1979: "History"

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Durandal_1707
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Re: 1979: "History"

Postby Durandal_1707 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:26 pm UTC

jackal wrote:
Durandal_1707 wrote:I'd write up a punchy little narrative about it sensationalizing all the crazy bits, but I'm really tired and I need to get up in the morning, so sadly I haven't got time right now. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow if I end up having some free time. ;)

Please do! I finding interestingly-written historical anecdotes and analyses endlessly fascinating. If my history books in school were written like some of the Quora answers I’ve enjoyed reading, I probably would have cared about history a little more...

Sorry, the last few days have been crazy. But I'm finally free for a bit, and a promise is a promise! Disclaimer: I'm not actually a historian or anything, just a geek who loves reading about stuff, especially when I'm supposed to be doing something else. If there are any actual historians in the crowd, feel free to correct anything I screw up :wink: Of course, I also reserve the right to take some mild artistic license for Rule of Funny, and you'll just have to deal with that. Once things get started, pull out a Bingo card populated with weird things that have happened in 21st century politics, and see how long it takes for you to get a Bingo. Do not take a shot each time; I must stress the importance of drinking responsibly, and besides, Rutherford B. Hayes would never approve.

So anyway, our story starts with a mild-mannered lawyer, one-term Illinois Representative, and recent President-Elect named Abe Lincoln, who received a letter from a little girl suggesting that he'd look good in a beard. Upon taking that advice, mild-mannered Abe suddenly metamorphosed into...

*** THE ABRAHAM MUTHAF-ING LINCOLN ==(:-)= ***

(I had some US flags in here, but this board apparently doesn't properly support Unicode, alas)

...thus inaugurating the Big-Beard Era of the American presidency. Well, there was an exception. Sigh, I guess we can derail a bit to talk about him. Okay. So Lincoln is known as the first Republican president, but for his second term, he actually ran on the ticket of the National Union Party, a coalition of Republicans and pro-Union Democrats, to win the support of people who'd refuse to vote Republican otherwise. And to that end, Lincoln chose a Democrat, Andrew Johnson, as his running mate in the 1864 election. Johnson was, admittedly, a flaming asshole, but he was a guy from North Carolina, one of the rebelling states, who nonetheless remained loyal to the Union, and thus choosing him sent a strong message of national unity. And after all, the VP doesn't really do anything anyway, so what could go wrong?

(Ron Howard: "Something went wrong.")

So we're stuck with Andrew Johnson for almost all of what should have been Lincoln's second term. Johnson may have been pro-Union, but he was still a Southerner, and as such he expended a great deal of energy trying to undermine the North's attempts to take advantage of their victory to make life suck slightly less for the recently-freed slaves. For an example of what a great guy Johnson was: when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which granted all citizens, regardless of color, equal access to basic freedoms like the ability to own property, enter into contracts, and such, Johnson vetoed it because it discriminated against whites. He also argued that it could lead to a slippery slope by which the Southern states might eventually be forced to let blacks do things like serve on juries, hold public office, or even (gasp!) vote. Congress overrode the veto, by the way, marking the first time in history that Congress and the president were pissed-off at each another enough for that to happen. But that wasn't the only first in Congressional-Presidential relations during this administration, because you already know how the rest of this goes: Congress sets a trap obvious enough to be the work of an SNES RPG villain, Johnson deliberately steps right on it just to say F-U, Congress impeaches Johnson because they hate his stupid face, Johnson survives by one vote. Anyway. Suppose you're thinking of running for president after this fiasco. Who do you want to look like?

This?
Image

Or this?
Image

So yeah, it's gonna be beards for a while.

Now it's 1868, and on the Republican ticket we have Ulysses S. Grant, flying high on his fame for being the general that won the Civil War. And for the Democrats we have... ohwhocareshehasnochance. Grant's not a politician, and doesn't really have any political experience, but hey, how hard can it be? Picking out cabinet and staff members will be easy; Grant has lots of friends, and they're the best people, the best people. So while Grant actually did some good things in office—including fulfilling some of Johnson's doom-and-gloom predictions with more civil rights legislation—the thing everyone's going to remember about him is the ill-fated stunt where he jumped over a shark tank in a motorcycle. Oh, and also the rampant corruption scandals plaguing his administration, particularly the Crédit Mobilier scandal, which is so convoluted that I always have to look it up. One moment. (pulls up Wikipedia)

Ahem. So, the new big thing is building a transcontinental railroad to connect the mainland US with the relatively new Southwestern states. Stealing those states from Mexico was one of the major sparks that ended up leading to the Civil War, after all, and since we've already gone through all that, probably we should at least make it not a giant pain in the ass to get over there. So the government hires the Union Pacific Railroad to build this thing, and the guys in charge of Union Pacific, one of whom is hilariously named George Francis Train, formed a company called Crédit Mobilier—named after a French bank, don't ask me why—and subcontracted the work out to them. Crédit Mobilier jacked their prices way up, Union Pacific passed those costs on to the government claiming that's what their subcontractor was asking for, Crédit Mobilier lied about how much money they made, and the guys running UP were the same guys running CM so they got filthy rich. Then, Crédit Mobilier started getting members of Congress in on the act, giving them nice big payouts as well as positions on CM's board in exchange for continuing to appropriate the funds to keep this scheme running. So basically, you can imagine how the excrement hit the fan when this got out. Grant had been planning to take a shot at becoming the first US president to win a third term, but 'twas not to be; only one guy in history would ever manage to pull that off, and it's not U. S. Grant. But with Grant out of the race, and the populace thoroughly pissed off, what would the Republican party do in 1876? Who would they run? And who will end up being the 19th president of the United States? Well stay tuned, because this is where things start getting really messed up (and I promise, this is all leading to something!). Unfortunately, I need to take a break after typing all this :wink: See you later tonight and/or tomorrow!

