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  • Kansas–Nebraska Act 1854

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    Democrat Senator Stephen Douglas drafted the Kansas-Nebraska Act with President Franklin Pierce. It borrowed from the Compromise of 1850, whereby the Utah and New Mexico territories were granted popular sovereignty on the issue of slavery, and extended this principle to the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. In so doing, it... More
  • Missouri Compromise 1820

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    In 1820, slave-holding states still held a majority in the US Senate. The majority in part derived from the ‘three-fifths’ rule, whereby slaves counted for 60 per cent of free persons in determining representation per state. This precarious advantage was now threatened by the ‘free’ District of Maine’s application for... More
  • Paris in 1789

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    By 1789, Paris was the largest city in France and, on the eve of the Revolution of 1789, had a population of 600,000–650,000. Many had migrated from the Paris basin and from other parts of northern France. 1789 Paris remained largely unchanged since 1701, when Louis XIV relocated the royal... More
  • Race Riots and Non-Violent Demonstrations 1865–1968

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    While underlying causes were competition for jobs and housing, inflamed by prejudice, the trigger for race riots was often a crime ascribed (usually falsely) to the targeted community. The victims were not always African Americans. In New Orleans (1866), eleven Italian migrants were lynched and San Francisco’s Chinese neighbourhoods were... More
  • The ‘Glorious Revolution’ 1660–91

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    Restoration England seethed with intrigue, real and imagined. Titus Oates, a serial perjurer, caused 15 executions through his fabricated accusations of a ‘Popish Plot’. Most genuine plots were anti-Catholic; Yorkshire hosted two republican cabals in 1663, while the Rye House plot (1683) aimed to assassinate the king and his Catholic... More
  • The 1905 Revolution

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    The 1905 Russian Revolution swept across the Russian Empire and began when Russian Cossacks attacked a peaceful demonstration of workers. This acted as a catalyst for empire-wide uprisings. On the battleship Potemkin the crewmembers, several of whom were revolutionaries, were tired of their appalling working conditions, including being fed maggot... More
  • The Arab Spring 2011

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    Increasing discontent across the Arab world boiled over in early 2011, resulting in a series of uprisings and conflicts across the region against the existing structures of government. The Arab Spring started in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, after a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on 17 December,... More
  • The French Revolution 1789–93

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    Initially, the European powers seemed content to spectate, with a mixture of horror and schadenfreude, as France succumbed to revolution. The seizure (and later execution) of the French king Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette transformed perceptions, spurred on by agitation from influential emigrés: this was now an existential threat to... More