’t always support his family. He just didn’t know how to do much of anything except fight. He never overcame this difficulty, and he had it even before the Civil War began. While he did become president, that was only a temporary thing. He couldn’t serve forever, and if it wasn’t for a book of memoirs Grant published right as he was dying, his family would have been destitute.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was born in 1821, and he grew up to be a talented cavalry office in the Confederate Army. His talent was so conspicuous that Lee admitted he should have utilized him better. Not only was this man a capable officer, he was a capable leader overall. He believed very strongly in what he was fighting for, and even after the war was passionate about the needs of the south, being a incredible advocate and sympathizer as I have heard said.
Though Forrest is the only cavalry officer we will discuss, he is more similar to the other two generals, than the last one I am about to introduce. He was serious about the military and very talented. He was well recognized, and a passionate leader just like the other two.
The final general we will cover is Ambrose Everett Burnside, born in 1824. Burnside wasn’t only a general, he was a railroad executive, an inventor, an industrialist, a politician, a senator, and the first president of the National Rifle Association. As you can see, he was not as serious about the military as the other generals we have discussed having several other occupations. He had a balanced amount of success and defeat in the Civil War, and seems to me like any other man valiantly serving his country, as he was not particularly as talented as the other three generals we have talked about. Something interesting about this man however, was his personal hairstyle, that later became known as “side burns”.
While Burnside may have just been an ordinary man serving in the military he was more of an exciting character than the others we have talked about. He had his own sense of style and an inventive imagination. At the same time, he served in the same war the other three did, so in this way was similar.
This essay has been focused on four military leaders of the Civil War. Two were on the Union side, the other two on the Confederate side. I hope you saw the similarities and differences I was trying to relate that are between these four generals. They all helped bring us through the Civil War, and have earned respect in my eyes through their sacrifice for our nation.