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200 Years After Battle, Hard Feelings Remain

1Historygenius
Posts: 1,639
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9/24/2013 10:34:17 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
A very good story here by the NY Times. What are your thoughts?

http://www.nytimes.com...
"The chief business of the American people is business." - Calvin Coolidge

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chui
Posts: 507
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9/27/2013 5:54:03 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The battle of Waterloo has very great significance to us Europeans. The struggle against revolutionary France and Napoleon lasted for some twenty years. To some Napoleon represented modernisation and liberation, the fight against the cruel establishment. As the article relates this is still the view of many in Europe. To those against Napoleon he was a tyrant guilty of cruel atrocities and many did suffer at the hands of the French war machine. He was also a great threat to those in power. This struggle between establishment and modernisation still continues so I would say that this isnt a hangover of bad feeling from a historic battle but people using the battle to symbolise their view point.

For the British, and I am from England, there is an extra dimension in that Waterloo is one of our proudest military successes. The bravery and discipline shown by the troops under Wellington's command was awesome. For example the 1st Battalion of the 27th Inniskilling regiment suffered nearly 70% casualties but did not abandon their post. They were famously described as lying dead in a square, a formation they had to hold because of the threat of the French cavalry under the the command of the dashing French commander Ney. There are many more examples I could go on about here. The significance of the victory is made greater because the French army was also well trained, brave, disciplined and well led.

Of course celebrating our military success is why we are being accused of triumphalism and maybe we are. But overall Waterloo is extremely significant to Europe and, because of the power Europe held in the 19th Century, the whole world.

It is interesting to consider what might have happened if the Napoleonic wars had ended in a French victory. For example Nelson might have been defeated at Trafalgar, he was outnumbered and outgunned when he attacked the French and Spanish fleet. Napoleon could then have invaded England and taken the British Empire's wealth. Where would he have gone then? India? Australia? Canada? USA?
OllerupMand
Posts: 375
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10/6/2013 5:37:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Each war have a winner and a loser and you should take care not to offend the other part. It seems like common reason.

If the Canadians decided to build a museum about the burning of Washingtons, the citizens of Washington would properly be sligttly unhappy if it was like a victory museum. Celebrating the good Canadians victory over the evil USA. Especially if it was build in Washington DC.

I am not sure how Americans see Waterloo and the napolenic wars, but i know the british see it as a great victory while where I live most people remember the atrocities of the british during the napolenic wars. With the terror bombardment of Copenhagen and so on. Napoleon losing the war essentiel meant the destruction of Denmark-Norway so we see it as a great defeat.
Seeginomikata
Posts: 5
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1/19/2014 1:52:18 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
It is interesting to consider what might have happened if the Napoleonic wars had ended in a French victory. For example Nelson might have been defeated at Trafalgar, he was outnumbered and outgunned when he attacked the French and Spanish fleet. Napoleon could then have invaded England and taken the British Empire's wealth. Where would he have gone then? India? Australia? Canada? USA?

Already been done. It's called Code Geass. Napoleon wins the European continent. After his death, France forms the EU a hundred years before OriginalTimeLine and all of Europe (UK included) is a democracy under the leadership of the French. British aristocracy flees to America and sets up the repressive world superpower Holy Britannian Empire. I found it really cool.
Seeginomikata
Posts: 5
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1/19/2014 1:59:51 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/6/2013 5:37:57 PM, OllerupMand wrote:
Each war have a winner and a loser and you should take care not to offend the other part. It seems like common reason.

If the Canadians decided to build a museum about the burning of Washingtons, the citizens of Washington would properly be sligttly unhappy if it was like a victory museum. Celebrating the good Canadians victory over the evil USA. Especially if it was build in Washington DC.

I am not sure how Americans see Waterloo and the napolenic wars, but i know the british see it as a great victory while where I live most people remember the atrocities of the british during the napolenic wars. With the terror bombardment of Copenhagen and so on. Napoleon losing the war essentiel meant the destruction of Denmark-Norway so we see it as a great defeat.

I am from California, and I can say that we have great respect for Napoleon. He fought against monarchal tyranny and spread ideas of democracy, liberalism and nationalism to Europe. America owes its very existence to the French, and Napoleon gave the USA crucial help gaining territory and strength enough to reach the dream of "sea to shining sea". Plus British were enslaving American sailors into their navy, and the British made Canada resist against America, loyal to the crown, rather than embrace democracy. The way I see it, a lot of Americans would have felt better of the French won the revolutionary wars of Europe at the time.
chui
Posts: 507
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1/20/2014 5:14:51 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/6/2013 5:37:57 PM, OllerupMand wrote:
Each war have a winner and a loser and you should take care not to offend the other part. It seems like common reason.

