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The Scramble for Africa and Venezuela

To this point European presence on the African continent has been limited to a few islands, trading posts, and larger areas including French Algeria, the Congo and the British Cape Colony. But Sir Henry Stanley (who found Dr. Livingston but probably did not say "Dr. Livingstone, I presume") has mapped the interior of Africa and given it a new name: "The Dark Continent." Europeans have a better idea of the resources to be exploited and they want to stake out their claim. The question is, "Why now?" Well... the Long Depression has been really... long. Tariff wars and protectionist policies between European countries have made trade goods very expensive. That makes tariff-free Africa very attractive, and with diamonds and gold available for the taking (except for a few annoying African Zulus, or Dutch Boers wandering around) the race is on. There is a potential for war between the Europeans so in a couple of years they will agree to carve up Africa in a more friendly manner... friendly to Europeans... less friendly to actual Africans. Thus the shape of modern African nations will be defined by the Europeans without regard to whether the borders make any sense to the Africans who must live within them. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The "Scramble for Africa" in a modern context refers to the exploitation of oil and other resources on the African continent. The controversy is usually framed as a battle between good and evil. The USA gives aid to Africa, but there are moral strings attached. For China it's just business. I could explain this issue quickly using 4-letter words, but I won't, so bear with me. Labor is cheap in some countries because it doesn't take much money there to pay for food and a nice place to sleep. This allows foreign companies to build infrastructure and pay the workers a lot less. Then socialist agitators tell the workers that their labor and natural resources are being stolen! POWER TO THE PEOPLE! But once the foreign devils are forced to leave, everything comes apart. The Venezuelan government nationalized the oil companies. The People were supposed to get rich, but the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money... and toilet paper! Union agreements specify that workplace restrooms shall be fully stocked with TP, but the workers are stealing it. The owner is facing a union strike, so he buys black-market TP. Then the Secret Police confiscate it in the name of the people, and everyone is just out of luck. Venezuela blames the USA for this crisis. [8] [9] [10]

The President has been Shot! By a Lawyer!

President Garfield was the "dark-horse" candidate at the Republican nominating convention starting with 60 votes and building from there. During the campaign, the Republicans blamed the South for everything but a rainy day. The South wanted lower tariffs which would improve cotton sales and make goods easier to buy. Republicans wanted to protect American jobs. America First! (Yeah. I know. The Long Depression is going to get a lot longer.) Hello Mr. President... and good-bye. At this time, "the spoils system" means that cushy government jobs are handed out to political cronies. (Not like today. Huh?) But Garfield actually thinks before he hands out these jobs. Then he receives a letter from a Chicago lawyer named John who expects a job too. John's 1st choice is Ambassador to Vienna. Yes. You guessed it. He is a nut and frankly, he is not much of a lawyer. (In those days, my dog could have passed the Bar in Chicago.) His application is DENIED! John buys a Bulldog revolver. Call it a snub-nose .44 with ivory grips. (He wants it to look good in a museum.) He waits at the train station for the President, walks up from behind and plugs Garfield twice: once in the shoulder and once about midway up the spine. The bullet misses the spinal cord and lodges in the pancreas. It takes Garfield 11 weeks to die... probably from infection. Surgical instruments were not normally sterilized. Chester Arthur is now President. [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Who? Chester Arthur was a supporter of the spoils system that led to so much overt government corruption. (Not like today. Right?) When President Arthur took his oath of office there was an ongoing investigation and trial of government officials who accepted bribes in exchange for lucrative postal delivery contracts. (Yes. The US Postal Service had a delivery service that was partly privatized.) The fear was that the new President would kill the investigation and trial. (Imagine that.) But in fact he fired a number of government officials based on suspicion alone. He brought some reform to government because the courts sure couldn't do the job. Despite evidence and the discovery of defendants attempting to bribe jury members, not a single conviction was upheld. And what happened to John the Assassin? He wrote letters to Republican leaders in order to reunite the Party. The jury returned a guilty verdict, so he called them all jackasses. (Apparently, that insanity plea didn't work.) After his appeal was rejected, he danced to the gallows and recited a poem entitled "I am Going to the Lordy." His request for an orchestra was denied. I assume everyone listened politely. They put a black hood over his head, pulled the handle and hanged him. [14]