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Steve the Pocket
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Re: 1979: "History"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:55 am UTC

DeGuerre wrote:Think about how much has been written about World War II. How many volumes of text, how many hours of documentary and fictionalised history, how many photographs, how much oral history...

Then remember: That was six years of history. In case you've forgotten just how little time six years is, it's this long ago.

I wondered what video you could possibly be linking to that would represent an entire year (and not a particularly eventful one at that, if memory serves), and then... that nostalgia bomb. Well played. Never expected to see that sort of thing on this forum.

...Fan of Todd in the Shadows, by any chance? That's how I was introduced to DJ Earworm.
cephalopod9 wrote:Only on Xkcd can you start a topic involving Hitler and people spend the better part of half a dozen pages arguing about the quality of Operating Systems.

Baige.

sonar1313
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Re: 1979: "History"

Postby sonar1313 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:53 pm UTC

Durandal_1707 wrote:Ahem. So, the new big thing is building a transcontinental railroad to connect the mainland US with the relatively new Southwestern states. Stealing those states from Mexico was one of the major sparks that ended up leading to the Civil War, after all, and since we've already gone through all that, probably we should at least make it not a giant pain in the ass to get over there. So the government hires the Union Pacific Railroad to build this thing, and the guys in charge of Union Pacific, one of whom is hilariously named George Francis Train, formed a company called Crédit Mobilier—named after a French bank, don't ask me why—and subcontracted the work out to them. Crédit Mobilier jacked their prices way up, Union Pacific passed those costs on to the government claiming that's what their subcontractor was asking for, Crédit Mobilier lied about how much money they made, and the guys running UP were the same guys running CM so they got filthy rich. Then, Crédit Mobilier started getting members of Congress in on the act, giving them nice big payouts as well as positions on CM's board in exchange for continuing to appropriate the funds to keep this scheme running. So basically, you can imagine how the excrement hit the fan when this got out. Grant had been planning to take a shot at becoming the first US president to win a third term, but 'twas not to be; only one guy in history would ever manage to pull that off, and it's not U. S. Grant. But with Grant out of the race, and the populace thoroughly pissed off, what would the Republican party do in 1876? Who would they run? And who will end up being the 19th president of the United States? Well stay tuned, because this is where things start getting really messed up (and I promise, this is all leading to something!). Unfortunately, I need to take a break after typing all this :wink: See you later tonight and/or tomorrow!

As well, as I understand the story of the Transcontinental Railroad, the two companies building the thing (Union Pacific and Central Pacific) got paid per mile and thus kept on building track right on past each other, determined apparently to build two transcontinental railroads as long as they were getting paid, until the government stepped in and told them to actually connect the damn thing.

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pogrmman
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Re: 1979: "History"

Postby pogrmman » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:47 pm UTC

Durandal_1707 wrote:history story — quoted so you get the notification

That was great. Admittedly, I payed way less attention in American history than I should’ve (it certainly didn’t help that my teacher used this awful, completely flat monotone voice when he talked and that he basically gave us a sheet with exactly what was going to be on the test the day before we took it), but parts of the subject have always been pretty interesting to me. It seemed like I covered lots of the history of the 13 colonies/Northeast like 10 different times in elementary/middle/high school — which made that part seem incredibly boring. The history of the center and west of the country has always been more interesting and relevant to me (I imagine this partly comes from the fact that the last time any of my family lived east of the Mississippi was almost 100 years ago).

I imagine a history book written in that sort of style would go over really well. I’d certainly read it.

sonar1313
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Re: 1979: "History"

Postby sonar1313 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:08 pm UTC

pogrmman wrote:
Durandal_1707 wrote:history story — quoted so you get the notification

That was great. Admittedly, I payed way less attention in American history than I should’ve (it certainly didn’t help that my teacher used this awful, completely flat monotone voice when he talked and that he basically gave us a sheet with exactly what was going to be on the test the day before we took it), but parts of the subject have always been pretty interesting to me. It seemed like I covered lots of the history of the 13 colonies/Northeast like 10 different times in elementary/middle/high school — which made that part seem incredibly boring. The history of the center and west of the country has always been more interesting and relevant to me (I imagine this partly comes from the fact that the last time any of my family lived east of the Mississippi was almost 100 years ago).

I imagine a history book written in that sort of style would go over really well. I’d certainly read it.


I'm quite sure it would. That was more or less the style that Mrs. Norris, my favoritest of all teachers from preschool through a master's degree, lectured in. I hung on every word, learned to love history (even more, that is), and aced the shit out of the AP exam. We hardly bothered with the textbook.

PhilHibbs
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Re: 1979: "History"

Postby PhilHibbs » Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:42 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:Title text: "HISTORIANS: We've decided to trim the past down to make things more manageable. Using BCE/CE, would you rather we lose the odd-numbered or even-numbered years?"


That depends on whether the question assumes ISO 8601:1988, or ISO 8601:2000 or later. As an Asterix the Gaul fan I'd hate to lose 50 BC, which would be 49 BCE, so my decision hangs on that.


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