A House Divided: Confederate Leaders: Jefferson Davis I

 

Lead:  One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is A House Divided.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In February 1861, the Confederate Congress elected Jefferson Davis of Mississippi provisional President of the new Southern republic. He was the logical choice because Davis was an ideal representative of the planter class that was determined to defend the Southern way of life and its “peculiar institution,” human bondage. He also had extensive military and political experience having served in the Mexican War, as U.S. Representative and Senator, and President Pierce’s Secretary of War.

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A House Divided: Confederate Leaders: Jefferson Davis II

 

Lead:  One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is A House Divided.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Jefferson Finis Davis began his years as Confederate president with a daunting series of tasks: he had to create a nation where none existed, build an industrial infrastructure, fight off a potentially much larger Union military juggernaut, generate revenue to pay for all this, and find allies. His rival, Abraham Lincoln, faced tough challenges as well. He had to ramp up a seriously ill-prepared army and navy and with it invade a land mass as large as European Russia, all the while dealing with a divided Northern population, fickle and ultra sensitive to Union defeats in the following two years.

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Panama Canal Diplomacy & Construction I

Lead: The construction of the Panama Canal was as much a triumph of manipulative diplomacy as it was the result of engineering genius. It took nearly a century to be set right.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: At the end of the nineteenth century the great powers of Europe were scrambling to absorb the few remaining parts of the world free of empire. In 1898 they were joined by the United States which in that imperial summer in short order had come to control Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Hawaii. However reluctant, the United States now was a colonial power with holdings in two oceans, and desired, needed and planned a canal to shorten the travel time between them.

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Americans and Taxation I

Lead: On February 3, 1913, the sixteenth amendment to the Constitution was adopted – making the income tax a permanent part of life in the United States.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Until the Civil War, the United States government relied heavily on tariffs (the taxes on imported goods) for revenue. Although the Constitution prohibited the government from imposing a direct tax on citizens, in 1862, during the Civil War, Congress passed an act which authorized the collection of the income tax in order to help finance a war that was costing the United States treasury one million dollars a day by 1862. With the Republic under threat, resistance to the income tax was not widespread. The wartime emergency income tax was reduced after the war and repealed in 1872.

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Cuban Missile Crisis I

Lead: In the fall of 1962 the United States, Cuba and the Soviet Union crept up to the nuclear precipice and nearly jumped after the discovery of offensive Russian missiles in Cuba.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The three main players in this drama which brought the world so close to war, faced unique problems that governed the role they would come to play. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy considered himself very vulnerable on the question of Cuba. Having scorched his opponent Richard Nixon in the 1960 election accusing the Republicans of allowing communism to fix itself in Cuba, Kennedy was himself was accused of weakness by throwing away an opportunity to take Cuba back at the aborted Bay of Pigs exiles invasion in 1961. When the missiles appeared in late summer 1962 it was clear that the U.S. was facing a new and serious threat very close to his southern border.

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Panama Canal Diplomacy & Construction II

Lead: In 1903 the United States wished to construct a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. There was a little problem, however. Columbia refused America the rights of passage.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Phillippe Bunau-Varilla was a French engineer, born in Paris in 1859. At the age of twenty-five he joined a contracting firm that sent him to Panama to work on the canal in the last years of France’s great attempt to build a land bridge across the Isthmus. When, through corruption and exhaustion, France turned its back on the canal project, Bunau-Varilla considered this a moral and political catastrophe. He was determined that the canal should be finished, no matter who completed it. If France would not rise to the task, he would help the United States.

In 1903 the Colombian Senate rejected the Hay-Herrán Treaty giving the United States the right to construct the canal in Panama. With the way blocked by Colombian patriotism, Bunau-Varilla began to meddle in Panamanian politics.

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Cuban Missile Crisis III

Lead: Faced with the presence of offensive Soviet missiles in Cuba in the fall of 1962, President John Kennedy assembled his advisors. Their task: get the missiles out without going to war.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For six days Kennedy and the so-called Ex-comm, an ad hoc group of political, diplomatic and military advisors, had the luxury of deliberation before the world found out about the missiles. At first an invasion of Cuba or a surgical air strike was considered but there was little time to mount an invasion and no guarantee that striking by air would be surgical enough. In the end the administration decided on a blockade, quaintly called a quarantine, to prevent further shipments of missiles and it began a furious diplomatic dialogue with the Soviets.

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Cuban Missile Crisis II

Lead: In the late summer and fall of 1962, the Soviet Union secretly began installing intermediate range ballistic missiles on the island of Cuba. It was an uncharacteristic act of daring.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Having successfully masked his communist leanings during the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, soon after coming to power, began to reach out to the Soviet Union. He needed an ally as a counterweight to the United States whose policy was increasingly focused on restoring freedom to Cuba. Despite its failure, the Bay of Pigs invasion in the spring of 1961 was a clear signal that the U.S. wanted Castro out. He needed support.

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