In Other News

  • Pillsbury opens the largest flour mill in the world. It has a capacity of 5,000 barrels a day when 500 is considered a large operation. The mill won't always operate at full capacity, though. [15]
  • The "Black Cat" cabaret opens in Paris. Cheap wine, bad decor and a variety show marks the first cabaret. The owners and clientele are raising a "middle finger" to conventional society. [11] [16]
  • Kansas becomes the first "dry" state. The Methodists push a law to prohibit the sale of alcohol. Hey. If your state was host to the Chisholm Trail and the "Queen of Cowtowns" (Dodge City) you'd prohibit drinking too. The law will be repealed in 1948. [11] [17]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1881, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Scramble for Africa - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “The 'Scramble for Africa' is the popular name for the invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. It is also called the Partition of Africa and the Conquest of Africa. In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under European control; by 1914 it was 90 percent of the continent, with only Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Liberia still being independent.”
  2. Henry Morton Stanley - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “In 1874, the New York Herald and Britain's Daily Telegraph financed Stanley on another expedition to Africa. His objective was nothing less than to complete the exploration and mapping of the central African lakes and rivers, in the process circumnavigating Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika and locating the source of the Nile. Between 1875 and 1876 Stanley succeeded in the first part of his objective, establishing that Lake Victoria had only a single outlet - the one located by John Hanning Speke on 21 July 1862.”
  3. How I Found Livingstone. gutenberg.org (2013). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “
    'Yes,' said he, with a kind, cordial smile, lifting his cap slightly.
    I replaced my hat on my head, and he replaced his cap, and we both grasped hands. I then said aloud:
    'I thank God, Doctor, I have been permitted to see you.'
    He answered, 'I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.'”
  4. The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa, vol II. gutenberg.org (2005). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “But when my spirits were at their lowest ebb, the good Samaritan was close at hand, for one morning Susi came running at the top of his speed and gasped out, 'An Englishman! I see him!' and off he darted to meet him. The American flag at the head of a caravan told of the nationality of the stranger. Bales of goods, baths of tin, huge kettles, cooking pots, tents, &c, made me think 'This must be a luxurious traveller, and not one at his wits' end like me.' (28th October, 1871.) It was Henry Moreland Stanley, the travelling correspondent of the New York Herald, sent by James Gordon Bennett, junior, at an expense of more than 4000l., to obtain accurate information about Dr. Livingstone if living, and if dead to bring home my bones.”
  5. Dark Continent - definition of Dark Continent (2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “Often Offensive Africa considered as mysterious, especially to Europeans and people of European descent, chiefly when its interior was largely unknown to them. Henry M. Stanley was probably the first to use the term in Through the Dark Continent (1878).”
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: I cannot put everything into these short summaries, but I note that Sir Stanley was a British subject, sometimes funded by the United States Consul. Thus when he meets Dr. Livingstone, Stanley's caravan is flying an American flag.
  7. Boer - definition of Boer (2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “A Dutch colonist or descendant of a Dutch colonist in South Africa.”
  8. Venezuelan toilet paper shortage an unwelcome symptom of socialism. Chicago Tribune (February 25, 2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “After socialists run out of other people's money, the people eventually run out of something almost as precious as money: Toilet paper.”
  9. Venezuela crisis: no butter and bread for weeks. CNN (May 31, 2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “Venezuela's economy is spiraling into extreme recession. It is ironic given that the country sits on the world's largest proven oil reserves of oil. However Venezuela hasn't cut back from expensive government spending even as oil prices have lost half its value in the past two years.”
  10. Venezuela Is Falling Apart. The Atlantic (May 12, 2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “oilet-paper theft may sound like a farce, but it’s a serious matter for the entrepreneur: Failing to stock the restrooms puts him in violation of his agreement with the union, and that puts his factory at risk of a prolonged strike, which in turn could lead to its being seized by the socialist government under the increasingly unpopular President Nicolas Maduro. So the entrepreneur turned to the black market, where he found an apparent solution: a supplier able to deliver, all at once, enough TP to last a few months. (We’re not naming the entrepreneur lest the government retaliate against him.) The price was steep but he had no other option—his company was at risk. But the problem wasn’t solved. No sooner had the TP delivery reached the factory than the secret police swept in. Seizing the toilet paper, they claimed they had busted a major hoarding operation, part of a U.S.-backed 'economic war' the Maduro government holds responsible for creating Venezuela’s shortages in the first place.”
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 440-441. 
  12. Charles J. Guiteau - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “Borrowing $15 from a Mr. Maynard,[16] Guiteau went out to purchase a revolver. He knew little about firearms, but did know that he would need a large caliber gun. He had to choose between a .442 Webley caliber British Bulldog revolver[16] with wooden grips or one with ivory grips. He chose the one with the ivory handle because he wanted it to look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination.”
  13. Assassination of James A. Garfield - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “As President Garfield entered the waiting room of the station, Guiteau stepped forward and pulled the trigger from behind at point-blank range. 'My God, what is that?' Garfield cried out, flinging up his arms. Guiteau fired again and Garfield collapsed.[28] One bullet grazed Garfield's shoulder; the other hit him in the back, passing the first lumbar vertebra but missing the spinal cord before coming to rest behind his pancreas.”
  14. Last Words of Charles Guiteau, the Assassin of President James Garfield. law2.umkc.edu (2007). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “I am going to the Lordy, I am so glad, I am going to the Lordy, I am so glad, I am going to the Lordy, Glory hallelujah! Glory hallelujah! [...]”
  15. Pillsbury A-Mill - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 26 September 2016. “The Pillsbury A-Mill, situated along Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, held the title of largest flour mill in the world for 40 years. Completed in 1881, it was owned by Pillsbury and operated two of the most powerful direct-drive waterwheels ever built, each generating 1,200 horsepower (895 kW). The mill still stands today on the east side of the Mississippi River and has been converted into resident artist lofts.”
  16. Le Chat Noir - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “The cabaret began by serving bad wine and had a rather inferior decor, but from the first, at the door, guests were greeted by a Swiss guard, splendidly bedecked and covered with gold from head to foot. The guard supposedly was responsible for bringing in the painters and poets who arrived, while barring the 'infamous priests and the military.' Eventually Salis' tongue-in-cheek admirational piece was on a high marble fireplace: The skull of Louis XIII as a child.”
  17. Kansas - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 September 2016. “In response to demands of Methodists and other evangelical Protestants, in 1881 Kansas became the first U.S. state to adopt a constitutional amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages, which was only repealed in 1948.”

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