If the Canadians decided to build a museum about the burning of Washingtons, the citizens of Washington would properly be sligttly unhappy if it was like a victory museum. Celebrating the good Canadians victory over the evil USA. Especially if it was build in Washington DC.

I am not sure how Americans see Waterloo and the napolenic wars, but i know the british see it as a great victory while where I live most people remember the atrocities of the british during the napolenic wars. With the terror bombardment of Copenhagen and so on. Napoleon losing the war essentiel meant the destruction of Denmark-Norway so we see it as a great defeat.

The bombardment of Copenhagen was undeniably an atrocity committed against a nation that was almost an ally. However I would say that it was the greater atrocities of the French armies that led to Napoleon's undoing.
chui
Posts: 507
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1/20/2014 5:33:07 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/19/2014 1:59:51 AM, Seeginomikata wrote:
At 10/6/2013 5:37:57 PM, OllerupMand wrote:
Each war have a winner and a loser and you should take care not to offend the other part. It seems like common reason.

If the Canadians decided to build a museum about the burning of Washingtons, the citizens of Washington would properly be sligttly unhappy if it was like a victory museum. Celebrating the good Canadians victory over the evil USA. Especially if it was build in Washington DC.

I am not sure how Americans see Waterloo and the napolenic wars, but i know the british see it as a great victory while where I live most people remember the atrocities of the british during the napolenic wars. With the terror bombardment of Copenhagen and so on. Napoleon losing the war essentiel meant the destruction of Denmark-Norway so we see it as a great defeat.

I am from California, and I can say that we have great respect for Napoleon. He fought against monarchal tyranny and spread ideas of democracy, liberalism and nationalism to Europe.

Napoleon had a habit of replacing European Kings with his brothers. He did not fight against monarchical tyranny in reality he embraced it as a means of securing power.
Many European intellectuals were at first attracted to the ideals revolutionary France proclaimed. But when the discovered that the reality was far short of the dream they turned against Napoleon.

America owes its very existence to the French, and Napoleon gave the USA crucial help gaining territory and strength enough to reach the dream of "sea to shining sea". Plus British were enslaving American sailors into their navy, and the British made Canada resist against America, loyal to the crown, rather than embrace democracy.

Although officially America wrote democracy into its constitution before any other country it did not achieve true universal suffrage until 1965, which is 37 years later than the UK.

The way I see it, a lot of Americans would have felt better of the French won the revolutionary wars of Europe at the time.

At first they may well might have been, but Revolutionary France armed with the power of the British fleet and the wealth of the world's largest empire would not have been content to let America be. France only helped America because it hurt the British. With the British out of the way and Europe conquered there would have been nothing to stop Napoleon taking America.
suttichart.denpruektham
Posts: 1,115
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1/21/2014 12:44:15 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Well if you really want to commemorate, make the French a head of the project.

I am sure they will suddenly be interested...
Heliosone
Posts: 1
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2/1/2014 7:48:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Bah, hogwash.

Things like this really ruffle my jimmies because these sorts of cultural underpinnings and resentment/glorification of past events are what lead to sharp and most decidedly opposite interpretations of what happened. This, 'honouring the past' bit is a major problem for several reasons. One, it corrupts history as various factions and opinions are added in to the mix, one might say this allows for a clear idea of the past in reality it doesn't work that way. It leads to the events becoming warped with the passage of time to glorify one side or the other and that leads the facts becoming less and less tangible. Two: It leads to cultural resentment and creates an us and them scenario. For example France and Germany following the Franco-Prussian War and the dreadful rivalry that saw two world wars come to fruition. Third: It just seems facile and quite disrespectful to play up any battle like this, to us in the modern day it is just the past, a piece of paper with writing on it that tells how we became who we are. To those who fought in a given battle it is far less poetic, it is a time when simply human intelligence gave way to a primal rage and haste, a moment when reasoned discourse failed and if there were truly a God he would hang his hand in shame as he watched those he supposedly created fight and die often for the most simple reasons. Indeed for that hypothetical soldier it is a time of confusion and the moment when it goes from being a chance for glory and a chance to defend the home country to being just a matter of survival as the realisation dawns on him that war is far from glory-filled, it is the worst of all human creations because it is the moment that we show ourselves not strong enough to fight, but weak enough to forgive and offer a hand of reconciliation. Honestly it seems more appropriate to mourn the loss of a human life, perhaps destined to be a nurse, a miner, an engineer or any multitude of great works that they were destined to undertake, rather than glorifying the fact that they were willing to shed the blood of others just like them or had their own blood spilled instead. Is that really worth celebrating? (Don't mean to be snarky or moralistic it is just an epiphany I have had all of a sudden.)