Guano

Lead: As world population grew in the years before and after 1800 so did the demand for food. At the same time, much farm acreage was depleted, tired, unproductive. This problem was solved in part with guano.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Guano is bird excrement. Grouped with the droppings of bats and seals, it is perhaps the most potent natural fertilizer, and bird guano is the primo variety containing up to 16% nitrogen, 12% phosphorus, and 3% potassium. In the mid-19th century, guano was treated as if it were gold, provoked at least one fighting war, and made enormous fortunes for growers and suppliers alike.

Japan Opens to the West III

Lead: In the summer of 1853, a reluctant Japan opened its doors to trade with the rest of the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Matthew Calbraith Perry was 59 years of age in the year he led the expedition to Japan. He suffered from arthritis and spent much of the voyage in his cabin. He was the brother of Oliver Hazard Perry whose defeat of the British fleet secured Lake Erie for the United States in the War of 1812. Matthew's career included transportation of freed slaves to Africa after the founding of Liberia and combat command during the Mexican War. He had a regal bearing and was a very serious person. This formality stood him well in dealing with the traditionalist Japanese who were reluctant to give up their policy of non-involvement with the outside world.

Japan Opens to the West II

Lead: For centuries Japan had kept itself isolated from the rest of the world. That changed on a summer day in 1853.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For nearly half a century American clipper ships had dominated the oceans of the world. These fast, sleek, and graceful vessels had helped U.S. shippers maintain their lead in transport, but a clipper ship was merely the perfection of a very ancient technology and the Industrial Revolution had created a new source of power and made possible a more efficient way of shipping goods. By the 1840s British-built coal fired steamships were taking the lead from the American clipper ships on the Atlantic ferry.

Japan Opens to the West I

Lead: On July 14, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry landed at Kirihama new Edo Wan, now known as Tokyo Bay. The Tokugawa Shogunate had taken the fateful step of opening Japan to the West.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In its long history one of the major themes of Japanese life has been the interaction between native and foreign influence. In Japan's early history, the dominance of Chinese language, culture, religion and government was undeniable, but as the centuries passed Japan adapted, modified or discarded many aspects of Chinese civilization. However, it retained a lingering suspicion of foreigners. By 1200 Japan's emperor was a highly revered, near-religious figure, with little practical power. That was held by shogun, the emperor's supreme military commander. He received his title from the emperor, but in reality, for the most part, the shogun controlled the monarch. One of the primary goals of the shogunate was to suppress regional warfare and achieve political stability. Foreign influence was seen by many Japanese as a threat to the stability of the nation.

The Polos – Part III

Lead: After a 24 years and a journey of nearly 15,000 miles, in 1295 the Polos a family of commercial traders returned to Venice from China. Marco Polo brought home stories of their exotic travels.

                 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts. 

                Content: Their friends and relative thought they were dead. Marco developed a reputation as a consummate storyteller. He was called “Marco Milione,”  the man with a million stories, or to the more skeptical he was known as “the man of a million lies.” In 1298, Marco was captured along with 7000 compatriots and taken prisoner in after a Naval battle between Venice and her commercial rival, Genoa. During his year in prison, Marco passed the time by telling stories of his travels. One was his fellow prisoners was the Pisan writer Rusticiano, who encouraged Marco to record his fabulous tales. Aided by notes, Marco dictated an account of stories of Kublai Kahn’s prosperous, modern empire, his sophisticated communications apparatus, paper money system, mining of coal as fuel, as well as social and political customs of the empire. Rusticiano prepared Marco’s stories in a French literary dialect with the title The Description of the World or The Travels of Marco Polo.

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The Polos – Part II

Lead: At the age of seventeen, Marco Polo joined his father and uncle on their return to central Asia and China. It was the beginning of a remarkable commercial and literary career.

                 Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                 Content: Marco Polo was born in Venice, Italy, around 1254. His father, Nicolo, was away on a trading trip when the boy was born and when Marco’s mother died. The boy was raised by family. He probably received the typical education of a merchant apprentice, reading, writing and a primitive form of calculation. When the boy was fifteen, his father Nicolo and uncle Maffeo came home to Venice from China. Marco was invited to join them for the return trip. Mongol Emperor, Kublai Kahn, had commissioned the Polos to bring to China scholars who could explain Christianity and western science.

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The Polo Family – Part I

Lead: In 1260 the Polo family, part of the commercial aristocracy of the Venetian city-state, began a remarkable series of trading expeditions. Over the next three decades they would travel tens of thousands of miles.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: Nicolo Polo and his uncle Maffeo were merchants. Through their connections at Mediterranean and Black Sea ports, they and their Venetian compeditors traded wool, silver and merchandize for porcelain, spices, and silk. The goods came from China along the four thousand mile long Silk Road, the main trading route between China and Europe. In 1262 while the Polo were venturing further east along the Volga River, warfare broke out behind them and prevented them from returning west, so they continued their trade eastward into central Asia.

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