Suez Canal III

Lead: Facing almost universal skepticism, the Suez Canal Company under Ferdinand de Lesseps raised the money and dug the Canal.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Prime Minister Palmerston of Britain called him a swindler and a fool. Bankers such as Baron de Rothschild rejected his pleas for capital. Yet, de Lesseps succeeded against all odds. Raising money from small investors and operating with a design approved by the International Commission for the Piercing of the Isthmus of Suez, he broke ground in 1859 near the future Port Said. It took ten years to construct the canal. At any given point 30,000 workers were employed often under harsh, forced conditions. More than a million were so engaged and thousands of laborers died on the project. Progress was often delayed by labor disputes and the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, but in the end the canal was completed primarily due to the importation of giant French-designed steam shovels and dredges.

Suez Canal II

Lead: In 1869, finally, the land bridge between Egypt and Suez was pierced with a canal, thanks in large measure to Ferdinand de Lesseps.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: He was no engineer, had no great fortune, had no access to capital, and was in no way an effective administrator, unanimated by tedium. Yet, if anyone might be called the Father of the Suez, it was de Lesseps. Other than his indefatigable energy and dedication to the project, he largely succeeded in building the canal because of his personal connection to two people.

Suez Canal I

Lead: In 1869 French engineers and Egyptian laborers completed work eliminating one of the world’s two great blocks to navigation. They opened the canal at Suez.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Until the 19th and 20th centuries there were two significant places in the world where the passage of oceangoing commerce and transportation were impeded by relatively short land bridges. The Isthmus of Panama fell before the assaults of U.S. doctors and engineers in 1914. Creating a passage between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was much longer in coming. It had attracted the attention of rulers such as Ramesses II of the 12th Egyptian dynasty in the 2nd Millennium BCE and Persian conqueror Darius I. They built narrow canals from the Nile to the Red Sea but these soon fell into disuse.

President Wilson and the League II

Lead: To secure support for the Treaty ending World War I, and, for Wilson, its most important provision, the League of Nations, President Woodrow Wilson had to overcome several hurtles. His biggest was the United States Senate.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: While most citizens were generally sympathetic with Wilson's goals, most Americans were still isolationists. The people were willing to go to a foreign war in a just cause, but fighting should be concluded as swiftly as possible and national attention allowed to return to domestic affairs.

Read more →

President Wilson and the League I

Lead: Returning from the Peace Conference concluding World War I in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson faced a skeptical U.S. Senate.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: On January 8, 1918 Wilson brought before Congress a plan consisting of Fourteen Points which he insisted would provide the basis of a just and lasting settlement after the conclusion of World War I. Point number fourteen was the key to Wilson's vision of a post-war world. He called for a League of Nations which would guarantee "political independence and territorial integrity" and thereby enforce the peace.

Read more →

Cook-Peary North Pole Competition

Lead: In 1909 Robert Peary and Frederick Cook claimed to have discovered the North Pole. Their competing assertions form one of history’s mysteries.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: They began this saga as friendly associates. Peary hired Cook as a physician on a Greenland expedition in 1891, and the Doctor unflappably set the bones of his leader’s legs after an accident on the shipboard part of the journey. They soon became competitors, however, in the race to the North Pole, which was made extremely complex because unlike the land-bound South Pole, the position of 90 North sits on drifting sea ice.

Shanghai (Sailors)

Lead: During the nineteenth century, if a ship captain found himself short of sailors, he might have to make up his crew by shanghaiing.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of the important irritants that led to the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States was impressment. A British Captain, short of sailors, would stop an American merchant ship, sometimes at gunpoint, land a party of toughs and drag off a few unwilling Yankee sailors to fill up his own crew. Despite the part this practice played in bringing on the war, at the time of the peace negotiations, very little was said about it. Britain, an island nation, had to maintain a superior Navy. Long tradition and ancient laws permitted the Royal Navy to force sailors into service by any means possible. After the war, impressment faded as an issue, but the practice continued, by mid-century acquiring a more colorful name, shanghai.

American Revolution: Taxation Without Representation III

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Severe financial burdens resulting from British involvement in the French and Indian War caused the government in London to seek revenues from the thirteen North American colonies, essentially to pay for a peaceful frontier and oceans free for colonial commerce. Surprisingly there were calls by some in Britain proposing colonial representation in Parliament. Adam Smith, Edmund Burke and for a time, Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania’s representative in London, advocated some form of Colonial seats in the commons, but these proposals went nowhere and were not revived until long after the beginning of open hostilities in the late 1770s. Ironically, American radicals ultimately squelched the idea of colonial representation. They were convinced that if there were Americans seated at Westminster, there would be no restraint on Parliamentary enthusiasm for draining colonial pockets. Better to argue that Parliament had no right to tax the colonies, period.