The Battle of the Tsushima Straits is the most underrated moment of historical importance in the 20th century.
We’ve all heard lots of different explanations for the start of the First World War. The standard ones are as follows: Europe was a mess of alliances, imperial powers treated war like a game, and one unlucky arch-duke got offed by anarchists.
Less commonly mentioned is Russia’s lack of international prestige, a situation that made it desperate for military victories at the same time it made the Central Powers contemptuous of Russia’s strength.
Russia was the first country to mobilize in 1914 (with its “period preparatory to war”) after Austria issued an ultimatum to Serbia and it was arguably this mobilization that set the stage for a continent spanning war.
Why was Russia so desperate and the Central Powers so unworried?
Well, over 24 hours on May 27/28th, 1905, Russia went from...
Friends, lend me your ears.
I write today about a speech that was once considered the greatest political speech in American history. Even today, after Reagan, Obama, Eisenhower, and King, it is counted among the very best. And yet this speech has passed from the history we have learned. Its speaker failed in his ambitions and the cause he championed is so archaic that most people wouldn’t even understand it.
I speak of Congressman Will J Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech.
William Jennings Bryan was a congressman from Nebraska, a lawyer, a three-time Democratic candidate for president (1896, 1900, 1908), the 41st Secretary of State, and oddly enough, the lawyer for the prosecution at the Scopes Monkey Trial. He was also a “silver Democrat”, one of the insurgents who rose to challenge Democratic President Grover Cleveland and the Democratic party establishment over their support for gold over a bimetallic (gold...